Monday, March 30, 2009

An Albatrossitic misstep

Albatrossity is a frequent commenter at ERV, and is quite a character. In real life, he's a professor of biology at a major state university, but given the stridency of his speech, the level of profanity and mockery in his vocabulary, and his reading comprehension level when he gets riled up, one could easily be forgiven for mistaking him for your typical atheist troll who's read a few Dick Dawk books and little else.
Anyway, Albatrossity recently walked right into my cannonfire (see my preceding comment for the context), and I think it's funny enough to share.
Here's a clue-by-four. If both good design and bad design are considered to be evidence of your designer, your notions can't be discussed by rational people seeking useful explanations. But we knew that already, didn't we?
Let's take another look at his statement, shall we?
If both good design and bad design are considered to be evidence of your designer...

Now let me think about that one for a second... Design being evidence for a designer. Hmmmmmm...

46 comments:

rotsaP loeJ said...

I don't see why you're picking on the poor guy - he had a good point. When my bike gets a flat tyre, I immediately conclude that it was brought into existence by an explosion at the junkyard. Doesn't everyone?

Rhology said...

Well, yes, but we're not all PhDs at major universities, after all.

Seth said...

I now conclude that if every day I learn a new Spanish vocabulary word, then I ought to expect that one day I'll wake up to find I am fluent in Russian! Sweet!

zilch said...

So tell us, Rho. What kind of design in living things might we expect to see, if life was designed by God? This is the question that ID has, so far, been unable to answer.

The ToE, on the other hand, has an answer: some good design, because that's what survives, and some bad design, which is unavoidable because of the way evolution works.

Of course "bad" design in living things is only "bad" in the sense that an engineer, or an Intelligent Designer, working from scratch with no necessity to be constrained by previous design work, could easily come up with a better solution. An example which I already mentioned is the recurrent laryngeal nerve of the giraffe.

It's the constraint of taking baby steps from previous designs that leads to such "bad" designs. This constraint is explained by the ToE: ID cannot explain it. Moreover, the ToE enables us to make predictions based on this knowledge of constraints: for instance, my prediction that the okapi would also have a recurrent laryngeal nerve that is much longer than necessary. ID can make no such predictions. Or can you point to one such prediction, Rho?

ID: No research. No data. No predictions. Not what I would call "science".

rotsaP loeJ said...

I would expect to see some design, either good (according to my standards and preferences) or bad. Lacking which, I would expect to see chaos and complete disorganisation. It is pretty obvious which we see in nature.

Rhology said...

zilch,

ToE can acct for ZERO design. That's why what Albatrossity said is so unintentionally and clumsily funny.


Or can you point to one such prediction, Rho?

ID: No research. No data. No predictions. Not what I would call "science".


That may matter to some, but such scientistic concerns are not interesting to me. I'm a layman; I want to know what's TRUE, not what conforms to someone's definition of "science".
That's one of the reasons the recent Dembski-Ruse debate was such crap. Ruse explicitly said "Bill has spent his opening presentation discussing whether ID is true. I don't intend to discuss that; I am concerned whether it's SCIENCE."
Damn the truth! Full science ahead!

zilch said...

zilch: ID: No research. No data. No predictions. Not what I would call "science".

Rho: That may matter to some, but such scientistic concerns are not interesting to me. I'm a layman; I want to know what's TRUE, not what conforms to someone's definition of "science".

If you want to know what's TRUE, Rho, then you should stick to mathematics or some other circumscribed system of formal logic, where there are truths that are absolute by definition. Science isn't about truth: it's about making the most accurate models of the world we can, models that fit the evidence and explain it. The ToE is one such model.

And if you're not interested in whether or not ID has any data, makes any predictions, or does any research, then there's not much point in talking about its merits vis-à-vis the ToE, because then you are comparing oranges to apples. If you believe that ID is "true", based on the Bible or personal revelation, then that's fine, but that's an admission that ID is not a science, and that's the end of the discussion.

