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Conversations with Atheists

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					CONVERSATIONS WITH ATHEISTS
A series of forum discussions between Dr. Alan Myatt and various atheists/infidels

Alan Myatt, Ph.D.
http://www.myatts.net

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“This e-book of on-line debate/discussion between a biblical Christian (Dr. Alan Myatt) and various atheists/infidels is a clear demonstration that Bible-rejecting belief-systems (atheism, pantheism, polytheism, mysticism, naturalism, spiritualism, materialism, etc.) are ultimately irrational and indefensible while Bible-believing belief-system (Christianity) is the only rational faith in the world and really irrefutable. All unbelieving systems necessarily lead to nihilism, irrationalism and hedonism. Only in the Biblical worldview where reality, logic and morality can be found objective, meaningful and applicable. Only the Bible truth can adequately account the experiences of man and the phenomena of the universe. If you will use your intelligent and brilliant mind as you read this e-book, then you will be ready to open your heart to rationally believe the Absolute Truth, the Truth of truths, who is no other than the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (Jn.3; Rom.10; 1Cor.15; Eph.2).” PERIANDER A. ESPLANA Author of “The Bible Formula: 1Jn.5:7 = Gen.1:1 + Rev.22:21”

http://www.geocities.com/perianthium786 http://www.scribd.com/perixmind http://twitter.com/pinoygenius http://www.youtube.com/thebibleformula

(07/10/09)

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Conversations with Atheists
Alan Myatt, Ph.D.
http://www.myatts.net The following is a series of correspondences I had with some atheists and others during 1998 in a discussion forum dedicated to religious issues. The discussion seemed to me to be fairly typical of conversations with atheists and I thought it might be of interest to post it here. My main concern in this conversation was to explore the rationality (or lack thereof) of atheistic presuppositions. My goal was not so much to offer a defense of theism, but rather a critique of non-theism. For those who would like to go straight to the heart of my argument without reading all of the details of the discussion, there is a summary on pages 141 – 152. Note - aside from some light editing to correct typos, etc., the posts are pretty much as they first appeared. (I also removed the profanity that some of the atheists' used.) Additional comments that I wanted to add will be found in footnotes. I have changed the names of all participants to a set of initials, except for myself. Also note that the material found in between the arrows >> << indicates a quote from a previous post. I know that preserving this means you will read some stuff twice, but it helps to provide the exact context of each response, so I kept it in. There are occasional references to other discussions, but not all of those were saved. Some material had to be left out in order to prevent the reader from having to follow a lot of wandering around different subjects that were not relevant to the issue. *************************** [These forum discussions (222 pp.) were divided into fourteen (14) sections in this ebook for the purpose of annotations/documentations of the Dr. Myatt: 1.) pp. 4 – 19. 2.) pp. 20 – 44. 3.) pp. 45 - 60. 4.) pp. 61 – 76. 5. ) pp. 77 – 87. 6.) pp. 88 – 103. 7.) pp. 104 – 119. 8.) pp. 120 – 135. 9.) pp. 136 – 140. 10.) pp. 141 – 152. 11.) pp. 153 – 163. 12.) pp. 164 – 187. 13.) pp. 188 – 198. 14.) pp. 199 – 219. At the end of this e-book is information about Dr. Myatt and his works (pp. 220 – 222). Cover illustration was adapted from Periander Esplana’s article on Transcendental Apologetics entitled “The Incontrovertible Proof of the Bible Truth” published at www.scribd.com/perixmind]

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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Message from QB to All Here is an interesting one I thought of while in the bath. Many atheists will claim to be so because they can see no evidence or rational arguments for the Christian God. The Christian will claim that no proof or reason is necessary, faith is all that is needed. Then imagine a person who claims he is Jesus reborn and returned to earth. The Christian now has two choices, to believe or disbelieve the person. If he believes, then he must believe everyone who makes this claim, regardless of how much of a weirdo they are. (I can pretty much guarantee that this will not be the case. Try it sometime) If he does not believe, why not? Because maybe the person does not look like Jesus, or is disheveled, or for many other reasons, but all based on the Christians preconceived ideas of what Jesus will be like. In other words the Christian will be applying reason and standards of proof to the idea that the person is Jesus, i.e.. he is saying "This person cannot be Jesus, because..." If the person then walked on water, or raised the dead, or called up God etc., the Christian would then have to believe, because it had been proved to him. Hence the Christian must admit that proof and reason are necessary to examine the concept of his Jesus, who is also his God. What do you think? -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From IA to QB You thought of this in the bath? Is this a Baptist story?? I think you are confusing two uses of reason. Most Christians would say that you cannot arrive at faith in God by reason alone, but that doesn't mean that faith is irrational. There is a school of philosophy called logical positivism; the leading book here in England was Language, Truth and Logic by Professor A. J. Ayer. It says that any statement which

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cannot, at least in theory, be proved by experiment to be true or false is meaningless. The trouble is, how do you prove by experiment the statement "any statement which cannot, at least in theory, be proved by experiment to be true or false is meaningless"? Oops! So another version says "any statement which cannot be falsified is meaningless". I can live with that. My Christian faith is open to falsification. Irremedial evil would be evidence that the belief that the universe is the creation of a good God is false. So the Holocaust and the Killing Fields of Khmer and the Rwandan genocide are not only human tragedies; for the Christian, they are more pressing evidence that our faith is false than all the flak from the philosophers. On the other side, there are those individuals who show heroic sacrificial love in the face of extreme personal suffering. To the believer, they are the evidence of the presence and reality of God. This, BTW, is one reason why I am against capital punishment: to execute a person is to say that they are beyond correction, that their evil is irremedial. So both Christians and atheists use reason to make sense of their experience of life. I don't have enough faith to be an atheist. If you can believe that such a vast, complex yet integrated, universe exists by pure chance ... Wow! You have more faith than me. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From Alan Myatt to QB

Hi Q, An interesting question. There are various ways in which different kinds of Christians might try to answer it just as there are various ways in which non-believers, even atheists, justify their own brand of faith. I prefer to start by denying that there is any kind of dichotomy between faith and reason, as if one were rational and the other irrational. That is a peculiarly modern perspective on the question that is somewhat out of date I think, in light of more recent post-modern discussions of epistemology and hermeneutics. (1) In any case, the word faith in the Greek New Testament is simply the noun form of the word "to believe." The Bible never invites us to believe without good and sufficient reasons, although it does differ from the contemporary atheist as to what counts as a good and sufficient reason. Before we can discuss specific examples of evidence in favor of or against a world view it is necessary to decide what counts as evidence. However, part of the problem is that both the atheist and the Christian approach the subject with different sets of presuppositions that rule out and include certain kinds of evidence from the start. So while the atheist is unable to see any evidence, the Christian is able to see it everywhere. Hence, the discussion of faith vs. reason, in my opinion, needs to focus on more basic epistemological questions before haggling about the details of say, the evidence concerning the resurrection of Jesus, for example.

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So, I would reply that every world view, and this most certainly includes philosophical naturalism, or the empiricist materialism of the atheist, rests upon one or more assumed axioms. Such axioms are necessary for any system to get off the ground and by their very nature they are unproven and incapable of rational proof (that is they are not the conclusion of other arguments) otherwise they would not be axioms. This means that no system can derive its own axioms because axioms are not derived. They are the starting point. Think back to your high school geometry course and you can see how it works. The axioms are the assumptions that are necessary for all the other proofs in the system. The axioms are simply believed, that's all. They are taken on faith, whether one is an atheist, Christian, Hindu, etc. They are believed because they are the necessary conditions for the supposed rationality of the whole. If they turn out to be wrong, then the whole system collapses. At this point, then, my question for the empiricist/philosophical materialist/atheist would be: What are your fundamental axioms and on what basis should I be compelled to accept them? Why should I begin with your set of faith assumptions rather than those of Christianity? Looking forward to your reply. Alan Myatt

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From J to Alan Myatt >>At this point, then, my question for the empiricist/philosophical materialist/atheist would be: What are your fundamental axioms and on what basis should I be compelled to accept them? Why should I begin with your set of faith assumptions rather than those of Christianity? Looking forward to your reply<< ****** I think you have a false and narrow notion of what atheism entails. In its most elementary form, atheism makes no assertions. Speaking generally, atheism is simply the negation of theism. If theism is "belief in God" then atheism is "no belief in God". It doesn't of necessity entail a denial. To be sure, there are a great variety of individual atheistic viewpoints which deny the assertion "gods exist", but when speaking generically of atheism there really are no fundamental axioms requiring acceptance and likewise "no faith assumptions". (2)

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J

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From Alan Myatt to J

Message text written by J >I think you have a false and narrow notion of what atheism entails. In its most elementary form, atheism makes no assertions. Speaking generally, atheism is simply the negation of theism. If theism is "belief in God" then atheism is "no belief in God". It doesn't of necessity entail a denial. To be sure, there are a great variety of individual atheistic viewpoints which deny the assertion "gods exist", but when speaking generically of atheism there really are no fundamental axioms requiring acceptance and likewise "no faith assumptions". <

Well, you could be right in saying that I am not up an all forms of atheism, but I have read some on this subject and I see your point. It is basically the position that George Smith defends in his book, Atheism, that atheism is simply the lack of belief in a God. However, as I read the book it became quite clear that Smith has a world view and since he does, then he also believes in something. That is he has not fallen into either absolute skepticism or solipsism (if there is indeed a difference). So since he believes that he knows something, and since he defends an epistemology ( in his case Ayn Rand's objectivism if I remember right) then he quite clearly has presuppositions or axioms on which his system rests. And here I would suggest that perhaps you have missed the point of my previous post. My point is that, in general, all atheists have a world view in which God is either explicitly denied or held to be irrelevant. In any case, it is a world view that does not require the existence of God or gods. My experience has been that this usually turns out to be philosophical materialism of some sort. And while there are various ways of constructing such a world view, it still requires, as all world views do, an epistemology that allows the corresponding ontology of the system to be knowable. Now, my interest is in understanding what the basic underlying assumptions of such an epistemology are in any given case. To deny that one has such assumptions is simply to assert that one believes one has knowledge for no reason at all. This is an option that some take in our age of irrationalism, but to my mind it simply ends the discussion, because if the atheist can give no reasons for holding his or her (positive) beliefs, then I can't see how this position is any different from the fundamentalist who the atheist accuses of believing based on "blind" faith. So, I would be interested in knowing what your basic world view is, how you justify knowledge, what are your basic presuppositions concerning epistemology... for starters.

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After all, if you atheists want us to give up belief in God, or at least to consider your viewpoint intellectually viable, then you will need to offer us a rational alternative. Cordially, Alan

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From J to Alan Myatt

Message text written by J >I think you have a false and narrow notion of what atheism entails. In its most elementary form, atheism makes no assertions. Speaking generally, atheism is simply the negation of theism. If theism is "belief in God" then atheism is "no belief in God". It doesn't of necessity entail a denial. To be sure, there are a great variety of individual atheistic viewpoints which deny the assertion "gods exist", but when speaking generically of atheism there really are no fundamental axioms requiring acceptance and likewise "no faith assumptions". < ********* Alan writes: Well, you could be right in saying that I am not up an all forms of atheism, but I have read some on this subject and I see your point. It is basically the position that George Smith defends in his book, Atheism, that atheism is simply the lack of belief in a God. However, as I read the book it became quite clear that Smith has a world view and since he does, then he also believes in something. ********* J writes: Tis here you stray from the gist of my remarks. Obviously, everyone has a world view but the crux of my post was to point out that atheists are a varied lot. Smith assuredly has a world view but to infer that Smiths world view is shared by other atheists is misguided. For all I know, Smith may lack belief in gods do (sic) to an adverse reaction to being raped by a priest as a young boy. Or, Smith may be completely unfamiliar with the notion of "gods". Or, Smith may think that the definition of "gods" unintelligible and therefore the proposition "gods exist" is essentially meaningless. None of the aforementioned types

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of atheism suggest any particular "world view" other than a lack of belief in gods. Therefore, as I implied previously, atheism is as individual as the individual. Atheists have world views, but in order to determine what they are, it is necessary to inquire of the individual. Personally, my "lack of belief" in gods entails a denial. Although I lack belief in gods, I "believe" the proposition "gods exist" to be false. As of yet, there is no indication of "why" I believe the proposition false and therefore any inference as to what particular "philosophical camp" I belong remains a mystery. There is no singular "atheistic philosophy". There are no singular "fundamental axioms" and there are no singular "faith assumptions". ********** <snip> Alan writes: So, I would be interested in knowing what your basic world view is, how you justify knowledge, what are your basic presuppositions concerning epistemology... for starters. After all, if you atheists want us to give up belief in God, or at least to consider your viewpoint intellectually viable, then you will need to offer us a rational alternative. Cordially, Alan ********* Why a rational alternative? A leprechaun believers demand to produce a rational alternative to "leprechaun belief" by no means upholds the rationality of arguments supportive of that belief. Assuming you lack belief in leprechauns and believe the proposition "leprechauns exist" to be false, perchance you could give your basic presuppositions of why you lack such a belief. Regards, J

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From Alan Myatt to J

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Hi J, >>Why a rational alternative? A leprechaun believers demand to produce a rational alternative to "leprechaun belief" by no means upholds the rationality of arguments supportive of that belief. << No, not about leprechauns anyway, although if a non leprechaun believer could not construct a coherent theory of a leprechaunless world I would be inclined to at least consider the possibility that they might exist. But seriously, one can hardly put the Triune Creator God of the Bible on the same level as leprechauns. The existence of leprechauns might be an interesting curiosity if it turned out to be true, but I think the modifications it would require in your world view could probably be accommodated without radically altering it. On the other hand, if there is a God, then the structure of ultimate reality as you understand it is fundamentally in error. It would call for a reconstruction of your world view of the most radical kind imaginable. The stakes are much, much higher. Atheists are constantly accusing Christians of buying into an irrational belief. Well, I think if they reject belief in God because they are committed to rationality, then they should be able to show how the notion of a universe where there is no God can be rationally defended. Otherwise they need not imagine that they are somehow holding to a more intellectually defensible position than the Christian. Back to the issue of presuppositions, I agree and disagree with you. I agree that atheists are a varied lot and I have spent some time taking to atheists of various types. Atheists have different world views in some respects, however, I think that the postulation of atheism necessarily involves certain common presuppositions. So one may be an existentialist, a pragmatist, a logical positivist, etc., each with a different world view, yet operating on common assumptions that follow necessarily from atheism. I would like to see the atheist examine the implications of those presuppositions. That's all.

Alan

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From R to Alan Myatt

Message text written by Alan Myatt > After all, if you atheists want us to give up belief in God, or at least to consider your viewpoint intellectually viable, then you will need to offer us a rational alternative.<

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I didn't know any atheists want others to give up belief in God. All that is desired is for you to keep your god based laws and morals to yourself.

