God: a failed hypothesis or something more?


(Susan Linkletter) #281

I read a book recently by Jon Lennox called “God’s Undertaker: has Science Buried God”. You might want to check out his arguments. For my atheist friends - and family, I summarize it quite simply like this though.

You cannot prove through science that God does not exist, and I cannot through science prove that He does exist. So we have to choose one way or the other. Which when you think about it, is just like the choice the first man and woman in Gods creation had to do. They had to choose to believe in God (eat from the tree of life) or they could choose to be guided by their own understanding by choosing to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Today we still have that choice of closing ourselves off spiritually and relying upon scientific knowledge only. There are still consequences to both choices that should be explored before anyone makes their final decision.


#282

I think we disagree on what is reasonable. I don’t take your reasoning lightly or dismiss it out of hand, I just happen to disagree with it. Also, don’t take this as a sign that I don’t respect your reasoning. From my interactions with you in these forums I fully believe that you are being earnest and sincere. However, we just disagree.

This is kind of the crux of the matter for atheists. We are looking for something that you can’t disagree with, which would be demonstrable and verifiable facts. We see that Muslims, Hindus, and Christians all appear to be earnest and sincere in their beliefs, but they all come to very, very different “reasonable” conclusions. It is this type of subjectivity that we doubt.[quote=“GJDS, post:278, topic:37310”]
Thus the constant (and at time somewhat odd) assertion from atheists for your version of evidence has a hollow ring to me.
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If you want to know if a drug works, would you look for independent and verifiable evidence to show that it works? What about forensic evidence in a court room? What about testing things like relativity or other claims about how the physical universe works?

I don’t see why wanting to see independent and verifiable evidence rings hollow since that is the type of evidence we look for in almost all other areas of life.[quote=“GJDS, post:278, topic:37310”]
While as a scientist I understand the reasoning for this motto, if we think about it, we can cast doubt on just about everything in life - I can amuse myself by saying, “I do not take the Society’s word” also, since their motto amounts to their word.
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We should cast doubt on just about everything. Skepticism is often a big part of being an atheist. That isn’t to say that we should not accept anything as provisionally true if backed by mounds of evidence, but what is wrong with doubt? Why shouldn’t we start with the assumption that something is not true, and then demand independent and verifiable evidence to at least show that it may be true?[quote=“GJDS, post:278, topic:37310”]
My only disappointment regarding these type of discussions is the lack of discussion, query, criticism, by atheists of Christian theology. If we seek a better understanding of a subject, and to provide reasoning on it, we should have delved in it. I have yet to find anything of substance on this site (or pronouncements from prominent atheists) on serious theological reasons/maters/discusions. I guess you may understand why I would find this disappointing.
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I have yet to see Christians delve into Islamic or Hindu theology. Do you also find that disappointing?[quote=“GJDS, post:278, topic:37310”]
This is our evidence. It also includes reasoning, such as causality, our knowledge that includes that of beginning (after all we all begin at birth and end in death, so it is hardly a trivial assertion) :smile:.
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And this is where we part ways. I see these as beliefs, not as evidence. We just disagree. It isn’t the end of the world, and I really have enjoyed our conversations. However, it’s tough to move past the point at which we just fundamentally disagree.


#283

It isn’t an excuse when we aren’t provided the independent and verifiable evidence that you claimed to have.[quote=“Relates, post:280, topic:37310”]
Ironically part of the problem today is the Six Day theology of creation which makes it awkward to say that one theology of the Creation is dead wrong, while another one is right on target. Of course we will still have bad theology which can always be an excuse, while knowing good theology does not solve the problem.
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It is the lack of evidence that is the problem, not the theology.


#284

Why would it require a will to put it under a law? Why couldn’t laws arise form non-conscious interactions?

Also, if you have to assume there is a creator then you don’t have evidence for a creator.

And there is the shift of burden fallacy once again.

I don’t know how the universe came to be. I don’t know where laws came from or how they come to be. You claim you do know. Where is your evidence?[quote=“marvin, post:279, topic:37310”]
Whilst you will find that any effect has an immediate cause, as is the nature of existence, you will have to go further than that cause to explain reality. Normally materialism and evolution are interdependent as to the belief of how you came into existence, so explain to me the ultimate cause of your existence by your logic.
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You are shifting the burden of proof.[quote=“marvin, post:279, topic:37310”]
Just because there are Christians that like Atheists confuse God with Santa’s big brother due to the lack of coherent thinking does not justify to critique their thinking if ones own thinking is equally inept.
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I don’t think you will like the result if atheists get to decide what is and isn’t valid Christian theology.