Rhology said...

See here for Albatrossity's "answer". Yes, he's always like that. One wonders how he acts in front of his students and TAs.

Science isn't about truth, huh? You heard it here first, folks.
I think you might have lost touch a bit with the whole point here, zilch. "Models that fit the evidence" could be most anything. Brain in a vat can fit the evidence. So can the Matrix. So can a god who makes it all. I think you might be just a TAD out of the stream of how science has always been.

I assume this is a concession that we shouldn't be concerned with teaching what is true in the classroom. As long as it "works", according to you the establishment, no? Works towards what, we don't know. Certainly not towards finding truth...
You can have that, man.

zilch said...

Science isn't about truth, huh? You heard it here first, folks.

If they heard it here first, then they haven't been listening around.

I think you might have lost touch a bit with the whole point here, zilch. "Models that fit the evidence" could be most anything.

Indeed they can, as we see in the case of ID, but I said "models that fit the evidence and explain it." There's a difference.

Brain in a vat can fit the evidence.

Yes, but it can't explain it.

So can the Matrix.

Ditto.

So can a god who makes it all.

Ditto.

I think you might be just a TAD out of the stream of how science has always been.

You are of course free to think that. And of course there will be scientists who use a different definition of "truth", and say that science is a way of approaching the truth. However, you have made it clear here that you are only interested in capital "T" Truth, when you admitted that evidence, data, and predictions don't interest you much. And as I said, absolute truth is not to be had in descriptions of the real world. Ask any scientist.

I assume this is a concession that we shouldn't be concerned with teaching what is true in the classroom.

Not a concession, but rather making clear what science is about.

As long as it "works", according to you the establishment, no? Works towards what, we don't know.

Works towards making this transatlantic chat possible, for instance, and the medicine you took to clear up your sore throat, among other things. And since when am I the establishment? I'm a hippie- look at my avatar.

Certainly not towards finding truth...

As I said, if you are looking for that kind of truth, you should stick to circumscribed systems of formal logic, where some things are absolutely true by definition.

You can have that, man.

Thanks, I'm happy with it. I'd rather have imperfect, but very workable and beautiful models of the real world, then a perfect conception of the world that may be beautiful but doesn't tell me anything.

NAL said...

rotsaP loeJ:
Lacking which, I would expect to see chaos and complete disorganisation.

Your expectation of chaos and complete disorganization is a result of your lack of understanding. If this is your expectation, please provide an explanation as to how the ToE leads to this expectation.

Dr Funkenstein said...

To follow on from NAL's point, there are plenty of examples where from (apparent) chaos, order emerges:

the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction is really just a mix of common chemicals, but it does give rise to an ordered, patterned system such as this:

http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Image:BZ_Spiral_waves.jpg


similarly, you can get ordered patterns forming naturally in rocks:

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/71/201856534_2c9bf70d84.jpg?v=0

there are no doubt more examples that can be found in nature on a quick google search...

rotsaP loeJ said...

Dr F,

The points you make about the chemicals and crystals, although interesting, do not seem to interact with my argument, which is metaphysical. There is no evidence that I am aware of - feel free to correct me if I err - that such patterns and structures happen outside the purview of a designer. I would argue that the presence of organisation implies an organiser by definition; whether you personally know him or not. But this is ultimately a question on which Science, at least in it reductionist modern definition, must remain agnostic.

NAL,

I wasn't really talking about the theory of evolution. I was talking about naturalism generally.

zilch said...

rotsaP loeJ, you say:

There is no evidence that I am aware of - feel free to correct me if I err - that such patterns and structures happen outside the purview of a designer.

There's also no evidence that such patterns and structures happen outside the purview of polar bears. All you are saying here is that the existence of such patterns does not disprove the existence of God, which is of course true. But the information content here is null.

What the existence of such patterns does show, is that order can arise from disorder given the right conditions. The conditions under which such order can arise are quite well understood, and there is no apparent design input necessary, human or otherwise. So the burden of proof is on you, to show why a Designer should be necessary for order to arise; and you also need to explain how such an ordered Designer can arise.

rotsaP loeJ said...

