Luminous Landscape Forum

The Art of Photography => The Coffee Corner => Topic started by: Tim Lookingbill on February 16, 2017, 08:40:32 PM

Title: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Tim Lookingbill on February 16, 2017, 08:40:32 PM
Just to preface that I am not a religious person and I don't want this discussion to drift toward that.

But something happened at 5PM central standard time at my central Texas apartment that played out involving me and some neighbor kids being at the right place, at the right time that helped police collect evidence on a perp. Unbelievable how it all unfolded.

I'm a dyed in the wool loner for sure. I don't get involved with strangers or even neighbors in my apartment complex. I'm too involved with my digital hobby world so I live mostly as a recluse and I like it.

At 5PM today I went out to check my mailbox. I usually go after watching the CBS Evening News at 6PM. I saw two police squad cars about 15ft. from the mailbox terminal escorting a man in cuffs. I went back to my apt. and forgot about it. At around 6PM I saw about six boys around 8 years old riding bikes in the complex. Never saw them before. They knocked on my door and I didn't answer it. I never open my door to someone I wasn't expecting. Just something I learned dealing with people and especially kids I don't know.

My mind began putting two & two together thinking the arrested man was the guardian of those kids so I went out on my porch to see what they wanted where one of them said they found a wallet by the manager's office. I suggested they put the wallet in the manager's office rent check drop slot. They went on their way to do that.

Then my mind told me I'ld better check on them to see if the wallet fit and so I left my apt and came up to them in front of the manager's office where one of the boys confirmed it fit. But another boy said they found a Samsung cellphone on the ground near the office. At this point a police squad car shows up...(another tenant must've called). The boys and I told the officer that they found a wallet and that I had told them to put it in the manager's office which was locked. The officer asked if they found a cellphone and they replied they did and gave it to the officer. The officer commended the boys for performing their civic duty and gave them all high fives.

I then knew that the wallet and phone were throw downs from the perp they'ld arrested at 5PM and most likely would have evidence as to why he was arrested. All was right with the world.

Then I started thinking about the details of how this event unfolded. I thought if I hadn't gone to my mailbox at 5PM to see the man get taken away in handcuffs and if I'ld disregarded those kids knocking on my door and just stayed in my apartment where I would not have told them to put the wallet in the manager's office drop slot, the police would not have any evidence. I found out the boys didn't live at the apartment but lived in separate houses in the subdivision surrounding the apt. complex.

It makes me think maybe I'm suppose to be where I'm at and that everyone in some way has some purpose or value in why they are where they're at in life regardless if it appears like it's just existing.

I guess it's good sometimes to get involved and take action. And sometimes I get a sense I should just stay out of it. This time I called it right.

Anyone experience decision making that introduced a chain of events that made a difference that you only realize after the fact?
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Eric Myrvaagnes on February 17, 2017, 12:29:48 AM
An event like that can have a profound effect on one.

Thanks for sharing it, Tim.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Chairman Bill on February 17, 2017, 05:11:43 AM
With all due respect, nothing here suggests a 'guiding hand'.

As a species, we tend to find meaning & patterns, even where none exists. There are evolutionary advantages to such tendencies are clear - if an organism can discern patterns, it can make predictions and potentially avoid dangerous situations, or successfully exploit food opportunities. That could have profound advantages for a population.

Your after-the-fact sense-making is of a kind with our tendency to see faces in clouds, the baby Jesus in a piece of toast, or Mohammad in a pomegranate. We impose patterns on the world, and we assume those patterns are real, even to the point of avoiding confounding data that would render such patterns non-existent.

Basically, shit happens, and sometimes we kid ourselves that shit happens for some reason beyond mere chance or a logical line of cause & effect. Nice story though.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Tim Lookingbill on February 17, 2017, 07:14:35 AM
An event like that can have a profound effect on one.

Thanks for sharing it, Tim.

There have been other similar events in the past but not with the clarity of hindsight in how it went down in this particular situation. It got me thinking about parallel universes, string theory and our concept of time and our place in the universe. I thought to myself why hadn't previous incidences present this level of clarity and mindfulness.

This event got me thinking about different "spiritual" languages that aren't necessarily verbal when I was reminded of an encounter several days prior arguing with a 70 year old man and his wife who were having trouble due to health issues taking a walk through our local Panther Canyon park which is quite rocky but has a walking trail. The husband came up to me and asked how far the trail goes into the canyon where I replied it was about a 20 minute walk. They said they walked about 50 feet and got tired which was why they were leaving.

Then the husband rattled me with the oddest comeback when he asked "Where would you like to die if you died right now?". Thinking it was a philosophical comment on the beauty of nature I said, "Right here in Panther Canyon. It's beautiful". Then he chuckled and said, "No, where do you want to go after you die?"

OH SH*T! Another attempt at my being evangelized. I told him I'm quite familiar with the gospel but it's been nothing but a negative experience dealing with people on that level, something I'ld like to avoid. He said those prior people didn't do it right which he didn't realize as most do when they say this that they're admitting faith's divisive nature when it should bring people together which pissed me off even more because he wouldn't let it go.

I then noticed I became more focused on his belief system instead of the fact that this guy was most likely on his death bed if he couldn't walk 50 feet without getting tired. I felt sort of heartless after my arguing with him on the subject. He then grabbed my hand to shake it and pulled me in like Trump with that newly appointed judge and grabbed my elbow with his other hand saying "Bless you" which I took as an act of dominance because he wanted to save face from my arguing with him over his faith in front of his wife which pissed me off even more.

The two events to me are like an internal spiritual language only humans can engage in. Animals don't do this. Why did these events happen when most of my days are quite uneventful. I pondered if you stay in one place long enough which for me so far has been 5 years, you're most likely to notice patterns but this was ridiculously too happenstance. Like something is trying to teach me or remind me something about life and our place in the universe.

Maybe it's about establishing priorities? Or maybe it's just the effects of changing weather patterns on our moods. I know these two events renews my appreciation of life and existence no matter how dull and pointless it may seem at times. Life is amazing!
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: David Eckels on February 17, 2017, 09:01:25 AM
Maybe the old man couldn't move his feet very well, which is why he pulled you towards him. Maybe "bless you" was the only language he had to say thank you for engaging him. How many time do we just pass on by?
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on February 17, 2017, 09:42:22 AM
... I'm a dyed in the wool loner...

Far too long, it seems  ;)
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Tim Lookingbill on February 17, 2017, 10:05:25 AM
Quote
Maybe the old man couldn't move his feet very well, which is why he pulled you towards him. Maybe "bless you" was the only language he had to say thank you for engaging him. How many time do we just pass on by?

Not that it matters that much but he didn't actually pull me towards him. He moved in uncomfortably closer into my personal space to shake my hand and then grab my elbow. I'm not a touchy, feely person with one off meet ups with strangers in the park. I didn't give him permission to move in closer.

He's assuming he gets that right to invade my space which I see as I have all my life with people (especially salespersons and evangelist preachers) who appear authoritative and fatherly as a passive way of asserting a dominant position. They move closer up to you and you either start stepping back or you let them tower over you, but they know you're not going to make a big deal over them getting in your face because it's an established social gesture we all grew up with as kids. The comedy show Tosh.O makes jokes about the same social maneuver by having dudes move in close with their crotch in the other stranger's face while sitting on a public bench. They wait to see how much the dude will put up with it.

I'm 57 years old and I don't particularly like a stranger I've only talked with several minutes who's 15 years older than me getting in my space while they assert their religious beliefs on me. He could tell I was getting upset by my tone, but he didn't care.

The fact is I'm never going to see this man again for the rest of my life and I know this because in the ten years I've lived in my small town I've run into 6 other strangers spread across in various public and business places having similarly engaging conversations (some lasting an hour, some just minutes) only not involving religion and I've never seen or heard from them ever again.

But you do raise an interesting observation about how many times we pass strangers we meet in public places without even a nod or hello especially with almost everyone nowadays with their face looking down staring at a cellphone. This tells you people aren't really interested in you. They prefer their private space. And I have to respect that. A discussion of religion is not on their agenda if one is thinking of invading or breaking the ice of that private space.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Tim Lookingbill on February 17, 2017, 10:16:31 AM
Far too long, it seems  ;)

It does reduce stress and anxiety by not having to deal with people who don't have an original thing to say and are blind to another's personal space. They offer nothing that's memorable. I can't remember what all those six strangers I've had talks with said to me. Talk is cheap. Doing really speaks more loudly and meaningfully.

You would not believe how my life has been SO MUCH LESS stressful just staying away from people. It took 5 years of living alone though to get to that zone to realize this. I had adapted to the stress and wasn't aware of it all those previous years.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: RSL on February 17, 2017, 10:33:07 AM
With all due respect, nothing here suggests a 'guiding hand'.

As a species, we tend to find meaning & patterns, even where none exists. There are evolutionary advantages to such tendencies are clear - if an organism can discern patterns, it can make predictions and potentially avoid dangerous situations, or successfully exploit food opportunities. That could have profound advantages for a population.

Your after-the-fact sense-making is of a kind with our tendency to see faces in clouds, the baby Jesus in a piece of toast, or Mohammad in a pomegranate. We impose patterns on the world, and we assume those patterns are real, even to the point of avoiding confounding data that would render such patterns non-existent.

Basically, shit happens, and sometimes we kid ourselves that shit happens for some reason beyond mere chance or a logical line of cause & effect. Nice story though.

Bill, I'm not going to launch into a speech about this, but I flew military airplanes for ten years and I can think of several times when by all rights I should have died, yet somehow, through no help from my own intelligence, I didn't. I'm sorry you've never had the kind of experience in your life that tells you your fate is in hands other than your own.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Tim Lookingbill on February 17, 2017, 11:17:02 AM

Your after-the-fact sense-making is of a kind with our tendency to see faces in clouds, the baby Jesus in a piece of toast, or Mohammad in a pomegranate. We impose patterns on the world, and we assume those patterns are real, even to the point of avoiding confounding data that would render such patterns non-existent.


I'm just playing the part of an odds maker analyst who's investigating a losing streak (or dry period) only by changing what signifies losing and winning. The white ball of a roulette wheel has no conscience or will to make decisions on whether to land on odd or even numbers or black or red. We don't question the white ball's motives as if we're projecting human traits on it when we win, we do this only when we lose. Desire leads us down a path that may involve a series of decisions we don't know the outcome, but yet its path looks no different than the behavior of that roulette wheel ball.

It's amazing considering all the variables far greater than the roulette wheel ball faces how one slight split second decision in our lives can unravel a whole series of unseen good intentions into the future.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Otto Phocus on February 17, 2017, 11:44:14 AM
A cool story, but one that defines a coincidence.   

But still a cool story and I am glad it may have helped the police.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Tim Lookingbill on February 18, 2017, 10:00:19 AM
ADDENDUM: I left out of my OP a bit of detail about the six boys and that cellphone mainly for brevity since the story was getting long and I wanted to maintain a positive slant. But what I'm about to reveal may cast dispersion on the integrity of even the most innocent that we assume of children especially within a group think dynamic. Kinda' like the ol' Bowery Boys flicks.

As a reminder the boys didn't know I was going to show up at the manager's office to check up on whether the wallet made it through the drop slot and they certainly didn't know a cop would show up as well. When they saw me approach their group in front of the manager's office I noticed this sort of excited nervousness I've come to recognize in kids and myself when I was one where they repeated each other over and over hopping and moving around when they see an adult show up. Most of us as adults don't question this behavior in kids. It's just something they do.

The biggest kid piped up they found a Samsung cellphone on the ground but now couldn't find it but showed me its square flat shaped battery. The rest of the six agreed some with quiet nods and others with excited "Yes's". Then one of them diverted my attention to show me where they found the wallet after which I asked about the exact location of the cellphone. That's where each of them excitedly pointed their fingers in various directions as if they're looking around searching for a spot. Each was not very specific, but at that moment we see the police officer show up after which the boy who showed me the Samsung battery says to the officer he found the cellphone. After the high fives I decided not to mention this bit of observation to the officer.

But in hindsight I surmised if the police didn't show up, they were going to keep that cellphone since they gave up the wallet. Even kids within a group dynamic know how to keep their mouth shut.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Tim Lookingbill on February 18, 2017, 10:12:10 AM
Just want to thank everyone for making this discussion interesting with your meaningful input. I enjoyed it.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 21, 2017, 09:52:25 PM
With all due respect, nothing here suggests a 'guiding hand'.

As a species, we tend to find meaning & patterns, even where none exists. There are evolutionary advantages to such tendencies are clear - if an organism can discern patterns, it can make predictions and potentially avoid dangerous situations, or successfully exploit food opportunities. That could have profound advantages for a population.

Your after-the-fact sense-making is of a kind with our tendency to see faces in clouds, the baby Jesus in a piece of toast, or Mohammad in a pomegranate. We impose patterns on the world, and we assume those patterns are real, even to the point of avoiding confounding data that would render such patterns non-existent.

Basically, shit happens, and sometimes we kid ourselves that shit happens for some reason beyond mere chance or a logical line of cause & effect. Nice story though.

Such smugness. The OP didn't ask anyone to condescendingly explain how he misinterpreted the events because of his evolutionary conditioning, his unwillingness to consider confounding data (which was not forthcoming by the way) or to be told that "shit happens".

Presumably he understands the nature of coincidence and that sometimes "shit happens". Presumably he understands that your "after-the-fact-sense-making" is pretty much the basis for most of our capacity to reason.

And yet, he still got the sense that the situation did not unfold by coincidence. And for some reason you felt the need to rush in and explain away that feeling with pop-psychology. Why? Was if offensive? Was it harmful for the OP to wonder why he felt that way?

And what is your confounding evidence? Is it "shit happens"?

The truth is this: pseudo science and pop psychology cannot disprove supernatural causation. Neither can real science. So when someone gets a sense of something transcendental why assault them with evolutionary theory about how we misunderstand series of events?

The truth is that you cannot prove or disprove supernatural causation here and so invoking your theories is kind of pointless unless it is just to make yourself seem smarter than someone else. I suspect there is a pop-psychology explanation for why some folks have need to belittle others.

 





Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Tim Lookingbill on February 21, 2017, 11:30:13 PM
George, though I appreciate your thoughtful support of my "guiding hand" vs coincidence observation in my OP, I don't take Bill's statement as smug and condescending, so there's no need to be so abrasive in your response to him.

I believe in science and logic. Science reveals greater odds according to the evidence when one considers the size and age of the Universe and a realization of the seemingly impossible likelihood it all started with the Big Bang and would lead to life we now have on this big rock called Earth.

I was even thinking about the question of how evolution knew to give mammals and humans ears since sound is a specific section of the wave spectrum that didn't seem to be needed. I can understand us evolving eyes for sight due to the spectrum of light. But sound? What were our primordial ancestors not hearing when they didn't have ears and then had to evolve to get them? All the other evolution of senses makes sense, but sound is a mystery on how and why it was developed.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Farmer on February 21, 2017, 11:35:18 PM
Interestingly, Professor Brian Cox, just the other day, suggested that the LHC proves that ghosts don't exist.  Google it, it's an interesting idea.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Tim Lookingbill on February 22, 2017, 01:02:32 AM
Interestingly, Professor Brian Cox, just the other day, suggested that the LHC proves that ghosts don't exist.  Google it, it's an interesting idea.

Thanks for the heads up. I read this article which appeared at the top of the search... http://www.realclearscience.com/blog/2017/02/16/has_the_large_hadron_collider_disproved_the_existence_of_ghosts.html

What's even more unbelievable and fantastic is what's being said in the comment section.

The thing that puzzles me about TV shows on paranormal investigation is that in the dramatization of the event they clearly show them recording the ghost or entity with video cameras, but when they switch to the real person (not actor) telling the story, they don't play the original real video mentioned in the dramatization.

Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rob C on February 22, 2017, 04:23:30 AM
The problem with this sort of thread is simple: the sense of 'something else' is a sense, and is not really something that can be articulated clearly, because it is visceral and not intellectual.

Futhermore, some experiences that one has had are never going to be put out there in the public gaze. That is not necessarilly due to their being easily knocked down, but to the fact that it is personal, and that more than self is sometimes involved.

But from the point of view of what's not personal, is simply obvious, I'd say that the more science discovers the more unlkely it is that we shall even come to realise what the bottom line has been. In fact, it makes Vasily Zvyozdochkin look a mere beginner, simply a pioneer.

Rob C
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: GrahamBy on February 22, 2017, 05:59:46 AM
The biggest question I have, if there is someone or something looking out for us: why isn't he looking out for the poor bastards in Alep, or the Central African Republic, or the folk in Srebrenica or... ?
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on February 22, 2017, 06:48:08 AM
... why isn't he looking out for the poor bastards in Alep, or the Central African Republic, or the folk in Srebrenica or... ?

Being busy talking to some of us?  ;)
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 22, 2017, 09:04:11 AM
George, though I appreciate your thoughtful support of my "guiding hand" vs coincidence observation in my OP, I don't take Bill's statement as smug and condescending, so there's no need to be so abrasive in your response to him.

It's good of you not to take it as such. But that doesn't mean it wasn't smug and condescending. It was.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 22, 2017, 09:11:40 AM
The biggest question I have, if there is someone or something looking out for us: why isn't he looking out for the poor bastards in Alep, or the Central African Republic, or the folk in Srebrenica or... ?

A couple of thoughts. First, I find it curious that people who don't believe in god (I do not know what your belief is) hold him to their own standard for how god should behave. Second, who says it is god's job to look out for us? Third, if there is a god, is he compelled (by anyone's standards) to look out for people who reject him? Fourth, if there is no god then what can we say about the suffering that we see around us? Pretty much nothing. It is just evolution (which I believe in) working its way out. I'm not sure that is any more reassuring than god letting it happen.

Fifth, the essence of this question is often referred to as the problem of evil. It has been a philosophical/theological question for centuries. It is a valid question but is a weak argument against the existence of God.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: GrahamBy on February 22, 2017, 09:28:15 AM
Of course it's a famous question, because it's an important one. It's a strong argument against a benevolent god, but not against one who is vindictive, selective or malevolent. It's also a reason that religious belief is a dangerous tool of manipulation: it supports a spoken or unspoken idea that "I'm ok, so obviously I'm one of the chosen ones. The people (and animals) who are suffering must be inferior, or God would be looking after them... so I guess it's Ok t continue killing or enslaving them."

Now if you wish to believe in a personal inner spirit or deep connection with the universe or whatever, that seems just fine to me, but then you don't get the omnipotence.

The true "question of evil" is "How is evil allowed to exist in the presence of an all powerful, all knowing and kind god?"

Or as Winston Churchill is reported to have announced after first reading the bible: "This God, if he exists, is a right shit."
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rand47 on February 22, 2017, 09:40:01 AM
Tim,

Thanks for sharing this.  My wife often talks about "meaningful coincidence" and "synchronicity" as her way of explaining such episodes in life.  To my way of thinking they "open a window" to the essence of meaning - that is - that ultimately life is about relationships.  I too, am pretty much a loner, recluse, type.  The only reason my marriage works as it does it that my wife appreciates this side of me and provides the "loving space" for me to be this way.

But . . . the older I get the more I've come to realize that relationships of all kinds, casual contact (thoughtfully perceived) through the few really deep friends I've had in life, are "what its all about."  We have sensory equipment that is "tuned to this channel," I think.  As some here have argued, they think it is evolutionary residue.  I've come to believe it is evidence that there is more going on in "life" than mere reductionism can explain adequately.

Far from the "cold hard facts of science" being all there "really is" - I think that "relationship" is the defining characteristic of "all that really is and matters."  I know you wanted to avoid "religion" in this discussion, and since I'm not "religious" in the commonly held understanding of the term, I'll offer this.  If there is "God" and if God is fundamentally "relationship" in his "being" - it makes perfect sense that our having and "sensing" this kind of thing in life would be both normal and a clue about the nature of reality.  I think that's what you sensed underlying the experience you had.

Thanks again for sharing . . .
Rand
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rand47 on February 22, 2017, 09:53:00 AM
Quote
The true "question of evil" is "How is evil allowed to exist in the presence of an all powerful, all knowing and kind god?"

This is a GREAT question!  But think about it.  If you use this argument as a polemic against the possibility of God's existence, then you vitiate the notion of evil itself.  Can you see that?  In another thread I quote Richard Dawkins (author of "The God Delusion") who takes this thinking to its logical conclusion.  In a very real way, "we can't have it both ways."  Using the presence of evil and suffering as an argument "toward evil and suffering just being part of the nature of time-plus-chance reality because its existence makes God's existence plainly very unlikely," makes it a tad difficult to then "blame" evil and suffering on a God who doesn't exist.   

Evil and suffering are certainly not comical.  But the use of them in this kind of circular reasoning is extremely comical at its base.

I would offer that our internal outrage at the presence of evil and suffering speaks to something "god like" in our natures that came from somewhere other than the mechanism of random mutation and natural selection.  If not, then we're deluded into thinking that evil and suffering have any meaning at all, one way or the other.   Any thinking person will likely "bristle" at my previous sentence.  And I would say, "Why is that?"

Rand
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rob C on February 22, 2017, 10:20:09 AM
The biggest question I have, if there is someone or something looking out for us: why isn't he looking out for the poor bastards in Alep, or the Central African Republic, or the folk in Srebrenica or... ?


Why are they not doing it for themselves?

I see it not as a God-task, but a human one to resolve here and now, in our own lifetime.