(John Dalton) #285

Is it a choice though? One could choose not to consider the question. Or one can choose to profess a certain belief, but can one literally choose to believe? I don’t think so. Maybe it is possible to convince oneself, but it’s not a path I would choose to take. Given that the available evidence (scientific or otherwise) is not conclusive, I would say that we have to come to the best determination we can based on the available evidence. I recognize that different conclusions are possible.

That’s an interesting comparison, but they had a choice to obey a direct instruction, or disobey it. Belief in the existence of God itself does not seem to have been an issue. To them, his existence was made rather explicit.

Again, I will note that what one decides and what one believes are not one and the same. If one chooses to make such a decision, I respect that. But should people who honestly follow their beliefs, wherever they may lead, not receive the same respect?


(GJDS) #286

If a discussion occurred on these matters, than I would delve into the substantial aspects of the subject and undertake an interesting discussion.

It is clear however that the difference between theists and atheists is a fundamental one - it is difficult to find a greater difference. I do not have any hesitation in accepting this difference, and discussions such as this are inevitably interesting, so thanks.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #287

The problem is that I keep telling you that E = mc squared is the best evidence for the Beginning of the universe out of nothing. How can you blow this off as no evidence.

Stop playing games.


(Marvin Adams) #288

the evidence is the existence of laws from which one concludes that there is an agency that created such laws. If you do not come to this logical conclusion you must be able to imagine laws that do not involve consciousness. Surely you have evidence for that, in fact you seem to be the evidence for your faith :slight_smile:

I do not shift it but make you aware that you have to substantiate your argument, as that what you assert without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. And your style of arguing from ignorance of the evidence that you are presented with does not help your case.

Considering that this is what Atheists try, whilst at the same time demonstrating intellectual incompetence in the way they do it, I do like it. It makes it easy to demonstrate their incompetence to the kids.


(Marvin Adams) #289

it is the ignorance of evidence that is the problem, not the lack of it. The argument from ignorance is the atheists most successful tactic as it baffles their opponents and leaves them confused. As such they are a bit of a waste of time, but then we have always hope that one day the penny drops.


(Susan Linkletter) #290

"Is it a choice though? One could choose not to consider the question. Or one can choose to profess a certain belief, but can one literally choose to believe? "

Of course faith is a choice and we choose to believe or we choose to not believe. It is as simple as that. For some people the matter of believing in God or not believing in God is settled without much thought. Others struggle with the burden of proof on one side or the other. But in the end, it all comes down to accepting that their is evidence of a God or not and you choose to believe it or not.

Believing in God requires faith. Believing in science requires faith too. Science can be proven to be true or false for the most part, but the population does not have access to a lab through which they can prove scientific laws or test theories so people have to choose to believe the scientists or not believe them. We make those choices all the time without even thinking about them. I will admit though, that faith is God is a bit different than faith in science in that much of the evidence is experiential, from which one only derives benefit by choosing to believe. My experience through prayer and walking with God’s guidance through life has given me experiences which have served to reinforce my faith in God. If I had chosen 27 years ago to need more proof before I committed myself to a path of faith in God, I likely would not have the same perspective.

I am a biologist by profession, I work with plants and insects with predictable outcomes all day long. I also choose to believe in a God for which there is no hard physical proof of existence, it is a path that I have chosen to take - and one that has benefitted me a great deal. It is a literal choice that I have made, so yes it can be done.

“That’s an interesting comparison, but they had a choice to obey a direct instruction, or disobey it. Belief in the existence of God itself does not seem to have been an issue. To them, his existence was made rather explicit.”