R

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From Alan Myatt to R

OK I will keep my God based laws to myself. I will not allow them to cause me to interfere with anyone who might have an impulse to kill you, rape your wife, steal your bank accounts, burn your home, etc. It reminds me of a story Chuck Colson told about how he heard a high school principal brag at a conference about how he had removed the ten commandments from the walls of the school. Then he went on to complain about the drugs, violence, theft, guns, etc. in the public school system and suggested that we ought to teach some kind of moral code to the kids. So when it came time for Chuck to speak, he said, "Maybe we should post some rules of moral conduct on the wall of the school, something like, You shall not steal, you shall not kill, etc.?" OK, so let's throw out God, let's say that the universe is ultimately impersonal. From whence do we derive universal moral principles for any kind of rational ethic then? And don't carry on about the need for the human race to survive, etc. If there is no personal absolute distinct from the universe, then there is no reason, aside from an irrational emotional prejudice, why cockroaches should not eventually inherit the earth (after the nuclear holocaust). Nobody has succeeded in deriving a rational ethic from philosophical naturalism (that rises above the level of relativism). The fact that you think it would be wrong to murder someone can have no basis in anything other than finite opinion if the universe is ultimately impersonal. And there is absolutely no compelling rational reason you can give anyone as to why such an act is immoral and why they should not carry it out. So we will keep our God-based ethic to ourselves and then when anarchy comes.... Please allow me to include here a lengthy quote from an interesting article by Philip Johnson . >>>Yale Law Professor, Arthur Leff, expressed the bewilderment of an agnostic culture that yearns for enduring values in a brilliant lecture delivered at Duke University in 1979, a few years before his untimely death from cancer. The published lecture - titled,

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"Unspeakable Ethics, Unnatural Law" - is frequently quoted in law review articles, but it is little known outside the world of legal scholarship. It happens to be one of the best statements of the modernist impasse that I know. As Leff put it, I want to believe - and so do you - in a complete, transcendent, and immanent set of propositions about right and wrong, findable rules that authoritatively and unambiguously direct us how to live righteously. I also want to believe - and so do you - in no such thing, but rather that we are wholly free, not only to choose for ourselves, individually and as a species, what we ought to be. What we want, Heaven help us, is simultaneously to be perfectly ruled and perfectly free, that is, at the same time to discover the right and the good and to create it. The heart of the problem, according to Leff, is that any normative statement implies the existence of an authoritative evaluator. But with God out of the picture, every human becomes a godlet - with as much authority to set standards as any other godlet or combination of godlets. For example, if a human moralist says "Thou shalt not commit adultery", he invites the formal intellectual equivalent of what is known in barrooms and schoolyards as 'the grand sez who?' Persons who want to commit adultery, or who sympathise with those who do, can offer the crushing rejoinder: What gives you the authority to prescribe what is good for me? As Leff explained: Putting it that way makes clear that if we are looking for an evaluation, we must actually be looking for an evaluator, some machine for the generation of the judgements on states of affairs. If the evaluation is to be beyond question, then the evaluator and its evaluative processes must be similarly insulated. If it is to fulfill its role, the evaluator must be the unjudged judge, the unruled legislator, the premise maker who resets on no premises, the uncreated creator of values ... we are never going to get anywhere (assuming for the moment there is somewhere to go) in ethical or legal theory unless we finally face the fact that, in the Psalmist's words, there is no one like unto the Lord ... The so called death of God turns out not to have been just His funeral; it also seems to have effected the total elimination of any coherent or even more-than-momentarily convincing, ethical or legal system dependent upon finally authoritative, extrasystematic premises. Leff pointed out that is it not we who define God's utterances as unquestionably true, in the manner that we define a triangle as a three-sided plane figure. In a God-based system, God is not the idea in the human mind but a separate and controlling reality. If human reason aspires to be the judge of God's statements, it makes itself the unevaluated evaluator, which is to say it takes God's place. In Leff's words , "Our relation to God's moral order is the triangle's relationship to the order of Euclidean plane geometry, not the mathematicians. We are defined, constituted as beings whose adultery is wrong, bad, and awful. Thus, committing adultery in such a system is 'naturally' bad only because the system is supernaturally constructed."

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...Most of Leff's lecture consisted of a review of all the unsuccessful attempts to establish an objective moral order on a foundation of human construction, i.e., to put something else in God's place as the unevaluated evaluator. The asserted non-supernatural sources of moral authority are many and varied, and each is only temporarily convincing. They include: the command of the sovereign; the majority of the voters; the principle of utility; the Supreme Court's varying interpretations of the Constitutions' great but ambiguous phrases; the subtle implications of platitudinous shared values like "equality" or "autonomy"; and even a hypothetical social contract that abstract persons might adopt in the imagery "original position" described by John Rawls. Every alternative rests ultimately on human authority, because that is what remains when God is removed from the picture. But human authority always becomes inadequate as soon as people learn to challenge its pretensions. Every system fails the test of "The grand sez who". ....Arthur Leff had a deeper understanding of what the death of God ultimately means for man. He saw modern intellectual history as a long, losing war against the nihilism implicit in modernism's rejection of the unevaluated evaluator who is the only conceivable source for ultimate premises. Leff rejected the nihilism implicit in modernism, but he also rejected the supernaturalism that he had identified as the only escape from nihilism. Here is how he concluded his 1979 lecture:

All I can say is this: it looks as if we are all we have. Given what we know about ourselves, and each other, this is an extraordinary, unappetising prospect; looking around the world, it appears that if all men are brothers, the ruling model is Cain and Abel. Neither reason, nor love, nor even terror, seems to have worked and made us "good", and, worse than that, there is no reason why anything should. Only if ethics were something unspeakable by us could law be unnatural, and therefore unchallengeable. As things stand now, everything is up for grabs. Nevertheless:

Napalming babies is bad. Starving the poor is wicked. Buying and selling each other is depraved. Those who stood up and died resisting Hitler, Stalin, Amin and Pol Pot and General Custer too - have earned salvation. Those who acquiesced deserve to be damned. There is in the world such a thing as evil.

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[All together now:] Sez who? God help us. (Philip Johnson, Nihilism and the End of Law, in First Things, March 1993, No.31)<<<

Sez who indeed! The complete article can be found at http://idwww.ucsb.edu/fscf/LIBRARY/JOHNSON/nihilism.html Alan

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Message from IO to Alan Myatt Hi, Alan.

I said I'd check out this thread.

I've come into this late in the day, but in this last message you are discussing the origin of morality - among other things. (3) Let me, initially, make an observation. By the point in the Bible where Cain kills Abel, morality has been established, yet God has not explicitly stated that murder is wrong. He doesn't actually do that until the writing of the Ten Commandments. Now, I don't believe that every event in the Bible took place. Even in my Christian youth I thought of the Creation story, indeed the whole of Genesis, as a metaphor if you will. So, taken as such, it seems to me that morality arose separate from God. Indeed, regardless of whatever mythology might say, it is apparent that morality is a natural evolution derived from human experience. It doesn't need God to tell us that something is wrong. Take murder for example. Hands up everyone who actually wants to be killed. Apart from the odd nut, the majority of people do not. So, humanity develops the concept that needless killing is wrong.

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Theft. Do you want to have your Lexus or whatever taken from you? No, of course not. You worked hard for it. It has some value to you. So, humanity adds taking anothers belongings without consent to the list of "do nots". You get the picture. Its a case of "treat your neighbor as yourself". Given man's natural tendency to collect in groups, this would likely develop rather quickly. If you consider morality as a form of order, you would think that other examples might be found in nature. Now I realize this is a stretch, but consider. A pack of wolves has order to it. Each animal knows its place and rarely strays outside it. Likewise Chimps and Gorillas and many other collective animals. Without knowledge of God, these creatures have a stable society with their own rules and regulations. By our standards, their societies might sometimes be considered to be pretty horrifying, nature red in tooth a claw and all that, but it works for them. So, if animals can develop a form of "morality", or order if you prefer, why shouldn't human beings. We label it differently, we call it, morals, ethics, laws, but they all contribute towards an ordered society. God is not needed. Now, if my theory is correct, you might think that different groups of humans might develop different morals. Well, you are correct. Many people know that until comparatively recently, the Inuit use to rid themselves of their elderly by abandoning them. This, to them, was a moral act. How different can you get? These are just musings on my part. I haven't done any research or anything. If this proves a profitable contribution, I probably will check a few things out. I

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From Alan Myatt to IO

Hi I, Welcome to the thread. I think you have given a good account of how morality can develop in a social or psychological setting. That all people have some moral code or other is beyond dispute. But the fact that people have a moral code and believe in it and that it may be necessary for sociological reasons, etc. does not really address the issue I raised. That is simply, what philosophical justification exists for saying that any moral assertion is in fact moral. Usually when we say that an act is immoral we are saying

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something stronger than, "I don't like it when you do x." We usually mean that the act is intrinsically wrong, in the nature of things, such as in the assertion, Thou shalt not kill, which you have so often quoted. My point is, in a materialist universe there can be no such thing as an act that is intrinsically wrong, and no amount of theorizing about social contracts, evolution of societies, etc. can change that. Whatever is, is, that's all. You are left with relativism, pure and simple, and if all morality is ultimately relative, then nothing is absolute. Then morality is reduced to the level of opinion, and it matters not that it may be the opinion of societies who disagree (over what to do with the Jews for instance) or if it is with individuals. The ultimate justification of one's position becomes, "My stick is bigger than yours." None of the basis for morality you mentioned is sufficient to show why it is immoral to murder. They may show why it is inconvenient to society, but then why should any one care about that? Maybe I am a masochistic serial killer and so my carrying out my actions is exactly what I fantasize someone doing to me. What of the Golden Rule then? If reality is ultimately impersonal, then there is no morality resident in it. Where would we find it? In the structure of the atom? The intestines of a beaver? Morality is conceptual and must therefore reside in minds. If all there are are finite minds, then morality is nothing but opinion. And one opinion is as good as another in a universe where the word "good" really means "I like it and approve of it" and "bad" means "I don't like it and I disapprove of it." So there may be all kinds of behaviors that we could admit have some functional utility for the survival of society (the ancient Aztecs found that human sacrifice was quite functional for them). But making the leap from that to objective morality is a leap over a bottomless chasm of an infinite distance across. It can't be done. I have to go back to the other thread and read your discussion with SD. How do you guys get the time to do this so much? :-) I need to stay out of here until the weekend so I can get some work done.

Peace, Alan

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From IO to Alan Myatt

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Alan,

Basically, there is no philosophical justification for saying that any moral assertion is, in fact, moral. Absolute right and wrong don't exist except in a religious setting. When we say "x is wrong", this is the result of our indoctrination by society, and it is subject to change. An examination of history demonstrates this. The ultimate justification really is the medieval concept of "might is right". This has always been the case, and always will. Expression of might has changed emphasis somewhat, but the fact remains, and the basis is, as ever, money and power. Those with the most of both dictate to those without. Much of our history and behavior has been dictated to in this way. Superb examples from Medieval Europe are the aristocracy, and the Church both of whom wielded almost god-like influence over the masses. Personally, I wish this was not the case. I would like to believe in absolutes, but they don't exist. You mention that I have not given any reason why it is immoral to commit murder, beyond the inconvenience to society. I am saying that what is inconvenient to society becomes its morals. Individuals then choose either to adhere to society's morals, or not. How they choose is a remarkably complex issue. (4)

I

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From Alan Myatt to I

I,

I appreciate your honesty, but this is a rather devastating admission of the inadequacy of non-theism. Rather than take such an unfortunate conclusion as all we have, why not consider it as an indication that its underlying presuppositions are false? I mean, you are basically saying that Hitler was wrong because the Allies won the war. Are you sure that's where you want to end up?

Alan

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FOOTNOTES******************************* (1) Epistemology is that branch of philosophy that deals with the theory of knowledge. It responds to the question of how we justify our belief that a thing is true or not. There have been many methods suggested. Many have said that human reason is the final authority for deciding the truth. These are divided into two camps: empiricists and rationalists. Empiricists believe that knowledge comes through the 5 senses, i.e.; seeing is believing. They usually think that the scientific method is the best way to prove something. Most contemporary atheists are in this camp. Rationalists think that fundamental ideas and principles of reason in the mind are the basis for knowledge. They think that logic is the best way to determine the truth. Others think that knowledge comes to us through mystical experience. Mystics think that rational thought is a hindrance to finding the truth because the truth is intutive. It is not a matter of ideas. They think that meditation and altered states of consciousness (even drug induced) can lead us to truth. They tend to look to Eastern Religions and New Age groups for truth. Christians, Jews and Muslims believe that truth comes to us from our senses, through logical reasoning and also by being revealed by God. For them, revelation from God is the communication of rational ideas. This is the basis for truth. Hermeneutics is the study and application of methods for interpreting texts. Principally it has to do with correct methods for interpreting the Bible and other literature. In recent years the post-modernist philosophers had said that no one can know what the author of a text intended to communicate. They say that a text means what it means to the reader. (2) This is a rather common delusion suffered by many atheists that I have encountered or read, namely, the notion that they have no presuppositions, they only look at the "facts". It is astounding, but true, that this degree of philosophical naivety is so common. For the record: all positions start with unproven axioms and back behind all forms of atheism are some common presuppositions, but often getting an atheist to recognize this is one of the most difficult tasks. (3) At this point he makes a category mistake that seems to recur commonly in discussions with atheists. When a Christian points out that there is no objective basis for morality in a materialist universe, the atheist responds by rehearsing naturalistic theories about how morality supposedly evolved. Many times he seems unable to comprehend that such answers are irrelevant to the question. The question is not to explain how people in various societies might have come to develop their particular moral codes. The question is, rather, is there any rational basis for believing that some things or actions are inherently good and others are not? They confuse the sociology and psychology of belief in morals with the larger question as to whether or not it is really rational to defend as inherently right or wrong certain moral precepts. Those who make this error offer explanations of why certain moral behaviors exist as if that explained the question of morality. However, they fail to notice that the discussion is not about what people do and why they do it. The question is about what people ought to do or not do and why they ought to do or not do it. The theistic contention is that on the basis of atheism there is no rational reason discernible to establish the oughtness of anything. And if there is no

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rational basis for oughtness, then there is no rational basis for justice either. The notion of justice reduces to what I happen to approve, period.

(4) Here we have an unbeliever who admits that he has no basis for morality. This is rare indeed and one has to appreciate the honesty here. However, it is fascinating to note that those who hold such a view still cannot live on the basis of this. They still know, deep in their hearts, that there is such a thing as justice and morality and they feel outrage when justice is violated. Alan Myatt, Ph.D.