It may be a far from popular position to take, but were those people currently killing themselves and their kids in the Mediterranean taking the same risk at home, then they would resolve their domestic problems themselves. The western world has faced its own civil wars, revolutions and mass killings etc. and resolved all that by itself, mainly because there was nowhere else it could run. So it fixed it. It may come over glib, but necessity is the mother of...

Rob
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 22, 2017, 10:37:44 AM
Of course it's a famous question, because it's an important one. It's a strong argument against a benevolent god,

It does not support that argument either.

Quote
It's also a reason that religious belief is a dangerous tool of manipulation:

All ideas can be used to manipulate. All beliefs can be used to manipulate.

Quote
it supports a spoken or unspoken idea that "I'm ok, so obviously I'm one of the chosen ones.

Judeo-Christian religion supports just the opposite view. It begins with "I'm not okay." If I were okay I would have no need to seek a deity.

Quote
The people (and animals) who are suffering must be inferior, or God would be looking after them... so I guess it's Ok t continue killing or enslaving them."

I know of no Christian theology that supports this in any way. That is not to say that people don't use it that way. But again, any belief can be corrupted and abused. As such, that is not an indictment of the belief itself. If that were the case we would have to reject outright the secularization that occurred in the 20th century as it resulted in the greatest killing, genocide and enslavement, by far, in the history of civilization.

Quote
Now if you wish to believe in a personal inner spirit or deep connection with the universe or whatever, that seems just fine to me, but then you don't get the omnipotence.

Correct. And which essentially leaves you with fickle imps, demons, forces and minor gods which seem to me, less credible than an omnipotent creator. It leaves you with the notion of "spirituality".

Quote
The true "question of evil" is "How is evil allowed to exist in the presence of an all powerful, all knowing and kind god?"

Indeed. And if you are interested in more than an esoteric understanding of the question it has been well examined and essentially defeated as a defeater for the existence of an all powerful and perfectly good god. It has been resolved and is no longer much more than a parlor topic in regard to serious philosophical consideration.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: athegn on February 22, 2017, 10:40:03 AM
[quote author=Rob C link=topic=116468.msg962001#msg962001 date=1487776809

It may be a far from popular position to take, but were those people currently killing themselves and their kids in the Mediterranean taking the same risk at home, then they would resolve their domestic problems themselves. The western world has faced its own civil wars, revolutions and mass killings etc. and resolved all that by itself, mainly because there was nowhere else it could run. So it fixed it. It may come over glib, but necessity is the mother of...

Rob
[/quote]

I have thought this since I was 13, as a very old, committed christian, friend recently reminded me; she still insists her god will put things right
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rand47 on February 22, 2017, 10:47:34 AM
Quote
"What is truth?" Pontius  Pilate

I've been fascinated that he asked this question of the one person who could answer it, then didn't hang around for the answer.  We've been doing the same ever since, for the most part.

Rand
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Otto Phocus on February 22, 2017, 10:51:34 AM
Of course it's a famous question, because it's an important one. It's a strong argument against a benevolent god, but not against one who is vindictive, selective or malevolent. It's also a reason that religious belief is a dangerous tool of manipulation: it supports a spoken or unspoken idea that "I'm ok, so obviously I'm one of the chosen ones. The people (and animals) who are suffering must be inferior, or God would be looking after them... so I guess it's Ok t continue killing or enslaving them."

Now if you wish to believe in a personal inner spirit or deep connection with the universe or whatever, that seems just fine to me, but then you don't get the omnipotence.

The true "question of evil" is "How is evil allowed to exist in the presence of an all powerful, all knowing and kind god?"

Or as Winston Churchill is reported to have announced after first reading the bible: "This God, if he exists, is a right shit."

As Epicurus, some old dead Greek guy, once tweeted:

Quote
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

People much smarter than us have been pondering this for a good  many years.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on February 22, 2017, 10:57:32 AM
... were those people currently killing themselves and their kids in the Mediterranean taking the same risk at home, then they would resolve their domestic problems themselves...

Great question, Rob.

I think the answer is in the risk/benefit analysis. The risk might be the same (dying), but benefits are completely different. On the one hand, a promised land of milk and honey, and on the other... the same country, with the same problems, just a slightly different government, which is going to screw them over again in no time.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 22, 2017, 11:12:59 AM
I've been fascinated that he asked this question of the one person who could answer it, then didn't hang around for the answer.  We've been doing the same ever since, for the most part.

Rand

Given the context I think it is the most profound question ever asked. The context of course was that Jesus was standing (accused) before Pilate generally refusing to defend himself and then  made the outrageous claim that he, Jesus, was truth itself. Pilate responded by asking "What is truth?" From a Christian standpoint this is the encapsulation of the entire relationship between God and man. From a secular standpoint it still stands as an amazing historical occasion since Jesus, regardless of who we think him to be, had a huge impact on world history and how we view truth. Even if you reject the historical credibility of the account, it is a magnificent piece of literature. The dismissive tone of the response is also a critical philosophical topic.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: PeterAit on February 22, 2017, 11:20:38 AM
With all due respect, nothing here suggests a 'guiding hand'.

As a species, we tend to find meaning & patterns, even where none exists. There are evolutionary advantages to such tendencies are clear - if an organism can discern patterns, it can make predictions and potentially avoid dangerous situations, or successfully exploit food opportunities. That could have profound advantages for a population.

Your after-the-fact sense-making is of a kind with our tendency to see faces in clouds, the baby Jesus in a piece of toast, or Mohammad in a pomegranate. We impose patterns on the world, and we assume those patterns are real, even to the point of avoiding confounding data that would render such patterns non-existent.

Basically, shit happens, and sometimes we kid ourselves that shit happens for some reason beyond mere chance or a logical line of cause & effect. Nice story though.

Thank you Bill, I could not have put it better myself.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: RSL on February 22, 2017, 11:29:08 AM
It's a strong argument against a benevolent god. . .

And what's your definition of "benevolent?" You can understand "benevolent" only in human terms. Are you sure you have the whole picture?
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 22, 2017, 11:45:55 AM
And what's your definition of "benevolent?" You can understand "benevolent" only in human terms. Are you sure you have the whole picture?

That is the crux of the theistic argument. Compared to an omnipotent eternal deity our scope is incredibly limited.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Chairman Bill on February 22, 2017, 12:13:47 PM
Such smugness. The OP didn't ask anyone to condescendingly explain how he misinterpreted the events because of his evolutionary conditioning, his unwillingness to consider confounding data (which was not forthcoming by the way) or to be told that "shit happens".

Presumably he understands the nature of coincidence and that sometimes "shit happens". Presumably he understands that your "after-the-fact-sense-making" is pretty much the basis for most of our capacity to reason.

And yet, he still got the sense that the situation did not unfold by coincidence. And for some reason you felt the need to rush in and explain away that feeling with pop-psychology. Why? Was if offensive? Was it harmful for the OP to wonder why he felt that way?

And what is your confounding evidence? Is it "shit happens"?

The truth is this: pseudo science and pop psychology cannot disprove supernatural causation. Neither can real science. So when someone gets a sense of something transcendental why assault them with evolutionary theory about how we misunderstand series of events?

The truth is that you cannot prove or disprove supernatural causation here and so invoking your theories is kind of pointless unless it is just to make yourself seem smarter than someone else. I suspect there is a pop-psychology explanation for why some folks have need to belittle others.
Well you hear what you choose to hear; it's not necessarily what I've said. I wasn't being smug, but now I will be.

I'm a psychologist. What you're dismissing as 'pop' psychology, isn't. Maybe your use of the term speaks to your lack of knowledge & understanding in the field. You compound the revelation of your ignorance with the comment about science not being able to disprove the supernatural. The supernatural, by very definition, is outwith the purview of science. Science deals in real stuff; the natural world. It's why they are called the Naturalistic Sciences (as opposed to social sciences - psychology straddles the divide between the two). Science can only disprove that which is falsifiable. Claims of pixies, which are undetectable by science, cannot be disproven. You might want to read up on Russell's teapot or Carl Sagan's dragon in his garage.

As for why I'd "assault" someone with evolutionary theory - well education is what I do. And the "assault" was my offering an explanation that doesn't require the creation of a raft of mechanisms or entities, for which not a scrap of evidence exists. If you prefer to believe in pixies, that's your choice. By the way, next time someone tells you about the magic Canikon box they've got, which through pixie dust and magic, produces photographs that capture a person's soul, don't you dare assault them with an alternative explanation.

Oh, and yes there's a theory that explains why someone chooses to assume the worst intentions from someone, but I'll not mention cognitive distortions, or negativity bias or projection, for fear of being accused of belittling you.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 22, 2017, 02:40:18 PM
Well you hear what you choose to hear; it's not necessarily what I've said. I wasn't being smug, but now I will be.

One of the challenges of the internet. Your words stand on their own. If that isn't smug then its condescending. If you'd like me to explain why I'd be happy to.

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I'm a psychologist. What you're dismissing as 'pop' psychology, isn't. Maybe your use of the term speaks to your lack of knowledge & understanding in the field.

I'm no psychologist. But if we're going to trot out credentials, I am a physician and I received considerable training in inpatient and outpatient psychiatry. I've been in practice for 25 years and a considerable amount of that is spent on mental health issues.

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You compound the revelation of your ignorance with the comment about science not being able to disprove the supernatural. The supernatural, by very definition, is outwith the purview of science.

Then, by definition, science has nothing to say about the supernatural. It can neither prove nor disprove that which is outside of its purview. So we agree. Or maybe, as you suggested we are both ignorant.

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Science deals in real stuff; the natural world. It's why they are called the Naturalistic Sciences

That is not correct. That is naturalism (or materialism) which is a presumptive overlay to actual science. It is a view that cannot be tested, proved or refuted and as such is non-scientific in its assumptions which makes the naturalistic view of science an oxymoron. And as such it is a belief structure based of faith (since it cannot be tested or proved).


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Science can only disprove that which is falsifiable. Claims of pixies, which are undetectable by science, cannot be disproven.

Again, neither can materialism be disproved. So it fails even your own measure of what science is.

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You might want to read up on Russell's teapot or Carl Sagan's dragon in his garage.

You may want to read Alvin Plantinga's Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism.

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As for why I'd "assault" someone with evolutionary theory - well education is what I do.

That seems a sad statement.

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And the "assault" was my offering an explanation

The OP did not ask for an explanation or an education.

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that doesn't require the creation of a raft of mechanisms or entities, for which not a scrap of evidence exists.

Which you fail to balance with the understanding that there is not a scrap of evidence that a supernatural entity does not exist.

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If you prefer to believe in pixies, that's your choice.

That is so offensive. The very nature of it assumes that I have not examined my own belief structure when in truth, from your statements, it seems like I have gone to much greater lengths to examine mine than you have yours particularly in regard to your conflation of naturalism with science. You have your own religion and don't even now it. At least I can give my pixie a name and admit that I believer in him and explain why it is a fully warranted and rational belief based on the highest levels of philosophy, science and theology.

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By the way, next time someone tells you about the magic Canikon box they've got, which through pixie dust and magic, produces photographs that capture a person's soul, don't you dare assault them with an alternative explanation.

Well, unlike you, I would not feel compelled to do so if they didn't ask me to. And even if I did I would at least try not to be condescending about it.

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Oh, and yes there's a theory that explains why someone chooses to assume the worst intentions from someone,

Sometimes the words speak for themselves even given the ambiguities of the internet.

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but I'll not mention cognitive distortions, or negativity bias or projection, for fear of being accused of belittling you.

I remember reading about that stuff!
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Farmer on February 22, 2017, 04:07:27 PM
The thing that puzzles me about TV shows on paranormal investigation is that in the dramatization of the event they clearly show them recording the ghost or entity with video cameras, but when they switch to the real person (not actor) telling the story, they don't play the original real video mentioned in the dramatization.

I'm not sure you're all that puzzled, Tim ;-)
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Farmer on February 22, 2017, 04:14:05 PM
It's good of you not to take it as such. But that doesn't mean it wasn't smug and condescending. It was.

Ah, yes, you are the absolute authority on making such determinations.  It couldn't possibly just be your (mis)interpretation.

What's the old joke?  Don't worry about him, that's just God - he thinks he's a doctor.  You don't know everything, George, and your opinion is far from being infallible, regardless of how strongly you believe otherwise (based on your faith in other things).  No doubt you're excellent within your field, given your longevity, and I don't intend this to be taken to suggest otherwise to any degree, just to be clear.  But in the confines of these discussions, you write with constant condescension (even with those with whom you agree on a certain subject).  It's tiresome.  There is no point discussing anything with someone who is so sure of themselves that they cannot be faulted in their view.

This is not to say that you shouldn't argue strongly for what you believe to correct, or if you see a flaw in the argument of the other person.  Of course, you should.  But it can be done without speaking down to them, without assuming that your perspective is perfect, and with just a tiny, little touch of humility and acceptance that no matter how much you believe something, it's just a belief.

Remember - you only play the part of God - you aren't actually Him.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Chairman Bill on February 22, 2017, 04:58:28 PM
So much wrongness, it's almost hard to know where to begin

I'm no psychologist. But if we're going to trot out credentials, I am a physician and I received considerable training in inpatient and outpatient psychiatry. I've been in practice for 25 years and a considerable amount of that is spent on mental health issues.
Well done. It doesn't make you a psychologist though, and you dismissing what I said as 'pop' psychology betrays the fact that you're not a psychologist.

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Then, by definition, science has nothing to say about the supernatural. It can neither prove nor disprove that which is outside of its purview. So we agree. Or maybe, as you suggested we are both ignorant.
Science doesn't deal in proofs - that's for philosophy, mathematics & distilling, but when someone claims that something supernatural has interacted with the natural world, they assert its involvement in the natural world, and that claim is then beyond the merely 'supernatural', and the total absence of evidence to support such claims, is something science can comment upon.

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... naturalism (or materialism) which is a presumptive overlay to actual science. It is a view that cannot be tested, proved or refuted and as such is non-scientific in its assumptions which makes the naturalistic view of science an oxymoron. And as such it is a belief structure based of faith (since it cannot be tested or proved).
No. Science deals with the natural world. It is the basis of science that nature can be tested, poked, prodded, and that we can derive laws & rules and the like. It presumes to be able to investigate & in some way come to know, that which is part of nature. Don't confuse methodological naturalism with metaphysical naturalism. Though the latter presupposes the former, the opposite does not necessarily apply. It isn't based on 'faith' though. Science can indeed be tested, and provides repeatable results, that can be interrogated & replicated by others. Science enables us to put a man on the moon. If you want something equivalent from the supernatural, you'd better get bending some spoons.


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You may want to read Alvin Plantinga's Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism.
For all his lofty academic credentials, Platinga is a mere apologist, not a seeker after truth. He starts from the basis that his religious beliefs are correct, and proceeds to assert & defend them. For an intelligent man, he certainly says some very stupid things.

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The OP did not ask for an explanation or an education.
No shit, Sherlock.

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Which you fail to balance with the understanding that there is not a scrap of evidence that a supernatural entity does not exist.
Please tell me how it would be possible to falsify something that is unfalsifiable? Please provide evidence that Three-toed Snortiblogs don't exist. What about the Tooth Fairy? If something doesn't exist, it doesn't leave any evidence, so how do you provide the evidence to prove it doesn't exist? And anyway, that which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence. Fanciful imaginings, even if they're ancient, don't constitute evidence for the reality of the fanciful imaginings. The burden of evidence rests with the person making the positive claim. In the absence of such evidence, the rest of us are entitled to point & laugh if we choose. I've chosen to offer an alternative set of explanations, that doesn't require unevidenced entities/powers. A rational explanation. I can point & laugh though, if you want.

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That is so offensive.
No it's not. You might choose to be offended by it, but in & of itself, it is not offensive.

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The very nature of it assumes that I have not examined my own belief structure when in truth, from your statements, it seems like I have gone to much greater lengths to examine mine than you have yours particularly in regard to your conflation of naturalism with science. You have your own religion and don't even now it.
No, I don't have a religion. If you can't work out why, ask a friend.

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At least I can give my pixie a name and admit that I believer in him and explain why it is a fully warranted and rational belief based on the highest levels of philosophy, science and theology.
There is no science to support claims of supernatural entities, even those with names. As for the highest levels of philosophy, you're joking, right? And theology? Really? At its best, it is a bloody great case of begging the question.

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...unlike you, I would not feel compelled to do so if they didn't ask me to. And even if I did I would at least try not to be condescending about it.
I had no intention of being condescending. I explained my reasons for commenting. Unlike you, I didn't ascribe any intention to the poster I was responding to, not least because I had no evidence of his intention, other than to offer up an anecdote (presumably for discussion/comment) he thought worth sharing.

Now, maybe, just maybe, we can rein-in the personalisations. You stop calling me smug & condescending, and I'll stop reacting in a condescending manner. You chose to read my post in a particular light. You will have your own reasons for choosing that interpretation. I'd suggest sticking to commenting on what is said, not how you choose to hear it being said, especially given that you can't actually hear what I say.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 22, 2017, 05:54:17 PM
Ah, yes, you are the absolute authority on making such determinations.  It couldn't possibly just be your (mis)interpretation.

Okay, let's consider what he said:

"Your after-the-fact sense-making is of a kind with our tendency to see faces in clouds, the baby Jesus in a piece of toast, or Mohammad in a pomegranate."

On what planet or in what language is that not condescending? If you can read that as not condescending then I'll bow to your understanding and offer my apologies.

even to the point of avoiding confounding data

Likewise.

Basically, shit happens, and sometimes we kid ourselves that shit happens for some reason

Again. My apologies to all if I have misconstrued these statements.

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You don't know everything, George,

I have not claimed to.

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your opinion is far from being infallible, regardless of how strongly you believe otherwise (based on your faith in other things).

Very true.

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But in the confines of these discussions, you write with constant condescension (even with those with whom you agree on a certain subject).

Could be. But are you sure? I mean, if you don't see the condescension in Chairman Bill's post but you do see it in my posts is there a chance there is a bias because we seem to disagree? Regardless, I'll take it under consideration and do what I can.

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It's tiresome.

I try to write precisely. In this sort of discussion that is important. Maybe that makes it sound condescending? Or maybe it is condescending. Most of my responses are prompted by people who make blanket stereotypical claims which in many circles are intended to go unchallenged. It can be hard to challenge such statements without seeming to be condescending. Again, I'll take it under considerations. But there are times when I intend to be condescending....as when people who characterize religious people (most of the world's population) as believing in pixies and fairies....for example.

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There is no point discussing anything with someone who is so sure of themselves that they cannot be faulted in their view.

This is not to say that you shouldn't argue strongly for what you believe to correct, or if you see a flaw in the argument of the other person.  Of course, you should.

Those two statements are hard to reconcile, no? And I do not believe that anywhere I have invoked my own authority in a matter? So I'm not sure this assessment of your is fair.

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But it can be done without speaking down to them, without assuming that your perspective is perfect, and with just a tiny, little touch of humility and acceptance that no matter how much you believe something, it's just a belief.

Good advice.

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Remember - you only play the part of God - you aren't actually Him.

No, no, I do not even play the part.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 22, 2017, 05:57:45 PM
It doesn't make you a psychologist though, and you dismissing what I said as 'pop' psychology betrays the fact that you're not a psychologist.

And that is precisely why I prefaced the statement with "I'm no psychologist"  ;)
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Chairman Bill on February 22, 2017, 06:40:04 PM
And that is precisely why I prefaced the statement with "I'm no psychologist"  ;)
But you feel qualified to dismiss it as pop psychology?
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Chairman Bill on February 22, 2017, 06:55:14 PM
Okay, let's consider what he said:

"Your after-the-fact sense-making is of a kind with our tendency to see faces in clouds, the baby Jesus in a piece of toast, or Mohammad in a pomegranate."

On what planet or in what language is that not condescending? If you can read that as not condescending then I'll bow to your understanding and offer my apologies.
Because he is making sense of an event, after the fact, and that sense making is of a kind (i.e. the same mechanisms are operating here) with the way that people see patterns that aren't really there. It's called pareidolia in the context of seeing faces and the like, but it's all about imposing patterns on the natural world, trying to make sense of things. We are programmed to see agency, even where none exists. And yes, sometimes we do this even in the face of confounding data. Confirmation bias, illusory correlations, pareidolia ... there's a lot of things going on in our heads, such that we can't really trust our unexamined feelings & conclusions. And whilst an experience may well suggest a 'guiding hand', there are other ways of examining an event, and accounting for it, without recourse to supernaturalist explanations.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 22, 2017, 07:59:11 PM

Science doesn't deal in proofs -

I don't know what you mean about that. Maybe its a matter of semantics but science is all about dealing with proof.

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but when someone claims that something supernatural has interacted with the natural world, they assert its involvement in the natural world, and that claim is then beyond the merely 'supernatural',

I don't understand. I don't think anything can be beyond the supernatural.

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and the total absence of evidence to support such claims, is something science can comment upon.

Well, first, there is not a total absence of evidence for a creator. Far from it. That evidence may not be conclusive, but it is a misrepresentation to say there is none. (And I would be happy to discuss them if you wish.) Second, you said yourself "The supernatural, by very definition, is outwith the purview of science."

If it is outside the purview of science then science cannot say anything about whether it exists or not. And to date there is no scientific, mathematical or philosophical conclusive evidence that god does not exist. If you think you know of such evidence then let's have it.