Belief in God was clear to Adam and Eve in the creation story - but that is not the point. The fact that the two trees in the garden were called the “tree of life” and the “tree of knowledge” is very interesting to me and I think we too often overlook the symbolism here. I think that the tree of life symbolizes the perfect relationship Adam and Eve had as they walked with God in the Garden of Eden, and I also believe that this also gave them at least access to all the knowledge of the universe too. So they weren’t really losing anything by choosing to not eat from the tree of knowledge. Eating from the “tree of knowledge” was a direct violation of Gods command and it would cause them to be cut off from their source of life - but this “life” was a spiritual and eternal “life” which they did not really understand. I think we have the same struggle as Adam and Eve. We are eating from the tree of knowledge, looking for a way to scientific proof of Gods existence through logic and reasoning. You are only going to find God by eating from the “tree of life”, through belief and experience as you go through life following His guidance and teaching. That is not very scientific, its just my experience. The point though, is that like Adam and Eve, the choice is there for us to make and either path will lead to a different experience, even if it is just in your perspective on life.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #291

You seem to be right. The argument from ignorance or the Nogod of the gaps is puzzling because we are used to atheists being proud of their knowledge. That makes me think that it is a false argument as if they know that if they try to discuss based on the facts they cannot win. The only way to “win” is to present a false dichotomy.

In a true sense this is true, because Life in all its aspects requires faith, but faith is not either/or. Faith is both/and. Science complements science as does philosophy.

I might be right handed, but that certainly does not mean that I do not use my left hand, that I do not need my left hand, that I do not value my left hand. God made life so nothing is absolute, independent. The parts of our person need to work together, we need to work together with others, groups need to work together with other groups.

In a way that is why faith is central to our existence, because we cannot work with others without trust and faith. This is why the negative political and religious ideology of today is so dangerous because it is aimed in destroying the bonds of trust in our society and our world which humans need to survive and flourish.


(Marvin Adams) #292

the fall is in my view a nice poetic description of puberty as it is about the rejection of the authority over theself. It is actually in the original “the tree of realisation of good and evil” which has implications as it implies the formation / realisation of the self in order to see an action as good or bad against ones self. However with that comes the problem of self interest and this the problem of sin, to have an interest separate from the common good. Thus good and evil become reality and they suffer death as a logical consequence as they are not any more a part of the eternal creator, not because God wants to kill them for being disobedient.
In Jesus you can return to God. Hhe is the tree of life in the holy sacrament, as , if you become part of God again you can only die physically.

Re faith you better get a clear definition of faith first, e.g. trust in something to be true in the absence of proof. In science our experiments give evidence to the probability of our hypothesis to be true that give us faith to allow us to act upon it. In an open system such as reality you can only obtain negative proofs, e.g. something to be wrong as to then improve your hypothesis, you can’t prove thing s right, only to be beetter. It’s Karl Popper in a nutshell, thus indeed science requires faith too.


(John Dalton) #293

Thanks for your response Susan! I really appreciate hearing your perspective.

I couldn’t feel more differently.

An aside: I notice you’ve inserted the word “faith”. Do you see any difference between belief and faith?

I see belief as a far more visceral process. If I become aware of evidence which supports a point of view, I may become convinced that it is true, and then I will believe it. I don’t see how a decision is involved in the process, for me. I’ll either be convinced or I won’t. A decision seems like it would be an extra conscious step, almost like an announcement of what I already have decided I believe at a deeper level.

That’s my perspective, and I think the difference is a very interesting one. I think it’s totally possible that such differences in mind set or predisposition could have a great effect on what people ultimately believe.

Believing in God requires faith. Believing in science requires faith too. Science can be proven to be true or false for the most part, but the population does not have access to a lab through which they can prove scientific laws or test theories so people have to choose to believe the scientists or not believe them.

I wouldn’t call this kind of “belief in science” “faith”–but I’ll ask for your definition of “faith” again. There are many ways in which the results demonstrated through science can be shown and have been proven to be factual, in some cases with practically no reasonable possibility of doubt, in other cases more tentatively. I don’t think this is an analogous situation–at all.

We make those choices all the time without even thinking about them. I will admit though, that faith is God is a bit different than faith in science in that much of the evidence is experiential, from which one only derives benefit by choosing to believe.

To reiterate, I would say it’s totally different.

My experience through prayer and walking with God’s guidance through life has given me experiences which have served to reinforce my faith in God. If I had chosen 27 years ago to need more proof before I committed myself to a path of faith in God, I likely would not have the same perspective.

Indeed. If 35 years or so I had had a different mindset, and continued to accept the ideas behind the Catholic faith I was brought up in, I’m sure things could be very different as well. Then again, perhaps something about me ensured I would reach certain conclusions when I came of age, which are still reflected in my worldview today.