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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From FZ to Alan Myatt >> However, as I read the book it became quite clear that Smith has a world view and since he does, then he also believes in something. << Of course. But it depends on how you qualify "belief." I mean, I "believe" I exist. I could have been created in place along with everything/everyone else along with a bogus personal history last Tuesday, but I think it's safe to assume that such a notion is untenable in a practical sense. However, when it comes to gods/goddesses, atheists simply lack belief in those and consider them human inventions from a pre scientific age when god belief (general belief in the supernatural) served to explain nature. Now, by current standards such explanations would not be offered, and so we no longer "explain" storms as a result of angering Poseidon. In fact, as scientific knowledge has accumulated, the "God of the gaps" has had an increasingly difficult time finding a gap in which to demonstrate his alleged puissance. >> That is he has not fallen into either absolute skepticism or solipsism (if there is indeed a difference). << Well, there's certainly a difference in meaning of the two words. I'm not sure what you mean by "absolute skepticism" though. Do you mean something like nihilism? >> So since he believes that he knows something, and since he defends an epistemology ( in his case Ayn Rand's objectivism if I remember right) then he quite clearly has presuppositions or axioms on which his system rests. << Well, yeah. Rand starts with "existence exists" or something like that, IIRC. I suppose that's a presupposition or axiom, but it always seemed kinda obvious to me.<G> But I suppose you gotta start somewhere. However, while objectivism is pretty clearly atheistic in nature, it does not by itself define atheism. Again, with the qualification IIRC, as it's been a while since my fling with objectivism and I don't recall all the details. >> And here I would suggest that perhaps you have missed the point of my previous post. My point is that, in general, all atheists have a world view in which God is either explicitly denied or held to be irrelevant. <<

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Generally, the latter. Although that too requires a bit of qualification. God is irrelevant to my understanding of the universe and to my daily conduct. However, I live in a godbelieving culture and the god-beliefs of others may be relevant to my safety.<G> In Free Thought section a while back, we had a crashing bore who kept insisting on a distinction between what he called "Type 1" and "Type 2" atheism, sometimes known as "hard" and "soft" atheism. Type 1 made a positive assertion that god(s) do not exist, while Type 2 was more along the lines of a disbelief in god(s) from the lack of supporting evidence for the existence of such beings. It was hard to take him seriously in his daily harangues because he was merely restating the obvious.<G> >> In any case, it is a world view that does not require the existence of God or gods. My experience has been that this usually turns out to be philosophical materialism of some sort.<< Yup. >> And while there are various ways of constructing such a world view, it still requires, as all world views do, an epistemology that allows the corresponding ontology of the system to be knowable. << Yup -- subject to the proviso that knowledge of the system's ontology is always tentative and subject to change with additional evidence. >> Now, my interest is in understanding what the basic underlying assumptions of such an epistemology are in any given case. << Okay. >> To deny that one has such assumptions is simply to assert that one believes one has knowledge for no reason at all. This is an option that some take in our age of irrationalism, . . .<< Ain't it da troof!<G> However, I would question the general applicability of "age of irrationalism." For example, there seems to be a class of what someone once called "technopeasants." These people use the fruits of science (technology) without the slightest understanding of the underlying principles involved. For them, flipping a light switch is not all that far removed from a gesture that invokes a "light demon" in the bulb. I would agree that we live in an age of irrationalism relative to available knowledge. It never ceases to amaze me that as the 20th century draws to a close, there are still a substantial number of people who "believe in" magical things like crystals and healing prayer. I mean, it may make them feel good to assert these claims, but they have no substantiating empirical evidence.

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>> So, I would be interested in knowing what your basic world view is, how you justify knowledge, what are your basic presuppositions concerning epistemology... for starters. After all, if you atheists want us to give up belief in God, or at least to consider your viewpoint intellectually viable, then you will need to offer us a rational alternative., << Mmmm, well, this atheist takes a live and let live position. I have no problem with your god-belief. I don't share it, but I understand that it is emotionally important to you. I certainly have neither intent nor reasonable hope that I could convince you to give up your god-belief. Religious memes surround themselves with strong protective memes to insure survival, and direct assaults against those memes merely activate them and make them stronger. ? -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From Alan Myatt to FZ >> It never ceases to amaze me that as the 20th century draws to a close, there are still a substantial number of people who "believe in" magical things like crystals and healing prayer. I mean, it may make them feel good to assert these claims, but they have no substantiating empirical evidence.<< Indeed, it never ceases to amaze me either. Thanks for you irenic and thoughtful reply. Now concerning the last statement here, my question for the atheist, at least most of the ones I've met anyway, is why should there be a need for any empirical evidence? How is it that empirical knowledge is justified in a naturalistic universe anyway? What are the presuppositions underlying the demand that empiricism is the final court of appeal? Are those assumptions valid? I don't know if you hold this view, but most atheists I have encountered seem to be in the empiricist camp. Cordially, Alan -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From Alan Myatt to FZ F, >>Of course. But it depends on how you qualify "belief." I mean, I "believe" I exist. I could have been created in place along with everything/everyone else along with a bogus

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personal history last Tuesday, but I think it's safe to assume that such a notion is untenable in a practical sense.<< It may not be practical, but based on empiricism, how do you know it isn't true? >>consider them human inventions from a prescientific age when god belief (general belief in the supernatural) served to explain nature. < This theory was favored by the early sociologists, Durkheim, Marx, as well as by many anthropologists. Popular atheism picked up on this as a way of explaining away religious belief. The problem with this construction is that on an empirical basis there no conceivable way to prove such an hypothesis. It is a necessary move for the atheist to make, but it can never be more than a dogma. Durkheim's scheme that God is a projection of humanity's underlying reverence for society is aesthetically interesting, but there is nothing in his analysis of the religion of "primitive" Australian tribes that demonstrates such an historical development. >> as scientific knowledge has accumulated<< This seems to indicate that your system includes (or depends on) the belief that there is such a thing as scientific knowledge. We will come back to this point later. >>Well, there's certainly a difference in meaning of the two words. I'm not sure what you mean by "absolute skepticism" though. Do you mean something like nihilism?<< Yes, there is a difference, although practically they seem to me to be in the same boat together. Nihilism is a bit more radical I think, but it seems to me to be the only place left for the absolute skeptic to go. What I am referring to is one who believes that no knowledge is possible because he recognizes that on the basis of pure empiricism no knowledge can be justified. >> But I suppose you gotta start somewhere.<< Yeah, that's the whole point. Everyone has to start somewhere. But not all starting points are of equal value. >>Yup -- subject to the proviso that knowledge of the system's ontology is always tentative and subject to change with additional evidence.<< I'm not sure what to make of this. If one's ontology presupposes that the universe is all there is and that all evidence is thus evidence about the universe, then no amount of evidence could cause one to change it, since the only evidence that could possibly do so would have to come from outside of the universe. But no such evidence would ever be allowed into consideration because by definition no such evidence could exist, since there is no "outside of the universe". It is difficult for me to imagine then, under what circumstances even the staunchest empiricist/atheist could allow the fundamental

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assumption that the universe is all there is to be challenged by the evidence. He would always find a naturalistic explanation (no mater how implausible) because he has set up the rules of the discussion in such a way that that is the only type of explanation possible. This excludes the possibility of, say, the Christian God right from the start. This is one of the problems of the typical demand of the atheist that the Christian present evidence for God. The atheist wants the Christian to play his game according to his rules and with a stacked deck. I prefer to challenge the atheist's rules at the outset. Before such evidence can be entertained it is necessary to deal with other issues of a more basic nature. >> I would question the general applicability of "age of irrationalism."<< It seems to me to fit. Existentialism, pragmatism, postmodernism, drug culture, New Age mysticism, cults ... the 20th century is replete with philosophies and philosophers who deny the possibility of rational knowledge in any traditional sense. Now we have folks like Rorty who tell us just to forget about epistemology and get on with life. It is exactly this type of irrational leap of blind faith that I am opposed to. >> substantiating empirical evidence.<< Part of the problem is exactly what counts as evidence. Beyond that, one first has to establish that empirical evidence is capable of supplying knowledge in the first place. More on this later. >Mmmm, well, this atheist takes a live and let live position. I have no problem with your god-belief.<< Unfortunately, I cannot say that I have no problem with your lack of belief. Not that I would ever want to deny you the right to believe whatever you want. Conversion by coercion is no conversion at all and I am totally opposed to forcing one's beliefs on someone else. But my problem is, if you are right and I am wrong, then when we both die we will simply slip into oblivion with our last breath. However, if I am correct and you are not, then you face a most unpleasant future as you will stand before God and give an account for your sins without the benefit of Christ's sacrifice to atone for them. Personally, I do not want to see that happen to you and as I am convinced that Jesus is your only hope, you will understand why I at least have to press the issue to some degree. >> I don't share it, but I understand that it is emotionally important to you. I certainly have neither intent nor reasonable hope that I could convince you to give up your godbelief. Religious memes surround themselves with strong protective memes to insure survival, and direct assaults against those memes merely activate them and make them stronger.<< Well, it is emotionally important to me, but don't imagine for a minute that I believe in God primarily for emotional reasons. I believe because I am convinced that it is true and that it is the only rational world view. To not believe would require a leap into the

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irrational that I am unwilling to make. There are certainly other reasons for believing but they are not sufficient to sustain faith in something that is not true. By the way, you might want to consider that there are emotional reasons why one would want to be an atheist rather than a Christian. The Christian God is not just a warm fuzzy, a teddy bear that you clutch in the night when you are afraid of the dark. He is, in fact, very awesome and threatening. Even in the life of the believer there are many times when it would be easier in a sense to simply forget it. When I find myself convicted of sin and in need of changing, then belief can be quite inconvenient. Passing from unbelief to belief requires total repentance, a complete capitulation of one's will, one's entire being, to the sovereign will of an infinite Being. It means that you no longer get to determine for yourself the direction of your life. God does. It means that you submit to what he says is right and that your opinions must conform to his, unconditionally. It means that you give up your autonomy. Now the average unbeliever does not want to do this. He imagines that he will become an automaton and have to sacrifice his mind. Images of mindless fundamentalist, cult members, come to mind and he gets frightened by this. (I would say this is a distorted image) Also, he will have to give up his idea of what is moral in favor of what God says. He will have to admit that he is a sinner and that he deserves God's judgment and punishment. He can no longer be a freethinker if that is taken to mean free to believe anything you want. R. C. Sproul wrote an interesting book, If There is a God, Why Are There Atheists. I think every atheist ought to read it. He takes the old Freudian argument that God is a wish projection of the believer who wants a fatherly figure to comfort and protect him and turns it back on the atheist. Perhaps atheism is the wish projection of the unbeliever who, at all costs, wants to avoid being confronted with the reality of a God who is judge and who demands repentance for sin. In fact, given the nature of the biblical God, I think it is highly dubious to suppose that he would have ever been invented for any of the reasons proposed by Freud or anyone else. But then as I said above, such an hypothesis is pure speculation anyway. Certainly there are many benefits to being a Christian. In particular I would assert that being a critical thinker is an essential aspect of developing a Christian mind. I just wanted to point out that the God the Christian serves is not one who exists for the comfort of the believer. Very often he forces us right out of our comfort zone and into experiences that we would not choose otherwise. But he is good. And his way is the best way. Alan -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From FZ to Alan Myatt

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>> It may not be practical, but based on empiricism, how do you know it isn't true? << Do you think I'm worried about whether it's true? How could I tell the difference, whether it is or isn't? (1) >> The problem with this construction is that on an empirical basis there no conceivable way to prove such an hypothesis. << Nope, don't need to prove it. >> It is a necessary move for the atheist to make, but it can never be more than a dogma. << Nope, it's just a reasonable assumption, given the evidence. (2) >> Yes, there is a difference, although practically they seem to me to be in the same boat together. Nihilism is a bit more radical I think, but it seems to me to be the only place left for the absolute skeptic to go. What I am referring to is one who believes that no knowledge is possible because he recognizes that on the basis of pure empiricism no knowledge can be justified. << Say, you wouldn't be one of the presuppositionalists, wouldja? We had one of 'em in here a while back and he made just that argument. But it always seemed a bit of a straw man, since I don't know of any absolute skeptics. >> I'm not sure what to make of this. If one's ontology presupposes that the universe is all there is and that all evidence is thus evidence about the universe, then no amount of evidence could cause one to change it, since the only evidence that could possibly do so would have to come from outside of the universe. << and >> But no such evidence would ever be allowed into consideration because by definition no such evidence could exist, since there is no "outside of the universe". << Well, y'see, you gotta show me something that you assert to be from outside the universe. The simple fact that its origins are unknown to me as yet doesn't immediately qualify it as from "outside the universe." (3) Show me some "evidence" of something from "outside the universe" and then we can talk.<G> >> It is difficult for me to imagine then, under what circumstances even the staunchest empiricist/atheist could allow the fundamental assumption that the universe is all there is to be challenged by the evidence. <<

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Funny, I don't have any problem with it. Let's see some evidence first, and then we'll see if ya got a contender. >> He would always find a naturalistic explanation (no mater how implausible) because he has set up the rules of the discussion in such a way that that is the only type of explanation possible. << What? I'm amazed that an intelligent man has any problem. First, when you say "(no matter how implausible), what are you talking about. Gimme a concrete fer'instance and I'll take a swing at it. >> This excludes the possibility of, say, the Christian God right from the start. << Yeah, well, get him down here for a little chat and I might change my mind. >> This is one of the problems of the typical demand of the atheist that the Christian present evidence for God. The atheist wants the Christian to play his game according to his rules and with a stacked deck. << That's not a stacked deck -- that's the same rules we operate under quite successfully in the non-religious life. Seems like it's only when the topic is religion that theists wanna have some "special" rules. Say, did I ever tell ya about the dragon in my garage? Or the unicorn on the front lawn? >> >> I would question the general applicability of "age of irrationalism."<< << >>It seems to me to fit. Existentialism, pragmatism, postmodernism, drug culture, New Age mysticism, cults ... the 20th century is replete with philosophies and philosophers who deny the possibility of rational knowledge in any traditional sense. << Existentialism? Think you could find ten people out of a hundred chosen at random who had ever heard the word existentialism, let alone what it's about? I dunno about pragmatism, cos it always seemed to make pretty good sense to me. Postmodernism, well, it's likely a reaction of those who went overboard on what they thought science could do for them -- when they didn't understand science anyway. And when science didn't fulfill their expectations they got in a hissy fit and declared that nothing could be known. I don't take them seriously, and they don't seem to have had much of an effect on the scientific end of psychology. Only the lit-crits still think postmodernism is the berries. Did you see the parody a physicist wrote using postmodern buzzwords, and got it published with great acclaim in one of their leading journals. I can't recall his name, but the postmods went into denial immediately, those who weren't angry at his "dishonesty."<G>

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>> Now we have folks like Rorty who tell us just to forget about epistemology and get on with life. It is exactly this type of irrational leap of blind faith that I am opposed to. << Then, by golly, you don't have to do it. And rest assured I'll support your right not to.<G> >> Part of the problem is exactly what counts as evidence. << Tell me about it. People around here have some funny ideas about what constitutes "evidence." For example, they think words from an old book are "evidence" for some scientific, empirical assertion they make. YE creationists are particularly bad about that. >> Beyond that, one first has to establish that empirical evidence is capable of supplying knowledge in the first place. More on this later. << Hokay. >> Unfortunately, I cannot say that I have no problem with your lack of belief. Not that I would ever want to deny you the right to believe whatever you want. Conversion by coercion is no conversion at all and I am totally opposed to forcing one's beliefs on someone else. << Yes, I know. The theistic meme wants company. No offense, but I know you think you have a Great Truth that you wish to share, and you must needs see as perversely intransigent (or intransigently perverse) those who don't buy into your Great Truth. >> But my problem is, if you are right and I am wrong, then when we both die we will simply slip into oblivion with our last breath. However, if I am correct and you are not, then you face a most unpleasant future as you will stand before God and give an account for your sins without the benefit of Christ's sacrifice to atone for them. Personally, I do not want to see that happen to you and as I am convinced that Jesus is your only hope, you will understand why I at least have to press the issue to some degree. << BZZZZT! Pascal's Wager Alert. Secure all boarding hatches, security to your stations!<G> Well, Alan, I don't want to seem rude, but Pascal's Wager was a crock when he formulated it, and it's still a crock. (IMO, of course.)<G> Y'see, if I'm right, I won't have wasted my time in pursuing the vision of something that never existed except in the minds of its followers. If I'm wrong, given what their Bible (as well as the certainty-embracers here) say about their god, it looks like I can follow all the rules and still get roasted. Now, if you guys can't even agree on points of doctrine when you all claim to have a hammerlock on "Absolute Truth," why should I take any of you seriously?