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No. Science deals with the natural world. It is the basis of science that nature can be tested, poked, prodded, and that we can derive laws & rules and the like.

Right, but this in no way means that there is a basic scientific principle that says, in addition to nature there is nothing else. That is the basis for Newton's laws which always specify that they apply only in a closed system.

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Don't confuse methodological naturalism with metaphysical naturalism.

I haven't. And neither of them is based on the very principles of science that you yourself have used to define science. A presumption of naturalism of any ilk is untestable and unprovable. Science cannot be applied to principles of materialism. It is fine to believe in naturalism if you want to but it cannot be justified based on science.

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It isn't based on 'faith' though.

You can call it faith or you can call it something else. It remains an untestable presupposition. If you believe it then you are taking it on faith....or whatever word you wish to use.

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Science can indeed be tested, and provides repeatable results, that can be interrogated & replicated by others.

Okay. Sort of. It clearly has limits beyond which it cannot go. Heisenberg proved that.

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Science enables us to put a man on the moon. If you want something equivalent from the supernatural, you'd better get bending some spoons.

No, the Kalam Cosmological Argument will do just fine. Once you've explained it away then I'll worship at the same alter as you.

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For all his lofty academic credentials, Platinga is a mere apologist, not a seeker after truth.

That is a shockingly poor misrepresentation of the man who pretty much single handedly transformed the modern study of philosophy.

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He starts from the basis that his religious beliefs are correct, and proceeds to assert & defend them.

That is proof enough that you have not read him or grossly misunderstand him. He, in fact, does the exact opposite. He challenges secular ideas strictly from the secular playing field. But the ironic, maybe even hypocritical thing about your statement is that is THE defining hallmark of naturalism which says, there is nothing supernatural and science must start from that vantage point.

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For an intelligent man, he certainly says some very stupid things.

Such as? Find one. Just one.

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No shit, Sherlock.

What?

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Please tell me how it would be possible to falsify something that is unfalsifiable?

That ball is in your court as well as mine. Naturalism is an unverifiable presumption.

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Please provide evidence that Three-toed Snortiblogs don't exist. What about the Tooth Fairy? If something doesn't exist, it doesn't leave any evidence, so how do you provide the evidence to prove it doesn't exist?

I don't know where you're going with this. What is the point? But as I mentioned before, there is evidence for god. Probably not conclusive, but it is there. Again, I'm more than willing to discuss it.

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And anyway, that which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.

Again, I don't know what to say about that. Even things with evidence can be dismissed without evidence. It might be wrong.....but it can still be done. And in the context of this discussion, which centers around a sense that a supernatural guidance occurred, how does this apply? You evidence that it was not supernatural is no better than his feeling that it was. Science cannot change that.

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The burden of evidence rests with the person making the positive claim.

So I believe it rests with you. The OP had a feeling. You explained it away with "shit happens". You made the positive claim which in is essence is that nothing exists outside of what science can test for. And you have no proof to support your assumption. But if you wish to turn it around and say that the OP claimed that god exists, fine. But you'd be wrong. He didn't. He claimed he had a feeling. You'll have a hard time disproving that. Still and yet, if you wish to turn it around and say that I have claimed the existence of god, then again, I think you are wrong (I say I think because maybe I did and don't remember). That's fine too if you want me to make the claim so that I can defend it. I don't mind.

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In the absence of such evidence, the rest of us are entitled to point & laugh if we choose. I've chosen to offer an alternative set of explanations, that doesn't require unevidenced entities/powers. A rational explanation. I can point & laugh though, if you want.

You can point and laugh and belittle all you want. That is relevant only to rudeness.

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No it's not. You might choose to be offended by it, but in & of itself, it is not offensive.

I'll concede that we live in the land of the offended. But to equate a belief in god with believing in pixies is insulting. It does not matter how you or I view it. It is intended to insult and it is intended to belittle. How can it be taken any other way?

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No, I don't have a religion. If you can't work out why, ask a friend.

What? Ask what friend? So again, call it what you will. But if you believe in the presuppositions of naturalism as you have said that you do then you have a belief that cannot be proved or disproved by scientific method. You have no evidence for it. No experiment can prove it right or wrong. And to add to that you accept it quite dogmatically and you resort to insults when it is challenged. Sounds like religion of the worst sort to me.

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There is no science to support claims of supernatural entities, even those with names.

And, yet again, there is no science that disproves them either. Including pixies. So you can't keep hiding behind science which in this case serves neither argument.

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As for the highest levels of philosophy, you're joking, right?

Well, no, I'm not kidding at all. Maybe you can explain why you ask? Is there a critical name or a text or a concept that you think I may have missed?

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I had no intention of being condescending.

I'd like to believe that. But you can't really, rationally, call someone who believes in a creator god (which is most of the world's population) a believer in pixies without being insulting and condescending. Again, how can it be taken otherwise?

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Unlike you, I didn't ascribe any intention to the poster I was responding to,

When did I ascribe "intention" (whatever that means) to the OP? Not a rhetorical question. Maybe I did. If so, I'd like to know if it was wrong to have done so.

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Now, maybe, just maybe, we can rein-in the personalisations.

That would be nice.

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I'd suggest sticking to commenting on what is said, not how you choose to hear it being said, especially given that you can't actually hear what I say.

That's fine. But that does not absolve the writer in any way, as Farmer suggested to me above. Sometimes you just have to call a spade a spade.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on February 22, 2017, 09:10:42 PM
WOW!!!???

Guys, the real fight is over at the Trump thread. I can't believe religion beats Trump.  :D :D :D
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 22, 2017, 10:12:14 PM
WOW!!!???

Guys, the real fight is over at the Trump thread. I can't believe religion beats Trump.  :D :D :D

Or, religion trumps Trump. Or Trump trumps religion. Glad I'm not involved in the Trump thread!

I think that one of the unfortunate things about the internet is that it can be hard to have a civil conversation about a mutually interesting but potentially devisive topic because of some of the limitations of writing, the level of anonymity and the disinhibition of uncivil behavior (I'm guilty). I would love to have this conversation with most of the participants in this thread over a bottle of Scotch (I like Caol Ila)....the very existence of which proves that God loves us and wants us to be happy. ;)

Goodnight.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Ray on February 23, 2017, 12:58:46 AM

Well, first, there is not a total absence of evidence for a creator. Far from it. That evidence may not be conclusive, but it is a misrepresentation to say there is none. (And I would be happy to discuss them if you wish.) Second, you said yourself "The supernatural, by very definition, is outwith the purview of science."

If it is outside the purview of science then science cannot say anything about whether it exists or not. And to date there is no scientific, mathematical or philosophical conclusive evidence that god does not exist. If you think you know of such evidence then let's have it.


George,
I thought we'd sorted this issue in that other thread, 'Who needs the Northern or Southern Poles?'

You seem to be attributing the same status and problematic difficulty to the processes of 'proving that something exists', and 'proving that something does not exist'.

Proving that certain things exist is something that everyone does every day. Our senses of eyesight and touch in particular, confirm the existence of the material objects that surrounds us. If I think a brick wall is possibly an illusion, all I have to do is give it a good kick, and my broken toe or pain is proof that the wall really does exist. No elaborate scientific instruments are required.

Proving that something does not exist is hugely problematical. The first problem is being able to identify what you are searching for. If you are able to identify and recognise what you are trying to prove does not exist, as in the case of a species of animal which you think might have become extinct, then the task is much easier and there's the possibility of a high degree of certainty that the creature no longer exists, after a lot of time and effort has failed to reveal a single living example of the creature in its usual habitats.

I'm fairly certain that Dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus Rex do not exist (on this planet the Earth), but the concept and the imaginative reconstructions of the creatures from the fossilized bones, do exist, in museums, in literature, and in our minds.

If any group of scientists was given the task of proving that God does not exist, the first insurmountable problem would be, 'What does God look like?' 'What are his characteristic that would enable us to identify 'him', 'her' or 'it'?'

The Jewish/Christian Bible states that 'man was created in the image of God'. The implication is therefore that God has the appearance of a man. Should the scientists therefore search the universe for some shape in the distant galaxies that resembles a human being?

The second problem in proving that something does not exist, period, is the vastness of the universe. How can mere humans search every nook and cranny in this vast universe where the furthest galaxy that has so far been detected (EGS8p7) is about 13.8 billion light years away.

To prove that God does not exist is an impossible task, which is why it is claimed to be outside the realms of scientific inquiry.

There have been a number of very wise men in the past who have realised the futility of trying to prove that a Creator God does, or does not exist. They include Confucius and Gautama Buddha.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Tim Lookingbill on February 23, 2017, 02:36:46 AM
My initial post centered around asking you folks if you've ever experienced "Extreme" coincidences similar to what happened with the boys and the cellphone that appear to beat the odds of it ever happening comparing the scaling to other extreme coincidences like evolution, the Big Bang, etc. We're all here by accident, an accident of miraculous proportions.

Our existence considering the rest of the universe has beat all odds of us ever happening. The Earth is the size of a speck of dust compared to the rest of the universe but yet it's massive in its complexity. And there's so much going on compared to the rest of the cosmos.

I mean how did we get from The Big Bang to the "The Three Stooges". There are no evolutionary patterns or indicators within a universe of rocks, gasses and wave spectrum energy that this would be the outcome.

Anyone have any interesting coincidences happen in their life as big as the cosmos?
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rob C on February 23, 2017, 04:21:58 AM
Just wondering, what are the God-tasks?

There are none.

It's the expectation that there are some that causes problems, and the turning into, cloaking of personal/group desires as God-given tasks that causes bloody murders etc. The concept of God becomes a banner under which every type of conceivable sin gets committed.

From my perspective, there are basic moral concepts that seem to apply to many belief systems, and those would appear to be valid 'rules' for conducting mutually helpful lives, or at least lives free from conflict if not in perfect harmony. It's when those rules become tied to a specific religion, changed into extreme formats, that things get messy, and heads roll in the desert sands. Or old ladies die at the stake for loving their cats. (I've owned a variety of old-fashioned brooms, and not one has allowed me flight! Hendrix tried it with his guitar, but only got confused and thought himself doing something else.)

Personally, I see organized religion as almost a contradiction of the concept of God. In my mind, God is not a lot to do with old guys in robes, great paintings, bones in boxes and golden chalices. And as little to do with earnest young people knocking on the door with brochures clasped under their arms. God is about the feeling when you stand on a hill looking out at the raging sea; when you find yourself walking down the street and your mind floods with memories of going shopping with somebody you love; when you watch the birth of a lamb on a documentary programme. God seems to be about life, feelings of love and purpose.

In short, the tasks are all ours for the doing; it's in how we do them or not do them, that we realise or deny the God within us all.

Here endeth the sermon for today.

;-)

Rob
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rob C on February 23, 2017, 04:39:04 AM
You're up early Keith! Good morning!

Rob
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Ray on February 23, 2017, 04:46:37 AM
My initial post centered around asking you folks if you've ever experienced "Extreme" coincidences similar to what happened with the boys and the cellphone that appear to beat the odds of it ever happening comparing the scaling to other extreme coincidences like evolution, the Big Bang, etc. We're all here by accident, an accident of miraculous proportions.

Our existence considering the rest of the universe has beat all odds of us ever happening. The Earth is the size of a speck of dust compared to the rest of the universe but yet it's massive in its complexity. And there's so much going on compared to the rest of the cosmos.

I mean how did we get from The Big Bang to the "The Three Stooges". There are no evolutionary patterns or indicators within a universe of rocks, gasses and wave spectrum energy that this would be the outcome.

Anyone have any interesting coincidences happen in their life as big as the cosmos?

I recently experienced a power failure at my property in the countryside, probably due to a storm. The electricity was cut off for a few hours and I had to use battery-operated LED lights in the house, after the sun set.

Fortunately, my mobile phone still worked, so I decided to ring a friend for a conversation, and tell her I had a power outage. The friend is a devout Christian who lives about 80 kilometres away.

As soon as she answered the phone, within just a second or so, the power and the lights came back on. Does that count?  ;D
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Ray on February 23, 2017, 06:56:32 AM
We're all here by accident, an accident of miraculous proportions.

Our existence considering the rest of the universe has beat all odds of us ever happening. The Earth is the size of a speck of dust compared to the rest of the universe but yet it's massive in its complexity. And there's so much going on compared to the rest of the cosmos.

I mean how did we get from The Big Bang to the "The Three Stooges". There are no evolutionary patterns or indicators within a universe of rocks, gasses and wave spectrum energy that this would be the outcome.


I've heard these arguments before, and they've always puzzled me. Some people, even with a PhD in science, seem to believe that the odds of the first, most primitive form of life, spontaneously arising in a soupy sea of chemicals, are so small that it couldn't realistically happen, and that therefore there must have been a Creator. It's a very unconvincing argument.

Some people also put forth the argument that the complexity of the conditions that would cause a process of 'evolution' to result in a human being as clever and wonderful as we are, is so mind-bogglingly complex, that there must have been some sort of Intelligent Designer.

Again, this is not a convincing argument. We are what we are, as a result of trillions of causes and effects. If just one major cause had been different, such as the meteorite strike that wiped out the Dinosaurs, then we would have been different, in design, shape and intelligence.

If a different, individual sperm had fertilised a different egg in my mothers womb, after the act of sexual intercourse, then I would be different.

Religious people, in my view, tend to have a great deal of hubris, disguised as humility when they bow in front of icons representing their God. For thousands of years, many religious people have held the view that the Earth is the centre of the universe. How arrogant is that?

The current scientific view is that there are probably about 20 billion planets in our galaxy alone. The estimate of the number of stars (or suns) in our galaxy range from 100 billion to 400 billion.

The estimate of the number of galaxies in the universe used to be about 200 billion. However, after recent observations through Hubble's 'Ultra Deep Field' system, that estimate is considered to be 10x too low. That means there are possibly 2 trillion galaxies in the universe.

If we assume that our galaxy, with an estimate of 20 billion planets, is an average size galaxy, then the number of planets in the universe could be 20 billion x 2 trillion, or 40 quintillion, far, far greater than the US national debt in dollars.  ;)

The chances of at least one of those 40 quintillion planets having suitable conditions for life to form, are probably quite high. No need to invent a Creator God.

If you buy a lottery ticket, the chances of your winning first prize are very slim, but the chances of someone winning first prize are almost certain. I say 'almost' because there is always the slight possibility that the lottery is a fraud.



Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rob C on February 23, 2017, 07:25:01 AM
Ray, all I read into your latest post on this topic is this: you have simply chosen to believe what you believe, and no matter what Earth-shattering proof might alight upon your shoulder, there would always be a counter-argument to save or prevent you from a change of mind. But that's perfectly fine: I am just as resolved to trust my version of inner conviction which has almost nothing to do with clergy, with 'pixies' or any other put-down folks may choose to invent in order to attempt humiliate proponents of the opposing argument.

The number of galaxies has nothing to do with it: it isn't a matter of scale, it's a matter of belief. You might as well say that a single person contains far too many cells for that person to exist as a person - the chances of it happening are too greatly against.

And then what is belief? Could one but analyse that without resorting to false analogies connected to the physical world, one would be half-way en route to understanding what God may be. And no, please, no chemicals in the brain: everyone has them, but they are capable of producing totally different things in every single person.

Like in Jerry Lee's song, there must be more to love life than this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cgrs_6vSBYw

Rob
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Ray on February 23, 2017, 09:04:26 AM
Ray, all I read into your latest post on this topic is this: you have simply chosen to believe what you believe, and no matter what Earth-shattering proof might alight upon your shoulder, there would always be a counter-argument to save or prevent you from a change of mind. But that's perfectly fine: I am just as resolved to trust my version of inner conviction which has almost nothing to do with clergy, with 'pixies' or any other put-down folks may choose to invent in order to attempt humiliate proponents of the opposing argument.

The number of galaxies has nothing to do with it: it isn't a matter of scale, it's a matter of belief. You might as well say that a single person contains far too many cells for that person to exist as a person - the chances of it happening are too greatly against.

And then what is belief? Could one but analyse that without resorting to false analogies connected to the physical world, one would be half-way en route to understanding what God may be. And no, please, no chemicals in the brain: everyone has them, but they are capable of producing totally different things in every single person.

Rob

Not at all, Rob. Beliefs are not chosen. They arise as a result of causes and conditioning. A Muslim is a Muslim because he/she was raised in a Muslim family and sent to a Muslim school, and a Christian is a Christian because he/she was raised in a Christian family and probably repeated the Lord's Prayer every morning at school.

There are always a few exceptions of course, especially amongst Christian who are allowed to leave their religion if they find it nonsensical, as opposed to Muslims who are not allowed to leave their religion. Even Richard Dawkins had a Christian upbringing. There will also be a few atheists who will convert to a religion, and a few religious people who will convert to another religion

Mark Twain expressed the problem very succinctly with his quote: "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."

The nature of religious belief is an unjustified certainty that something is true, and that's been the cause of a lot of wars in the past, which continue in the present.
Religious people never seem to learn. They're stuck in the past, clinging on to pre-scientific views and understandings that have been mostly debunked in the light of modern science, reason and logic.

When I present an argument, my belief in it is always provisional. If someone debunks my argument with a more sound case, and with more evidence than my own argument is based upon, then I will always concede that I might be wrong, and change my view.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 23, 2017, 09:11:27 AM
George,
I thought we'd sorted this issue in that other thread, 'Who needs the Northern or Southern Poles?'

I didn't think anything got sorted in that thread. ;)

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You seem to be attributing the same status and problematic difficulty to the processes of 'proving that something exists', and 'proving that something does not exist'.

That is not my intent.

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Proving that something does not exist is hugely problematical.

Exactly! And shouldn't that fact mitigate, at least to some small degree, the certainty that usually results in smugness when it comes to god? Why does someone feel compelled to try to explain away the sense of supernatural that another person had and then claim that all such sensations and beliefs amount to believing in pixies? That's my whole point. It is inappropriate to dismiss out of hand what you cannot explain and what your tools are ill-equipped to handle. I'm not insisting that anyone believe in god. I'm suggesting that we can't rule him out. That's all. Well, I'm also suggesting it is insensitive to belittle someone for his beliefs regarding the transcendent.

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If any group of scientists was given the task of proving that God does not exist, the first insurmountable problem would be, 'What does God look like?' 'What are his characteristic that would enable us to identify 'him', 'her' or 'it'?'

Exactly.

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The Jewish/Christian Bible states that 'man was created in the image of God'. The implication is therefore that God has the appearance of a man. Should the scientists therefore search the universe for some shape in the distant galaxies that resembles a human being?

That is actually not how most people interpret the concept of the image of God. Most feel that this refers not to physical attributes but to the attributes of mind, soul, will, volition and intellect. So in this case, no, we cannot even use appearance to search for God. And for most discussions god is by most definitions immaterial. Which makes the challenge to science vs God, pretty much insurmountable. Again, that's my point.

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To prove that God does not exist is an impossible task, which is why it is claimed to be outside the realms of scientific inquiry.

Agreed. That's why all I'm pointing out is that it is not really reasonable to assume or to claim that science has done so.

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There have been a number of very wise men in the past who have realised the futility of trying to prove that a Creator God does, or does not exist. They include Confucius and Gautama Buddha.

Most of the apologists I refer to would agree, to some degree, with that statement. Remember, I've not yet insisted to anyone that God exists.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 23, 2017, 09:32:42 AM
The concept of God becomes a banner under which every type of conceivable sin gets committed.

Rob, that's a popular notion. And it has been true and is true now, especially with the rise of radical Islam. But in the most extreme cases like ISIL, that is not a religious driven organization. Those are Bathists, not jihadists.

But, if we're going to talk about witch trials, Inquisitions or Jihadis, we have to keep things in perspective. As I've said before, nothing in the history of mankind compares to the carnage wrought on humanity and this planet in the twentieth century and none of it in the name of god or any other entity other than secularism and humanism. So yes, people use religion for horrible things. Always have, always will. But so far, nothing compares to what we've done in the name of godlessness.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 23, 2017, 10:15:51 AM
I've heard these arguments before, and they've always puzzled me. Some people, even with a PhD in science, seem to believe that the odds of the first, most primitive form of life, spontaneously arising in a soupy sea of chemicals, are so small that it couldn't realistically happen, and that therefore there must have been a Creator. It's a very unconvincing argument.

How so? Even those who believe that life spontaneously erupted will admit that the chances of this happening is "astronomically improbable". That being the case, we either believe in the astronomically improbable or we believe in something else. So neither argument has any claim on being convincing, right?

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Some people also put forth the argument that the complexity of the conditions that would cause a process of 'evolution' to result in a human being as clever and wonderful as we are, is so mind-bogglingly complex, that there must have been some sort of Intelligent Designer.

Again, maybe not a convincing proposition but it is far from irrational. Theories regarding irreducible complexity make very sound arguments that mutations and natural selection lack the explanatory power to explain complex organs and complex biochemical processes. Even Christian apologists will concede that such arguments are not strong for proof of existence of god, but they sure punch giant holes in the argument that unguided evolution can explain these structures. The point being, in the face of our best explanations being astronomically improbable (and almost no one argues that they aren't) then it is not unwarranted or irrational to consider other possibilities.

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Again, this is not a convincing argument.

Agreed. But neither is the science of evolution as convincing as most people assume it is. I believe in the principles of evolution as the best theory we have. But it is far from rock solid.

