Ann Gauger's latest salvo against Dennis Venema's arguments against an original pair of human beings


(Jon) #418

I suggest you look up the two words to see how they’re different. Or at least look at how they’re opposed in Hebrews 11.


#419

Then that begs the question of why so many people are not healed by prayer, and why non-believers are also healed.[quote=“Jon_Garvey, post:415, topic:36790”]
The Christian physician (me), once appraised of the facts, gave thanks to God. If we may take your reponse as a proxy for my “naturalist consultant”, what you have actually done is to lose the phenomenon, and the human individual, altogether in the word “anecdote”, and to replace it with a statistical fog of what are invariably poorly designed studies, to show (in the end) that there is no explanation. Not least in their poor design is that they are all unconsciously seeking to explain God as a phenomenon within Nature by naturalism - whereas my point on worldviews was that one is as justified in seeking to explain Nature as a phenomenon within God. It is a straight choice about where you ground the reality behind phenomena.
[/quote]

It is no different than any drug study where you use statistics to see if those treated with the drug showed a significant improvement over people treated with placebo or the standard of care. That is the gold standard for our entire health system.[quote=“Jon_Garvey, post:415, topic:36790”]
The Naturalist believes there is a thing called “Nature” that is the the source of reality. This is usually ill-defined, but seems usually to be considered as a system of universal laws of unknown origin that govern all regular events. Contingent events are attributed to “chance”, but those Naturalists who think a bit more conclude that Laws acting in concert are actually the source of those contingencies - only in ways that are not actually amenable to investigation because too complex, too small-scale, unknown etc. We’ll call that worldview [Nature].
[/quote]

A good analogy is the game of craps. When you roll two dice there is a set of probabilities that describes the outcome, with 7 being the most likely outcome. Any single roll is a chance event that is very unpredictable. However, the outcome of 1 million rolls is very predictable, and the spread of outcomes will look like this:

This is how chance can produce consistent laws when you have as many particles interacting as we have in nature.[quote=“Jon_Garvey, post:415, topic:36790”]
Your first set of studies (I won’t quibble on the details, as it doesn’t affect the point) actually assume that the reality behind the psychology of support, or of trial blinds, is some kind of law based on [Nature], which being still unclear retain the character of chance. But under [God] any regularities are equally explicable by his will, and unexplained contingencies are also governed by the same will. Beneficial human relationships are from God as much as anything else.
[/quote]

The question is this. How does one distinguish between God healing people and God not healing people in these studies? You need a null hypothesis, and without one you are simply assuming God is involved with no evidence to support it. That’s the science. If you believe through faith then that’s fine. I’m not here to judge you or ridicule you for believing through faith. However, if you are going to make the claim that God’s influence can be seen through science, then I will expect some science, and that includes a null hypothesis.


(Jon Garvey) #420

I haven’t made that claim. I was talking about the presuppositions about reality brought to the table, including the table of science. But you (like so many) turn it to a matter of “evidence that God is involved”, whilst presupposing an entity independent of God called “Nature”, for which (if we’re going to talk about scientific evidence) you present no evidence - because you take it as a given, on which you build you evidence, and don’t see any need to provide evidence for Nature itself as a self-contained system.

Once again, that wordview assumption is shown by this: How does one distinguish between God healing people and God not healing people in these studies? The Christian will believe that healing always comes from God, whether working by his regular means of physiology, medical intervention or whatever, or by extraordinary means. We are told by Christ to pray to God for our daily bread - which means that we knowledge that natural causes arethe works of God, and in his hands, not that Christ tells us to expect all our meals to arrive miraculously.

If you believe through faith that there is a non-divine Nature that explains everything in the world that’s fine. However, if you want to claim that science can demonstrate the truth of that metaphysical choice… well, unlike you,I won’t expect some science, because I know it hasn’t the capacity to do that work.

Meanwhile, my friend is still sending me Christmas cards, and [Nature] never gave him an explanation for the facts about his coronary arteries.