First, I don't see how you can justify identifying your own view as properly basic. I of course happen to feel the same way about mine: that the existence of God is a priori, the default position. I could just as easily say that the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate his non-existence, and non-interference in biological or geological affairs. (After all, that is the claim made by the Theory of Evolution, is it not?)

Second, one argument (not the best, but the first that comes to mind) is evidential: in every case that humans have observed order and organisation above a certain level, with direct knowledge of its origin, that origin has inevitably been a rational mind. That is to say, leaving aside the animal and plant kingdoms, which both of us would consider evidence for our own positions, everything else that we find to be sufficiently complicated, we assume to have been planned. Therefore, it is reasonable to infer design from a certain degree of complexity.

The difficulty here is in determining precisely which levels of complexity would qualify as designed, and for that I have not got a decisive schema. But I think the general idea is pretty intuitive.

NAL said...

rotsaP loeJ:
I could just as easily say that the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate his non-existence, and non-interference in biological or geological affairs. (After all, that is the claim made by the Theory of Evolution, is it not?)

The Theory of Evolution, Theory of Plate Tectonics, the Germ Theory of disease, etc., claim natural causes for their respective phenomenon. These claims argue for a non-interfering God but not about the existence of God. If your idea of God must be of the interfering type, then these claims also argue against existence of that particular type. With these theories, and numerous others, the burden of proof has been met and exceeded.

Paul C said...

"I could just as easily say that the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate his non-existence"

I'm afraid that's simply not true. The burden of proof rests on the person making the claim - in this case, your claims about God.

"Therefore, it is reasonable to infer design from a certain degree of complexity."

Some designed items are incredibly simple. Does this mean that you would argue that it is unreasonable to infer design about them? We don't infer design from complexity, we infer design from experience.

Dr Funkenstein said...

The difficulty here is in determining precisely which levels of complexity would qualify as designed, and for that I have not got a decisive schema. But I think the general idea is pretty intuitive.

This is roughly what Dembski has tried to show with his Universal Probability Bound, and Behe with his edge of Evolution book and publication in the journal protein science (available free at the link below)

http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pubmed&pubmedid=15340163

unfortunately for them, as has been widely documented, both their theses suffer fairly serious fundamental problems (critiques can be found at various places on the web).

The problem with appealing to ideas that seem intuitive (ie that complicated natural objects must be made by or work to the same process(es) as their everyday human made counterparts) is that quite often nature doesn't behave in such a fashion (QM has some really weird/hard to grasp ideas, for example)

Paul C said...

As Dr Funk points out, human intuition is frequently wrong in whole or in part. Intuition is a valid part of our reasoning processes, but it's best not to use intuition as a premise.

Rhology said...

human intuition is frequently wrong in whole or in part.

So is human observation. Like observation of evidence. Which is why it's so nice not to have a worldview that's based on observed things (or things thought to have been observed) as its foundation.

Anonymous said...

rotsaP loeP, could you take over this blog? You're more intelligent and more interesting than the current host.

Rhology said...

"loeP" has his own (vastly-superior) blog.

rotsaP loeJ said...

Thanks a lot Rho - now I'm going to have to argue with everyone about the coffee-shops. And I don't know about vastly superior. My blog would have a lot of potential, I think, if I ever got round to posting on it. Kind of like the epic I'll never write.

One brief point, and one less so.

Paul C -

I would say that in the case of extremely simple designs - say, walking sticks - the only way to determine design is experience. In other words, mounting a logical or probabilistic proof that something simple has been designed is difficult or impossible. On the other hand, even with no direct experience, probabilistic arguments for highly complex objects - say, a computer - is not difficult at all. But these are all to some degree counter-factual, as none of us can really approach a computer as if from a state of nature.