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Religious people, in my view, tend to have a great deal of hubris, disguised as humility when they bow in front of icons representing their God. For thousands of years, many religious people have held the view that the Earth is the centre of the universe. How arrogant is that?

Not really relevant here. Even now, those who believe there is no god may give lip service to the "billions and billions" notion. But very few actually live as if they believe it is true. Religious people hardly have a corner on the market of arrogance and hypocrisy. Right? And how is that any more arrogant than to dismiss most the beliefs of the majority of the people on earth as ignorant and primitive when your science is incapable of proving that they are? It all comes down to belief structures. Most of them carry their own abuses, arrogance and hypocrisy.

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The current scientific view is that there are probably about 20 billion planets in our galaxy alone. The estimate of the number of stars (or suns) in our galaxy range from 100 billion to 400 billion.

And in the human brain their are more synaptic possibilities than there are ELECTRONS in the universe. Just some perspective there.

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The chances of at least one of those 40 quintillion planets having suitable conditions for life to form, are probably quite high. No need to invent a Creator God.

The existence of other life has no bearing on the existence of god. There is no relation between those two issues at all. The idea that there is a materialist explanation for life and the increased probabilities based on the number of life supporting planets says nothing about the existence of god.

Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 23, 2017, 10:40:49 AM
Some people also put forth the argument that the complexity of the conditions that would cause a process of 'evolution' to result in a human being as clever and wonderful as we are, is so mind-bogglingly complex, that there must have been some sort of Intelligent Designer.

As I mentioned before, most apologists would agree with you on that general concept. But there is another issue at hand here that presents a much stronger argument for theists. It is very complex and I cannot do it justice but the crux of the argument is that we humans assume that when we are functioning properly that our faculties for judging what is generally true are generally accurate. This is our ability to approach true beliefs. However, evolution equips us for survival only. And knowing what is actually true is not necessary for survival. It might help, but not necessarily. In other words, I can think a tiger is a wolf. As long as I run away and survive there is no evolutionary advantage to knowing that it is in fact a tiger and not a wolf. This is a simple example but when multiplied by the millions of years, etc that is required for evolution to work then there is no reason to believe that evolution could or would equip us for knowing what is real and true.

Now before anyone piles on and suggests that this is something contrived by Bible thumpers it is not. The idea originated with Darwin. It is currently shared by a number of prominent evolutionists who are also atheist and hold no truck with design theory. The idea has been explored to depths beyond my training and ability by Alvin Plantinga. His conclusion, surprise, is that a creator is the only explanation for our ability to sense and know the truth. Even if you reject his conclusion, it still represents a major obstacle to believing that evolution alone is a perfect or even reasonable explanation. It has to leave us with a sense of "I'm not sure."

And as such, my whole point is that materialist and atheists have no rational cause to belittle or dismiss belief in the transcendental.  That's all I'm saying. We cannot, under the auspices of science, technology, philosophy or modernism be brushed off or dismissed. But the real question, is why is there such a zealous, almost fanatical impulse to do so? That's the question at hand.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 23, 2017, 11:12:13 AM
Not at all, Rob. Beliefs are not chosen. They arise as a result of causes and conditioning. A Muslim is a Muslim because he/she was raised in a Muslim family and sent to a Muslim school, and a Christian is a Christian because he/she was raised in a Christian family and probably repeated the Lord's Prayer every morning at school.

Ray, that is determinism at its worst and determinism comes with a lot of sinister baggage. I disagree with it completely. Beliefs are not chosen only among those who will not examine themselves or their beliefs.

I am an example to the contrary. I was brought up a Christian. I had Christian beliefs. I studied the sciences in the public school/collegiate. I was exposed to all of the challenges to theistic believe that this course of study entailed. Then I had two belief structures that conflicted with one another. I tried to keep them apart. It did not weaken my faith but I wondered if it should. So I sought to find out. And I have sought deep and hard. You might claim that I only sought to confirm my own belief structure. What could I say to that? Who doesn't? The fact is, I've studied the science, I've studied the naturalism/materialism, I've read the militant atheists, I've read the existentialist and the empiricists, I've read Augustine, Acquinas, Calvin and the modern apologists.

I have concluded that there is nothing in science of philosophy that suggests that my beliefs are irrational or unwarranted and I remain open to those challenges daily. That's why I'm participating in this thread; not to proselatise but to experience those challenges. I have also concluded that science and theism fit better together than science and naturalism. I also see a growing, popular blind faith in anything labled as science. I often point that out. It is the new religion and like any religion it has its zealots and priests. The difference is that they will all deny what they are.

I am sincerely sorry if you think your belief structures are set in stone. Mine are not, I seek to challenege them regularly and to defend them when I can.

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The nature of religious belief is an unjustified certainty that something is true

That cannot be further from the truth and I challenge you to go beyond simply stating it.

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and that's been the cause of a lot of wars in the past, which continue in the present.

And yet they pale into insignificance compared to the secular  wars and events of the twentieth century which are so easily ignored by those who wish to denigrate religion.

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Religious people never seem to learn. They're stuck in the past, clinging on to pre-scientific views and understandings that have been mostly debunked in the light of modern science, reason and logic.

Pure unmitigated bigotry right there. Again, make your case, don't just state it. You have not so far. Show me one single way modern science has debunked theism. Just one.

Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on February 23, 2017, 11:20:33 AM
...I also see a growing, popular blind faith in anything labeled as science... It is the new religion and like any religion it has its zealots and priests...

+1
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rob C on February 23, 2017, 11:54:32 AM
Quote from: N80 on Today at 11:12:13 AM

  "  ...I also see a growing, popular blind faith in anything labeled as science... It is the new religion and like any religion it has its zealots and priests..."

That's neat: brought the topic right back to digital photography!

Rob
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 23, 2017, 12:33:14 PM
Quote from: N80 on Today at 11:12:13 AM

  "  ...I also see a growing, popular blind faith in anything labeled as science... It is the new religion and like any religion it has its zealots and priests..."

That's neat: brought the topic right back to digital photography!

Rob

Good one, Rob! My D750 sits on a little alter with tiny little Nikon flags, some candles and burning incense beside it. All I have to do is point and shoot. It even knows what people's faces look like so not only does it know how I want the picture exposed, it knows what I want it to take a picture of. If ever science was deserving of worship, behold, the D750.

This has been a great discussion and I hope to come back to it but tonight I have Scotch and Philosophy Club (no kidding, its great, and the best thing is there is no philosophy at all!) and then tomorrow I'm off for a few days of vacation.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Chairman Bill on February 23, 2017, 01:13:27 PM
... nothing in the history of mankind compares to the carnage wrought on humanity and this planet in the twentieth century and none of it in the name of god or any other entity other than secularism and humanism. So yes, people use religion for horrible things. Always have, always will. But so far, nothing compares to what we've done in the name of godlessness.

What are these terrible things done in the name of secularism (the alternative of which is theocracy) & humanism, or just plain godlessness? Hitler was deeply religious, and his persecution of the Jews stemmed directly from that age old Catholic nonsense sometimes referred to as the Blood Libel. Stalin persecuted people in the name of his twisted cult of personality, and Pol Pot in the name of his twisted version of communism. So far as I can tell, no one does something in the name of something they lack belief in. If you can point me to those who've done horrible things in the name of religious tolerance & plurality (secularism) or humanism, I'd be interested.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: AnthonyM on February 23, 2017, 02:13:27 PM
Some thoughts.

Hitler's hatred of the Jews was not based on Catholicism.  It was based on his twisted interpretation of German history, not least the events around the end of WW1.

Stalin and Pol Pot were not motivated by religion.  They had belief systems, but these were secular, not religious.

Theist interpretations of nature have been repeatedly disproved.  Less knowledgeable societies attributed many natural phenomena to divine intervention.  We now know better, thanks to science.

Science has driven religion back to the pre-Big Bang status of Prime Mover, originally posited by Aristotle.  "Everything has a cause, so there must be something which did not have a cause."  That thing must be separate from nature, but able to have an impact on nature.  Hmmm.

This does not mean that there exists, today, the supernatural being that kicked off the Big Bang.  It could (wittingly or otherwise) have eliminated itself in creating the Big Bang. 

Or, as Stephen Hawking thinks, the Universe could have created itself.

It is futile, in our present state of knowledge, to try to disprove the existence of a divine being.  If something does not exist, how can one find evidence for it not existing?  It is more fruitful to examine religious beliefs, and try to determine whether or not these are man made. 

As there are very many religions, sincerely believed by their adherents, this will take some time.  But there are clues in internal inconsistencies, founders who benefit in terms of money, power or access to female sexual services.  There are also clues in studying how a new religion incorporates beliefs from existing religions.

Perhaps religious belief has been important in the evolution of humanity.  There is evidence which can be interpreted as religious behaviour by chimpanzees.  So why not humans?
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Chairman Bill on February 23, 2017, 02:22:48 PM
So much to answer, so I'll limit it just a few. The problem with replying is compounded by the fact that the forum software shows me what you've said in response to my comments, but not my original comments. It a) makes replying difficult, and b) makes any reply potentially confusing to anyone not following the argument in the first place. If there's any one point you really want me to address, let me know.

I don't know what you mean about that. Maybe its a matter of semantics but science is all about dealing with proof.
It absolutely is not. Science will offer disproofs - one black swan disproves the assertion that all swans are white. Proof on the other hand, is anathema to science. Proof would require absolute knowledge, and no chance of any confounding data. In such circumstances, science would stop.

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... there is not a total absence of evidence for a creator.
Evidence for, requires that the evidence is unambiguous & incontrovertible. If you have evidence for a creator, let's hear it.

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... And to date there is no scientific, mathematical or philosophical conclusive evidence that god does not exist. If you think you know of such evidence then let's have it.
There's no evidence that pixies don't exist either. Nor Three-toed Snortiblogs, nor an invisible teapot orbiting the earth. In fact, the evidence for the absence of all manner of things is lacking.

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No, the Kalam Cosmological Argument will do just fine. Once you've explained it away then I'll worship at the same alter as you.
Seriously? It's as full of holes as Pascal's Wager. The KCA falls at it's original premise.

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That is a shockingly poor misrepresentation of the man who pretty much single handedly transformed the modern study of philosophy.
Plantinga is an educated idiot. I have read his stuff, and it is woeful. If you want my reasoning for saying this, and you want the KCA taken apart, let me know.

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So I believe it rests with you. The OP had a feeling. You explained it away with "shit happens". You made the positive claim which in is essence is that nothing exists outside of what science can test for. And you have no proof to support your assumption. But if you wish to turn it around and say that the OP claimed that god exists, fine. But you'd be wrong. He didn't. He claimed he had a feeling. You'll have a hard time disproving that. Still and yet, if you wish to turn it around and say that I have claimed the existence of god, then again, I think you are wrong (I say I think because maybe I did and don't remember). That's fine too if you want me to make the claim so that I can defend it. I don't mind.
I offered an alternative take on the explanation for his experience. Maybe you don't like alternatives. Inherent in the idea of a 'guiding hand', is the supernatural, for which there is not one iota of evidence. My explanation was rational & grounded in observable reality. If you want to argue for the supernatural explanation, have at it. Bend some spoons.

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I'll concede that we live in the land of the offended. But to equate a belief in god with believing in pixies is insulting
You choose to be insulted by it, but the belief is the same; that a supernatural entity exists. Gods & pixies are of a kind. The claimed powers & abilities of one might be more fanciful than the other, but they are just variations on a theme. If that fact bothers you, that's really your problem, not mine.

Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: stamper on February 23, 2017, 02:24:50 PM
The best description of religion I have read is that it is a psychological crutch.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Jeremy Roussak on February 23, 2017, 02:37:41 PM
Not at all, Rob. Beliefs are not chosen. They arise as a result of causes and conditioning. A Muslim is a Muslim because he/she was raised in a Muslim family and sent to a Muslim school, and a Christian is a Christian because he/she was raised in a Christian family and probably repeated the Lord's Prayer every morning at school.

That's nonsense. Of course beliefs can be chosen. For one example, see here (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39045923).

Jeremy
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 23, 2017, 03:13:29 PM
What are these terrible things done in the name of secularism (the alternative of which is theocracy) & humanism, or just plain godlessness? Hitler was deeply religious, and his persecution of the Jews stemmed directly from that age old Catholic nonsense sometimes referred to as the Blood Libel. Stalin persecuted people in the name of his twisted cult of personality, and Pol Pot in the name of his twisted version of communism. So far as I can tell, no one does something in the name of something they lack belief in. If you can point me to those who've done horrible things in the name of religious tolerance & plurality (secularism) or humanism, I'd be interested.

The point was made that lots of bad things were done in the name of religion. I pointed out that far worse things were done in the name of other things than religion.  If you want to call what Pol Pott believed in "religion" that's fine but then that encompasses all belief structures as religion which makes any reference to it rather pointless. Hitler was not deeply religious. Hitler used various fanciful conflations to justify his deeds including racism, nationalism, Aryanism, and various Wagnerian/Neitschian theories. To call the Nazis a religious group is not supportable, to call Hitler deeply religious is unsupportable. From his beginnings in the 1930's he sought to remove all forms of religion from the German culture going as far as outlawing church based sports clubs. So, try again. You also failed to mention Mao.

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If you can point me to those who've done horrible things in the name of religious tolerance & plurality (secularism) or humanism, I'd be interested.

That is totally beside the point. I did not assert that there weren't good atheists, humanists, etc. My assertion is that far greater atrocities have been committed for reasons other than religion than those committed in the name of religion. It is a point that cannot be argued.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 23, 2017, 03:22:43 PM
Some thoughts.

Theist interpretations of nature have been repeatedly disproved.  Less knowledgeable societies attributed many natural phenomena to divine intervention.  We now know better, thanks to science.

And many, scientific interpretations of nature have repeatedly been disproved (by other science) as well, right?

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Science has driven religion back to the pre-Big Bang status of Prime Mover, originally posited by Aristotle.  "Everything has a cause, so there must be something which did not have a cause."  That thing must be separate from nature, but able to have an impact on nature.  Hmmm.

Hmmm what? Do you know the answer? 

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Or, as Stephen Hawking thinks, the Universe could have created itself.

Well, that sounds more ridiculous than God to me. It is also outside the purview of science to prove or disprove which puts it in the very same category and theism. And if it were true it just means the universe=god. Again, science becomes its own religion.

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It is more fruitful to examine religious beliefs, and try to determine whether or not these are man made.

That might be interesting from an anthropological standpoint but how man understands or misunderstands something is hardly valuable as proof that that something does not exist. We could study how man came to his various mistaken ideas about gravity. That would not change the nature of gravity. But Freud pretty much beat that horse to death years ago.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 23, 2017, 03:35:23 PM
So much to answer, so I'll limit it just a few. The problem with replying is compounded by the fact that the forum software shows me what you've said in response to my comments, but not my original comments. It a) makes replying difficult, and b) makes any reply potentially confusing to anyone not following the argument in the first place. I

Agreed.

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It absolutely is not. Science will offer disproofs - one black swan disproves the assertion that all swans are white. Proof on the other hand, is anathema to science. Proof would require absolute knowledge, and no chance of any confounding data. In such circumstances, science would stop.

Disagree. What is this compound? Apply tests. Rule out all other possibilities. It is gold. Or it is lead. Proof that it is nothing else. Drop a ball in a vacuum. It falls every time. At the same speed. Proof of a constant.

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If you have evidence for a creator, let's hear it.

That is not the topic at hand. It is a diversion. Its a good topic, but start it in another thread. This one it too muddled already.

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Seriously? It's as full of holes as Pascal's Wager. The KCA falls at it's original premise.

Again, you make statements without proof. Show me a single hole in the argument. Ball is in your court.
 
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Plantinga is an educated idiot.

Wow. I guess all the accolades from Notre Dame and other universities were idiotic too. Yes, Notre Dame is a Cahtolic school. But Plantinga is a reformed protestant, so that won't fly either. You're embarrassing yourself.

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I have read his stuff, and it is woeful.

Then you do not understand it. Show me one thing about it that is woeful.

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If you want my reasoning for saying this, and you want the KCA taken apart, let me know.

Go. Challenge accepted. No more dithering. No more subjective assertions without proof. Take it apart. Don't delay.

Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Farmer on February 23, 2017, 05:18:57 PM
Anyone have any interesting coincidences happen in their life as big as the cosmos?

As big as the cosmos?  I doubt it :-)  The only incident that might fall under your original concept was as a teenager, with my dad, we were on the family sheep station shooting (just at logs and rocks and such).  We had a .22 and a .243.  Anyway, the .243 jammed and wasn't easily cleared.  Rather than take the small risk of fiddling with it in the open paddock, we fired the last few rounds from the .22 and headed back to the homestead.  As we got in the car (about 50 or 60 yards away), lightning struck right where we had been.  Big burned patch, smoke, the works.  We may or may not have been killed had we been there, or having been there may have meant the lightning wouldn't have struck.  I don't know.  We laughed, shrugged, and headed in.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rob C on February 23, 2017, 05:48:31 PM
As big as the cosmos?  I doubt it :-)  The only incident that might fall under your original concept was as a teenager, with my dad, we were on the family sheep station shooting (just at logs and rocks and such).  We had a .22 and a .243.  Anyway, the .243 jammed and wasn't easily cleared.  Rather than take the small risk of fiddling with it in the open paddock, we fired the last few rounds from the .22 and headed back to the homestead.  As we got in the car (about 50 or 60 yards away), lightning struck right where we had been.  Big burned patch, smoke, the works.  We may or may not have been killed had we been there, or having been there may have meant the lightning wouldn't have struck.  I don't know.  We laughed, shrugged, and headed in.


That one's easy: you simply thank your lucky stars. No messing about with the supernatural... just rely on astronomy to lead the way.

;-)

Rob C
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Farmer on February 23, 2017, 05:50:02 PM
I thought of thanking Winchester for average quality control on their munitions production :-)
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 23, 2017, 05:54:37 PM
I just wanted to throw in a couple of other things since I'm going to be headed out of town (and leaving my computer at home).

Someone suggested that religious people are arrogant. Obviously a stereotype but I'll accept it at face value. The funny thing is, the Christians I know, even very mature and devout ones deal with doubt regularly. They will tell you that by God's good grace, and nothing that they have done, they have been convicted by their faith. Maybe some see that as arrogance because they have the nerve to believe that they know a central truth. Yet, most of them openly admit that they struggle with doubt.

On the other hand, I experience people here, and elsewhere who virtually bristle when faith or god is mentioned. They seem to have an unshakeable faith that science has all the answers and that anyone who doesn't get that is prone to believing in just any old thing and is probably uneducated and unsophisticated. That is a paradox isn't it? To decry someone's faith as arrogance and yet willingly, knowingly and purposefully belittle them for it.

And that brings me to my second thought which is a demand for evidence of god from people who readily admit that science cannot tell us anything at all about god, and demand it even when no one is trying to force or even defend that belief. It is incongruous.

But, as evidence I will submit a tiny bit, however weak it may be. Invoking a famous name as proof of something is not much more than a parlor trick. And to be clear, I'm not offering proof, I'm offering evidence. Weak evidence but evidence that should, nonetheless at least give pause to someone who is certain that to believe in a deity is as irrational as believing in pixies.

Einstein was a deist.
Newton was a Christian
Heisenberg said, “The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.”
Louis Pasteur, a Christian, said,""a bit of science distances one from God, but much science nears one to Him. The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator."
There are many, many more.

No, this does not prove that God exists. No, it is not even much by way of evidence. But at the same time is it valid to suggest that these are the types of men who believe in the fanciful or things for which there is absolutely no evidence?

Again, not proselytizing here. I'm not trying to change anyone's beliefs. I'm just suggesting that it might be a bit unfair to dismiss out of hand (and often in unkind ways), the beliefs of others, especially when you have nothing with which to disprove them?
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 23, 2017, 05:56:22 PM
I thought of thanking Winchester for average quality control on their munitions production :-)

Or could it have been a .243 (a Ruger maybe?) that had not been as well cleaned as it should be....? ;)
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Chairman Bill on February 23, 2017, 06:16:40 PM
...
Show me a single hole in the argument. Ball is in your court.
 
Wow. I guess all the accolades from Notre Dame and other universities were idiotic too. Yes, Notre Dame is a Cahtolic school. But Plantinga is a reformed protestant, so that won't fly either. You're embarrassing yourself.

Then you do not understand it. Show me one thing about it that is woeful.

Go. Challenge accepted. No more dithering. No more subjective assertions without proof. Take it apart. Don't delay.

OK. The Kalam Cosmological Argument (hereafter KCA), for those not up to speed on this aspect of supernaturalist apologetics, goes like this;

1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2) The universe began to exist.
3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.

The first mistake is the assertion that the universe began to exist. Well we don't actually know that to be the case. The universe may have existed forever. The physics tells us that everything winds back to a point at which the science begins to break down, the so-called 'singularity' that preceded the cosmic expansion known as the Big Bang. Science can't reliably go back any further, because there's no evidence, and because the mathematics results in a singularity, which is physics-speak for "we have no idea what this means, other than we know it tells us that we need a new mathematics". The conditions prior to the cosmic expansion, may have persisted for eternity. There may have been an eternal process of expansion & contraction. Because point 2 doesn't necessarily stand, point 3 does not necessarily follow. Now, modern apologists like William Lane Craig, who put together the KCA, offers a proof of the second point, namely;

2.1) An infinite temporal regress of events would constitute an actual infinite.
2.2) An actual infinite cannot exist.
2.3) Therefore an infinite temporal regress of events cannot exist.