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>> Well, it is emotionally important to me, but don't imagine for a minute that I believe in God primarily for emotional reasons. << Which brings up an interesting point. Antonio Damasio, in Descartes Error, points out that while the traditional Western view has been of the duality of reason and emotion (with reason the superior), they're just two aspects of cognition. Without emotion, you can be even crazier than someone displaying excessive emotion. What we call emotion is what causes us to make a choice when we come to a choice point. >> I believe because I am convinced that it is true and that it is the only rational world view. To not believe would require a leap into the irrational that I am unwilling to make. << Well, that's a problem. You keep saying that non-theism is irrational, but I haven't seen an adequate case for that yet. >> By the way, you might want to consider that there are emotional reasons why one would want to be an atheist rather than a Christian. The Christian God is not just a warm fuzzy, a teddy bear that you clutch in the night when you are afraid of the dark. He is, in fact, very awesome and threatening. << So you say, so you say.<G> No cosmic Mama, no celestial Papa, no Santa Claus. I truly feel bereft.<G> >> When I find myself convicted of sin and in need of changing, then belief can be quite inconvenient. << Interesting. When I find myself discovering that I have done someone a wrong, I try to make amends and be more careful in the future. >> Passing from unbelief to belief requires total repentance, a complete capitulation of one's will, one's entire being, to the sovereign will of an infinite Being. It means that you no longer get to determine for yourself the direction of your life. God does. << Well, the problem here is that I don't know what God wants -- and I strongly distrust those who say they know what God wants -- too often from voice in their heads. I think they just think they know what God wants, and it's all internally manufacutered. >> It means that you submit to what he says is right and that your opinions must conform to his, unconditionally. << Nope, I think I'll just keep my "reasoning mind" as B calls it.<G> As I said, everytime I hear someone say that he knows what god wants, I think he's just blowing smoke. Self-

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deluded smoke, but smoke nonetheless.

>> It means that you give up your autonomy. Now the average unbeliever does not want to do this. He imagines that he will become an automaton and have to sacrifice his mind. << Despite being a very intelligent fellow, Alan, you've convinced me that you do have to sacrifice one's mind from what you've written. >> Images of mindless fundamentalist, cult members, come to mind and he gets frightened by this. (I would say this is a distorted image) << Oh, I realize the idiots are in the minority, and generate most of the publicity. But you really ought to talk to atheists themselves more often and find out what they really think rather than what you think they think. >> He can no longer be a freethinker if that is taken to mean free to believe anything you want. << Erm, some people doubtlessly believe that, but I don't think that describes your average freethinker. I think that's a straw man. >> R. C. Sproul wrote an interesting book, If There is a God, Why Are There Atheists. I think every atheist ought to read it. He takes the old Freudian argument that God is a wish projection of the believer who wants a fatherly figure to comfort and protect him and turns it back on the atheist. Perhaps atheism is the wish projection of the unbeliever who, at all costs, wants to avoid being confronted with the reality of a God who is judge and who demands repentance for sin. In fact, given the nature of the biblical God, I think it is highly dubious to suppose that he would have ever been invented for any of the reasons proposed by Freud or anyone else. But then as I said above, such an hypothesis is pure speculation anyway. << A colleague of mine from over in the History department (I'm a psychologist, but I hang out with the History and English folks a lot) gave me that. First, I'm not one who considers psychodynamic theories like Freud's psychoanalytic theory very compelling. In fact, I often refer to it as the "dead religion of Psychoanalysis." Y'see, it was nonempirical from practically the beginning. What was true was what Freud believed to be true. And, although there were quite a few who broke with him, such as Adler, Horney, and Jung, he accumulated a flock of disciples and so it became quite popular as a therapeutic method until the cognitive/behaviorists came along and demonstrated they could do a better job in less time.<G> >> Certainly there are many benefits to being a Christian. <<

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Yeah, you're not called a "filthy atheist," you aren't automatically consider to be of dubious morality and patriotism. . . Lotsa bennies. >> In particular I would assert that being a critical thinker is an essential aspect of developing a Christian mind. << Just as long as you don't think critically about the LPD.<G>

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From B to Alan Myatt >>>> I believe because I am convinced that it is true and that it is the only rational world view. <<<< Well, perhaps for you, it is the only rational world view for you to have. Not for a lot of others, however. It's one thing to develop a world view because it is in line with your basic way of looking at things; it's quite another to expect the rest of the world to curtsy to that bias. >>>> To not believe would require a leap into the irrational that I am unwilling to make.<<<< For you it would be an irrational leap, for it lies outside the parameters of what you have allowed yourself to consider as being rational. For others, unbelief is quite rational, and as far as you should be concerned, innocuous. Unbelievers generally aren't evangelistic about it. The ones who are commit the same error as the evangelistic believer; i.e. insisting their own world view is flawlessly correct at the expense and spurning of any others. >>>> It means that you no longer get to determine for yourself the direction of your life.<<<< Bummer. God, the spoilsport. But hey, what if my determination was basically cool and decent and moral, yet it merely lacked an assent to God's existence? He gets ticked off 'cause a guy living a pretty decent life is doing it without crediting the alleged bastion of morality and virtue, God himself? >>>> It means that you submit to what he says is right and that your opinions must conform to his, unconditionally. It means that you give up your autonomy. <<<

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Translation: cease to be human. Since this is impossible, it looks like fertile ground for dysfunction and neurosis, given that the human mind cannot tolerate attempts to conform to the impossible. >>>> Also, he will have to give up his idea of what is moral in favor of what God says. <<<< But what if he independently reaches a moral conclusion that God agrees with? Suppose an atheist is horribly opposed to murder and killing of any kind? Now suppose this atheist becomes a believer, but still holds onto the idea that killing is wrong, but it's mighty nice that God happens to think that way also, but he really isn't inclined to credit God for leading him to that conclusion. Now, God is displeased with that? This assumption that a human being cannot conclude in, to use your terminology, the context of his autonomy that certain acts are essentially immoral without a deity base is specious, at best. Humans can, and do, all the time. Now, if God's main beef is that people conclude many obvious points of morality all the time yet don't really bother to credit him for either the origin of it or for not desiring to see him as the source, well that's how it goes, I guess. I don't think it's very becoming of an omniscient being to throw temper tantrums, do you? >>> Perhaps atheism is the wish projection of the unbeliever who, at all costs, wants to avoid being confronted with the reality of a God who is judge and who demands repentance for sin.<<<< Perhaps it would be best if you spent more time actually getting to know atheists and asking them how they feel and how they came to be atheists before you progress further in this kind of speculation. Many of the atheists I know and are friends with say nothing more than they find no compulsion, at times aside from reason, at others due to it, to believe in a deity. Oh, and they're not out killing, pushing drugs, pimping prostitutes, defacing church buildings, burning crosses, etc. And if they were to meet your God, they wouldn't flinch to tell them their thoughts, since supposedly God knows them all already, so what's to lose? <g> >>>> In fact, given the nature of the biblical God, I think it is highly dubious to suppose that he would have ever been invented for any of the reasons proposed by Freud or anyone else. <<<< Given the nature of the biblical God, it's very understandable why atheists don't believe in him. Why should they? Freud's proposal isn't the end all, anyway, but I would add that people with weak father figures in their lives would naturally be attracted to a diety who appears as a divine father figure. >>>> Very often he forces us right out of our comfort zone and into experiences that we would not choose otherwise. But he is good. And his way is the best way.<<<<

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That is to suggest that nobody would ever leave their "comfort zone" unless God nudged them along. I don't agree. If a person has any semblence of a honed conscience, he will quickly realize, through rational deduction, that any supposed "comfort zone" is merely an illusion. They aren't very comfortable, for those who think they "got it made" are seldom happy in the midst of it. There often is a coexisting discontentment, an angst, if you will, to realize the alleged "comfort zone" is actually stagnation. All that is, provided, that the basic aim of the person is to learn and grow, for such entails growing pains. Some folks aren't really inclined that way, yet life in general is. So, they tend to get slapped around a lot, even if they think they've created for themselves some kind of "comfort zone". B ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to B Message text written by B > Well, perhaps for you, it is the only rational world view for you to have. Not for a lot of others, however. Are you assuming that there is more than one kind of rationality? What is rationality anyway? Now there is one that I suppose could be debated here for awhile. But if we suppose something can be rational for me but irrational for someone else, then it seems that we are defining rationality in a subjective manner that already confesses that there is no final truth, but rather multiple truths that may even be contradictory, but nevertheless true and rational for those who hold them. Well, if we go that route then I think the discussion is over. No one could make any kind of a truth claim about the content of a system not his own. However, for the Christian to settle for this is to admit that the biblical God does not exist as a condition of the discussion. I think you can see why I would not be willing to do that <g>. >For you it would be an irrational leap, for it lies outside the parameters of what you have allowed yourself to consider as being rational. For others, unbelief is quite rational, and as far as you should be concerned, innocuous. Unbelievers generally aren't evangelistic about it. The ones who are commit the same error as the evangelistic believer; i.e. insisting their own world view is flawlessly correct at the expense and spurning of any others.< Yes, the unbeliever thinks his position is rational, but they too are controlled by their presuppositions. And you are correct to imply that presuppositions control what a system can consider as being rational. I have a bias for sure. Anyone who claims not to is seriously deluded. So I don't think that is a crime, except perhaps when it is allowed to operate as an unrecoginzed control belief unbeknownst to the one holding it. However, it

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appears to me that if one starts with the presuppositions of non-theism then the end result, when they are carried to their logical conclusion, is the destruction of rationality itself. I am quite willing to examine any claims that the atheist is willing to make on behalf of his system (whatever it may be). Unbelief is not always innocuous. I think it has certain social ethical consequences ultimately as well, as does any world view. As for not being evangelistic, I think history has shown that there have been plenty of atheists who have been zealously evangelistic about it. Now I am sure you are a peaceful person and this next remark is in no way intended to reflect on you or anyone else in this forum. However, if you will check with Amnesty International you will discover a little publicized fact and that is that during the 20th century more Christians have been martyred for their belief than any other time in history. And many of these at the hands of atheists (under Stalin, Mao and their successors). Now you will certainly bring up the Inquisition at this point, and all that both of these examples really prove is that murderers hide behind a variety of belief systems. I am not implying that the typical atheist in the United States would approve of such a thing. I am sure they would not. But the notion that atheism has not produced its own evangelistic movements in light of the history of the last three centuries is absurd. As for the error of insisting that our own world view is correct and rejecting others, the Christian world view is of such a nature that if it is correct then its contrary cannot be true. So if I decide to admit that both Christianity and Hinduism could be true, then I would in fact have already abandoned Christianity. I simply will not discuss the issue of whether or not Christianity is true in the context of a set of assumptions that make its truth impossible in the first place. That would be suicidal. I doubt that an atheist or a follower of any other faith would agree to such a scenario either. >>Bummer. God, the spoilsport.<< Well, it depends on what you call fun. When one becomes a Christian, thus having a change in world view, then what one wants to do changes as well. So submission is as much an attitude as anything else. Anyway, after 23 years I have no regrets. >> But hey, what if my determination was basically cool and decent and moral, yet it merely lacked an assent to God's existence? He gets ticked off 'cause a guy living a pretty decent life is doing it without crediting the alleged bastion of morality and virtue, God himself?<< That is not exactly the way God sees the situation according to Christianity. Basically, there are no cool, decent and moral people when measured by God's standard of absolute moral perfection. That really is the whole point of the Christian gospel. We all need to be rescued from our sins. Even the morality of Mother Teresa is not sufficient to qualify, and certainly not mine. Jesus' standard of decency and morality included one's thoughts as well as actions. So if you thought you would like to kill someone, or if you fantasized about sleeping with your friend's spouse, then as far as Jesus was concerned, you were guilty. There is no such thing as a "pretty decent life" from this perspective. It is either

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perfection or nothing. I was having this discussion with a friend of mine who happens to be criminal prosecutor in a large urban center, and he said that he had come to understand it much better. He often had defendants who went to great lengths to tell the court about all their good deeds, accomplishments, and positive contributions to society. However, that was all irrelevant to the issue at hand. The issue at hand was a specific charge and whether they did that or not. No amount of other good deeds would change their guilt related to the charge. So while we might stack up decency and morality in a number of areas, there isn't a one of us who could claim to be impeccable. I think if we were honest with ourselves we would find that we are a whole lot worse than we want to admit. So God gets ticked off because sin is serious and we are all guilty. >Translation: cease to be human. Since this is impossible, it looks like fertile ground for dysfunction and neurosis, given that the human mind cannot tolerate attempts to conform to the impossible. << That, of course, depends on your definition of what it means to be human. The Christian definition differs from the atheisms of Freud, Skinner, Sartre, etc, etc. Personally, I don't think that autonomy or independence from my Creator could possibly make me more human. You disagree of course. As for the old notion that religion supports dysfunction and neurosis, I think that has been adequately debunked by scientific research into religion. Dysfunction and neurosis are complicated, occur in many varieties and have varied causes (just look at the size of the DSM-IV), most of which are unrelated to religious issues. >This assumption that a human being cannot conclude in, to use your terminology, the context of his autonomy that certain acts are essentially immoral without a deity base is specious, at best. Humans can, and do, all the time. < Well of course they do. I never said otherwise. That is partly because God has implanted morality as an inherent structure of the human mind (see Romans 1-2). Now as to whether or not there can be any valid philosophical warrant for doing so in a universe where the ultimate reality is impersonal is another question which I have raised elsewhere. It is my contention that the notion of an essentially immoral act cannot be defended successfully once the existence of God is denied. > I don't think it's very becoming of an omniscient being to throw temper tantrums, do you?< I sure wouldn't want to be in his way if he did. >Perhaps it would be best if you spent more time actually getting to know atheists and asking them how they feel and how they came to be atheists before you progress further in this kind of speculation. What makes you think I haven't? My point here is that the argument that people believe in something for emotional comfort, etc. is just as likely to be the case for an atheist as

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anyone else. So it doesn't qualify as a valid argument against either the atheist or the Christian. I made this remark in response to F's post, which I took to imply that Christians hold their beliefs because they need them emotionally (since they couldn't possibly be true). Once we have decided that the other guy is wrong then we can make ourselves feel more secure in our own system if we can explain why the other guy holds to his wrong belief. Often that has the convenience of removing the necessity to take seriously his arguments. > Oh, and they're not out killing, pushing drugs, pimping prostitutes, defacing church buildings, burning crosses, etc.< I never implied that they were. The atheists I have met have, for the most part, not been involved in any of this kind of stuff. > And if they were to meet your God, they wouldn't flinch to tell them their thoughts, since supposedly God knows them all already, so what's to lose?< I think that if this is their attitude then they haven't really understood what he is like. And I imagine that when they do meet him then they will have quite a different reaction. >That is to suggest that nobody would ever leave their "comfort zone" unless God nudged them along. I don't agree.< Neither do I. Again, I never made any suggestion whatever about what an unbeliever would do. I was simply pointing out that following Christ is not something one does in order to be comfortable, as would be implied by the notion that one becomes a Christian (in spite of it being false) according to Freudian, etc. explanations. Clearly there are nonbelievers of all types who exhibit self sacrifice, altruism, and any number of praiseworthy actions. Alan ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From BD to Alan Myatt << I prefer to challenge the atheist's rules at the outset. >> Sure, discard reason and logic. Insist on allowing pure speculation as valid. Set your own foundation and then demand all accommodate it. Barf. b.