#421

We have plenty of evidence that Nature exists. As to being a “self contained system”, no such assumption is being made.[quote=“Jon_Garvey, post:420, topic:36790”]
Once again, that wordview assumption is shown by this: How does one distinguish between God healing people and God not healing people in these studies? The Christian will believe that healing always comes from God, whether working by his regular means of physiology, medical intervention or whatever, or by extraordinary means. We are told by Christ to pray to God for our daily bread - which means that we knowledge that natural causes arethe works of God, and in his hands, not that Christ tells us to expect all our meals to arrive miraculously.
[/quote]

How does one demonstrate that this belief is true, or is that possible?[quote=“Jon_Garvey, post:420, topic:36790”]
If you believe through faith that there is a non-divine Nature that explains everything in the world that’s fine.
[/quote]

I have no such belief, so I don’t see how that applies. If there is evidence for the divine at work in Nature I will accept it.


(Jon Garvey) #422

We have plenty of evidence that phenomena exist. To attribute them to a system called “Nature” is a worldview presupposition. Nobody in the world had a concept of “Nature” before the Greek philosophers coneptualised it - yet the Babylonians had a complete system of science operating without it.

And until the most recent centuries “nature” (small “n”) was understood as a system of secondary causes both empowered, and providentially controlled, by God, the primary efficient cause of each event. Part of that control, and the most amenable to investigation, was (in post-Aristotelian science) a set of divine laws which gained their ability to conform the behaviour of physical world from its obedient dependance upon God as Creator.

Laplace may have said of God that “he had no need of that hypothesis”, but that covered over his choice to believe, without evidence or explanation, that abstract “laws” could somehow exist and control the world. Or since he was a Deist more often than an atheist, no doubt he attributed the laws and their efficacy to a distant God anyway.

No - “evidence” for exists, or nobody would ever come to belief through nature, and they do, often. Not to be persuaded that evidence is valid is a different matter entirely. If by “evidence” you mean evidence that can be demonstrated by naturalistic methodology, persuasion is as unlikely as becoming an atheist through a miraculous answer to a prayer for unbelief. And if, per impossibile, it did happen, you’d simply have changed your worldview and would no longer hold a Naturalist metaphysics - the only distinction I claimed in the first place on this thread.


#423

By definition, nature is the phenomena that we observe and the causes of those phenomena.[quote=“Jon_Garvey, post:422, topic:36790”]
And until the most recent centuries “nature” (small “n”) was understood as a system of secondary causes both empowered, and providentially controlled, by God, the primary efficient cause of each event. Part of that control, and the most amenable to investigation, was (in post-Aristotelian science) a set of divine laws which gained their ability to conform the behaviour of physical world from its obedient dependance upon God as Creator.

Laplace may have said of God that “he had no need of that hypothesis”, but that covered over his choice to believe, without evidence or explanation, that abstract “laws” could somehow exist and control the world. Or since he was a Deist more often than an atheist, no doubt he attributed the laws and their efficacy to a distant God anyway.
[/quote]

Again, those are opinions and beliefs. I am more interested in what we can demonstrate through investigation and evidence. If your comments are limited to faith based beliefs and opinions then that’s fine.[quote=“Jon_Garvey, post:422, topic:36790”]
No - “evidence” for exists, or nobody would ever come to belief through nature, and they do, often.
[/quote]

Then present that evidence.[quote=“Jon_Garvey, post:422, topic:36790”]
If by “evidence” you mean evidence that can be demonstrated by naturalistic methodology, persuasion is as unlikely as becoming an atheist through a miraculous answer to a prayer for unbelief. And if, per impossibile, it did happen, you’d simply have changed your worldview and would no longer hold a Naturalist metaphysics - the only distinction I claimed in the first place on this thread.
[/quote]

By evidence, I mean something objective and demonstrable that is independent of the person making the claim. Beliefs and opinions are not independent of a person, so are not evidence. It is the opinions and beliefs that we are trying to find evidence for.


(GJDS) #424

It is curious and astonishing the lengths atheists will go to ensure that their outlook may appear scientific. In the case that you mention (as I understand it), the person was diagnosed with a medical condition, and the diagnosis was based on evidence that is obtained on a daily basis for many cases. The atheist will try to explain this away, because the second evidence, that of a cure, does “not compute” in his scheme of things. Clearly the atheist will ignore evidence when it contradicts his worldview, and yet, curiously, will insist he is scientific.