The thing is, Craig's invisible magic friend is said to be omniscient, which means he knows that Craig has said that an actual infinite cannot exist. Being omniscient, he also knows that he knows this. Further, he knows that he knows that he knows. And if he is omniscient, that knowledge continues ad infinitum. What is more, God must know an infinite number of things, which Craig says can't be the case. We're left with a choice; either this God character doesn't exist, or 2.2 is incorrect, in which case the KCA falls.

As for Plantinga, PZ Myers does a pretty good job of undermining his alleged brilliance, and frankly, I can't out-do Myers in this, so ... http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/05/29/alvin-plantinga-gives-philosop/ (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/05/29/alvin-plantinga-gives-philosop/)
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rand47 on February 23, 2017, 08:10:56 PM
What are these terrible things done in the name of secularism (the alternative of which is theocracy) & humanism, or just plain godlessness? Hitler was deeply religious, and his persecution of the Jews stemmed directly from that age old Catholic nonsense sometimes referred to as the Blood Libel. Stalin persecuted people in the name of his twisted cult of personality, and Pol Pot in the name of his twisted version of communism. So far as I can tell, no one does something in the name of something they lack belief in. If you can point me to those who've done horrible things in the name of religious tolerance & plurality (secularism) or humanism, I'd be interested.

Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao - you claim these are not secular?  Not humanist?  You must be joking.  They are just not your "preferred" vision of secular.  With no transcendent standard for "good secular humanist thinking" it is merely a matter of preference and power.  These killed more people for secular ideology in the 20th century than all the religious wars of history combined.  As I see it, the problem is "the evil that men do."  The banner they carry in doing it changes with the cultural context.  When religion = politics that was the banner.  When secular ideology = politics, in part because "god was dead" according the leading humanists, they did a fine job killing off many more folk because the killing technology was better.  Once again, we're seeing the rise of religion = politics in radical Islam.

You're dead wrong on Hitler, by the way.  Here's a lovely quote from "the leader" inscribed over the doors at Auschwitz, "I want to raise a generation of young people who are devoid of conscience, imperious, relentless, and cruel."  Hardly sounds like the Sermon on the Mount to me.  Sounds more like Richard Dawkins describing our dancing to our DNA.

When mankind killed in the name of Christianity (and there's no denying the ugliness and reality in that) they did so in complete and utter contradiction to the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth.  In the logical outworking of materialist ideology "some people are going to get lucky and some people are going to get hurt" - as Professor Dawkins clearly and logically asserts. 

I don't mean this as ad hominem, but your assertions are specious in the extreme.  It is the pap of the popular post-modern metanarrative.

Rand

Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Alan Klein on February 23, 2017, 08:38:45 PM
Coincidences are God's little miracles.

Science explains how the universe works.  God gives it purpose.

If you could prove God exists, what would be the point of faith? 
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Tim Lookingbill on February 23, 2017, 08:49:10 PM

If we assume that our galaxy, with an estimate of 20 billion planets, is an average size galaxy, then the number of planets in the universe could be 20 billion x 2 trillion, or 40 quintillion, far, far greater than the US national debt in dollars.  ;)

The chances of at least one of those 40 quintillion planets having suitable conditions for life to form, are probably quite high. No need to invent a Creator God.


And you've assumed with a broad glazing over and redirection of my points that I'm advocating a view of the universe according to current religion which is farthest from the truth. I don't believe in a creator God either, but there's something in all this that points to an intelligent consciousness or mindfulness.

You also keep focusing or maybe defining your POV through statistics and numbers only instead of including examining patterns of plausibility of the natural world that any forensic investigator uses to find perpetrators. They don't use statistics to find the criminal. Profiling is the closest they come to this, but that's not facts, either. They employ a drawn out series of decision making and intuitive  deduction derived from years of street smarts and knowing past human behavior that leads them to an arrest. And I'm employing the same in my OP.

You say nay, I say there's something there that can't be quantified with just statistics and a big ass telescope in space.

There's also no indicator in all of the galaxies that the same human conscience that drives a multitude of decision making similarly used in my OP that led to other decisions based on a LACK OF FACTS that I had no idea would finally help police gather the perps wallet and cellphone as evidence.

There is nothing in the universe that plays out like this. I don't need scientific facts to prove this because it's impossible to gather any. I'm using the same intuition and series of decisions as the police investigators to let me view the world in a less hard line "Just the facts, Jack." way. There's something here, we're just not able to look close enough because we only rely on facts established by a rather young civilization.

 
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rand47 on February 23, 2017, 09:25:03 PM
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You say nay, I say there's something there that can't be quantified with just statistics and a big ass telescope in space.

+1

Rand
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Farmer on February 23, 2017, 09:48:24 PM
Or could it have been a .243 (a Ruger maybe?) that had not been as well cleaned as it should be....? ;)

Could have been :-)  But as it happens we found a spur on the rim.  I doubt it was pressed that way, but probably damaged in handling some how.  Ideally, we should have noticed when loading the mag, but didn't.  Of course, God is often accused of moving in mysterious ways, right? ;-p
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Ray on February 23, 2017, 10:10:10 PM
There is nothing in the universe that plays out like this. I don't need scientific facts to prove this because it's impossible to gather any.

Wow! You know everything in the universe? I am impressed.  ;D

The events you related did occur in the universe, didn't they? They did 'play out', in the universe, didn't they?  ;)
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: laughingbear on February 23, 2017, 10:47:27 PM
Our existence considering the rest of the universe has beat all odds of us ever happening.

Such statement has always a mild anthropocentric flavour to my taste.

The count of planets in our solar system is nothing unusual!  There are more planets in the universe than he sum of every single word ever jabbered by every human who has ever lived.

Phew, yeah! Now that's a helluva lot of jabbering! ;)

As to your experience, where you suggested the existiance of a guiding hand, I read it, but can not detect the slightest hint of what you suggested, not even a sausage.

Then again, shrugs, that's just me.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Ray on February 23, 2017, 11:05:42 PM
The existence of other life has no bearing on the existence of god. There is no relation between those two issues at all. The idea that there is a materialist explanation for life and the increased probabilities based on the number of life supporting planets says nothing about the existence of god.


George,
I think you've missed the point I was making. I was addressing a view that is held by certain scientists who find it too difficult to accept that the first form of life could have spontaneously arisen in a soupy sea because the probability of all the right molecules coming together in the right circumstances, right conditions and right time in order to form a basic building block of self-replicating life, would have been unrealistically small.

Such people tend to believe that an Intelligent Designer or Creator God is a more reasonable explanation.

I won't deny that such a view has some merit, but the flaw in that argument, based upon an unrealistically small degree of probability that life could have originally occurred by chance, is that it doesn't take into consideration the likelihood of the existence of trillions of planets in our universe which have similar environmental conditions to those that have existed on the earth.

As I pointed out, recent observations and calculations imply that our galaxy possibly has about 20 billion planets, and the universe as a whole has around 2 trillion galaxies.

If we make a reasonable guess that maybe only 10% of those other galaxies are suitable for the existence of any planets, and only 1% of all planets in all galaxies have, or had, the elements, compounds and temperatures suitable for life to develop, then the total number of planets with a potential for life to spontaneously arise, could be 40 quintillion divided by 1,000, which equals 40 million trillion.

Now, however remote one might think the chances of life spontaneously arising in a soupy sea might be, those chances should be multiplied by some huge figure, such as 40 million trillion because there probably exists (very, very approximately of course) 40 million trillion planets in our universe with the essential ingredients for life to spontaneously arise.

It might be the case that only one of those 40 million trillion planets have developed life because the probability is so small, and we're the lucky ones (or unlucky ones, depending on your perspective or religion).

Can you understand the logic of my argument?

In case you don't, I'll use a simple analogy of playing roulette in a casino. However remote your chances of winning, if the chip you place on a number were simultaneously placed on a second roulette table for the same one-bet price (equivalent to a second planet with environmental conditions similar to the earth), you would increase your chances of winning, wouldn't you agree?

If you were offered the option of your chip being placed on that same number on a thousand different roulette tables around the world, for the same one-bet price, you would feel very confident of at least one of those balls settling on the number you had selected, wouldn't you?

My point is, however remote one might think the chances are of life forming on one planet, in this instance the Earth, such chances increase in proportion to the number of Earth-like planets that exist in the universe. Therefore, the reasoning that some people use, even some scientists apparently, that the chances of life spontaneously arising are too small for credibility, is now a flawed logic in the light of recent investigations that have discovered the actual existence of planets encircling other stars in our galaxy, and estimates of the massive number of planets that probably exist in the entire universe with its trillions of galaxies. Got it?  ;)
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Tim Lookingbill on February 24, 2017, 01:56:55 AM
Could have been :-)  But as it happens we found a spur on the rim.  I doubt it was pressed that way, but probably damaged in handling some how.  Ideally, we should have noticed when loading the mag, but didn't.  Of course, God is often accused of moving in mysterious ways, right? ;-p

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As big as the cosmos?  I doubt it :-)  The only incident that might fall under your original concept was as a teenager, with my dad, we were on the family sheep station shooting (just at logs and rocks and such).  We had a .22 and a .243.  Anyway, the .243 jammed and wasn't easily cleared.  Rather than take the small risk of fiddling with it in the open paddock, we fired the last few rounds from the .22 and headed back to the homestead.  As we got in the car (about 50 or 60 yards away), lightning struck right where we had been.  Big burned patch, smoke, the works.  We may or may not have been killed had we been there, or having been there may have meant the lightning wouldn't have struck.  I don't know.  We laughed, shrugged, and headed in.

Thanks for your relating of a similar "guiding hand" story in avoiding getting struck by lightning. You relied on decision making that seems motivated by your desire to preserve the condition of the gun and prevent a misfire. As in my OP were you able to recall any alternate desires, motivations or decisions that might have kept you in that spot? That's the main thing I became aware about my experience with the kids, cellphone and police, none of which going in appeared connected which did influence my decision making.

I was able to closely look back and remember how other influences in my series of decisions that led me down a road that I'ld thought would turn out one way, but turned out another and for the good by my not following my normal routine and surprisingly making decisions based on false assumptions. It was a mess of happenstances in how it unfolded where making just one decision such as staying in my apt. would've prevented the outcome.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Tim Lookingbill on February 24, 2017, 02:18:56 AM
My point is, however remote one might think the chances are of life forming on one planet, in this instance the Earth, such chances increase in proportion to the number of Earth-like planets that exist in the universe. Therefore, the reasoning that some people use, even some scientists apparently, that the chances of life spontaneously arising are too small for credibility, is now a flawed logic in the light of recent investigations that have discovered the actual existence of planets encircling other stars in our galaxy, and estimates of the massive number of planets that probably exist in the entire universe with its trillions of galaxies. Got it?  ;)

The problem with your argument, Ray, is that you leave out a trillion or so variables that would affect life's evolutionary process from even starting on all those trillion other planets and especially in an enabling way to lead to an intelligence and conscience that can type on a keyboard and argue the point.

Your argument uses the complexity of any maze everyone can picture in their mind to explain probability without describing the complexity of the maze. You just jump to the conclusion that once one enters, the odds are they will find the exit just because that's the way science says it works.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Chairman Bill on February 24, 2017, 03:57:29 AM
Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao - you claim these are not secular?  Not humanist?  You must be joking.
Of course they weren't humanist. Do you even know what humanism is? I'm not even sure you know what secularism is. The US is secular. The whole of Europe is secular. Most of the world is secular. The parts that aren't are the theocratic states like Iran & Saudi Arabia.

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They are just not your "preferred" vision of secular.
This just doesn't make sense. Secularism is what it is. I don't have a preferred vision of it.

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With no transcendent standard for "good secular humanist thinking" it is merely a matter of preference and power.
Ah, the old 'can't be good without God' nonsense. There are no transcendent standards. There is no objective, God-given morality. It is all a human construct.

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These killed more people for secular ideology in the 20th century than all the religious wars of history combined.
Again, you clearly don't understand the word 'secular'.

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You're dead wrong on Hitler, by the way.
No I'm not. Read Mein Kampf or some of Hitler's speeches.

My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before in the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.... When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom to-day this poor people is plundered and exploited.
-Adolf Hitler, in his speech in Munich on 12 April 1922

We are determined, as leaders of the nation, to fulfill as a national government the task which has been given to us, swearing fidelity only to God, our conscience, and our Volk.... This the national government will regard its first and foremost duty to restore the unity of spirit and purpose of our Volk. It will preserve and defend the foundations upon which the power of our nation rests. It will take Christianity, as the basis of our collective morality, and the family as the nucleus of our Volk and state, under its firm protection....May God Almighty take our work into his grace, give true form to our will, bless our insight, and endow us with the trust of our Volk.
-Adolf Hitler, on 1 Feb. 1933, addressing the German nation as Chancellor for the first time, Volkischer Beobachter, 5 Aug. 1935

The Government, being resolved to undertake the political and moral purification of our public life, are creating and securing the conditions necessary for a really profound revival of religious life... The National Government regard the two Christian Confessions as the weightiest factors for the maintenance of our nationality. They will respect the agreements concluded between them and the federal States. Their rights are not to be infringed... It will be the Government's care to maintain honest co-operation between Church and State; the struggle against materialistic views and for a real national community is just as much in the interest of the German nation as in that of the welfare of our Christian faith. The Government of the Reich, who regard Christianity as the unshakable foundation of the morals and moral code of the nation, attach the greatest value to friendly relations with the Holy See and are endeavouring to develop them.
-Adolf Hitler, in his speech to the Reichstag on 23 March 1933

The Catholic Church considered the Jews pestilent for fifteen hundred years, put them in ghettos, etc, because it recognized the Jews for what they were"... I recognize the representatives of this race as pestilent for the state and for the church and perhaps I am thereby doing Christianity a great service by pushing them out of schools and public functions.
-Adolf Hitler, 26 April 1933

I could offer more, but we'd be here all day. I could also give you quotes that show his hatred of atheism. The Nazis sent atheists to the concentration camps & the gas chambers, because of their atheism. Hardly 'secular' in any way.

Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rob C on February 24, 2017, 04:10:38 AM
The best description of religion I have read is that it is a psychological crutch.


That, for most amateurs, explains why they do photography!

But for myself, I already knew that to be the case with some retired pros. Like any faith habit, you can't just stop when you've been doing it all your life. You'd need somebody to help bring you down easy. And according to Keef in his assisted autobiography, can't do that: it's always gonna hurt. So who needs pain? Frustration hurts less than cold turkey.

A gift to humanity is to insist on taking your cameras with you when you pop; that way, you leave no possibility of contamination.

You see? there's always a little spiritual gift one can leave for someone.

;-)

Rob
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rob C on February 24, 2017, 04:43:03 AM
...or indeed the digital technologies.

I have to wonder, what would each of us be doing now if it weren't for them? A suitable new topic perhaps for the Coffee Corner?

Me, well, I wouldn't be posting inane questions here.

;-)


After much consideration, checking the balance of risk betwen saying what I think and/or being branded incorrigible Luddite, I have concluded that I must tell the truth as I see it (great cop-out phrase!): were it not for digital, I might well still be churning out stock images and making a better living in my dotage than making none at all!

As a secondary advantage, my nervous system might be on a more calm level of existence.

;-)

Rob
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rob C on February 24, 2017, 06:37:33 AM
Rob, good for you my friend!

You and I would certainly have much more in the way of free time in order to follow our chosen paths.

;-)

Indeed; the time spent online is frightening. But it is also fascinating what one can find. Never realised Sarah Moon and Deborah Turbeville had both been quite so prolific; I suppose a pre-web danger was the unconscious thought - assumption? -  that others only produced the stuff that one got to see... big boo boo! Can't buy all the magazines, see all the ads and calendars!

Perfection might have consisted of digital available in everything, as is, except cameras! There still would have existed a playing field for the aged and semi-retired; a kind of seniors league, if you will. Now here's a progressive idea: make stock legally exclus¡ve to the over 60s! I better post a huge smiley!

;-)

Rob
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: AnthonyM on February 24, 2017, 09:56:06 AM
And many, scientific interpretations of nature have repeatedly been disproved (by other science) as well, right?
Correct.  Scientific interpretations are always hypotheses which have not been disproved.  Science is not certain, it is just the best that we can do at any particular moment.

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Hmmm what? Do you know the answer? 
No, but it does sound like an odd concept.  Which does not mean it is necessarily incorrect.

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Well, that sounds more ridiculous than God to me. It is also outside the purview of science to prove or disprove which puts it in the very same category and theism. And if it were true it just means the universe=god. Again, science becomes its own religion.


It is not a religious statement, it is a hypothesis for which he sees much justification.  It is certainly not provable at this stage of our knowledge.  I certainly do not have the ability to analyse whether it is correct or not, but as he is one of the great brains of our time it certainly should be considered.  https://www.theguardian.com/science/2010/sep/02/stephen-hawking-big-bang-creator

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That might be interesting from an anthropological standpoint but how man understands or misunderstands something is hardly valuable as proof that that something does not exist. We could study how man came to his various mistaken ideas about gravity. That would not change the nature of gravity. But Freud pretty much beat that horse to death years ago.

That is not my point.  If in the case of a specific religion we can show that it was entirely created by a man for his own selfish purposes, then that is a good reason to discount it as genuine.  For example, I discount the Flying Spaghetti Monster as a deity, because it was created to make a (not very) funny point.  I can think of religions which were clearly man made, and therefore fake, but I will not specify them as I do not wish to offend any believers in those religions, at least not in these forums. 
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Alan Klein on February 24, 2017, 11:44:56 AM

George,
I think you've missed the point I was making. I was addressing a view that is held by certain scientists who find it too difficult to accept that the first form of life could have spontaneously arisen in a soupy sea because the probability of all the right molecules coming together in the right circumstances, right conditions and right time in order to form a basic building block of self-replicating life, would have been unrealistically small.

Such people tend to believe that an Intelligent Designer or Creator God is a more reasonable explanation.

I won't deny that such a view has some merit, but the flaw in that argument, based upon an unrealistically small degree of probability that life could have originally occurred by chance, is that it doesn't take into consideration the likelihood of the existence of trillions of planets in our universe which have similar environmental conditions to those that have existed on the earth.

As I pointed out, recent observations and calculations imply that our galaxy possibly has about 20 billion planets, and the universe as a whole has around 2 trillion galaxies.

If we make a reasonable guess that maybe only 10% of those other galaxies are suitable for the existence of any planets, and only 1% of all planets in all galaxies have, or had, the elements, compounds and temperatures suitable for life to develop, then the total number of planets with a potential for life to spontaneously arise, could be 40 quintillion divided by 1,000, which equals 40 million trillion.

Now, however remote one might think the chances of life spontaneously arising in a soupy sea might be, those chances should be multiplied by some huge figure, such as 40 million trillion because there probably exists (very, very approximately of course) 40 million trillion planets in our universe with the essential ingredients for life to spontaneously arise.

It might be the case that only one of those 40 million trillion planets have developed life because the probability is so small, and we're the lucky ones (or unlucky ones, depending on your perspective or religion).

Can you understand the logic of my argument?

In case you don't, I'll use a simple analogy of playing roulette in a casino. However remote your chances of winning, if the chip you place on a number were simultaneously placed on a second roulette table for the same one-bet price (equivalent to a second planet with environmental conditions similar to the earth), you would increase your chances of winning, wouldn't you agree?

If you were offered the option of your chip being placed on that same number on a thousand different roulette tables around the world, for the same one-bet price, you would feel very confident of at least one of those balls settling on the number you had selected, wouldn't you?

My point is, however remote one might think the chances are of life forming on one planet, in this instance the Earth, such chances increase in proportion to the number of Earth-like planets that exist in the universe. Therefore, the reasoning that some people use, even some scientists apparently, that the chances of life spontaneously arising are too small for credibility, is now a flawed logic in the light of recent investigations that have discovered the actual existence of planets encircling other stars in our galaxy, and estimates of the massive number of planets that probably exist in the entire universe with its trillions of galaxies. Got it?  ;)

Where did the molecules come from?
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Alan Klein on February 24, 2017, 11:56:03 AM
God didn't create man until the 6th day.    He was busy making the rest of the universe that you didn't mention.  Just thought I would.  Even the people who wrote the bible knew that there was nothing before there was something.  Science calls it the Big Bang.  Whatever, nothing was there at first and yet was created.


1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: stamper on February 24, 2017, 01:32:44 PM
If I requested some links then you would probably direct me to the fairytale called the Bible?
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rob C on February 24, 2017, 02:43:45 PM
If I requested some links then you would probably direct me to the fairytale called the Bible?


Now as a remark, that's self-defeating.

If you try to read it you discover there's a lot more in it than religious cant. Lots of history and information that is backed up by "science" and geographers and historians etc. It would be a major mistake to write it off as fairytale or simply religious tract (huge!).

Rob C
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: sierraman on February 24, 2017, 03:07:53 PM
You guys are way over thinking this. If there isn't a God, how did the 1969 New York Mets win the World Series?  :)
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Tim Lookingbill on February 24, 2017, 03:49:47 PM
I think this thread went quite well considering its subject matter. Hell, we even got a physician and psychologist to offer their expertise and they didn't bill my health insurance.