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----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to BD I suggest you go back an reread my post since it appears you did not understand what I was saying. In the end I would claim that it is the atheist who will have to abandon reason and logic. But my objection to the atheist rules of the game is that he or she wants to begin with a set of presuppositions about the nature of reality that, if granted, rule out the possibility of Christian theism from the start. I simply do not accept the atheist's presuppositions and I challenge him or her to demonstrate that they are either reasonable or logical. Alan ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From FZ to Alan Myatt Alan, >> Now concerning the last statement here, my question for the atheist, at least most of the ones I've met anyway, is why should there be a need for any empirical evidence? << My first response would be "why not?" The empirical approach pays off better than any other approach in the acquisition of knowledge. Do you know any better way of gathering reliable information about the natural world/universe? >> How is it that empirical knowledge is justified in a naturalistic universe anyway? << Umm, as above, do you know of a better way of gaining reliable knowledge? >> What are the presuppositions underlying the demand that empiricism is the final court of appeal? << I don't know that there is a "final court of appeal." Empirical investigation, as part of the armamentarium of scientific methodology has the best track record so far in gaining understanding of the universe. >> I don't know if you hold this view, but most atheists I have encountered seem to be in the empiricist camp. << Yeah, it kinda goes with the territory. I don't think I've ever met an atheist who wasn't an empiricist. We had a retro logical positivist a while back, but he went off to play somewhere else.<G>

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While scientific thinking is not necessarily confined to atheists, all the atheists I've met have been oriented towards scientific, empirical thinking. ? ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to FZ Message text written by FZ >> The empirical approach pays off better than any other approach in the acquisition of knowledge. Do you know any better way of gathering reliable information about the natural world/universe?<< Hello F, Let's see if we can unpack this statement a bit. By the empirical approach I am assuming that you mean something like the scientific method. I'll go one step further and include in that the basic assumption of empiricism, namely, that all knowledge begins in sense experience. That seems to represent the position of most atheists these days. Now first of all you say that the method pays off. I suppose that means that it gets results. Now if we are talking about the method as a set of laboratory operations that produces useful results in the form of the manipulation of sensory phenomenon that allows us to construct useful technology, then I would certainly agree that the method pays off. However, I am most interested in that last phrase "in the acquisition of knowledge." It seems that the next sentence defines knowledge as "reliable information about the natural world/universe." I want to make sure that I am proceeding correctly here, so I understand "reliable information" to mean "truth" and I take it that "natural world/universe" limits the scope of possible knowledge. Since you think that there is nothing beyond the natural world/universe then it follows that what you mean is that empiricism provides truth about ultimate reality. I should observe then that my original question >> How is it that empirical knowledge is justified in a naturalistic universe anyway? << to which you replied>Umm, as above, do you know of a better way of gaining reliable knowledge?< remains unanswered. You have simply begged the question. You have said that you know that empiricism provides knowledge because it pays off by providing knowledge. The issue is not whether or not I know a better way. The issue is whether or not your way can justify knowledge. Does it really tell you about the nature of things or is it built on a leap of faith, and a blind one at that? The critical element, I think, of your statement is the notion that empiricism is connected with the nature of the universe or ultimate reality. And really that is what our discussion is about. Is the universe all there is? Or is there an infinite, personal, Triune God who

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created and governs the universe (I have no interest in arguing about the existence of generic deities by the way). For you to be able to rationally use the argument of lack of empirical evidence to argue against belief in God, then you have to show that empirical evidence can tell you something about the nature of ultimate reality, about the universe as it is in itself. But can empiricism do this? If it cannot, then it simply has nothing whatever to say about the existence of God and can offer no claim against it. In such a case the atheist who refuses to believe for lack of empirical evidence would simply be acting irrationally. What are the basic claims of empiricism then? Basically, it is that all knowledge is in some form derived from sense experience and that these sensations become or contain data about the external world (the world outside our own minds) that we observe and that these sensations with their data then are transformed into ideas and knowledge. If empiricism is to provide real knowledge of the universe 'out there' then my senses must provide accurate information about an objective external reality. There must be a true correspondence between what is out there and what I sense in my mind. Now, most of us intuitively accept that such a correspondence exists. Indeed, on a first reading it seems perverse that anyone would object to this. However, that is exactly what the ancient Greek skeptics did. They demolished empiricism. David Hume finished off the job over two hundred years ago and ever since the empiricist Humpty Dumpty fell, no one has succeeded in putting him back together again. Let's look at some of the details. I remember when I was in ninth grade science class we did an experiment of sorts where we taste tested a chemical substance to determine who could sense it and who could not. I don't remember what the stuff was called but I do remember that I tasted nothing remarkable and my friend Chuck immediately reacted with a horrible facial expression. He tasted something quite different. But would it be accurate to say that I tasted nothing? I did feel the sensation of the stuff in my mouth, but it was rather bland and otherwise unremarkable. So I did taste it. And if someone asked me what it tasted like I could have said that it is bland, being neither bitter nor sweet. Putting the same question to Chuck, however, would reveal a completely different interpretation. What does x taste like? Chuck might use a word that I cannot print here, based on his reaction. No doubt he would say it was bitter and disgusting and try to warn folks against ingesting x. So who is correct? Is there an objective sensation called "the taste of x" that relates to an external world that our sense of taste can use to tell us something about what x, in itself, is? We could say that x is a substance that provokes behavior y (from whence we infer sensation y) in those who possess genetic trait a and that provokes behavior z (from whence we infer sensation z) among those who possess genetic trait b, but have we actually said anything about the objective state of the external world? Can it be said that two people who taste something different are tasting the same thing? If the same external reality (assuming that such a thing exists for the moment) provokes sensations so different among different people in the sense of taste, then why should we not suppose that the other senses are subject to the same thing? My Brazilian friends here in Rio find my complaints about the heat here to be amusing. For them 90 degrees is nothing as it often reaches above 100 for weeks at time. I think its funny when they start

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putting on jackets and coats when it gets down to 60 or so, which it does sometimes here in July. After living for many years in Colorado, I find that to be quite comfortable. So is there an objective definition of hot and cold that empiricism can reveal? Indeed, my wife and I often struggle at night over the fact that she likes a pile of cover on the bed, which makes me get too hot to sleep. And I always have to chuckle at Hollywood's depiction of couples taking long romantic showers together. How come in the movies they never show the couple in the shower arguing over how hot or cold the water ought to be? We could use a thermometer to measure the water temperature (thus relying on the sense of sight) and give an arbitrary definition of hot or cold to the various markings on the tube, but that would not resolve the quarrel. It seems that touch is not a consistently reliable guide for people to use in acquiring knowledge of the world nature/universe. It seems that the statement, "that is hot" is really a statement about me and my perception of the thing and not the thing in itself. What about that sense of sight. I know someone who was turned down for flight training because he was color blind, even though he claims to see colors just fine. But according to the official test he does not perceive colors correctly, or the way the rest of us do (whatever that means) so he is not qualified by the air force definition. It turns out however, that there are lots of folks who don't so qualify, yet they are able to distinguish between normal colors the way most of us do. They just see them differently. So that leads us to something that I have often wondered about. Do you suppose that the sensation that I identify as red is the same as the sensation that others have when they say, "that is red." We could never know could we? Since people would consistently identify their own sensation it could appear that we are all in agreement when we say the ball is red, even though each of us is having a distinctively different sense experience. There are other problems with the sense of sight as well. Most of us, I think, can recount times when due to tiredness, chemicals ingested or smoked, darkness, stress and other factors, when we thought we saw something that turned out to not be there or did not see something that was there. The existence of successful sleight of hand artists is testimony to the unreliability of the sense of sight. Indeed, my wife remains amazed at my continuing inability to see my car keys sitting on a table in broad daylight! Sure our sense of sight usually works okay to get us through each day. It functions pragmatically. But some people have lost life and limb due to their failure to see something correctly. How many times have people crashed their cars into something or someone that they would have sworn wasn't there? To make matters worse, it seems that not only do different people see things differently, but also the same thing appears different to the same person at different times. To use Bertrand Russell's famous example, the table at which I am sitting appears before me as a collection of colors and shapes organized into a coherent whole. As soon as I get up and move away from the table its shape appears to change. At present it is extended in front of me and my mind organizes it into a rectangle, from where I am sitting the side closest to me appears to be longer than the one farthest away. From the other room it has the opposite appearance. As the sun sets the colors red and yellow in the table cloth change, revealing different tints and shades. Which is the actual color? We could, of course, simply deny that there is really an objective thing called color since as we begin to

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examine the table on a molecular and atomic level we see that the color is only an appearance presumably produced by the particular wavelengths of light that are reflected. So we assign particular wavelengths to particular sensations that we have. Yet somehow reducing the color to a mathematical construct, an abstraction, seems to separate us from the elusive thing to which the color is supposedly attached. Anyway, the perception of light waves (secondarily through the use of instruments by means of which we infer their existence) is subject to the same problem. It is a sense experience. I seem to know that I have a particular sensation of manipulating and seeing the instrument, but given the already dubious status of sight as a reliable source of data, this could be mistaken as well. The ancient Stoics replied that there are self-authenticating experiences. Indeed, we could simply say that common sense tells us that we see what we see and hear what we hear, etc. But common sense is also a culturally conditioned concept. What makes sense to me does not necessarily make sense to someone of another culture. I have dealt with this in a real way since coming to Brazil. Acting on my American cultural assumptions has put me in an embarrassing position more than once. Anyway, the idea of common sense as a basis for trust in sense experience merely begs the question. But more specifically, the Stoic position was attacked with the observation that,"Even in dreams, in drunkenness, or in insanity, the recipient of a sensation believes it to be a correct representation of an object. Later he may decide he was mistaken; but during the sensory experience he cannot distinguish it from true sensation. Then is it possible now to be certain of our sensations? Obviously at any time we may be mistaken, for we do not recognize that we are dreaming, or that we are drunk, or, if we know we are ill, we do not know how much the fever affects our receptivity. Put more simply: illusions while they last are as convincing as allegedly true sensations." (Gordon H. Clark, Three Types of Religious Philosophy, pp 65-66). This was vividly illustrated in the case of the fellow who thought he was Jesus Christ and, hence, wound up in the psych hospital where my wife was a nurse. All of his own sensory data told him that this was true. Based on the empirical evidence available to him, he felt justified in this belief. Obviously his family did not, so they had him committed. The doctor decided it was a chemical imbalance in the brain that was causing the sense experiences which led the man to believe he was Jesus. He could be treated with Haldol. It seemed to help. Within two days he had given up on being Jesus in favor of declaring himself to be the fifth Beatle. A few more days of Haldol and he was back to his normal self, able to go home to his family and return to work. Now, if this fellow was able to have sense experiences that appeared totally real to him, but were entirely due to the state of the chemistry of his brain and not due to any external reality, then on what basis do we make the claim to know that our own sensations tell us something of an objective reality "out there" in the "real" world? It is the scientific view (empiricism) that tells us that our thoughts are indeed a function of the chemical state of our brains. Why then, do the majority of us who have one interpretation of reality based on our senses get to decide for folks like our would be messiah which one is normal and which one requires psychiatric treatment? How on the basis of empiricism could this be determined in anything but an arbitrary and pragmatic way? As one philosopher put it, if

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my thoughts are the result of the motion of particles in my brain (chemical or electrical) then on what basis do I suppose that the motion of the particles in my brain corresponds to an external reality and hence, on what basis do I suppose that there are particles moving in my brain? Or as Darwin is alleged to have said, if my thoughts are just the thoughts of an advanced monkey brain then why should I trust them, and then on what basis can I know that my brain is an advanced monkey brain? There is no way, on the basis of empiricism, that it can be shown that such internal events as sensations tell us anything about an external objective reality. Hume goes on, of course, to not only demolish any supposed link between sensation and the external world, but to show that on the basis of empiricism we can have no consciousness of a unified entity that we call the Self. Since our sense impressions are constantly changing, this state of flux cannot be the basis of the idea of the self. Yet any reflection on the idea of a self finally reduces to a series of sense impressions, as Hume said, "I never catch myself at any time without a perception..." Selves then "are nothing but a bundle of perceptions which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity." There can be no simplicity at any one moment and no unity of identity in different moments. So empiricism not only deprives us of the external world, it deprives us of a coherent internal self. I am, of course, fully aware that skepticism has been criticized and discounted as being internally contradictory. There is something to be said for this, although a true skeptic would simply reply, "see even my own world view is irrational, and that confirms my point that no knowledge is possible." George Smith, in his book, makes this argument, and having shown that skepticism is self-contradictory, discards it as being false. In the meantime he simply ignores the need to establish a positive justification for empirical knowledge. So he proceeds to make the Case Against God, as his book is subtitled, without ever establishing an epistemology. He just dogmatically assumes it without ever answering the criticisms. This is an important point. It isn't sufficient to point out difficulties with skepticism. In order to maintain rationality what is required is a demonstration that validates empiricism. But in any case, I am not proposing an argument for absolute skepticism. I am simply saying that empiricism cannot on its own basis establish that any knowledge is possible. The final result of empiricism is really the ultimate fragmentation of the individual and the world into an unrelated set of particulars. This fragmentation follows quite naturally due to the fact that philosophical materialism opts to resolve the One and Many problem by declaring that ultimate reality is found in the Many, the particulars. The One and Many problem has bedeviled human thought at least since Heraclitus declared that all is flux (you cannot step into the same river twice) and Parmenides declared that all is One (change is illusion). This is another key philosophical question, that leads to the further unraveling of philosophical materialism and empiricism, but we will leave that for a future discussion. For now suffice it to say, that the fundamental epistemological assumptions of atheistic naturalism/philosophical materialism degenerate into irrationalism, destroying the objective validity of the scientific method by which it supposedly has shown that God either does not exist or is not needed. But if the method