I am a biologist by profession, I work with plants and insects with predictable outcomes all day long. I also choose to believe in a God for which there is no hard physical proof of existence, it is a path that I have chosen to take - and one that has benefitted me a great deal. It is a literal choice that I have made, so yes it can be done.

To be clear, I’m not denying the possibility of that choice being made, or denigrating or rejecting the possibility of belief in God. I can only say that in my perception, my mind doesn’t work that way.

The point though, is that like Adam and Eve, the choice is there for us to make and either path will lead to a different experience, even if it is just in your perspective on life.

Thanks for this explanation. Purely to make clear where I’m coming from, and I recognize that the story holds great value for many, very little about it sheds light on anything to my way of thinking, which is about where I’ve been since high school. I get that they chose to eat the apple in spite of the instruction. As far as that choice is concerned, I’m not aware of having made any such choice. When I outgrew what I would objectively call a Catholic indoctrination–not without a good deal of valuable assistance from the Jesuit priests in my high school–valuable, that is, to the development of either a religious or non-religious point of view–and began to think about things from a more detached perspective, I simply realized that the things I had been taught didn’t add up. At that point I no longer believed. I never chose to begin and I didn’t choose to stop.


#294

Why is it evidence?


#295

How does one get to that conclusion?[quote=“marvin, post:288, topic:37310”]
If you do not come to this logical conclusion you must be able to imagine laws that do not involve consciousness. Surely you have evidence for that, in fact you seem to be the evidence for your faith
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That would be another shift in the burden of proof. I don’t know where the laws came from. You claim you do know. Where is your evidence?[quote=“marvin, post:288, topic:37310”]
I do not shift it but make you aware that you have to substantiate your argument, as that what you assert without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.
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Why do I have to substantiate “I don’t know”? I don’t know where the laws came from, and I don’t know where the universe came from.[quote=“marvin, post:288, topic:37310”]
Considering that this is what Atheists try, whilst at the same time demonstrating intellectual incompetence in the way they do it, I do like it. It makes it easy to demonstrate their incompetence to the kids.
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If insults is all you have, this won’t be a very fruitful discussion.


#296

What evidence would that be?


(Susan Linkletter) #297

I grew up being indoctrinated in the traditions and beliefs of the Baptist church. I too experienced a period of doubt when I realized that the things I was taught did not add up. This made me curious about other religions and I studied the faith of the Jehovahs Witnesses and Islam. I chose to stick with my faith and through a period of detachment - where I began to understand how people outside of my faith viewed my faith. It is through this period of detachment that I realized that the only proof I had for my own faith was experiential. At this point I had to make a choice, am I going to still believe in a God (but not necessarily everything the Baptist church was teaching me) or am I going to let that belief go because it did not all add up. I chose to take the path of faith - to believe even though I did not have all the answers. That being said, if somebody is successful in proving there is no God, I am free to give up that faith. But so far, that has not happened. Because there is no proof of Gods existence, it is an active choice on my part to believe in Him anyway. When things did not add up for you, you made a different choice - to let go of faith. Faith to me is believing in God even in the absence of proof that He exists. This is not necessarily logical, my faith is not based upon logic. Even in my capacity of a scientist I have come to learn that there are limitations to my own logic and understanding.


(John Dalton) #298

Cheers Susan. This is the only thing I’m quibbling with here! I guess we’ve gone over it well so I won’t reiterate. Hope you’re enjoying the Christmas season.


(Susan Linkletter) #299

Well, I am glad to be mistaken if it means that for you faith is still an option. I wish you peace and happiness in the coming new year.


(Marvin Adams) #300

I provided my evidence that laws that regulate nature point at a law giver. This reasoning sits at the heart of the scientific revolution about 300 years ago in the philosophy of science. So you might want to read Newton and the lot on the laws of nature.

It seems that you are ignorant of that evidence , thus I am justified in asking you what evidence you have to the contrary as you claim that conclusion to be wrong. That is not shifting the burden of proof but appropriating it to the claim at hand. If you want to be a skeptic only shouting liar liar by ignoring reasoning of your opponents and not providing any of your own you should not expect a fruitful discussion, as it is rather childish.

Because you claim the reasoning of others to be wrong, thus you claim to have knowledge. If you understand how science works, it is not by shouting “you are wrong” or “liar liar” like a child but by providing evidence for your argument to show a hypothesis to be wrong. Its philosophy of science 101