Now that's a guiding hand if I ever saw one.  ;D
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rob C on February 24, 2017, 04:10:50 PM
I think this thread went quite well considering its subject matter. Hell, we even got a physician and psychologist to offer their expertise and they didn't bill my health insurance.

Now that's a guiding hand if I ever saw one.  ;D


Nah, that's just their subliminal PR.

;-)

Rob
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Ray on February 24, 2017, 07:50:35 PM
Where did the molecules come from?


The molecules came from the bonding of various atoms, such as Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Carbon and Phosphorous.

Now, if you can tell me precisely and specifically which complex RNA molecules you are referring to, I could attempt to identify their constituent atoms and trace their history throughout the previous billions of years, and try to identify which atomic explosion is associated with the formation of which atom. Okay!  ;D ;D

Joke aside, the following New Scientist article does a good job of explaining the issue for the non-specialist.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21128251-300-first-life-the-search-for-the-first-replicator/
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Tim Lookingbill on February 24, 2017, 10:19:54 PM
I do have to wonder who or what created hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon and phosphorus and the rest of the periodic table elements considering a carbon based form discovered and named them.

And they keep discovering newer ones as decades pass which suggests they don't know everything until they can point to it and name it. Who knows, there could be a whole other universe inside each periodic table element.

Scaling is a bitch when it comes to trying to explain everything with logic and math because as Albert Einstein indicated the bigger the theory being proven with mathematics, the more precise one has to be. But I wonder if that holds true with things smaller than the subatomic level.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Tim Lookingbill on February 24, 2017, 10:33:59 PM

The molecules came from the bonding of various atoms, such as Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Carbon and Phosphorous.

Now, if you can tell me precisely and specifically which complex RNA molecules you are referring to, I could attempt to identify their constituent atoms and trace their history throughout the previous billions of years, and try to identify which atomic explosion is associated with the formation of which atom. Okay!  ;D ;D

Joke aside, the following New Scientist article does a good job of explaining the issue for the non-specialist.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21128251-300-first-life-the-search-for-the-first-replicator/

Ray, on that New Scientist site link did you find any respected and certified science journal or well established government scientific study sited for attribution to back up what the reporter Michael Marshall was writing about? I couldn't find any connection to verifiable and certified scientific studies to support what he wrote about. It's all .org, .com, etc.

In that site's "About Us" it indicates they're just a business information company. Relux Group. Here's a quote from their case studies page...

Quote
New Scientist has a proven track record of developing innovative and creative campaigns that deliver high levels of reach for major international brands, which the New Scientist audience love engaging with.

Is this site afraid of copyright infringement on all those scientists that contributed to Marshall's reporting?
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rob C on February 25, 2017, 06:45:46 AM
I do have to wonder who or what created hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon and phosphorus and the rest of the periodic table elements considering a carbon based form discovered and named them.

And they keep discovering newer ones as decades pass which suggests they don't know everything until they can point to it and name it. Who knows, there could be a whole other universe inside each periodic table element.

Scaling is a bitch when it comes to trying to explain everything with logic and math because as Albert Einstein indicated the bigger the theory being proven with mathematics, the more precise one has to be. But I wonder if that holds true with things smaller than the subatomic level.

Why ever not? Subatomic is only impressive to us because of our own placement within the infinite scale. You know, perspective... I could imagine an ant struggling with a molecule or two every day.

;-)

Rob
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Chairman Bill on February 25, 2017, 07:36:21 AM
... Even the people who wrote the bible knew that there was nothing before there was something.  Science calls it the Big Bang.  Whatever, nothing was there at first and yet was created.
Er, no. Seriously, if your knowledge of science is so poor, I'd suggest reading a good book or three (and I don't mean the fevered ramblings of Bronze Age goat-herders).

Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rob C on February 25, 2017, 09:01:49 AM
Er, no. Seriously, if your knowledge of science is so poor, I'd suggest reading a good book or three (and I don't mean the fevered ramblings of Bronze Age goat-herders).

Well, so much for the saints.

R.I.P.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Tim Lookingbill on February 25, 2017, 02:22:02 PM
Er, no. Seriously, if your knowledge of science is so poor, I'd suggest reading a good book or three (and I don't mean the fevered ramblings of Bronze Age goat-herders).

OK, you're the one with a degree in psychology? Am I right, Bill?

You couldn't come up with a more meaningful and informative answer than that? How about winning minds instead of arguments?
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Farmer on February 25, 2017, 05:07:03 PM
I think, Tim, when you try to discuss something with something whose every response is "because God", it becomes impossibly tiresome very quickly.  When someone constantly asserts there is scientific proof of God, but presents none, it becomes impossibly tiresome very quickly.  When someone places the burden of proof of their God on you by saying, "prove He doesn't exist", it becomes impossibly tiresome very quickly.

It's basically sophistry, but that's probably being harsh on the sophists.  Those are the three pillars, absolutely inviolable and impregnable, upon which religion (not faith) rests its defence.  Appeal to authority/divine fallacy/argument from incredulity), false attribution, and argument from ignorance (folks should look that up before assuming the use of the term "ignorance" is some sort of personal attack - it isn't). 
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Farmer on February 25, 2017, 05:08:05 PM
I think this thread went quite well considering its subject matter. Hell, we even got a physician and psychologist to offer their expertise and they didn't bill my health insurance.

Have you checked your mailbox? ;-)
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Chairman Bill on February 25, 2017, 05:29:51 PM
OK, you're the one with a degree in psychology? Am I right, Bill?

You couldn't come up with a more meaningful and informative answer than that? How about winning minds instead of arguments?

Maybe because I get a bit fed up with the misrepresentations of science (the universe sprang from nothing), in order to support superstition. If you don't know the science, don't argue about the science. The idea that a six day creation myth has scientific validity, is laughable at best, and frankly if proponents of such fanciful notions took the time to educate themselves about what science says, I wouldn't end up making terse comments born of frustration.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Tim Lookingbill on February 25, 2017, 07:16:54 PM
I think, Tim, when you try to discuss something with something whose every response is "because God", it becomes impossibly tiresome very quickly.  When someone constantly asserts there is scientific proof of God, but presents none, it becomes impossibly tiresome very quickly.  When someone places the burden of proof of their God on you by saying, "prove He doesn't exist", it becomes impossibly tiresome very quickly.

It's basically sophistry, but that's probably being harsh on the sophists.  Those are the three pillars, absolutely inviolable and impregnable, upon which religion (not faith) rests its defence.  Appeal to authority/divine fallacy/argument from incredulity), false attribution, and argument from ignorance (folks should look that up before assuming the use of the term "ignorance" is some sort of personal attack - it isn't).

That tiresomeness is understandable, Phil, which is why I don't engage with strangers who greet me with a "Do You Know Jesus" to avoid ruining a pleasant walk through my local hiking trail.

I don't believe the stories in the Bible were meant as an accurate historical document but more as a result of writing down thousands of years of a lot of word of mouth improvisational riffing off of inspired stories in order to take their mind off goat herding. Besides it's heavily edited anyway evidenced by all the left out chapters found on clay tablets and ancient papyrus by archeologists.

Thanks for that sophist comment. It cracked me up!  ;D
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Tim Lookingbill on February 25, 2017, 07:31:07 PM
Maybe because I get a bit fed up with the misrepresentations of science (the universe sprang from nothing), in order to support superstition. If you don't know the science, don't argue about the science. The idea that a six day creation myth has scientific validity, is laughable at best, and frankly if proponents of such fanciful notions took the time to educate themselves about what science says, I wouldn't end up making terse comments born of frustration.

That response restored my confidence in you, Bill. That's more like it.

I try not to focus on those that oppose the logic of science by reciting stories in the Bible. Rather I try to drum up some empathy on what it is about their life that makes them lean on their religion to win arguments. It gets to a point I don't want to push the issue because whatever they're getting out of their faith by believing in these stories as an accurate recording of history, I don't want to be a part of making them stumble. Some folks have a lot going on their head due to their past they'ld rather replace with these stories. I just say good luck with all that.

I'm going to expand my mind to explain how we got here with more challenging suppositions and speculations, but with a more scientific lean.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 26, 2017, 06:28:09 PM
OK. The Kalam Cosmological Argument (hereafter KCA), for those not up to speed on this aspect of supernaturalist apologetics, goes like this;

1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2) The universe began to exist.
3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.

The first mistake is the assertion that the universe began to exist.

Not a mistake at all. There is no theory to date which provides a testable hypothesis outside of the big bang theory. I can easily find a handful of quotes from top contemporary physicists that will testify to this.

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The physics tells us that everything winds back to a point at which the science begins to break down, the so-called 'singularity' that preceded the cosmic expansion known as the Big Bang. Science can't reliably go back any further,

Exactly. Science has limits. There are things science can never tell us. Heisenberg asserted the same (even though he often hedged on the significance of his theory).

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There may have been an eternal process of expansion & contraction.

But you have already said that is unknowable. Why speculate about the unknowable when science, your gold standard, can say nothing about it? That is where you're argument falls apart on so many levels. You are now in the same realm as religion. Essentially you're assessment is that all of science points to a beginning, it can tell us no more, so we'll just assume that maybe there wasn't a beginning. That is not scientific. That is speculation based on nothing at all. It is supra-scientific so that point is utterly lost. You might as well claim that there might have been pixies, right?

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Because point 2 doesn't necessarily stand,

Nope. You have not defeated point number two in any universe. Point 2 only falls if you assume things outside of science. If you can speculate without science then so can a theist, right?

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Now, modern apologists like William Lane Craig, who put together the KCA, offers a proof of the second point, namely

Not even necessary since you cannot get past number two yourself with anything other than wild speculation unsupported by anything but imagination. So, sorry, start over with number two. And if you want to do so with credibility you'll have to do a lot better that "we can't know so anything goes".

At best we are at an impasse, your wild speculations (the universe always existed) verses a creator, which you will consider a wild speculation (and that's okay).

And so to the point, all the way back to your original response, you make fun of others for having a belief structure that is just as solid as yours.

Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 26, 2017, 07:46:00 PM

George,
I think you've missed the point I was making.

I might have :)

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Such people tend to believe that an Intelligent Designer or Creator God is a more reasonable explanation.

I won't deny that such a view has some merit, but the flaw in that argument, based upon an unrealistically small degree of probability that life could have originally occurred by chance, is that it doesn't take into consideration the likelihood of the existence of trillions of planets in our universe which have similar environmental conditions to those that have existed on the earth.

I get that but I don't understand how it changes the probability of life having developed that way on earth. I'm terrible at statistics but I'm pretty sure it doesn't. It might change the probability of life arising spontaneously somewhere, but it does not change the probability that it happened here, where we know for sure there is life and have some ideas about the conditions under which it arose.

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Now, however remote one might think the chances of life spontaneously arising in a soupy sea might be, those chances should be multiplied by some huge figure,

But not until we know that there is actually life on one or more of those zillions of other celestial bodies. Until then it is still an assumption.

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Can you understand the logic of my argument?

Yes, but again, it is limited to the odds of it happening somewhere. It says nothing about the odds of it happening here. That's like saying that because someone blindly pulled 4 aces in a row out of a shuffled deck of cards in Cleveland that it is more likely to happen in another deck of cards in Miami.

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In case you don't, I'll use a simple analogy of playing roulette in a casino. However remote your chances of winning, if the chip you place on a number were simultaneously placed on a second roulette table for the same one-bet price (equivalent to a second planet with environmental conditions similar to the earth), you would increase your chances of winning, wouldn't you agree?

Yes, but that doesn't speak to your point. Placing bets on wheels 1 and 2 does not change the odds of my winning on wheel 1. And as of right now, we only know there is life on wheel one. So wheel 2 is irrelevant to what happened here on wheel 1. And even more so since the odds are still fairly remote for wheel 2-whatever.

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My point is, however remote one might think the chances are of life forming on one planet, in this instance the Earth, such chances increase in proportion to the number of Earth-like planets that exist in the universe.

Correct.

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Therefore, the reasoning that some people use, even some scientists apparently, that the chances of life spontaneously arising are too small for credibility, is now a flawed logic in the light of recent investigations that have discovered the actual existence of planets encircling other stars in our galaxy, and estimates of the massive number of planets that probably exist in the entire universe with its trillions of galaxies. Got it?  ;)

Well, again, the existence of multiple roulette wheels does not change the odds of wheel number one landing on the number 7 a thousand times in a row even if it happened on every other roulette wheel in the universe. The only thing this speaks to is that the existence of potentially life containing planets increases the odds that life could arise spontaneously. It doesn't change the odds for any given planet.

And even if your point were true, and life arose here without the intervention of a creator, it still does not disprove that one exists. It only proves he did not create life. Here. This would be contrary to Judeo-Christian belief but not theistic belief in general. And it has been part and parcel of the materialist to say: "We have thought of ways this can happen without God, so there is no God." This is possibly the biggest flaw in all of their arguments and it is thoroughly illogical.

But finally, as I've mentioned, my original proposition is NOT that there is a god. My proposition is that we do not have sufficient evidence to refute the existence of a being that probably 3/4 of the world's population believes exists. I'm not trying to convince you that god exists. I'm essentially saying that people who believe in a deity have warrant for their beliefs. I also believe that warrant extends beyond the idea of 'pixies' and such (as invoked by Bill) which is at least bourn out by the fact that the idea of a creator god permeates most of the planet's inhabitants and the idea of pixies does not.

And for goodness sakes, even if those of us who believe that maybe something exists beyond our five senses and the machines that enhance them, and we do actually believe that something is pixies, what sort of restraint does it take to not belittle them in the name of a science which cannot disprove their belief not matter how bizarre it is anyway?
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 26, 2017, 08:07:06 PM
It is not a religious statement, it is a hypothesis for which he sees much justification. It is certainly not provable at this stage of our knowledge.

Call it whatever you want but you have set up a double standard. I could apply the same thing to the existence of God. As mentioned before, many great scientists other than Hawking see and have seen "much justification" for the existence of God, also "certainly not provable at this stage."

And that's the issue. There is a double standard. How can we acknowledge the limits of science, speculate without testable evidence that the universe created itself and then say our beliefs are superior to someone who finds with the same level of justification for the existence of a creative force.

Which brings up another point. If the universe "created" itself as Hawking speculates, then the universe is the creator. Some might call it the Creator.

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If in the case of a specific religion we can show that it was entirely created by a man for his own selfish purposes, then that is a good reason to discount it as genuine.

But you can't show that with all religion. You can speculate about it, but you cannot prove it. You might even show that it is probable. But you cannot prove it. And again it is a logical fallacy that says since I have an explanation it is the explanation.

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I can think of religions which were clearly man made, and therefore fake,

I suspect you'd have to resort to a great deal of speculation and probably weak social science to do so. Maybe not. But still, beside the point. If we could prove beyond any shadow of doubt that every religion was just a psychological crutch, that would not provide any evidence that there is no god.

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but I will not specify them as I do not wish to offend any believers in those religions, at least not in these forums.

You are kinder than some and probable more than I am.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Farmer on February 26, 2017, 08:28:02 PM
But finally, as I've mentioned, my original proposition is NOT that there is a god. My proposition is that we do not have sufficient evidence to refute the existence of a being that probably 3/4 of the world's population believes exists. I'm not trying to convince you that god exists. I'm essentially saying that people who believe in a deity have warrant for their beliefs. does it take to not belittle them in the name of a science which cannot disprove their belief not matter how bizarre it is anyway?[/i]

Divine fallacy / non sequitur.  There is no need to prove that something does not exist when no one can prove that it does.  The burden of proof is on proving existence.  That 3/4 of the world's population believe in something has no bearing on anything.  Belief is not proof nor even reason to follow suit in similar belief (of the 3/4 who believe in something, almost all of them disagree in significant ways even though may of them believe that they are reading the very words given or inspired by their God(s)).

So it boils down again to "because God", which is an entirely fallacious argument, completely circular, and utterly pointless.  If you want to actually discuss this, George, you need to do better than that - but you can't, because all arguments in favour of the existence of God ultimately resort to "because God".  If God were divine and His purpose made known, you'd think He'd do better and provide His followers with the capacity to provide a logical argument in support.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: sierraman on February 26, 2017, 09:24:07 PM
Why argue about it. I understand everyone here has a reason for believing or not believing, and those beliefs should be
respected. The fact is each one of us will get the definitive answer sooner or later.   :)
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Farmer on February 26, 2017, 09:56:26 PM
Why do I have to respect all beliefs?

I don't respect the KKK, for example.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: sierraman on February 26, 2017, 11:45:17 PM
Why do I have to respect all beliefs?

I don't respect the KKK, for example.

Who said you had to respect "all" beliefs? Weird!   :)
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Ray on February 27, 2017, 12:04:44 AM
Well, again, the existence of multiple roulette wheels does not change the odds of wheel number one landing on the number 7 a thousand times in a row even if it happened on every other roulette wheel in the universe. The only thing this speaks to is that the existence of potentially life containing planets increases the odds that life could arise spontaneously. It doesn't change the odds for any given planet.

Absolutely correct. But I get a sense you have some anthropocentric fixation on our planet, Earth, as being special. It might well be special if it's the only planet in a trillion, or one hundred trillion similar planets in the universe, that has spontaneously developed life. But no-one can know that, at present.

However, if you are betting on a roulette wheel, and you are offered the advantage of the same bet being placed on another hundred, or thousand, or million roulette wheels, with no extra cost, are you really concerned about which roulette wheel gives you the winning number? Does it matter at all? You've won. That's the point.

Quote
And even if your point were true, and life arose here without the intervention of a creator, it still does not disprove that one exists. It only proves he did not create life. Here. This would be contrary to Judeo-Christian belief but not theistic belief in general. And it has been part and parcel of the materialist to say: "We have thought of ways this can happen without God, so there is no God." This is possibly the biggest flaw in all of their arguments and it is thoroughly illogical.

I think here, you are falling into the trap that I've observed most religious believers are in. Because they have a belief in something (a God), despite a lack of clear evidence which could substantiate such a belief, they assume that an atheist has an opposite belief that a God does not exist, because of a lack of clear evidence that a God does not exist.

Here is the source of the confusion. In fact, I have the impression that many small dictionaries describe atheism as a belief that there is no God. Perhaps this is just a typical confusion of common, vernacular language, but from my own perspective, I see atheism as a lack of belief; a lack of belief in 'theism' or a God.

There is a very clear distinction between a lack of belief and a belief. Perhaps the problem here is that those who have a belief in a God, which they need emotionally, and which motivates perhaps most of their activities on this planet, cannot imagine how someone could function without a belief. Such people therefore assume that someone who professes a lack of belief, must actually have a belief in the 'lack of'. Hope this is not too confusing for you.

Whilst most scientist, and people with an appreciation of the benefits of scientific inquiry, might have a so-called belief in the effectiveness of rationality, logic and the scientific methodology, the effects and consequences of such beliefs are intrinsically provisional and are subject to continual change in accordance with new evidence that comes to light.

Religious beliefs, on the other hand, tend to be dogmatic and inflexible. Personally, I prefer to believe (provisionally) in things that can be proved or disproved, rather than things which can be neither proved nor disproved.

I'm still getting the sense, George, that you are failing to distinguish between a belief in things that can be proved, as opposed to a belief in things which cannot be proved. These are two entirely different categories.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Farmer on February 27, 2017, 01:22:50 AM
Who said you had to respect "all" beliefs? Weird!   :)

You said everyone here.  Of course, that's not everyone and all.  My point, though, is that the general claim of "you should respect others beliefs" is unfounded in reason.  Why should, therefore, "I understand everyone here has a reason for believing or not believing, and those beliefs should be respected" be held as a requirement?  Why should I respect everyone else's beliefs here?  Why should they respect mine?  I used an extreme example, but where is it OK to draw the line as to what's mandatory to respect and what's not?  I don't think it holds water.  I may choose to respect other's beliefs, but why should I?  What legitimately compels me to that respect and why?
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Chairman Bill on February 27, 2017, 03:41:13 AM
Quote
Not a mistake at all. There is no theory to date which provides a testable hypothesis outside of the big bang theory. I can easily find a handful of quotes from top contemporary physicists that will testify to this.
It is a mistake. Science offers a number of theories for what preceded the state that existed at the time of the massive expansion of spacetime. There is nothing to say that the universe began to exist at that point, therefore the claim that the universe began to exist is an assertion without evidence.

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Exactly. Science has limits. There are things science can never tell us. Heisenberg asserted the same (even though he often hedged on the significance of his theory).
Heisenberg was talking about quantum events, not limits on science. But yes, science is limited by the data. At the moment, we have no means of reaching back beyond the point of expansion known as the Big Bang. So scientists say, “it might be this, it could be this, but we don’t know.” What science doesn’t do it make stuff up & introduce an entity for which there is no evidence. 

 
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But you have already said that is unknowable. Why speculate about the unknowable when science, your gold standard, can say nothing about it?
Are you being deliberately obtuse? The KCA makes an assertion that the universe began to exist, I’m pointing out that there are alternative explanations. We don’t KNOW, so the claim that it began to exist can not stand.

Quote
That is where you're argument falls apart on so many levels. You are now in the same realm as religion. Essentially you're assessment is that all of science points to a beginning, it can tell us no more, so we'll just assume that maybe there wasn't a beginning. That is not scientific. That is speculation based on nothing at all. It is supra-scientific so that point is utterly lost. You might as well claim that there might have been pixies, right?
My assessment is that science makes NO claims about what preceded the Big Bang, because it doesn’t have any data on that event. The possibilities are numerous, but because we don’t know, the second point of the KCA cannot stand. Unless you are claiming to know the universe began, in which case, where’s your evidence?