The fact of the matter is the healing is unexpected but certain - science just cannot do anything but acknowledge that fact. The person in question states his faith - just why would anyone object to this with such fervour?


(Jon Garvey) #425

George, I’m not sure I see any way out of saying that for a naturalist atheist to claim he would willingly accept scientific evidence for God if it existed is an empty platitude.

First of all, the methodology insisted upon is methodological naturalism, that is, assuming that the phenomenon in question can be explained without recourse to the supernatural. That covers pretty well everything, because a poor and incomplete naturalistic explanation is always counted superior to any supernatural one.

But if, per impossibile, there were a case for which no naturalist explanation could possibly be found, then we would have a prime example of God of the Gaps thinking, and that (we hear even from BioLogos) is verboten.

Heads naturalism wins, tails theism loses - it’s like the rapist who says he’ll carry the can just as soon as the victim produces witnesses. But it all depends on being totally blind to the priority of worldview issues to evidence, as this thread has well demonstrated.


(Jon) #426

Why? If it was determined that no natural explanation could possibly be found, then natural explanations would necessarily all be ruled out. Supernatural explanations could be considered, though should not be simply assumed. That’s not the God of the gaps. The God of the gaps is the claim that when an explanation is unknown and it has not yet been determined whether a natural explanation is possible, then God is the explanation. Look at how Drummond used the term when he first coined it.

Since you’re interested in hitorical theologians, what do you think of Adelard of Bath?

“In response to his nephew’s query about why plants rise from the earth, and the nephew’s conviction that this should be attributed to “the wonderful operation of the wonderful divine will,” Adelard replies that it is certainly “the will of the Creator that plants should rise from the earth. But this thing is not without a reason,” which prompts Adelard to offer a naturalistic explanation based on the four elements.", Edward Grant, God and Reason in the Middle Ages (Cambridge University Press, 2001), 71.


“Adelard’s emphasis on the use of reason is rather remarkable. His message is clear. He firmly believed that God was the creator of the world, and that God provided the world with a rational structure and a capacity to operate by its own laws. In this well-ordered world, natural philosophers must always seek a rational explanation for phenomena. They must search for a natural cause and not resort to God, the ultimate cause of all things, unless the secondary cause seems unattainable.”, Edward Grant, God and Reason in the Middle Ages (Cambridge University Press, 2001), 72.

Also Bernard of Tours, who strongly encouraged the investigation of nature, believing that although its laws were hidden, it was possible for them to be sought out and discovered. What do you think of him?

“[Humanity] shall behold clearly principles shrouded in darkness, so that Nature may keep nothing undisclosed. He will survey the aerial realms, the shadowy stillness of Dis [the underworld], the vault of heaven, the breadth of the earth, [and] the depths of the sea. He will perceive whence things change, why the summer swelters, autumn blights the land, spring is balmy, winter cold. He will see why the sun in [sic] radiant, and the moon, why the earth trembles, and the ocean swells. Why the summer day draws out its long hours, and night is reduced to a brief interval… (Cosmographia, Mircosmos [sic] 10)”, Christopher B. Kaiser, Toward A Theology of Scientific Endeavour the Descent of Science (Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2007), 175.

Also William of Conches.

“William thought it improper to invoke God’s omnipotence as an explanation for natural phenomena. Like all natural philosophers in the Middle Ages, William of Conches believed that God was the ultimate cause of everything, but, like Adelard of Bath, he believed that God had empowered nature to produce effects and that one should therefore seek the cause of those effects in nature.", Edward Grant, God and Reason in the Middle Ages (Cambridge University Press, 2001), 73.


“He also rejected the idea that Scripture was of use in natural philosophy.”, Edward Grant, God and Reason in the Middle Ages (Cambridge University Press, 2001), 73.

Of course these days you get some anti-evolutionists saying this is Deism, don’t you? To them I reply with William’s words.