Intuition may of course be wrong in particular cases, but I would say that seeming intuitive, or natural, and being practiced on a daily basis by sane people all over the world, is enough to validate an argumentative structure in general. I agree that as a central premise it lacks somewhat.

NAL et al.-

In re: the interfering nature of God. From a Christian perspective, the modernist dichotomy between natural and supernatural is absurd. It is not the case that God has set up the world, then interferes with it from time to time like a meddlesome schoolboy. (That would be the heresy of Deism.) Rather, his involvement in it is akin to my involvement with the comment I am writing: a constant and necessary condition. I may in my comments adhere to certain patterns which admit fairly positive predictions; about, for instance, the way in which I am likely to spell "colour". But it would be folly to claim that the word "colour" can appear in this comment without my willing it.

That is a rough analogy. I would therefore say that germ theory, plate tectonics, or whatever you like, are merely observing and categorising God's activity in the physical world. He happens to run the world in an orderly manner, and so much the better for those of us who ride bicycles and aeroplanes and otherwise depend on physics. But it is a fallacy to argue mindlessness from the premise of consistency. (At least I hope so in the case of my comments, however consistent they may be.)

Therefore, I would be interested to know what other premises seem sufficient to you to claim that God does not intervene in the physical realm. We both make a positive assertion: I that God does X, you that the world is such that he does not. My justification is largely theological and philosophical, and I'm happy to go into that if anyone is interested. But in the meantime I don't for an instant grant naturalism as essential. That seems indefensible to me - but of course anyone may feel free to correct me.

NAL said...

I would therefore say that germ theory, plate tectonics, or whatever you like, are merely observing and categorising God's activity in the physical world.

Then (whatever I like is) the Theory of Evolution is merely observing and categorising God's activity in the physical world.

zilch said...

What NAL said. What does God have to do, if any observation or theory can be called "observing and categorising God's activity in the physical world"? This is basically Rho's position on evolution: there is no observation that will falsify the existence of God for him. The problem is, the Invisible Pink Unicorn meets these standards just as well as Jehovah, or no God at all.

Parsimony leads me to choose no God, until such time as there is some evidence for a God.

rotsaP loeJ said...

NAL,

Then, if I understand you properly, we are agreed. It is difficult for me to interact intelligently with the scientific data concerning the mechanisms of life; I have remained cheerfully skeptical of science in generally ever since they told me that coffee caused cancer and heart disease, but I don't really know anything about the fossil record personally. My essential point is that the step from scientific data to philosophical materialism is highly metaphysical, and can only be defended on that basis.

Zilch-

So if I understand you correctly, we must assume that God does not exist, at any rate in a manner that interacts with the physical world, until proven otherwise. That is a presupposition. Are there any particular reasons I should grant that as true? Anybody can come with any conditions in the world (I, for example, happen to think that the "normal" manner of composing music is more or less exemplified by Romantic Opera c. 1875, and that Verdean rules of composition are thus the standard), but it is in poor taste simply to list them without supporting arguments.

What I am saying is thus that I do not accept your foundational claim of "naturalism unless proven otherwise". If you have got reasons that make it a superior claim to mine (theism unless proven otherwise), I am quite ready to listen. Or, if you like, I can make my own argument for the reverse and you can respond. But in neither case will simply repeating our respective presuppositions get us anyplace.

The argument from parsimony seems to me problematic. The axioms of Christianity provide a basis for rationality and meaning which is absent from naturalism; as parsimony is only the elimination of unnecessary postulates, it does not seem to apply here.

zilch said...

rotsaP loeJ- you say:

So if I understand you correctly, we must assume that God does not exist, at any rate in a manner that interacts with the physical world, until proven otherwise. That is a presupposition.

With the proviso that "we must assume" means "when trying to model the world as accurately as possible, we should assume", the proviso that "proven" is used in the empirical sense of "demonstrated provisionally", that is, empirical proof rather than absolute proof, and with the further proviso that "presupposition" means "default skepticism", that is, not multiplying entities beyond necessity, you understand me correctly.