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Nope. You have not defeated point number two in any universe. Point 2 only falls if you assume things outside of science. If you can speculate without science then so can a theist, right?
This is daft. Point two falls as soon as you are unable to verify that point two is correct. I don’t need to prove that it is incorrect, only show that WE DON”T KNOW, and neither do you or William Lane Craig. The KCA therefore falls. It proves nothing whatsoever.

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Not even necessary since you cannot get past number two yourself with anything other than wild speculation unsupported by anything but imagination. So, sorry, start over with number two. And if you want to do so with credibility you'll have to do a lot better that "we can't know so anything goes".
I haven’t said this, so nice straw man. I’ve said we don’t know, therefore point two falls.

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At best we are at an impasse, your wild speculations (the universe always existed) verses a creator, which you will consider a wild speculation (and that's okay).
You really don’t get it, do you? I’m not making a claim for what preceded the expansion of spacetime. I’m saying there are alternative explanations, explanations that have as much merit as the claim that the universe started then. That’s not wild speculation, that’s pointing out alternative explanations. They’re different words, with very different meanings. Feel free to look them up & check.

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And so to the point, all the way back to your original response, you make fun of others for having a belief structure that is just as solid as yours.
Clearly not.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Otto Phocus on February 27, 2017, 08:14:39 AM
I think that religion or spirituality or what ever term is used, is a personal matter and should remain personal.

I only get upset when people try to influence laws based on their religious beliefs.

The government should have no position or influence either for or against any religious beliefs.  Laws should be separate from religious beliefs.

I honestly don't understand the need, some  have, to convert people.  I don't try to convert people to my religious/spiritual beliefs, nor do I particularly want to. Acceptance that other's may not share a belief is an important part of maturity and in living in a society.

I do not have to agree with another's beliefs nor do I even need to understand them.  But, in society, I need to accept that others may have different beliefs and as long as they don't violate any laws recognize that they are all part of our society.

The world would be a bit better if we all paid a little less attention to what other choose to legally do.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 27, 2017, 08:48:45 AM
Divine fallacy / non sequitur.  There is no need to prove that something does not exist when no one can prove that it does.

That has nothing to do with the context of this thread. If you are correct then Bill and others have no basis for insulting people for their belief. Why insult someone over something that can't be proved?
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 27, 2017, 09:03:21 AM
It is a mistake. Science offers a number of theories for what preceded the state that existed at the time of the massive expansion of spacetime.

And not a single one of them rises above the status of idea and none of them can be tested which means they are outside of science just like religion.

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There is nothing to say that the universe began to exist at that point,

That is totally and thoroughly wrong. All of the science that is testable indicates just that very thing: a beginning. The actual science says nothing else.

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therefore the claim that the universe began to exist is an assertion without evidence.

It is so funny to see the tables reversed. Now I'm hitting you with the empiricism you so love to throw around and you are standing firmly in the realm of the fantastic and speculative. All current theory supported by math and proven by tests indicates a beginning. Period. End of story. Not even the militant atheists pursue this line of (unsupportable) reasoning. It is a dead end.


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What science doesn’t do it make stuff up & introduce an entity for which there is no evidence.

And yet that is exactly what you are suggesting. This is rich. Even Hawking's self creating universe is an excellent example that "science" does just that. The multiverse is another example.

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Are you being deliberately obtuse? The KCA makes an assertion that the universe began to exist, I’m pointing out that there are alternative explanations.

And those alternate explanations are no more valid than the alternate explanations shared by theists since they fall outside the realm of science. How can you not get that?

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We don’t KNOW, so the claim that it began to exist can not stand.

No logic in that statement at all. This means that we can throw out any evidence that lacks ultimate proof in which case science has no value at all. You're talking nonsense now Bill.

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My assessment is that science makes NO claims about what preceded the Big Bang, because it doesn’t have any data on that event. The possibilities are numerous, but because we don’t know, the second point of the KCA cannot stand. Unless you are claiming to know the universe began, in which case, where’s your evidence?

This is becoming surreal Bill. ALL current evidence indicates a beginning. ALL of it Bill. You can't get past that. And there is no evidence to support any thing other than a beginning. Only speculation. You are evoking pixies and tooth fairies and it is rich.

Edited to add:

Here you go Bill,

"It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape: they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning."

- Alexander Vilenkin

(And no, he's not just a junior professor at Billy Bob's Community College and Service Station)


Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Alan Klein on February 27, 2017, 09:50:40 AM
If you can prove God exists, what would be the point of faith?

But faith lives in everyone - religious, agnostic, and atheist.  The Godhead comes in different ways.  Some believe in a Supreme Being that is the answer to life's problems and who they depend on for guidance and security and Truth.  Others believe in science as the Godhead, and put their faith in it.  Most people tend to follow the former as it provides a purpose to life.  Science may explain how but not the why.  Science provides no direction to belief, no moral compass.  So it is hollow. Science has no soul or heart.  With God, man can leave his ego and instincts behind and find his way.   
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rob C on February 27, 2017, 10:57:39 AM
Why do I have to respect all beliefs?

I don't respect the KKK, for example.


I think that's disingenuous. In this context I believe it's safe to assume that "belief" applies to religious beliefs. And if you can accept that, I'd suggest that respect is not much to do with believing those religious points of view, but simply choosing not to offend gratuitously anyone holding to those religious beliefs.

Should you wish to include the sciences in the term beliefs, then I think you have an open field and can insult whoever you choose to insult; they will simply ignore you, think you dumb, or argue their point. In all those science-related cases, it's not a spiritual offence you'd be committing, and I'm perfectly sure that each party would be delighted to keep at it until the power goes off.

Other than fellow members, I doubt that anyone respects the KKK. They may well fear them at some point, but fear isn't respect.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rob C on February 27, 2017, 11:01:06 AM
If you can prove God exists, what would be the point of faith?

But faith lives in everyone - religious, agnostic, and atheist.  The Godhead comes in different ways.  Some believe in a Supreme Being that is the answer to life's problems and who they depend on for guidance and security and Truth.  Others believe in science as the Godhead, and put their faith in it.  Most people tend to follow the former as it provides a purpose to life.  Science may explain how but not the why.  Science provides no direction to belief, no moral compass.  So it is hollow. Science has no soul or heart.  With God, man can leave his ego and instincts behind and find his way.


That misses any mark: if one could prove the existence of God, faith would be fulfilled. One could then continue following said faith but with certainty.

Rob
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 27, 2017, 11:12:16 AM

 And if you can accept that, I'd suggest that respect is not much to do with believing those religious points of view, but simply choosing not to offend gratuitously anyone holding to those religious beliefs.

Exactly. Unfortunately there seems to be something driving the atheist or agnostic response to religious belief in the last 20 years. It used to be enough to say "you believe what you want, I'll believe what I want". That no longer seems to be the case. And oddly, the gratuitous belittling typically comes from people who would describe themselves as liberal thinking and tolerant. And I'm not just talking about social and political issues. This post is a perfect example. The OP simply got a feeling that something beyond the physical happened to him. He was belittled in several responses. Why?

Quote
Should you wish to include the sciences in the term beliefs, then I think you have an open field and can insult whoever you choose to insult; they will simply ignore you, think you dumb, or argue their point. In all those science-related cases, it's not a spiritual offence you'd be committing,

But I think that is changing. The idea of the inviolable nature of scientific belief has become very prominent. If you question it you are ridiculed. Science cannot be questioned. Again, it is a belief structure that is steadily and popularly assuming religious qualities.

Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Chairman Bill on February 27, 2017, 12:21:12 PM
This is becoming surreal Bill. ALL current evidence indicates a beginning. ALL of it Bill. You can't get past that. And there is no evidence to support any thing other than a beginning. Only speculation. You are evoking pixies and tooth fairies and it is rich.
The idea of cosmic inflation is very well supported by the evidence, but it says absolutely nothing about what (if anything) did or did not precede that expansion. We're still left with the KCA being absed on assertion & assumption, and so it proves nothing.

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Here you go Bill,

"It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape: they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning."

- Alexander Vilenkin

(And no, he's not just a junior professor at Billy Bob's Community College and Service Station)

You're quoting Vilenkin in support of the KCA? Really? You should read more Valenkin - http://inference-review.com/article/the-beginning-of-the-universe

"The cosmological argument for the existence of God consists of two parts. The first is straightforward:

everything that begins to exist has a cause;
the universe began to exist;
therefore, the universe has a cause.
The second part affirms that the cause must be God.

I would now like to take issue with the first part of the argument. Modern physics can describe the emergence of the universe as a physical process that does not require a cause.

Nothing can be created from nothing, says Lucretius, if only because the conservation of energy makes it impossible to create nothing from nothing. For any isolated system, energy is proportional to mass and must be positive. Any initial state, prior to the creation of the system, must have the same energy as the state after its creation.

There is a loophole in this reasoning. The energy of the gravitational field is negative; it is conceivable that this negative energy could compensate for the positive energy of matter, making the total energy of the cosmos equal to zero. In fact, this is precisely what happens in a closed universe, in which the space closes on itself, like the surface of a sphere. It follows from the laws of general relativity that the total energy of such a universe is necessarily equal to zero. Another conserved quantity is the electric charge, and once again it turns out that the total charge must vanish in a closed universe.

I will illustrate these statements for the case of an electric charge, using a two-dimensional analogy. Imagine a two-dimensional closed universe, which we can picture as a surface of a globe. Suppose we place a positive charge at the north pole of this universe. Then the lines of the electrical field emanating from the charge will wrap around the sphere and converge at the south pole. This means that a negative charge of equal magnitude should be present there. Thus, we cannot add a positive charge to a closed universe without adding an equal negative charge at the same time. The total charge of a closed universe must therefore be equal to zero.

If all the conserved numbers of a closed universe are equal to zero, then there is nothing to prevent such a universe from being spontaneously created out of nothing. And according to quantum mechanics, any process which is not strictly forbidden by the conservation laws will happen with some probability."
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 27, 2017, 02:40:14 PM
Quote from: Chairman Bill link=topic=116468.msg963360#msg963360 date=148821607

You're quoting Vilenkin in support of the KCA? Really? [/quote

He said it. I didn't.

Negative energy, etc etc etc is a specious argument. So many contemporary physicists try to skirt the issue with semantics. They twist the meaning of words like "nothing" and "beginning". Nothing=nothing. The current evidence of the big bang all proves, to the best of the ability of modern science, that there was nothing before it. Nothing "negative", nothing "dark". Nothing.

But don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with continuing to work this out. There is nothing wrong with ideas like "negative energy" of the "multiverse". We should explore whatever ideas we come up with. But the fact remains that these ideas are theoretical, have no basis in applied or experimental physics because they are concepts that cannot be tested. And no matter how good these ideas might be, if they cannot be tested (and as of now no one thinks they can and even the math used to support them is inconsistent), they exist only as ideas. And unproven and untestable ideas exist alongside all unproven and untestable ideas, like god.

So you're having to go to extreme lengths to defeat part number two of the KCA. Those lengths are carrying you outside the realm of science and into the realm of imagination. Again, I'm not knocking that aspect of how we process things. That, apparently, is your department. And that's exactly what makes your arguments so ironic.

And still, as I've said before, even if you are dead right, you still haven't proven yourself to be on a higher rational plain than someone who thinks they may have experienced something outside of nature. And as such, you have no reason for belittling them.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: AnthonyM on February 27, 2017, 02:59:01 PM
Exactly. Unfortunately there seems to be something driving the atheist or agnostic response to religious belief in the last 20 years. It used to be enough to say "you believe what you want, I'll believe what I want". That no longer seems to be the case. And oddly, the gratuitous belittling typically comes from people who would describe themselves as liberal thinking and tolerant. And I'm not just talking about social and political issues. This post is a perfect example. The OP simply got a feeling that something beyond the physical happened to him. He was belittled in several responses. Why?

But I think that is changing. The idea of the inviolable nature of scientific belief has become very prominent. If you question it you are ridiculed. Science cannot be questioned. Again, it is a belief structure that is steadily and popularly assuming religious qualities.


There are too many points in this debate for all to be answered, but, to pick up on some:

Religion has a history of trying to persuade non believers to believe.  That continues up to the present day.  It is not unreasonable for non-believers to want to persuade believers to the contrary.  We should all be seekers of greater understanding.  And as religion is a driver of behaviour, it is reasonable for non-believers to want to persuade believers to base their behaviour on rational grounds not on religious (i.e., as non-believers consider it, irrational grounds).

However, out of courtesy and human respect, people should seek to change others' views in a dignified and moderate manner.  For most of history, religions have failed miserably in that respect.  In more recent history, many non-believers have also failed miserably.

You are right that science is not infallible.  Science proceeds by testing hypotheses and trying to falsify them.  Long standing and widely accepted hypotheses are often disproved by subsequent knowledge and thinking.  Scientists should always be prepared to be challenged, but only on the basis of a valid scientific method (and scientific methods are liable to change as knowledge and thinking advance).  What is important is that we should try to base our thinking on reason, not on alleged revelation (sadly, being human, we often fail in this).

There is a huge amount that we do not know; so-called dark matter appears to constitute most of the universe, but nobody has a well tested hypothesis as to what it is.  Science must continue to enquire.

The KCA was developed by clever people working in the context of their understanding of cause and effect.  It now seems that cause and effect do not necessarily work in the conventional way;  quantum mechanics demonstrate this.  Quantum mechanics has also brought the theory of relativity into question, although there are some signs that these may be capable of being reconciled.

So the KCA is fundamentally flawed, because it is based on a misconception about the universality of the conventional understanding of cause and effect.  Hawking's theory is a hypothesis, but it is one based on a superior and deeply thought through rational process derived from what we know about nature.  Of course, it may be wrong.  So far nobody has found a way to test whether it is false.  But it does provide a rational alternative, and the certainty of the KCA is undermined, because it cannot be shown to be the only possible truth.  There may well be other hypotheses.

It is clear, however, that science has disproved many previous religious certainties.  Two and a half thousand years ago many intelligent people believed that the sun rose and set according the passage of the chariot of Apollo.  I doubt if anyone believes that today.   Even the Catholic Church, which has finally apologised to Galileo, has accepted the theory of evolution and the big bang.  So progress is possible.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 27, 2017, 04:00:22 PM

So the KCA is fundamentally flawed, because it is based on a misconception about the universality of the conventional understanding of cause and effect.

What is the misconception? My knowledge of physics is very limited and pretty much nonexistent when it comes to quantum mechanics but I'm not sure how it can possibly change our ideas about cause and effect. And since you've categorically stated that our current understanding of cause and effect (which is what the KCA relys on and is pretty basic to all understanding) is a misconception, maybe you'd be willing to offer an explanation? And if it challenges our current understanding of cause and effect it pretty much fundamentally changes our understanding of everything. When everything we can conceive of is broken down into probabilities that opens up a world of possibilities.

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Hawking's theory is a hypothesis, but it is one based on a superior and deeply thought through rational process derived from what we know about nature.

Yes, but most any idea has logical consequences. If matter and energy create themselves out of nothing then it is no stretch to call that creative force a Creator, right? Again, we come back to what "nothing" means, which seems to be a real stumbling block. And so far, all current evidence, suggests that at some point there was nothing. All other theories to that end, as I have mentioned are untestable.

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But it does provide a rational alternative, and the certainty of the KCA is undermined, because it cannot be shown to be the only possible truth.

No it doesn't. It only does so by abusing the meanings of words like 'cause', 'effect', 'beginning' and 'nothing' into words that share none of the meaning they are intended to carry. That is pure smoke and mirrors based on un-testable hypotheses. So you have concepts that lose their meaning in order to find theoretical evidence for an untestable hypothesis. That is a huge stretch to get around a simple statement based on properly basic understanding.

And to make that point stick here I think you will have to explain how 'cause and effect' no longer means 'cause and effect'. How nothing actually means something and how beginning means something besides the beginning. If quantum mechanics does this then you should be able to share it and not just state it. And even then, since science has not been able to join the concepts of quantum mechanics with other fields of physics we will still be left with valid questions as to its implications and applicability.

Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: AnthonyM on February 27, 2017, 05:31:38 PM
Thanks, George, I am certainly not going to pretend that I have any real understanding about quantum mechanics, other than that it seems to show that there are areas where the normal scientific rules do not always seem to apply.

1.  There are lots of discussions on the internet about this.  Here is a link to a discussion from the University of Vienna website which mentions some of the issues.  https://medienportal.univie.ac.at/presse/aktuelle-pressemeldungen/detailansicht/artikel/quantum-causal-relations-a-causes-b-causes-a/ 

The important point is that quantum mechanics has cast serious doubt over a lot of our understanding as to how the universe works. 

Even Einstein was entangled by this. https://phys.org/news/2014-06-einstein-quantum-mechanics-hed-today.html

Here is a recent newspaper article on the complexities of quantum mechanics and its semi-detached relationship to classical physics  https://www.theguardian.com/news/2015/nov/04/relativity-quantum-mechanics-universe-physicists

I am not capable of analysing and understanding much of this, and I certainly do not ask you to produce a rebuttal.  It is the domain of mega-experts.  The important point is that our classical understanding is challenged, just as Newton's work was shown to be inadequate to describe what happens at an atomic level.

Which in turn means that the simple causality assumed by the creators of the KCA has been left behind by developments in thinking and in particular science.

2.  One might call a self creating universe a Creator.  However, this would be very different from the traditional understanding of god as a supernatural sentient entity.  The self creating universe, if Hawking is correct, is simply the working out of nature, not supernatural and not sentient.  As such it does not qualify to be called god.

3.  It is not a matter of changing the meaning of "cause" and "effect".  It is about saying that our understandings of how they operate in "normal" life may not be relevant in certain circumstances.  And I agree with you that scientists are still struggling to link up quantum mechanics with the rest of physics.  There is a Nobel prize for the person, or team, that manages to do that, and I certainly won't be getting it.

4.  Apart from these issues, the KCA fails to prove a divine Creator, because that is only one of a range of possibilities.  Serious scientists are having serious debates, based on scientific research and thinking, about whether there is a multiverse, or whether there was another universe before the big bang (the big bang itself being a fairly recent theory).  The science is beyond me, and I retain a healthy but open minded scepticism.

5.  Even if the KCA worked, it would not prove that there is a divine entity which intervenes in our world. 

In summary, the KCA fails on the science, it fails to provide the only possible answer to the creation of the universe, and it fails to show that our current world is affected by the activities of a divine entity.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Farmer on February 27, 2017, 06:20:18 PM
That has nothing to do with the context of this thread. If you are correct then Bill and others have no basis for insulting people for their belief. Why insult someone over something that can't be proved?

It has everything to do with the thread because you keep using it to make an argument.  You feel insulted because they refer to your beliefs as being of fairies and pixies, but when you tell them that they are wrong "because God" you are insulting their intelligence in their view.  Really, anytime someone from another religion says you are wrong and they are right, you are insulting each other's beliefs (regardless of the "we're all people of faith" - that just doesn't work when you have different faiths all claiming to be the "one true God").
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Farmer on February 27, 2017, 06:22:24 PM
I think that's disingenuous. In this context I believe it's safe to assume that "belief" applies to religious beliefs. And if you can accept that, I'd suggest that respect is not much to do with believing those religious points of view, but simply choosing not to offend gratuitously anyone holding to those religious beliefs.

Choosing not to offend someone doesn't require respect of their beliefs and yes, it certainly doesn't need to believe or accept the other view.  The point is, there is this general demand of "you must accept everyone's beliefs/opinions/etc. even if you disagree" but I would say no, you don't.  I don't need to attack them or punish them (so long as it doesn't directly interfere with me), but I don't need to respect it (even if I respect other things they do/say/think/are/etc).
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rand47 on February 27, 2017, 06:35:59 PM
Quote
could offer more, but we'd be here all day. I could also give you quotes that show his hatred of atheism. The Nazis sent atheists to the concentration camps & the gas chambers, because of their atheism. Hardly 'secular' in any way.

I've been thinking about this.  I'm familiar with the early quotes cited here.  I think the disconnect is a product of at least two things.  The first and perhaps most important is this.  Should we make a distinction between someone who does something "in the name of a religion," but that is contrary to the plain (or normative understanding) of the claimed religion's teachings?  I think we should.  To say that Hitler was a "Christian" in any sense of that word, turns the very teachings of Jesus of Nazareth on their head.  I think we see the same thing with radical Islam (for the most part).  This is an important issue.  I think Hitler's "understanding" of Mere Christianity (as C.S. Lewis puts it) is hardly Christian at all.  If people were committing genocide in the name of Buckminster Fuller's philosophy, can that be squared with Fuller's actual positions on things?  Should it be?  We would see that as ridiculous, and we should.

I also think we need to add to this that Hitler's dark thinking continued to degenerate over a fairly short period of time, e.g. my quote in the previous post about raising a generation of cruel, relentless youth.  But the bottom line is that I don't (and many scholars don't) see Hitler as religious in any sense of the word at all, let alone Christian.  He borrowed from a lot of places to justify his reign of terror.  German national mythology, Darwinian survival mechanisms in nature, etc. to generate his "pure race" ideas. 

None of this changes (and I find it interesting that you didn't comment on) the concept that "the evil that men do" as the base problem and that the "banner" they do it under is mere artifact of cultural context.