“when modern priests hear this, they ridicule it immediately because they do not find it in the Bible. They don’t realise that the authors of truth are silent on matters of natural philosophy, not because these matters are against the faith, but because they have little to do with the strengthening of such faith, which is what those authors are concerned with. But modern priests do not want us to inquire into anything that isn’t in the Scriptures, only to believe simply, like peasants.", Edward Grant, God and Reason in the Middle Ages (Cambridge University Press, 2001), 74.


(GJDS) #427

Jon, I must comment on your patience in dealing with the intellectual contortions evident in some of the opinions put on this forum. I cannot fathom how anyone can maintain (a) there is no god, but (b) if you provide evidence of a god I will be persuaded. This blatant contradiction simply hurts my head, so I stick to simple examples such as yours of your patient who was healed of a serious medical infirmity, and thanked God for his healing.

Clearly the evidence of his medical problems was irrefutable, as was the absence of his problems after healing. That is evidence that meets the criteria - but some atheists and others will obfuscate and try and make a “scientific” argument to counter the facts - surely intellectual honesty would demand they respond with, “good outcome, but our beliefs preclude faith as a factor in such a scenario”, even though the person who was healed states that it is so.

I suspect those who contradict the evidence may do so for their own peculiar reasons - I leave such matters there - I cannot get intellectually interested in further arguments on the matter.


(Jon) #428

My beliefs do not preclude faith as a factor in such a scenario. I believe in miraculous healing.


(GJDS) #429

What is an anti-evolutionist?


(Jon) #430

Someone who claims evolution isn’t a fact or who denies the fundamental aspects of the modem theory of evolution.


(GJDS) #431

If your view were scientifically correct, I cannot think of any scientist that I know who would not, in your view, be an “anti-evolutionist”. Yet all of us consider ToE as the current paradigm of biology. Go figure :confounded:


(Jon) #432

Fortunately that’s a microscopic list.

That is unrelated to what I wrote. There are plenty of people who consider the theory of evolution to be the current paradigm of biology (which it is), but who refuse you accept that evolution is a scientific fact. Just like there are people who consider the spherical earth to be the current geophysical paradigm but who reject it and claim the earth is flat.


(Jon Garvey) #433

When someone makes an argument from ancient authors, I make it a rule to chase up the primary sources to see whether the quote is accurate, and how it fits into the author’s thought. Too often they are used to make modern points they would not have recognised.

To reply to a blog post it would be too time-consuming to study all these authors in depth, but let’s just take a cursory look through the first one one, Adelard. One needs some basic knowledge of Scholastic theology to see what he takes for granted. For example, although he says his method is to avoid recourse to authority, the preface says his major source was the Timaeus, and though he probably knew Aristotle only secondhand, his dependence is shown in a remark like:

Next, we must take note of their action, in which we must accept not my view but Aristotle’s, or rather what is my view because it is his.

So he’s not an Enlightenment skeptic, but every inch a scholastic cleric. That’s why the work in question takes the form of a socratic dialogue, in which his nephew takes the role of an orthodox, but insufficiently rational, person, as a foil to the Wise Master. Your quote arises from the nephew giving a rubbish argument about the growth of plants in relation to the 4 elements, to which Adelard can respond that it’s foolish to invoke God before considering what we know of the rational causes God creates - ie secondary causes - (though of course, what he knew was flat wrong - an object lesson on the provisionality of science in itself).

In that context it can’t be taken as setting up any kind of ruling principle of methodological naturalism. And that’s entailed by his scholasticism (which surfaces in various of the Qs & As), which following Aristotle sees God as the First efficient cause in every causal chain. So in invoking elemental or humoral explanations, he’s saying, “Work up the causal chain before you ask questions about God” - which is an obvious and basic principle of any science, not a call to exclude God in favour of what we would call material causes (but which he calls “efficient causes” in distinction from material, according to good Aristotelian principles.) I’ve no disagreement with that - and of course it’s strictly in the context of plants: he doesn’t explore the nature miracles or, indeed, any theology to speak of, in the book, though he does presuppose special Creation and God as First efficient cause.