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of the atheist is invalid then so are its results. God remains whether the atheist likes it or not, while in the end the materialist loses both the world and himself. The history of 20th century philosophy has thus headed farther and farther into irrationalism, with postmodernism now merrily deconstructing everything in its path. The resulting relativism is absolute, like an acid eating away at everything it touches. All of reality is fragmented and there is no purpose beyond what we can create. So we are all like Woody Allen in the movie Everybody Says I Love You, confronting a series of fragmented, disjointed experiences in which all roles are in flux, in a futile attempt to find love, stability and meaning. And superimposed on this is the romanticized impression of a musical style harking back to a day when such stability presumably existed. But we now know that that is untenable, since the universe is ultimately absurd. So this is what we are left with. How depressing. And how unnecessary. Perhaps we could consider the alternative that the atheistic assumption is incorrect, go back to the beginning and start again. So in answer, finally to the question >> Do you know any better way of gathering reliable information about the natural world/universe?<< I would respond, perhaps if we start with God and his revelation, then that revelation will give us the truth we need. And from there maybe we can get to the rest of the natural world/universe. At least it's worthy of consideration. A lengthy response I know, but you asked!<G> Alan FOOTNOTES******************** (1) Here we see the underlying irrationalism of atheism breaking through. The issue of truth is dismissed as not being worthy of worrying about, followed immediately by the admission that he can't tell the difference anyway. But if this is the case, then the entire exercise of the scientific method, which the atheist prizes so deeply, is nothing more than a sham. We will see that this particular writer is involve in an irresolvable contradiction in that he argues that science provides knowledge and yet ultimately, truth is unknowable. What then is knowledge if it does not involve at least some degree of certainty about truth? And of what value is a world view, like philosophical naturalism, if it has no means of determining what counts as true knowledge and what doesn't? And where does the naturalist get off making a sweeping universal truth claim about the nature of ultimate reality (there is no God) if he can't establish a valid basis for knowing. Indeed, as it became clear in the discussions, if the atheist cannot establish a valid basis for knowing, then his complaint that "there is no evidence for God" is vacuous, because he cannot establish a basis to make any rational comments about the status of the evidence whatever. (2) Again, why is it reasonable to assume or believe it if there is no possible way to determine whether or not it is true. It then becomes nothing more than a dogma, believed on the basis of blind faith, for no rational reason whatever. It seems rather odd that the atheist here states that the evidence supports the notion that theism evolved from

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primitive beliefs to explain nature, and yet when pressed on the point, he asserts that there is no need to offer any proof that such evidence either exists or can be properly interpreted in this manner. In fact, this theory is not considered to be very persuasive in contemporary academic circles that specialize in the study of religion. It is too simplistic and reductionistic and leaves a great deal of religious and cultural phenomena unexplained. (3) Such evidence, by its very nature, could not be limited as a part of the universe itself. It would rather be related to the nature of the universe itself, i.e., is the universe of such a nature that it could be self-existent or does the evidence point to its necessary dependence upon a reality other than itself. Some of the best work in this area is being done by those involved in research on intelligent design, c.f. Michael Behe Darwin's Black Box, William A. Dembski, Intelligent Design , Dean L. Overman, A Case Against and SelfOrganization, William A. Dembski, Mere Creation: Science, Faith & Intelligent Design . (BTW Dembski has PhD's in both mathematics and philosophy). Alan Myatt, Ph.D.

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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From FZ to Alan M >> The critical element, I think, of your statement is the notion that empiricism is connected with the nature of the universe or ultimate reality. << I get real antsy when people start using the word "ultimate" in that context. You'll have to define "ultimate reality" first. In the meantime, I'll settle for a "pretty good approximation of reality." >> For you to be able to rationally use the argument of lack of empirical evidence to argue against belief in God, then you have to show that empirical evidence can tell you something about the nature of ultimate reality, about the universe as it is in itself. << Eh? There goes that "ultimate" stuff again. I'm not interested in "ultimate" anythings. I'm not even sure these "ultimates" exist. (1) >> But can empiricism do this? If it cannot, then it simply has nothing whatever to say about the existence of God and can offer no claim against it. In such a case the atheist who refuses to believe for lack of empirical evidence would simply be acting irrationally. << What? You're saying that it's irrational to not believe that for which there is no evidence? In that case you should believe in the Invisible Pink Unicorn. No evidence for that, either. (2) >> What are the basic claims of empiricism then? Basically, it is that all knowledge is in some form derived from sense experience and that these sensations become or contain data about the external world (the world outside our own minds) that we observe and that these sensations with their data then are transformed into ideas and knowledge. << Well, after sensation comes perception, where sensory experience is interpreted, but that's generally the sequence. However, the association of new experience with previous experiences may create combinations that give rise to new ideas. (3) >> If empiricism is to provide real knowledge of the universe 'out there' then my senses must provide accurate information about an objective external reality. << Subject to several conditions, yes. However, it is in the process of interpretation that errors often arise.

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>> There must be a true correspondence between what is out there and what I sense in my mind. << Well, at least fairly close correspondence, otherwise you're likely not to reproduce.<G> But you don't "sense" in your "mind." You do your sensing with modified neurons called sensory receptors. BTW, what's a "mind?" You some kinda dualist?<G> I have no objection to "mind" as a metaphor for the operation of the brain -- at least the part of which we are "aware." (4) >> Now, most of us intuitively accept that such a correspondence exists. Indeed, on a first reading it seems perverse that anyone would object to this. However, that is exactly what the ancient Greek skeptics did. They demolished empiricism. << Then why is it still around and going strong in the sciences? >> He tasted something quite different. << Yeah, PTC paper tastes bitter to some people. This is an example of genetic variation. >> But would it be accurate to say that I tasted nothing? << Sure. If you mean by "tasted nothing" that you didn't perceive a bitter taste. I'd have to go back and do some research on the precise mechanisms why, but for whatever reason, the sensation didn't get all the way up to the part of the cortex that does the interpreting. >> I did feel the sensation of the stuff in my mouth, but it was rather bland and otherwise unremarkable. So I did taste it. And if someone asked me what it tasted like I could have said that it is bland, being neither bitter nor sweet. << I don't understand why this is a problem. >> Can it be said that two people who taste something different are tasting the same thing? << Sure. You are ingesting the same chemical, PTC. But your perceptions of taste are different. Again, I don't see why you have a problem here. >> So is there an objective definition of hot and cold that empiricism can reveal? << Well, lessee, we could go down to "absolute zero" or near enough as makes no difference. However, in the connection above, we can empirically study the perceptions of hot and cold. >> It seems that the statement, "that is hot" is really a statement about me and my perception of the thing and not the thing in itself. <<

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Exactly. But what's your point? >> What about that sense of sight. I know someone who was turned down for flight training because he was color blind, even though he claims to see colors just fine. But according to the official test he does not perceive colors correctly, or the way the rest of us do (whatever that means) so he is not qualified by the air force definition. << Flunked the Ishihara plates, huh? Yeah, the armed services can get kinda picky about that. >> So that leads us to something that I have often wondered about. Do you suppose that the sensation that I identify as red is the same as the sensation that others have when they say, "that is red." We could never know could we? << Yes, the introspectionists got kinda hung up on this around the turn of the century. Almost got experimental psychology stuck in the mud.<G> But I think that's beside the point. It is unnecessary for me to know if some else sees the same "red" that I do. As long as we agree that light at a certain wavelength is red, then such consensus is good enough for communication purposes. >> There are other problems with the sense of sight as well. Most of us, I think, can recount times when due to tiredness, chemicals ingested or smoked, darkness, stress and other factors, when we thought we saw something that turned out to not be there or did not see something that was there. << J. Allan Hobson (of the Hobson-McCarley activation-synthesis theory of dreams) has an interesting book about this. The title is The Chemistry of Consciousness. Unfortunately, it's in my office at school and I'd hate to quote from memory and be in error. I'll pick it up and bring it home today. >> As soon as I get up and move away from the table its shape appears to change. At present it is extended in front of me and my mind organizes it into a rectangle, from where I am sitting the side closest to me appears to be longer than the one farthest away. From the other room it has the opposite appearance. << You're referring to "shape constancy." This seems to be learned quite early in life. We learn that that while the image on the retina may not always correspond to, say, the right angle corners of a door, for example (the image being one of a trapezoid rather than a rectangle), we have learned through experience that the angels are 90 degrees. Same deal for other constancies. In the case of vision, we seem to perceive color (including shades of gray) relative to the other colors surrounding it. Were it not for this mechanism, we'd see people as olive under most fluorescents, ruddy under incandescent, and yellow under the sun. You might also want to take a look at Edward Land's theory of color vision, too.

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>> As the sun sets the colors red and yellow in the table cloth change, revealing different tints and shades. << Only partially. This is subject to many qualifications, including the physical nature of the reflecting surface we see "color" from. The extent to which this occurs will depend on the concentration of light at one particular wavelength. Dichroic glass may show different colors, depending on the angle at which light strikes it. The wavelength reflected depends on the size of the metallic oxides with which the glass has been coated. >> So we assign particular wavelengths to particular sensations that we have. << You got it.<G> >> What makes sense to me does not necessarily make sense to someone of another culture. << Uh-huh. Although there may be a general correspondence of what "makes sense," the details may differ. >> It is the scientific view (empiricism) that tells us that our thoughts are indeed a function of the chemical state of our brains. Why then, do the majority of us who have one interpretation of reality based on our senses get to decide for folks like our would be messiah which one is normal and which one requires psychiatric treatment? << Ordinarily, deviation from cultural norms is the criterion. However, if our would-be messiah is sufficiently charismatic as to collect followers, then whether his divinity would be accepted would depend on whether his followers were in the majority and what sanctions there were for failure to believe in him. >> The final result of empiricism is really the ultimate fragmentation of the individual and the world into an unrelated set of particulars. This fragmentation follows quite naturally due to the fact that philosophical materialism opts to resolve the One and Many problem by declaring that ultimate reality is found in the Many, the particulars. << Come now. Why should anyone chase after an ideal (and likely nonexistent) "One"? However, I think you're ignoring our ability to generalize. >> For now suffice it to say, that the fundamental epistemological assumptions of atheistic naturalism/philosophical materialism degenerate into irrationalism, destroying the objective validity of the scientific method by which it supposedly has shown that God either does not exist or is not needed. << I fear this is merely an assertion. As Ralph A. Alpher once put it, "If physics has need of a god-concept, we'll just invent one." As I said, science "works," despite your opinion that it somehow "degenerates into irrationalism." (5)

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>> The history of 20th century philosophy has thus headed farther and farther into irrationalism, with postmodernism now merrily deconstructing everything in its path. << Only if you buy into postmodernism. And it looks like only some sociologists and a bunch of lit-crits have done so. >> I would respond, perhaps if we start with God and his revelation, then that revelation will give us the truth we need. << I'm sorry, Alan, but this is absurd. You have not brought a convincing argument to the table, despite your otherwise excellent style. What kind of "truth" would revelation bring? The contents of the CRC handbook? FZ ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From L to FZ > I get real antsy when people start using the word > "ultimate" in that context. You'll have to define > "ultimate reality" first. In the meantime, I'll settle > for a "pretty good approximation of reality." I do agree! It's like those who demand that their LPD be necessarily omniscient and omnipotent, which inevitably gets them into all sorts of difficulties that are pretty well indefensible without appealing to `faith', whilst an LPD who simply knows far more than they do, and can do far more than they can do, to a point where from where they sit they can't tell the difference between what their LPD actually knows and can do is indistinguishable from omniscience and omnipotence makes no substantive difference to them or their beliefs, and would ease them out of a number of difficult (impossible?) to defend circumstances! L ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From FZ to L >> I do agree! << Somehow I thought you would.<G>

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>> It's like those who demand that their LPD be necessarily omniscient and omnipotent, which inevitably gets them into all sorts of difficulties that are pretty well indefensible without appealing to `faith', whilst an LPD who simply knows far more than they do, and can do far more than they can do, to a point where from where they sit they can't tell the difference between what their LPD actually knows and can do is indistinguishable from omniscience and omnipotence makes no substantive difference to them or their beliefs, and would ease them out of a number of difficult (impossible?) to defend circumstances! << Yeah, well, it's pretty clear that those people just don't think things through to a logical conclusion. I think you've seen enough illogical attempts at reasoning around here to know that. In fact, in the ID thread in S1, my interlocutor seems to have just violated the law of non-contradiction, which is so basic to reasoning that the mind boggles. (6) L ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From LA to FZ > I'm not interested in "ultimate" anythings. I'm not even sure these "ultimates" exist. < Oh, I think they do. Problem is, you can't there from here. <g> All we can ever do is create successive better models approximating whatever is really "out there." Our buddy here seems to think that since we can only approximate reality, we should discard the useful models for made up ones. The reasoning in this baffles me. > Then why is it still around and going strong in the sciences? The philosophers need better unions? > I fear this is merely an assertion. As Ralph A. Alpher once put it, "If physics has need of a god-concept, we'll just invent one." < Heh. Exactly. Interesting thing about these debates is that, often, IMO, the "faith" proponent is actually operating on naturalistic principles they're just refusing to acknowledge. There are no physics equations I can think of that need "god" inserted somewhere in order to work. Yet our buddy here logs on to this service using the products of these godless (<g>) equations and expects them to work.

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Computers boot up for atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, Jews, agnostics, Hindus, the products of empirical thought work whether you "believe" or not. If god is so relevant, why is he then so irrelevant? L ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From FZ to LA >> All we can ever do is create successive better models approximating whatever is really "out there." Our buddy here seems to think that since we can only approximate reality, we should discard the useful models for made up ones. << That's sure what he seems to think. However, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt until he posts his reply. >> The reasoning in this baffles me. << Oh, I know. It fairly boggles me. >> The philosophers need better unions? << "Local 127, International Brotherhood of Philosophers, Smokeblowers and Logic Choppers." >> There are no physics equations I can think of that need "god" inserted somewhere in order to work. Yet our buddy here logs on to this service using the products of these godless (<g>) equations and expects them to work. << This requires an almost watertight compartmentalization. Humans tend to be rather good at compartmentalizing in order to reduce dissonance. L ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From IL to Alan Myatt: Message text written by Alan Myatt > I'll go one step further and include in that the basic assumption of empiricism, namely, that all knowledge begins in sense experience. That seems to represent the position of most atheists these days.<

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Nope. All knowledge is proveable. Verifiable. Demonstrable. What isn't may be theory is constructed to reflect current knowledge. Theories can be right, wrong, or whatever. Now, then you have myth. Me, I believe in one set of myths, the ancient Greeks believed in another. I am comfortable enough with my belief that another person's does not bother me. When I die I will find out or I won't. Until then I'll just try to live a life worthy of emulation. --I (I may convert some currency, but that'll be it) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From B to Alan Myatt: >>>>> I'll go one step further and include in that the basic assumption of empiricism, namely, that all knowledge begins in sense experience. That seems to represent the position of most atheists these days.<<<< Ah, I get it. It's a crux between whether knowledge has some "divine" origin or is merely the accumulation of consistent observation. Got a reason why the latter isn't a viable consideration? Oh yeah....what about that tree in the Garden of Eden? Seems like it had "knowledge" written all over it, and poor ol' dopey Adam wasn't supposed to goof around with that stuff. But he did. And look where that's brought us. To a day and age where God tries to kill off fags with AIDS but man and his "scientific knowledge" struggles against all odds to at first improve the quality of life for AIDS stricken patients, then eventually may go on to find a cure, just as he/she may for cancer, muscular distrophy, etc. So that's why God's all in a knickerknot over this stuff! He wants to still prove he's the ultimate disciplinarian but mankind keeps cooking up these wild obstacles via that nasty little satanic thing known as "science"! <sarc mode off....tentatively/tenuously> >>>>> Since you think that there is nothing beyond the natural world/universe then it follows that what you mean is that empiricism provides truth about ultimate reality.<<<< Kind of a no brainer, if you ask me. Since there's no reasonable way to demonstrate there is such a thing as "ultimate reality", then the best thing we have left is to take educated pot shots at the reality we can see.