Another issue is using "humanism" as a term describing a "consensus" of a philosophical position.  There are many forms of humanism, from a philosophical perspective.  My use of "secular humanism" intends to narrow the definition to "at least" saying that it is philosophical position where man is the measure of all things, and that is in the context of also saying that there is nothing transcendent signified in human existence.  I would be interested in your definition of humanism as you are using it in this discussion. 

Rand

Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 27, 2017, 06:54:04 PM
Thanks, George, I am certainly not going to pretend that I have any real understanding about quantum mechanics, other than that it seems to show that there are areas where the normal scientific rules do not always seem to apply.

Well yes. For us laymen that pretty much defines quantum mechanics.

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The important point is that quantum mechanics has cast serious doubt over a lot of our understanding as to how the universe works.

Agreed. And the implications of this are huge and in many ways move us toward a better understanding of what once seemed supernatural but might be quite "natural' after all.

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The important point is that our classical understanding is challenged,

I absolutely agree.

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just as Newton's work was shown to be inadequate to describe what happens at an atomic level.

After his work was shown to also be inadequate on the cosmic level as well.

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Which in turn means that the simple causality assumed by the creators of the KCA has been left behind by developments in thinking and in particular science.

I think you have stretched the significance of those developments. And again, it seems that I have to keep saying this over and over but these developments currently reside thoroughly in the speculative realm. Many of them have no math to support them and are acknowledged to have no hope of being testable. They are essentially thought experiments. And they are widely debated within the QM community. This puts such ideas on the fringe of what we can call science, if, as many here have said, science necessarily includes the prospect of testability. Unlike relativity, which had solid math and the prospect of testability and subsequent proof through measurement of the red-shift, these theories have no hope of such proof. That being the case, they do not represent a serious challenge to the KCA. They might. They could. But they can't as of yet.

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One might call a self creating universe a Creator.  However, this would be very different from the traditional understanding of god as a supernatural sentient entity.

Quite right, but I'm not here arguing for the existence of the God of Moses. Remember, the OP had a sensation, a feeling, that an event in his life might have been guided by things he could not readily explain from a materialist viewpoint. For this he was ridiculed.

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The self creating universe, if Hawking is correct, is simply the working out of nature,

I hope that you can hear how ridiculous this sounds? It is paramount to saying that something that exists created itself when neither it nor anything else existed. Granted, spoken/written language falls short in regard to expressing quantum mechanical potentials but at some point it begins to sound absurd. And sometimes what sounds absurd is absurd. And again, there are theoretical and philosophical ramifications if such absurdities are true. If something can create itself when itself wasn't a self, or anything at all, from a complete lack of anything at all.....then what can we possibly call impossible?

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not supernatural

QM seems to be erasing those boundaries.

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and not sentient.

Why not? If the universe created itself then it created. If it can create something out of nothing what science can say it isn't sentient. Again, maybe the terminology is insufficient for the concept........but still. And again, if this is possible we have no basis for saying anything is impossible.

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As such it does not qualify to be called god.

Thoroughly depends on your definition of god. Many god's throughout mythology were weak, stupid, vindictive, capricious. I'm not here to define what sort of influence the OP felt in his experience.

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It is not a matter of changing the meaning of "cause" and "effect".  It is about saying that our understandings of how they operate in "normal" life may not be relevant in certain circumstances.

I'm sorry but that sounds exactly like changing the meaning.

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Apart from these issues, the KCA fails to prove a divine Creator, because that is only one of a range of possibilities.

Agreed. I have not sought to use it that way. And if it even hints at the possibility of a creative force (The Force, if you will) then my point stands that no matter what level of science we understand it is not justifiable to belittle those who have a belief in the divine.

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Serious scientists are having serious debates, based on scientific research and thinking, about whether there is a multiverse, or whether there was another universe before the big bang (the big bang itself being a fairly recent theory).  The science is beyond me, and I retain a healthy but open minded scepticism.

The science is beyond you because it is not science. Again, this is another thought experiment conducted by scientists that falls well outside the realm of science. No only can it not be tested, not only is there no math to be applied to it, it opens up the possibility for ALL things to be possible. It is an interesting concept but has no scientific application whatsoever.

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Even if the KCA worked, it would not prove that there is a divine entity which intervenes in our world.

Totally agree. I did not use it as such. 

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In summary, the KCA fails on the science,

No. It only fails on speculation which is not testable, disprovable or reproducible. And that is not a failure or a defeater. The fact that some future science can alter the meaning of cause and effect does not prove anything at all.

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it fails to provide the only possible answer to the creation of the universe,

That is a straw man. I did not use it as such.

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and it fails to show that our current world is affected by the activities of a divine entity.

Another straw man, right? I did not use the KCA to make that argument. Even its creator does not go that far directly so that's beside the point of the KCA and this discussion.

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Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 27, 2017, 07:01:59 PM
None of this changes (and I find it interested that you didn't comment on) the concept that "the evil that men do" as the base problem and that the "banner" they do it under is mere artifact of cultural context.

Right. But the point that often gets made is that religion is a source of evil in the world. This is undeniable. But the context in which this is said is that without religion things would be better. And that just doesn't work. Take Hitler out of the scenario (he was small change compared to Mao and Stalin). Take the words humanism and secularism out of the picture. The fact remains that the most horrible acts of genocide, torture and systematic murder (not to mention wars at all) were not committed in the name of or under the banner of religion and they were far, far more destructive than all of the cumulative evils done in the name of religion.

With the rise of Islamic extremism that may change one day. But it does not change the facts. Men do evil. Religious or not.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rand47 on February 27, 2017, 07:05:13 PM
One of the things a theologian and philosopher said in his writings that I thought was a useful way to look at "the universe" is to characterize it like this:

The universe is either completely impersonal or it is in some way personal.  By impersonal he meant that everything that is, is a product of time, plus chance, plus nothing else.  If this view of the universe is true, our sense of "personality" is a mere artifice.  Much like Dawkins explanation that we're merely dancing to our DNA and there's no meaning behind it at all.  Our attaching meaning to things is therefore meaning-less in a universe literally devoid of meaning.

OR, the universe is in some way "personal."  This, of course, posits that there is an uncaused cause of some sort that got it all going, and that one of the attributes of "the cause" is, in fact, "personal-ness" (or mind, if you like).  This possibility not only has explanatory power for our personality and "mind" but provides a possibility that those most precious attributes of ours actually do have meaning as opposed to being evolutionary residue without the possibility of any meaning at all.

The OP's story can be seen as "echos" of that personality being still active in the universe.

Rand
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rand47 on February 27, 2017, 07:33:17 PM
Right. But the point that often gets made is that religion is a source of evil in the world. This is undeniable. But the context in which this is said is that without religion things would be better. And that just doesn't work. Take Hitler out of the scenario (he was small change compared to Mao and Stalin). Take the words humanism and secularism out of the picture. The fact remains that the most horrible acts of genocide, torture and systematic murder (not to mention wars at all) were not committed in the name of or under the banner of religion and they were far, far more destructive than all of the cumulative evils done in the name of religion.

With the rise of Islamic extremism that may change one day. But it does not change the facts. Men do evil. Religious or not.

No disagreement from me here at all, except that I'd not call religion the "actual" source.  It appears to be the source because it was/is the banner being carried as evil is done.  I think it incumbent on people of faith (especially Christians) to be honest about the evil that has been done "in the name of" religion/Christianity.  But it is also important to point out that, in the case  of Christianity at least, the evil was "in spite of" the actual teachings of Jesus, and 180 degrees in opposition to what he taught.  The main point for me is that mankind, left to his own devices, does these kinds of things.  History is replete with this.  Dawkins' explanation that we're just dancing to our DNA is a good explanation if the universe is at bottom a product of time plus chance plus nothing.  All materialists should be equally willing to see the kind of evil perpetrated from secular ideology as being the banner (or source, if you like) of most of the 20th century's horrors of human evil.  Largely, they deny that, or ignore it or chalk it up to a "cult of personality" (what the heck is that as an explanation?) or some such that misses the point.  The BIG question is this, why does mankind do such evil?  The possible answers are: 1. There's something fundamentally wrong with mankind (that arguably needs fixing), or; 2. Mankind just dances to his DNA and what we do (whatever the banner it is under) is just the outworking of unguided evolutionary processes and nothing much to find odd.  If this is the case, then even talking about "good and evil" is pretty much irrelevant.

This is why I appreciate the likes of Dawkins, Sam Harris, the late Christopher Hitchens, etc.  They are/were honest enough to "just say it outright" as the logical outworking of their philosophical position on the nature of the universe.

Someone mentioned a while back in this tread (I think - or it may have been a similar one) the "golden rule."  Someone else mentioned the inverse of the golden rule that is common in many other cultures and religions, i.e., "DON'T do to anyone else what you wouldn't want done to you."  The difference is really profound.  Jesus' words were, "DO TO OTHERS, precisely what YOU WOULD WANT DONE TO YOU."  This is an active, affirmative "doing" rather than a passive "not doing."  The difference is too often seen as relatively unimportant - but that's not the case.  The difference is profound.  Really profound.  The Golden Rule calls mankind "higher."  The inverse is mere restraint on the status quo.

Rand

Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 27, 2017, 07:38:40 PM
The BIG question is this, why does mankind do such evil?  The possible answers are: 1. There's something fundamentally wrong with mankind (that arguably needs fixing), or; 2. Mankind just dances to his DNA and what we do (whatever the banner it is under) is just the outworking of unguided evolutionary processes and nothing much to find odd.  If this is the case, then even talking about "good and evil" is pretty much irrelevant.

Yep.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Alan Klein on February 28, 2017, 12:12:59 AM
At such time through duress, or pain, or fear of death, your ego is shattered and you lose faith in your self-sufficiency as the answer to all your problems, only then, will a true understanding and faith in a higher power become manifest.  It is our ego that blocks God who we are all connected with and with each other.  The OP got a sense of that which made him conclude that there is more.  It struck a humble chord so he felt beyond the science of the universe and into its more meaningful heart and spirit.  Science can do none of these things because it is hard and factual and provides no real nourishment.  But science can provide data that helps us live in the world.  Both are important and neither should negate the other.  We should be happy we have both.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Farmer on February 28, 2017, 12:55:04 AM
Which both, Alan?

You're good with Islam, since it's faith in God, I presume?  Or do you like a little added celebrity to your faith and favour Scientology?  Perhaps Hinduism is more your thing?  What about Judaism?  No, you're a Christian?  You're sure that's the right one, right?  If there's only both, you must be certain about what they are.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Alan Klein on February 28, 2017, 01:23:07 AM
Which both, Alan?

You're good with Islam, since it's faith in God, I presume?  Or do you like a little added celebrity to your faith and favour Scientology?  Perhaps Hinduism is more your thing?  What about Judaism?  No, you're a Christian?  You're sure that's the right one, right?  If there's only both, you must be certain about what they are.

I was speaking of both science and religion when I said both, if that's what you mean "Which both, Alan." 

Beyond that, I would not judge another's belief.   That's why I said higher power.  Each person has to define his own understanding of God.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Farmer on February 28, 2017, 02:06:42 AM
But you can't all be right.  Two men say they're Jesus, one of the must be wrong, right?
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Otto Phocus on February 28, 2017, 07:03:47 AM
The BIG question is this, why does mankind do such evil?  The possible answers are: 1. There's something fundamentally wrong with mankind (that arguably needs fixing), or; 2. Mankind just dances to his DNA and what we do (whatever the banner it is under) is just the outworking of unguided evolutionary processes and nothing much to find odd.  If this is the case, then even talking about "good and evil" is pretty much irrelevant.

There should be a third answer.  People do evil things because doing them gives them a benefit. Or to be more precise, because they may perceive a benefit.

People rob banks because they want money.  They don't think about how robbing a bank may adversely affect the economy.

I believe that it is difficult (impossible?) for a person to commit an act that is evil unto themselves. There is always a self justification that makes the act acceptable to that individual.

This is why the term evil is usually used in the second or third person such as "She is evil" and "They are evil".  Seldom is the word used in the first person.   They may be evil, but we are just doing what needs to be done.

As it is used in the second/third person, the self justification can be challenged and is often done so in the context of culture and laws. Yes, a child  molester may be able to self justify their actions, but our society's culture and laws dictate that it not acceptable and society has a penalty... and the ability to enforce that penalty.

"Good" and "Evil" are subjective.  What may be evil to some may not be evil to others.  Who is right?  Well it depends on which group you identify with.  Good and Evil are not dichotomous. There are few blacks and whites but a lot of really dark and really light grey.

The extremes are always easy to define.

Raping and eating small children - Probably universally considered evil
Saving puppies from a fire - Probably universally considered good

But when you start moving further to the center of the good/evil spectrum, it can get a lot harder... and more subjective.

Are there other options other than Good and Evil?  Is there a Neutral?  Some would say yes and others would say no. Edmund Burke would probably say no. Karl Popper would probably say yes.

Could there be a fourth?

People way smarter than any of us here have been struggling with for many many years.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: RSL on February 28, 2017, 10:20:45 AM
Come on you guys. Quit it. I've gotta stop laughing and get up off the floor. All of this is thoroughly hashed out in any Philosophy 101 class. You're taking me back to 1948 at University of Michigan. Ah! Young again!
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Otto Phocus on February 28, 2017, 10:33:16 AM
Come on you guys. Quit it. I've gotta stop laughing and get up off the floor. All of this is thoroughly hashed out in any Philosophy 101 class. You're taking me back to 1948 at University of Michigan. Ah! Young again!

Is this supposed to add anything positive to the discussion?
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on February 28, 2017, 02:37:05 PM
Is this supposed to add anything positive to the discussion?

In a thread full of contention and negativity I think it has added something positive at least in its levity.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Ray on February 28, 2017, 06:31:07 PM
As I understand, many species of female spider will eat the male spider after copulation, because the males are smaller, have served their purpose, and are seen as a good feeding opportunity not to be missed.

Sometimes the urge to eat the male is so strong, among the more aggressive female spiders, that they will eat the male even before sexual intercourse has taken place.  ;D

I guess those female spiders must be really 'evil'.  ;)

Or maybe they are just dancing to the tune of their own DNA.  ;)
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rob C on March 01, 2017, 05:09:16 AM
Who'd be a fucking spider! (?)

Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Ray on March 01, 2017, 05:55:00 AM
Who'd be a fucking spider! (?)

Do you get a choice to be who you are? That's an interesting concept. How does that work?  ;)
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rob C on March 01, 2017, 10:02:50 AM
Do you get a choice to be who you are? That's an interesting concept. How does that work?  ;)


I think you get a choice to follow this path or the other one. That makes your future. How independently such a choice is ever made is another question - probably even that is largely predestined, or not. Saul Leiter came from a family where Pop was a rabbi and he was expected to follow in the shadows of. He shared no such illusion and left home in Pittsburgh for NY and the hope of becoming a painter. He became both painter and photographer, the latter courtesy artist friends who at various times lent him cameras that led to enthusing him with the medium... I came from a largely engineering background and hated everything about it except that it offered to keep me out of the armed forces until the end of my apprenticeship. By the end of the fourth year of which, fortunately, the government decided to stop faking the unemployment figures any more and cancelled conscription... maybe keeping reluctant soldiers going was more expensive and socially counterproductive than they'd imagined it would be.

Perhaps if I'd opted for doing the two years in the forces rather than risking five in engineering I'd have been sent out to be killed by the Mau Mau in Kenya, some illiterate religious zealot in Ireland or madman in Cyprus. Who knows? For what it's worth, I did what I did and now I find myself here.

Yeah, maybe it works by predestination. I've felt a lot of that in my life.

Rob
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Ray on March 01, 2017, 08:23:31 PM
I think you get a choice to follow this path or the other one. That makes your future. How independently such a choice is ever made is another question - probably even that is largely predestined, or not.

Rob,
It's reasonable to presume that all creatures have at least some degree of choice with regard to a particular path or direction to follow. It has been observed that even male spiders sometimes employ a strategy to avoid being eaten after copulation. After locating the female spider, they will sometimes wait in the background patiently until they see the female catch a prey, such as a fly or other insect. The male spider will then quickly approach the female and mate with her whilst she's still in the process of eating her newly acquired prey, then he'll get out of the way as quickly as possible after the mating is complete.  ;D

Of course, we all like to think we have many more choices and options of paths to follow, than other creatures do, but often such choices are significantly influenced by deep-seated conditioning in our subconscious, which we are not aware of.

Anyway the point I was addressing, in response to your question, 'Who would be a spider?', is even more profound. We don't appear to have any choice regarding what circumstances we are born into, whether as a male or female with a high IQ or low IQ, whether genetically deformed in some way or just normal, whether into a rich family or poor family, a Muslim family, a Christian family or an Atheist family, or in a developed country as opposed to a poverty-stricken undeveloped country.

We certainly don't appear to have a choice whether to be born as a spider, or a cockroach or a kangaroo, although the religion of Buddhism, with its concept of Rebirth, teaches that our actions in this life will determine the quality of our future lives.

If your circumstances are lousy in this life, behave well, with compassion and kindness, and you will be reborn into better circumstances next time around. Behave badly, killing and destroying and promoting hatred, then you will likely be reborn as a cockroach, although there is still no option offered in Buddhism to choose which lower life-form one would prefer.  ;)

In general, I have no objection to any religion that promotes harmony and cooperation among individuals, societies and nations. The animal instincts within humans are the cause of all the conflicts, wars and power struggles. Religion at its best attempts to overcome or transcend such animal instincts.

However, sometimes the priests and teachers of such religions clearly fail, and the religion seems to fall into the trap of promoting the very animal instincts it is supposed to transcend, as in the case of armies in the past, fighting and killing under the banner of Christianity, with the aim of promoting or defending Christianity, a religion which espouses the major principle that one should 'love thine enemy' (not kill him).

Thus endeth Philosophy lesson 101.  ;)
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Alan Klein on March 02, 2017, 12:51:46 AM
...In general, I have no objection to any religion that promotes harmony and cooperation among individuals, societies and nations. The animal instincts within humans are the cause of all the conflicts, wars and power struggles. Religion at its best attempts to overcome or transcend such animal instincts...



  It is said that while God pretty much preordains everything about our lives, He leaves moral decisions up to us.  It is there that we are different from the other animals. 
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Jeremy Roussak on March 02, 2017, 04:13:20 AM
  It is said that while God pretty much preordains everything about our lives, He leaves moral decisions up to us.  It is there that we are different from the other animals.

Lots of things are said. Some make more sense than others.

Jeremy
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Alan Klein on March 02, 2017, 10:46:17 AM

That misses any mark: if one could prove the existence of God, faith would be fulfilled. One could then continue following said faith but with certainty.

Rob

It would be a no brainer to have faith and know God exists if we were punished every time we did something wrong and rewarded every time we did something right.  But we know that's not what happens.  Some of the nicest people suffer and some of the vilest people always seem to get their way.  It's like God wants us to be His servant out of humility,  not because He's a genie.  Rub the lamp, and you'll get your wish.  That's what idol worship is all about.  And science can become an idol too.  And He never directly forces us to do anything. We have to come to Him willingly.  We obey God and are humble to Him because we want too, not because of some tangible reward.   Doing His will provides purpose to life because everything else we do eventually withers and dies.  Faith is fulfilled in the doing, not in the knowledge.
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Rob C on March 02, 2017, 10:51:19 AM
Lots of things are said. Some make more sense than others.

Jeremy


Yeah, and who tuned inside a dog's head and listened?

A little story regarding our late Alsabrador. My wife was on the neighbour's terrace having a drink and the pooch had gone with her. The dog was lying on the tiles at my wfe's feet, panting in the sunshine. Seeing the dog's distress, she said Dina, go inside into the shade! The dog looked at her, got up and did exactly that. The neighbour told that tale for years.

My wife was one of those impulsive women who suddenly get the urge to go into the kitchen and run up a quick scone or doughring to enjoy with some tea. Our dog loved doughrings, and was always given one when they were made. Now and again my wfe would whisper acroos to me asking if I'd like some, and that dog was up on its feet before she had finished speaking!

I don't know either.

Rob
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: Alan Klein on March 02, 2017, 12:05:37 PM
Nice story Rob.  My dog understood English too. Well, at least the parts he wanted to understand.  :)
Title: Re: Just experienced an event that suggests there's a guiding hand
Post by: N80 on March 02, 2017, 06:36:22 PM
Alan wrote:

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It is said that while God pretty much preordains everything about our lives, He leaves moral decisions up to us.  It is there that we are different from the other animals.

Jeremy responded:

Lots of things are said. Some make more sense than others.

I think this makes a lot of sense regardless of which side of the transcendental isle you sit on. Christians struggle with a concept of an all-powerful creator who set all this into motion and controls it all the while allowing for us to make decisions on our own. Does the fact that He knows the whole story from beginning to end diminish the role our individual will plays? That's difficult stuff.

But it cuts both ways. Many scientists and philosophers who take God out of the equation believe in determinism. The big bang happened and everything else that followed was always going to happen just as it has and continues to. There is a lot to be said for this idea. It is hard to refute. So the very same question arises. If Hawking's universe created itself and set things on a deterministic path, then what role does our free will play? Do we have free will? Do we have responsibility for our actions or are they just the result of a series of events that was always going to unfold the way they have?

So yes, this does make sense with or without God. It may be the one universal angst that the religious share with the a-religious.

And isn't it nice to have something in common? :D