Karma reasons for concrete message



    Posts: 1848
  • Darwins +858/-1

For skeptics, you sure buy into a lot of dogma.

Such as?

Only non-scientists could really have such faith in an uncontrolled statistical experiment.

If the following is true:

Let me be clear. The Holy Ghost speaks truth which can be verified. He will predict events, help you make generalization which you later recognize to be true and lead you places that directly answer your prayers.

...then there ought to be plenty of ways to set up controlled statistical studies, using the same methodology we use for testing if new drugs work or not.  Real, True Christians who have access to infallible predictions of future events--even if they only have access sometimes--would still have an advantage over non-RTC's in life.  We would find that RTC's have a statistically-significant rate of cancelling or changing flights from planes due to crash vs. people of other belief systems in the same demographic categories, they do better with stock picks, selection of real estate, or whatever "events" the Holy Ghost tends to predict.  "Answered prayer" would provide some sort of measurable benefits that people without "answered prayer" would lack.  And so on.

You'll have to give me more details on what kind of experiment could reasonably be expected to substantiate the existence of God.

Er, no, you're the one making the claim.  It's up to you to specify your claim with sufficient precision, then define an experiment that could falsify your claim.  This experiment should be designed with controls set up to rule out other variables like, say, cognitive biases, or even a natural, human "psychic power" that could produce results similar or equivalent to "answered prayer" in the absence of your specific concept of "God."  Then, run the experiment and subject your results to critical peer review as a prelude to publication in a scientific journal.  Our job as skeptics is merely to check your work, to see that you did not employ flawed methodology, or fail to eliminate a significant variable that could invalidate your conclusion.  For example, if it turned out that Muslims received a similar degree of benefit from "answered prayers" that (your type of) Christians do, that indicates there's a variable at work that does not conform to the anticipated consequences of "(Your version of) God exists and answers prayers from His faithful followers."

Analogy: Let's say a physicist claims that the dark matter mystery can be explained by the existence of a particle called the quasion.  It wouldn't be enough to just make some vague and untestable claims about quasions, and declare victory.  Instead, the physicist would have to clearly specify the attributes of the quasion (charge, spin, mass, half-life if it has one, a mathematical description of how it relates to the rest of known physics, etc.) and specify what sort of experiment or observation might be conducted in the future[1] to falsify or validate the existence of quasions.  If the physicist tried to say something along the lines of "I think quasions are the solution to the dark matter mystery.  So why don't you guys do some experiments to prove quasions don't exist.  What's a quasion, you ask?  Dunno, they're kinda ineffable," she or he would be laughed out of the profession.

I'm having trouble seeing how someone's misinterpretation of their own desires as the inspiration of the Spirit invalidates the real and verifiable experiences I or others have had with the Holy Spirit.

If all we have to go on is people's interpretations of inner mystical experiences of "the Spirit," we have no way to know which ones are "real and verifiable" in your terms.  What you have thus far failed to provide is a methodology to separate false "spiritual" claims from authentic ones, and then to show that the allegedly authentic ones represent a genuine understanding of the alleged phenomenon.

Once again, someone once claimed they saw laboratory cold fusion. Just because they were wrong doesn't invalidate physics.

No, but it does cast a lot of doubt on claims to have discovered cold fusion, does it not?  Being a "physics geek," I'm sure you must have some idea of how the scientific community views claims of cold fusion.

And, to be clear, I'm not asking you to believe in God because I say He exists. I'm inviting you to seek your own witness.

What methodology do you suggest?  Given the incredible diversity of religious beliefs that you reject as false (if you're an "orthodox"/conservative Christian rather than, say, a New Ager who believes all paths lead to God), what method could we apply equally to your god and any other god/gods, which would produce results showing that yours is the real one?
 1. This has to be a new experiment or observation that has not been made yet, with testable anticipated consequences we would expect to see if quasions exist, or if they don't.  It has to be specified intentionally to rule out "wiggle room"/goalpost moving so the quasion advocate can't say, "Well, maybe the quasions are undetectable because..."
Changed Change Reason Date
screwtape a better articulated verion of what I wanted to say October 19, 2011, 08:01:28 AM