Are there any particular reasons I should grant that as true? Anybody can come with any conditions in the world (I, for example, happen to think that the "normal" manner of composing music is more or less exemplified by Romantic Opera c. 1875, and that Verdean rules of composition are thus the standard), but it is in poor taste simply to list them without supporting arguments.

You will have to decide for yourself whether or not you grant that as true. I'm simply going by the evidence that I've seen thus far, and I've seen no evidence for the existence of God. And while it would be fun arguing about the "normal" manner of composing music- to my taste, Verdi makes far too much use of those decadent, dissonant intervals, the thirds and sixths, and has strayed far from the "normal" manner of composing music as exemplified by, say, Guillaume Dufay or Johannes Ockeghem- I don't see what bearing that has on trying to put together a picture of the way the world is.

What I am saying is thus that I do not accept your foundational claim of "naturalism unless proven otherwise". If you have got reasons that make it a superior claim to mine (theism unless proven otherwise), I am quite ready to listen. Or, if you like, I can make my own argument for the reverse and you can respond.

Since you are the one claiming the existence of something that I don't believe in, the burden of proof is squarely on you. If we don't apportion the burden of proof this way, then I could reasonably expect you to disprove the existence of leprechauns and gremlins. If you have any evidence for the existence of God, I'm all ears (or eyes, as the case may be).

The argument from parsimony seems to me problematic. The axioms of Christianity provide a basis for rationality and meaning which is absent from naturalism; as parsimony is only the elimination of unnecessary postulates, it does not seem to apply here.

The axioms of Christianity do not provide a "basis" for rationality and meaning, but merely pass the buck onto a supposed superbeing whose own rationality and meaning are not accounted for. There is no "explanation" here, merely the addition of an unimaginably complex being without any evidence. God is an unnecessary postulate.

cheers from sunny Vienna, zilch

Paul C said...

What I am saying is thus that I do not accept your foundational claim of "naturalism unless proven otherwise". If you have got reasons that make it a superior claim to mine (theism unless proven otherwise), I am quite ready to listen.

Ah Joel, now you're making me sad. Your claim is not "theism until proven otherwise", your claim is "Christianity until proven otherwise", which is a completely different thing. The foundational claim of atheists is "atheism until proven otherwise" and naturalism is merely an approach which some (probably most) atheists use to try and identify that proof.

It's not a question of which claim is "superior" - particularly because you've given no criteria by which you would admit such superiority. However the burden of proof is on you, as it would be with anybody making a positive claim - in this case, that God exists. We could say that the claim "atheism until proven otherwise" is superior in the sense that it requires no positive claims and is thus a stronger position.

Rhology said...

This is basically Rho's position on evolution: there is no observation that will falsify the existence of God for him.

As I explained in the Would I give it up? thread, there would need to be an acceptable worldview to which to flee.
We wouldn't be having this discussion if fanatics like Albatrossity didn't insist that ToE somehow rules out the existence of God.
At the same time, if ToE is true, the biblical acct is false, and the consequences are more far-reaching than just Genesis 1-8. So it's useful to point out ToE's flaws all over.


the Invisible Pink Unicorn meets these standards just as well as Jehovah, or no God at all.

No God at all certainly doesn't - we've seen that over and over around here.
The IPU - describe it. By all means, let's see just how well he/it does when scrutinised and how diff he/it is from TGOTB. Bring it on.

rotsaP loeJ said...

Zilch -

Leave it to an Austrian to pick 'em... Verdi rescuscitated opera from the drawing rooms! I admit he gets off a little too frequently on the sixths, but remember they weren't cliches when he was doing them. I will admit his later stuff tends to be a little ponderous, as is common with operatic types (cough, Pavarotti).

But in other news, I fail to see the difference you draw between one claim and the other, except that you happen to prefer your own. Verdi was simply an example: my point is that neither of us comes to the debate with the right to dictate terms.