Some light is cast on this (or his mediaeval mindset, at least, illuminated) by the fact that he had a major interest in astrology and (sympathetic) magic, like most philosophers of his time. Accordingly in one place he argues that the stars have rational souls by their profound influence on the events of the earth, present and future. At one point the governing effect of the moon on the humours is invoked, which is standard mediaeval thinking on the correspondence between the heavenly powers and the earthly humours. But that, of course, implies his acceptance of such a process further up the causal chain mentioned in your quote on plants: plant growth is at least in part the result of intelligent influence from the stars as God’s intermediaries in the Great Chain of Being (I mentioned that way up the thread somewhere, didn’t I?).

Adelard’s efficient causal chain is nonsensical to us (which doesn’t change the principle), but would run: First Cause God [as both Creator and Prime Mover] - secondary cause the Stars [as delegated intelligent governing agents] - tertiary cause the elements - quarternary cause the humours - final effect the growth of plants.

The most interesting part to me is that the close of the book shows the limited scope of his book, or perhaps his personal interest - rather than the scope of legitimate enquiry. Nephew says that they’ve now explored all the way up the causal chain of things, so they now simply have to talk about God, bearing in mind some say there is no God, and so on. Adelard replies that it’s a very good question which he will address, and that he finds it easier to say what is not true of God than what is (forsehadowings of Aquinas negative theology there) … but look at the clock - it’s time for bed and he’ll talk about all that in the morning. Which of course he never does, either because he sees his role only as a natural philsopher, or because he’s a heretic and doesn’t want to go there in public.

That’s a lot of detail, but you asked my opinion on him, so I sought to understand him in a limited time from his own work. And that makes it clear he’s by no means excluding God from the causes in nature, as in semi-deism, still less giving it any kind of autonomy, as in open-process theism. His reasons for avoiding theology are either personal or thematic: he simply doesn’t address the kind of questions of divine action covered by those like Aquinas in his teaching on creation, miracles, or providence - though interestingly he does exclude the human soul from natural investigation:

“The discussion of the soul… has little or no relevance to theoreticians or philosophers. since its creation and infusion belong to the divine power in such a way that human reason can have no sensual experience of its disposition and only faith can judge its worth.”

My suspicion is that digging into the primary sources for the other writers would uncover similarly nuanced understandings of their quotations, fully compatible with mediaeval understandings of God’s immanance in nature - but that legwork is for someone else to do, if they have the energy.


(Jon) #434

People have actually done it. I even quoted directly from one of the people who has done it, to save you time (and yes I have read Adelard himself too; he has been my go-to medievalist for the origin of methodological naturalism for years). Modern historians of science repeatedly credit people like Adelard and William of Conches with the foundation of methodological naturalism, because that is very obviously what they are doing. Adelard’s deliberate exclusion of the soul from the rational inquiry of natural philosophy is another example of him applying what is considered to be as surprisingly modern approach to science (the kind of approach to which modern IDers object strongly).


#435

No need to explain anything away. Where is the evidence that the cure was caused by a supernatural deity? If I claimed that leprechauns make rainbows, and then pointed to rainbows appearing in the sky, would you accept that as evidence for leprechauns? Probably not, right?[quote=“GJDS, post:424, topic:36790”]
The fact of the matter is the healing is unexpected but certain - science just cannot do anything but acknowledge that fact. The person in question states his faith - just why would anyone object to this with such fervour?
[/quote]

Because we are told it is not based on faith but on evidence. We are asking for that evidence. If these are faith based beliefs, then knock yourselves out. I have no problem with that.


#436

You are forgetting that not believing in god is not the same as saying there is no god. I don’t believe that Sasquatch exist, but I that does not mean I believe they absolutely don’t exist. Do you understand the difference between the two positions? Lack of belief does not require belief in their non-existence.


(GJDS) #437

This response is extraordinary in avoiding evidence - the facts are presented; are you disputing them and if so present your reasons.

The statement of faith comes from the person who was cured. He (and I) have not discussed these facts for your benefit, or your curious lack of belief, or to convince you of anything, be it a deity, or your doubts regarding such an event.