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So, if there's no way to be confident in any sliver of existence of an "ultimate reality", chances are not that many folks are all that consternated about using their educated pot shots at the reality they can sense to form a basis for what "ultimate reality" there may be. I mean, they may hack at it for a while, possibly a few years, even, given a healthy measure of fortitude, yet in the end realize they're spitting in the wind, or worse yet, experiencing situational incontinence inside a tornado. >>>> Is the universe all there is?<<<< What do you mean "all"?? Last time I peeked up into it, I failed to see a border. It just keeps going and going and going and going.....(but maybe God is the one trying to get the Energizer bunny...hey, I didn't think of that!) Isn't it a tad presumptuous to think that universe thingie over our heads has a limit? We may know a lot more about it than, say, just ten years ago, but there's no telling what's really out there, compared to what we now know. They're just now actually finding other planets to wonder about outside our own solar system. When I was in high school, they were saying nobody's ever found other planets, and they were still wondering and dickering over whether there was one more planet in our own solar system past Pluto. >>>> For you to be able to rationally use the argument of lack of empirical evidence to argue against belief in God, then you have to show that empirical evidence can tell you something about the nature of ultimate reality, about the universe as it is in itself. <<<< Well, to make that hypothesis hold, you in turn would have to build a case for a belief in a triune God based upon the same lack of "empirical evidence"; i.e. prove God with no proof. (7) Understand something...."belief" and "faith" do not demand "proof" as prerequisites or foundations. Folks "believe" in stuff all the time that has no rational or empirical merit whatsoever. I even believed in the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus when I was a tyke...I mean the "proof" was loot under the tree on Dec. 25 and a wicker basket full of sugar rush ecstacy on some sunny morning in the spring! What else did my little mind need? (Certainly not a bigger brother who caught mom and dad stuffing stockings one morning!) (8) >>>>I remember when I was in ninth grade science class we did an experiment of sorts where we taste tested a chemical substance to determine who could sense it and who could not. I don't remember what the stuff was called but I do remember that I tasted nothing remarkable and my friend Chuck immediately reacted with a horrible facial expression. He tasted something quite different. But would it be accurate to say that I tasted nothing? I did feel the sensation of the stuff in my mouth, but it was rather bland and otherwise unremarkable. So I did taste it. And if someone asked me what it tasted like I could have said that it is bland, being neither bitter nor sweet. Putting the same question to Chuck, however, would reveal a completely different interpretation. What does x taste like? Chuck might use a word that I cannot print here, based on his reaction. No doubt he would say it was bitter and disgusting and try to warn folks against ingesting

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x. So who is correct? Is there an objective sensation called "the taste of x" that relates to an external world that our sense of taste can use to tell us something about what x, in itself, is? We could say that x is a substance that provokes behavior y (from whence we infer sensation y) in those who possess genetic trait a and that provokes behavior z (from whence we infer sensation z) among those who possess genetic trait b, but have we actually said anything about the objective state of the external world? Can it be said that two people who taste something different are tasting the same thing?<<<< Did you and Chuck ever get together and talk about God? <g>

>>>> My Brazilian friends here in Rio find my complaints about the heat here to be amusing. For them 90 degrees is nothing as it often reaches above 100 for weeks at time. I think its funny when they start putting on jackets and coats when it gets down to 60 or so, which it does sometimes here in July. After living for many years in Colorado, I find that to be quite comfortable. <<<< It's called "acclimation". A perfectly natural, biological, scientifically observable phenomena. Hey, I'd keep the a/c on 65 if it didn't turn my wife into an ice cube. It's not hard to spot us in the summer while we're driving. I got my shirt collar unbuttoned and short sleeves rolled up and the a/c on max and she's wearing a jacket and has all her vents shut off. Different bodies react differently to climate. No big deal. >>>> Indeed, my wife and I often struggle at night over the fact that she likes a pile of cover on the bed at night, which makes me get too hot to sleep.<<<< Have her pile on the covers while you hang a ceiling fan over your side and let the thing twirl as you snooze beneath a single sheet. Of course, then she'll still complain she's cold. <g> >>> But according to the official test he does not perceive colors correctly, or the way the rest of us do (whatever that means) so he is not qualified by the air force definition. <<<< Have you ever tried to describe a color to somebody? Find a blind person, blind from birth, and tell him what the color blue is like. How would you do it? >>>>> I would respond, perhaps if we start with God and his revelation, then that revelation will give us the truth we need. And from there maybe we can get to the rest of the natural world/universe. At least it's worthy of consideration.<<<< Yet this still avoids the crux of the matter....how do we, how can we know this "revelation" is from God and that this God, among countless other competitors, is the one we should trust as reliable? Ya see, it comes back to a bias thingie. If you start with a God/creator bias, it slants everything you see, just like you and your wife duking it out over covers vs. ten tons of air conditioning. She's right to want to be warm under a heap

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of steam heated blankets while asleep, you're right to want an iceberg suspended from the ceiling dripping on your bare chest so you can snooze. But who is ultimately right? >>>>A lengthy response I know,<<<<< You win the coveted loquacious award of the quarter! B ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From QO to Alan Myatt: >> So in answer, finally to the question >> Do you know any better way of gathering reliable information about the natural world/universe?<< I would respond, perhaps if we start with God and his revelation, then that revelation will give us the truth we need. And from there maybe we can get to the rest of the natural world/universe. Whose God, Alan? Yours or mine? Which revelation? Q. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to QO: I already answered that one. The personal Triune God of the Bible. And of course the Bible is the revelation I am talking about. What would you suggest? I intend to expand on this some as time allows. Alan ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From QO to Alan Myatt: >> I already answered that one. The personal Triune God of the Bible. But why? You've strongly implied that your belief system is rational. But obviously the selection of the Biblical God is no more rational than the selection of Thor or Zeus.

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In fact, the selection of Yahweh seems clearly irrational. Why have you chosen such an irrational path? That's what I'm wondering. >> And of course the Bible is the revelation I am talking about. What would you suggest? My own revelation. Anyone who studies the situation objectively and rationally will see how corrupt is the revelation in the Bible compared to my own revelation. I'm just wondering why you behave so irrationally while condemning the atheists, who are insufficiently gullible and irrational to make the same choice as you've made. I'm just wondering. Q. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to QO: Message text written by QO > But why? You've strongly implied that your belief system is rational. But obviously the selection of the Biblical God is no more rational than the selection of Thor or Zeus. In fact, the selection of Yahweh seems clearly irrational. Why have you chosen such an irrational path? That's what I'm wondering. < QO, You don't appear to understand the nature of the claim being made by Christians when they assert the existence of the Triune God of the Bible. Thor or Zeus (or any of the other gods for that matter) are simply other beings who are alleged to exist in the context of the larger Being that encompasses all things, i.e. the Universe, Nature, or whatever. The God of the Bible is a different sort of thing altogether. He does not exist as a part of a larger Being, rather he himself is the original uncreated Being. Before there was anything else, only the Triune God existed. The universe was created by him out of nothing and is utterly dependent upon him in every aspect of its own being. Thus, the Christian holds that the ultimate reality is personal, rational, and purposive. The universe is not ultimate and thus the ultimate reference point for rational interpretation and the discovery of truth does not lie within it. That is why all attempts by the atheist to find such a referent end in frustration.

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In Greek mythology neither Thor nor Zeus are more than finite creatures, albeit with supernatural powers and immortality. The universe in which they live is much like the universe of the atheist -- impersonal matter is ultimate (although many Greeks held to hylozoism, which could be considered a form of pantheism, which is still impersonal) and all things are ordered by chance and/or deterministic forces which the Greeks called fate and the modern atheist calls the laws of nature. So it is the atheist who shares the presuppositions of the ancient Greeks (after Plato by the way, Greek philosophy did degenerate into irrationalism - skepticism on the one hand and finally the irrationality of Plotinus' mysticism, just as enlightenment atheism has degenerated into the skeptical irrationalism of the existentialists and post-modernists, as well as the mysticism that erupted in the 60s drug culture and now is thriving in the contemporary New Age movement). The atheists in this forum who hold to what may be called scientism (the belief that science is the key to all knowledge) are anachronistic in their faith in a naive empiricism that has been thoroughly refuted for over 200 years. They complain that the arguments of Hume and others are irrelevant, that nobody cares about the postmodernists, etc., but the one thing they do not offer are refutations of these positions and a justification for empiricism. In light of this I don't think it gullible to consider the possibility that theist presuppositions can resolve these problems. So you tell me, how do you rationally justify knowledge? As for your revelation ... can you show that you have a revelation whose presuppositions are sufficient to sustain rational discourse? Alan ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From ZC to Alan Myatt: Are you working on a graduate school dissertation? It's been a while since I have read so many words that did not say anything. Your attack on empiricism is misdirected toward a straw man. Science recognizes its limitations and potential pitfalls. Theory can influence observations. Observations can influence what is observed. The equipment used for measurement can limit the results. Psychological influences can permeate scientific study, such as a need for certainty or simplicity, seeing causation in coincidence, and reluctance to change the beliefs in which an investment of time and energy has been made. Good science recognizes these factors and attempts to account for them. Contrary to your assertion, I have not seen anyone in this forum hold that science is the "key to all knowledge." Science seeks to explain the physical world, that which is observable, measurable, testable. Science does not purport to explain what may or may not exist in any "supernatural" world, which by definition is not observable, etc. There is no inherent incompatibility between science and the existence of God.

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As for your point about what "knowledge" is or how anything can be "known," you are chasing your own tail. Finally, even if all "science," "empiricism," and "knowledge" are thoroughly discredited, what does it get you? Science can't prove or disprove elves, therefore elves exist? Wherever you think you are going, your false assumptions, murky language and faulty logic are taking you somewhere else. Is it too late for you to pick a different thesis topic? Maybe Hume's Maxim would be good. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to ZC: Z, You have jumped in late here. The atheists with whom I began interacting here were quite clear about defending empiricism as the basis of knowledge. If they had defended something like rationalism or something else then I would have discussed that. And the assertion that science is the best way of knowing and even the only reliable way, is quite common in both popular atheistic literature as well as among some of the more sophisticated defenders of atheism. Check out the Humanist magazine for instance. I quite agree with your observations about science and I would say that science is completely compatible with Christianity as it was the Christian world view that produced modern science in the first place, a point that has been well documented by various historians of science. As for the question of knowledge, the issue is whether or not atheistic presuppositions can sustain a rational epistemology. I and many others claim that they cannot. If we grant, for the sake of argument, the validity of the atheist's presuppositions then we have every right to work out the logical implications of them and see if they are consistent and if they can support a coherent world view. In fact, they collapse into irrationalism. So then the question arises as to whether or not the atheist's assumptions should be abandoned in favor of theistic axioms that are able to produce a rational epistemology and ethic. All this ground has been covered previously. I am waiting for any atheist here to produce a rational epistemology that solves the problems posed by the skeptics. Alan FOOTNOTES******************** (1) This is interesting since atheism (as they are using the term) necessarily means the making of a universally binding statement about the nature of ultimate reality - it is impersonal, and it is reducible to matter and energy from which are derived all other

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entities. Perhaps an agnostic would have better luck here but we will see that even the agnostic has certain irreducible presuppositions about ultimate reality. (2) No, the question here is about whether lack of empirical evidence as defined by the empiricist is a valid basis for rejecting belief in God. There may be other lines of evidence that do not depend upon empiricism that could be consulted, but if empiricism cannot be shown to provide knowledge then the test of empirical evidence can make no claims, either positive or negative regarding the truth of anything. (3) Here he opens an entirely different can of worms. The discussion never tackled this question, but to my knowledge, no empiricist has adequately explained how sense experiences can be transformed into ideas, particularly highly abstract ideas, unless the mind comes preprogrammed with some kind of interpretive structure or at least the ability to develop such, already in place. And it is difficult to see how such a structure could evolve from sense experience on the basis of natural selection because even the initial process of interpretation would seem to require the mechanism to be in place before it got started. The problem is, the admission of such a structure (say in the Kantian sense of the mind's categories) means that one is admitting that empiricism has limits, and possibly, following Kant, that reality as it actually is, cannot be known. Besides, if the human mind comes preprogrammed with innate ideas, then suddenly the spectre of idealism, Platonism, or some other kind of non-material reality looms very large on the philosophical-materialist horizon. In any case, if the atheist cannot show that empiricism can produce, then he cannot rule out the danger that God might be there after all. (4) Here we see the common atheist or materialist postulate that the mind is reducible to a function of the brain. The brain secretes "mind" or thought like the liver secrets bile. (5) Here we see a common tendency among philosophical materialist. It is the constant equating of empiricism with the scientific method. In fact, it involves the assumption of pure empiricism as an epistemology (which amounts to a metaphysical position) and then confusing this with the method of empirical testing that science uses. The consequence is that when the theist attacks empiricism as a metaphysical stance, the materialist thinks that science is being attacked. He never seems to imagine that the scientific method might actually be undermined by metaphysical naturalism and empiricist epistemology, He does not seem to understand what the founders of modern science knew all too clearly, that the reason that the scientific method works is because the universe was created by a rational Creator in the first place. Philip Johnson unravels this confusion in his very helpful book, Reason in the Balance: the case against NATURALISM in science, law and education. IVP, 1995. (6) That the atheist believes in the law of non-contradiction is hopeful and will be useful later when we show that his presuppositions, once they are thought through to their logical conclusions, lead precisely to an irresolvable contradiction. Another question that could be posed here is why, if all is reducible to impersonal matter and energy which produced us and our rational thought by chance (that is non-purposively), should we

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imagine that there is any such thing as an abstract (non-material) reality as logic that must be universally binding on all minds, and hence, so basic to reasoning that without it no rational discourse is possible? In a materialist universe where do such universal nonmaterial realities come from? (7) Notice again the assumption that the only kind of proof that exists is empirical proof. There seems to be a blindness to any other possibility and this illustrates the power that presuppositions hold over those who are unaware of them. (8) Usually the atheist defines faith as belief in something without any evidence (or proof which to him is the same thing). In his mind he understands such belief to be inherently irrational. I have already challenged this mistaken notion of the definition of faith and belief. Faith may be held either because of, without, or in spite of any kind of evidence (empirical or otherwise). The question here is about presuppositions, which everyone has and all of which are faith beliefs that are held without previous proof. Alan Myatt, Ph.D.