If I refused to argue with you until you agreed that the Bible was to be the final authority on any question, you might quite reasonably accuse me of fixing the debate. In the present case, by asserting your own naturalistic presumptions as the standard of truth, you do no less. Your argumentation presupposes your conclusion.

This is essentially my point: it might be akin to asking you to disprove gremlins; on the other hand, it might be akin to asking me to prove the sky.

Paul C -

I am certainly sorry to disappoint, but my claim at that particular point was meant to be simply theism. I of course have a good many other beliefs for which I do not at present argue - don't get me started on the Swabian emperors - but I was not considering Christianity specifically just then. If the question is restricted to accounting for rationality and existence, most deities would do the trick.

But I really think you overstate my burden of proof. Nonexistence is equally a positive claim, as is the claim of lack of evidence. They all take the form of: "The universe is such that X". To put it another way, my claim that you don't exist is not more properly basic than your claim in the opposite direction, simply on the grounds of it being negative.

Modusoperandi said...

Rhology "As I explained in the Would I give it up? thread, there would need to be an acceptable worldview to which to flee."
Acceptable? Naturalism isn't clean, evolution isn't nice, and non-theistic philosophy isn't perfect, but they're all real. Reality is acceptable even if you don't, or can't know (or pretend to know) all the answers. Humanity is messy.

"At the same time, if ToE is true, the biblical acct is false, and the consequences are more far-reaching than just Genesis 1-8. So it's useful to point out ToE's flaws all over."
Being incomplete is not a flaw, it's a consequence of working within reality. A tentative answer that's close is closer than an absolute one that's wrong.

NAL said...

Rho:
... if ToE is true, the biblical acct is false ...

It couldn't be possible that your interpretation of the biblical acct is mistaken. That would be an impossibility.

rotsaP loeJ said...

Actually, Paul, I take that back: re-reading my comment, I did say Christianity, not theism. I could argue if pressed that the Christian conception of theism is the only logically consistent one, the only one capable of reconciling transcendence and immanence; so any theism, rightly considered, would boil down to Christianity or nonsense.

But I wasn't making that point - I simply forgot my own argument. My apologies.

Paul C said...

Nonexistence is equally a positive claim, as is the claim of lack of evidence.

You might want to make that case, but luckily for both of us those are not my arguments. My arguments are that I don't believe in your God - not that your God doesn't exist - and that this is because I've not seen any good evidence to support that belief - not that such evidence doesn't exist. (I could go further and point out that the evidence that I have seen suggests very strongly that your God doesn't exist, but that's a separate argument.) So I suggest you deal with my actual arguments, rather than the arguments you want me to make for the purpose of your apologetics.

Paul C said...

Which is to say, the burden of proof rests clearly and obviously on you.

rotsaP loeJ said...

If your argument is really more or less restricted to the state of your own feelings, then I suppose I've nothing further to add. I can't argue with what you had for breakfast.

Paul C said...

"If your argument is really more or less restricted to the state of your own feelings, then I suppose I've nothing further to add."

Then it's lucky for both of us that my argument isn't restricted to the state of my feelings. Given my stated beliefs, the burden of proof is on you; are you willing to shoulder it, or is this going to be yet another interesting discussion which comes to a grinding halt when the theist realises that he's not arguing the strawman, but the actual person? Because Rhology's pretty good at those, and I'd really hate to see you go the same way as him.

rotsaP loeJ said...

Forgive the delay - I have been dividing my time recently between scribbling term papers and cooking for my in-laws.

To this point, the burden of my argument has been to show the incommesurability of our competing systems. As I alluded in earlier comment, this question of burden of proof is an absurdity unless we share a common metric. For example, do you grant that the universe is fundamentally rational? Do you grant that knowledge is ultimately an ethical pursuit?

I have been saying, and continue to say, that proving anything is impossible unless we can agree to speak the same language. Whether this falls neatly into what you curiously term "my apologetics" I will leave for you to decide.

Paul C said...

The burden of proof is on the person making the claim. I am making no claims, therefore the burden of proof is not on me. You are making a claim, therefore the burden of proof is on you. You can choose either to take on that burden, or continue to avoid it by asking me utterly irrelevant questions about whether we share a "common metric". Either answer the question, or tell me that you're not prepared to even make the attempt. But don't waste everybody's time by dancing around like Rhology.

rotsaP loeJ said...

So, let me get this straight. You ask me to prove something, I mention that we have different standards of proof, and you call that "dancing around"? How does that make any sense at all?

Fine, I'll give you proof according to my standard. As Thomas wrote, the existence of God is demonstrated thus: God spoke, "I AM".

Rhology said...

Similarly, see here.

Paul C said...

As I said regarding that previous post:

"It's a shame that the second statement doesn't follow from the first, or the third from the second, because apart from that his "argument" is watertight."

Joel: if you think that we have different standards of proof, then please explain

a) how anybody becomes a Christian in the first place, and
b) why you bother to engage in these discussions.

rotsaP loeJ said...

Gladly.
1. People convert to Christianity as a divinely enabled act of will. It is not simply a matter of argument - a central dogma of historic Christianity is the absolute inability of the sinner to change his own mind and decide to start worshipping God: every his fundamental axiom and presupposition in his brain (otherwise: the blindness of sin)forbids it.

2. I post here for a number of reasons. First, I suppose, because I find it intellectually stimulating to employ my reason in defence of my faith. People who attack Christianity with non sequiturs ought to have this pointed out to them. Also, it seems to me the question of fundamental axioms is generally skipped over, and I am trying to draw more attention to it.

I do not think we have different standards of evidence, I feel quite certain of the fact. For me, the text I cited in the last post counts as affirmative evidence of the existence of God, because I hold the truth of Scripture as an epistemic foundation. If you don't (I trust you'll pardon the assumption), I should be interested to learn your own foundation of knowledge or belief.

Paul C said...

the absolute inability of the sinner to change his own mind and decide to start worshipping God: every his fundamental axiom and presupposition in his brain (otherwise: the blindness of sin) forbids it.Why, whatever happened to free will? Needless to say, a large number of Christians would disagree with you - once you've sorted it out with them, let me know.

For me, the text I cited in the last post counts as affirmative evidence of the existence of God, because I hold the truth of Scripture as an epistemic foundation.10 How do you know that Scripture is true? Because it's the word of God
20 How do you know that Scripture is the word of God? Because Scripture says so
30 GOTO 10

If you don't (I trust you'll pardon the assumption), I should be interested to learn your own foundation of knowledge or belief.I'm a probabilistic sceptic.

rotsaP loeJ said...

1. So, you'll only listen to my opinions if everyone else in the world who calls himself a Christian agrees with me? How is that relevant? I don't ask you to submit polling data from all the probabilistic skeptics out there. Freewill is, as most intelligent people are willing to admit, something of a complicated doctrine. But it is not wildly out of the mainstream of Christian thought to assert that virtue is impossible apart from grace.

2. I didn't say the authority of Scripture was my only epistemic foundation. Ultimately that would probably be a formulation along these lines: that God exists and that he has communicated to humanity in his word.

Paul C said...

So, you'll only listen to my opinions if everyone else in the world who calls himself a Christian agrees with me? How is that relevant?Your assertion was that it is "a central dogma of historic Christianity is the absolute inability of the sinner to change his own mind and decide to start worshipping God". This is false. It is merely a central dogma of your particular brand of Christianity, and I am merely pointing that out in a slightly arch manner.

The burden of proof is still on you, by the way, despite your depressingly familiar attempts to shift the field of discussion. So far the evidence that you've submitted is 'God spoke "I AM"' - in what way is that evidence? How about if I write down 'Zeus spoke "I AM"' - would that also count as evidence? Enlighten me.

Paul C said...

Not interested in your theological explication of the doctrine of grace, by the way - I'd prefer to focus on your proof of the existence of God.