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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From CI to Alan Myatt: Alan, >> by the way, Greek philosophy did degenerate into irrationalism - skepticism ... irrationality of ... existentialists ... post-modernists ... mysticism ... drug culture ... New Age.<< You are making connections that simply don't exist. I could just as easily say that the religion of Isis degenerated into Judaism which degenerated into Catholicism which degenerated into Satanism and Protestantism. Also, the term "degenerate" is simply your spin. You cannot prove anything in this list is a degeneration. They are just as likely regenerative. >> The universe in which they live is much like the universe of the atheist -impersonal matter is ultimate << As opposed to embracing the spiritual non-existent and calling it the friendly ultimate! This idea of the corruption of matter is not a Christian idea. It's extremely ancient. It's a spiritual existentialism. The world is a cold, hard place so you impose your will on it in a pathetic attempt to crush it -- and then you call it rationality. It's an idea not even fully embraced by Christians. When sects like the gnostics or Cathars tried to zero in on it they were labeled heretics. (1) >> how do you rationally justify knowledge? << For starters, tell me what predictions you can make with whatever your "knowledge" might be and compare that with the predictions science makes every day. BTW, all of the above did not even come close to answering Q's original question: Why is the selection of your god more rational than the selection of any other? What you seemed to say was that your god claims to be bigger. So is your ultimate rationality: "Claims of might make right?" Or simply: "Braggarts rule?" C ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to CI:

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>You are making connections that simply don't exist. I could just as easily say that the religion of Isis degenerated into Judaism which degenerated into Catholicism which degenerated into Satanism and Protestantism. Also, the term "degenerate" is simply your spin. You cannot prove anything in this list is a degeneration. They are just as likely regenerative. < You might try reading any standard history of philosophy to see how this degeneration took place. Gordon Clark's Thales to Dewey is a good one for starters. (2) >For starters, tell me what predictions you can make with whatever your "knowledge" might be and compare that with the predictions science makes every day. BTW, all of the above did not even come close to answering Q's original question: Why is the selection of your god more rational than the selection of any other? What you seemed to say was that your god claims to be bigger. So is your ultimate rationality: "Claims of might make right?" Or simply: "Braggarts rule?" < For one, the Bible predicts pretty clearly how atheists will react to rational arguments when confronted with the possibility that God might exist after all. Try reading Proverbs 10:8; 15:5; 17:10 or the reaction of the philosophers in Athens to the apostle Paul's attack on Greek philosophy in Acts 17. (3) Elsewhere I have repeated atheist Bertrand Russell's statement of the logically fallacious nature of inductive proof. Here it is again: "Getting back to empiricism again, let's look at the responses offered by you in its defense. We will begin with this notion of inductive reasoning based on empirical observation. Speaking of the laws of logic, atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell (who was a foremost authority on logic) noted that all arguments based on empirical induction are invalid. They have the logical form of a conclusion drawn from a confirmed prediction. They take the form: if P is true then Q is true Q is true hence P is true The assertion of the consequent is taken as proof of the antecedent, but any intro textbook on logic shows this to be an invalid argument. Consider this: If that animal is a dog it has four legs. That animal has four legs. That animal is a dog. But obviously, the animal with four legs could be a cat or one of a thousand others. Yet this is the form of inductive proof used by science. We imagine that the ability to

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successfully predict an outcome tells us a result about what is real. But all it tells us is that our premise made the prediction work. It did not prove that the premise is true . " Now, as for the notion that Q's question was not answered, I in fact, did not say merely that my God is bigger. I said that it is an entirely different kind of notion than that of the finite Gods of the ancient Greek religion. We are talking about two totally different world views with entirely different ontologies, epistemologies, ethics, and teleologies. You could benefit by doing some basic reading in Christian theology so that you understand what the concept is we are talking about, before raising irrelevant questions. The definition of the terms must be understood before an intelligent argument can proceed and Q's question would have never been made by someone who really understood what the Christian notion of God is. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From LA to Alan Myatt: Alan > Elsewhere I have repeated atheist Bertrand Russell's statement of the logically fallacious nature of inductive proof. < Have you read anything from this century? You know, I ran across a quote from Ernst Mayr that's rather appropriate: "No one resented Darwin's independence of thought more than the philosophers. How could anyone dare to change our concept of the universe and man's position in it without arguing for or against Plato, for or against Descartes, for or against Kant?...No other work advertised to the world the emancipation of science from philosophy as blatantly as did Darwin's Origin." Cziko comments: "It does appear that an evolution-inspired epistemology is resisted by many philosophers because it is inconsistent with their attempts to establish an infallible, justifiable foundation for human knowledge. In this sense, the continually reappearing themes of providentialist rationalism and instructionist empiricism can be seen as attempts to find some bedrock, some firm base on which to base our knowledge..." Our ability to perceive whatever reality exists is by way of categories and forms of perception that have been fixed prior to our individual experiences through a selectionist process of fit. Our "axioms" are not arbitrary choices at the fundamental levels but, rather, the end product of our evolution and encoded in our nervous systems. They arose through the interaction between our ancestors and their environment. Those with the best fit to whatever exists survived to procreate.

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Our knowledge through individual experience begins with that foundation passed down genetically to us and builds through the same selectionist process. We do use the empirical, we do use induction. And, you bet, it does not "prove" the premise to be "true." > We imagine that the ability to successfully predict an outcome tells us a result about what is real. But all it tells us is that our premise made the prediction work. < Yes. And that is how we sift and sort through all the axioms and assumptions that can be made (however big a set of things this may be). That which works. It's a fallible process. It consists often of over generalizations and fallacies. But this is how the process works. And it is the only one available to us. You can debate until you are out of breath about what's "really out there." But it's a pointless and futile exercise. There is no way we can directly perceive whatever that external reality is. Or even if it is. All we have are our predictive models which, as they work, increase our confidence in their assumptions. And, as they fail, decrease that confidence. But you will never know anything with absolute certainty. And, again, I return to what I said. That which works, works. It is the best fit to the environment at that time. Science works. It produces. There is reason to have confidence in the assumptions upon which science is based. And I see no reason to jettison them for a mythology that kept the species in a dark age long as christianity did. (4) L

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From QO to Alan Myatt: >> You don't appear to understand the nature of the claim being made by Christians when they assert the existence of the Triune God of the Bible. Thor or Zeus (or any of the other gods for that matter) are simply other beings who are alleged to exist in the context of the larger Being that encompasses all things, i.e. the Universe, Nature, or whatever. The God of the Bible is a different sort of thing altogether. He does not exist as a part of a larger Being, rather he himself is the original uncreated Being. Before there was anything else, only the Triune God existed. The universe was created by him out of nothing and is utterly dependent upon him in every aspect of its own being. Well, I really can't see how that answers my question, Alan. What is more rational about this God you've described than Thor or Zeus? Why do you seem unable to rationally defend your God? >> That is why all attempts by the atheist to find such a referent end in frustration.

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You must not know many atheists. Obviously you don't appear to understand the nature of their claims about reality or their general perspective. But I will help you. I am an atheist, and I am here to help you understand atheistic thought. You are welcome to ask me any question you please. If I can't answer it -- directly and thoroughly -- I will be so shocked that I may actually take your own views seriously. You could win a convert here. >> So it is the atheist who shares the presuppositions of the ancient Greeks (after Plato by the way, Greek philosophy did degenerate into irrationalism Well, I know that modern Christian thinking degenerates into irrationalism, but this is the first I've heard that atheistic thought does so. Can you defend this assertion? Please test me. See if my atheistic thought degenerates into irrationalism. You may consider this a direct challenge. >> So you tell me, how do you rationally justify knowledge? When you say "knowledge," I assume you mean something like "absolute certainty about ultimate truth." Is that your definition? If so, I don't rationally justify my knowledge at all. I admit that I do not know with absolute certainty much of anything at all. I am not a creature of faith. If that's not what you are asking, what are you asking? What do you mean by "knowledge"? >> As for your revelation ... can you show that you have a revelation whose presuppositions are sufficient to sustain rational discourse? Of course. Certainly my revelation is superior to the Christian revelation in that regard. I mean, no one is asked to put aside their rational thought and believe in supernatural events in order to accept my revelation. That's just one superficial superiority to my revelation. Do you have questions? Q ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to QO Message text written by QO > You must not know many atheists. Obviously you don't appear to understand the nature of their claims about reality or their general perspective.<

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Well, I've read a good bit of atheistic material by different types of atheists, so I think I have a good grasp of this type of thinking. Philosophical materialism is pretty straightforward as a world view and I would say that, in my experience, it is very often the atheist who does not understand the nature of the logical implications of his own metaphysical position. Now maybe you have a new spin on it, so I'm all ears. How much have you read in the way of Christian philosophy and apologetics? Have you read Clark, Van Til, Bahnsen, Henry, Carnell? (5) Probably never heard of them right? But they have demolished your kind of thinking pretty thoroughly. As for me, I'll read anything you can come up with that you think will prove your case (providing I can get access to it here in Brazil). The only issue is I am very busy with work and stuff so my responses might be slow in coming. Peace, Alan ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to QO: Q, Okay here are some questions. Please tell me what are your basic axioms from which you begin your interpretation of each of the following areas: epistemology, ontology, ethics, teleology. Then I would like to know what your definition of the word "faith" is. Alan ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to QO: Message text written by QO > Well, I really can't see how that answers my question, Alan. What is more rational about this God you've described than Thor or Zeus? Why do you seem unable to rationally defend your God? < Q, You ought to be able to see the difference between the two ontologies offered by these very divergent systems. If you don't see it, then you need to do some reading in theology and philosophy to get it clear in your mind exactly what is being discussed here.

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Your accusation here I find to be rather humorous. It makes me wonder if you actually read what I posted. But I am waiting for an atheist to show me that his system can provide a basis for rational argumentation in the first place. The atheist must establish an epistemology which makes it possible to prove anything. If he cannot do that, then he really cannot demand anything in the nature of proof from anybody. Alan ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From IL to Alan Myatt: Message text written by Alan Myatt To Q >You don't appear to understand the nature of the claim being made by Christians when they assert the existence of the Triune God of the Bible.< Well Alan, God tells me that you don't get the whole thing at all. So, God tells me you are wrong. --I (shall I repeat that?) (6) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From LA to Alan Myatt: > I would respond, perhaps if we start with God and his revelation, then that revelation will give us the truth we need. And from there maybe we can get to the rest of the natural world/universe. At least it's worthy of consideration. < Please. You go through all these semantic games obviously to obscure that the naturalist view works and produces results. And the more real world results a model produces, the more confidence we have in its premises. (6) You keep heading this way guy, you're going to reduce things to such an arbitrary level, the only way for the "gods" to sort things out are going to be religious wars between their followers. L ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to J

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Message text written by J >The only demonstrable absolute in the world is that there's no other absolutes. <G>< That works until you come home and find out that it was your house that got broken into and ransacked. Then you want justice. And an objective standard of justice presupposes an absolute standard of morality. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From IL to Alan Myatt Message text written by Alan Myatt >That works until you come home and find out that it was your house that got broken into and ransacked. Then you want justice. And an objective standard of justice presupposes an absolute standard of morality.< Golly, I'm not sure exactly how you could be more incorrect, but I feel you will manage. Tell you what Alan, just to cut to the quick of this, why don't you detail just one moral absolute? -I (an absolute is something that does not change according to time, custom, or circumstances) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From LA to IL > Tell you what Alan, just to cut to the quick of this, why don't you detail just one moral absolute? < I'm not sure he'll be able to as--far as I can tell from the arguments in his posts--none of our senses report anything real to us so he'll not be able to find his keyboard. L (I'm not really here) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From IL to LA

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Message text written by LA > I'm not sure he'll be able to as--far as I can tell from the arguments in his posts--none of our senses report anything real to us so he'll not be able to find his keyboard. L (I'm not really here)< Well that explains a lot. I mean, i could see everyone but you and I could read everything but his posts. Conclusion? I stink, therefor I bathe. --I (moving the discussion to the hot tub for a beer and a snack) From L to IL

> I stink, therefor I bathe. But then, of course, if you had bathed, you wouldn't stink in the first place. I ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to IL Message text written by IL me > >That works until you come home and find out that it was your house that got broken into and ransacked. Then you want justice. And an objective standard of justice presupposes an absolute standard of morality.< you>Golly, I'm not sure exactly how you could be more incorrect, but I feel you will manage. Tell you what Alan, just to cut to the quick of this, why don't you detail just one moral absolute? --I (an absolute is something that does not change according to time, custom, or circumstances) < Hi I,

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I've been enjoying your posts. They are quite entertaining. It is taking some time to get my responses together. I was traveling last weekend (it was a holiday here in Brazil) and now I've got a lot of work to get caught up on. I hope to put together a more lengthy general response to you F, B, and L, although you will find a few shorter ones here before that. Well, you want me to cut to the quick, so I'll try to oblige. First, your definition of an absolute illustrates the nature of the problem that atheism generates. That is, on the basis of atheistic assumptions there are no absolutes. You are asking me to prove a proposition that belongs to Christian theism on the basis of atheistic assumptions. That, of course, cannot be done. My response is to challenge the validity of the atheist assumptions by asserting that your definition of an absolute is in error. Your definition is essentially one that would be appropriate for the anthropologist who, as a social scientist, wants to describe how it is that societies behave. However, ethics is not primarily about how people behave. It is about how they ought to behave, regardless of what they actually do. So the first thing to do before trying to discover a specific example of a thing is to define correctly what it is. If I want to know whether or not there are mice in the cellar then I have to know what a mouse is before I go and look. If you want to know whether or not there are moral absolutes then you have to know what a moral absolute is first. So here is a definition that would be appropriate in ethical theory: A moral absolute is a principle of human conduct that ought to be adhered to by all people of all cultures at all times. The fact that people do not follow it does not mean it is not an absolute. Essentially, this position asserts that there are some things that are intrinsically good and some that are intrinsically evil, regardless of social convention or human opinion. By this definition we will discover that absolutes are general principles which may have different applications depending on the circumstances. That is to say, I believe in and defend the existence of an objective morality. Clearly the existence of an objective and transcendent moral order is necessary for the existence of moral absolutes. And such a moral order can only exist if there is a personal Creator God, distinct from and sovereign over the universe. Hence, in atheism there can never be true moral absolutes. Only opinions. So you asked me to name one moral absolute. I'll name two. These are moral principles that all people at all times should obey. They are, as summarized by Jesus in Mark 12:28-34, 1) Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and 2) Love your neighbor as yourself. An atheist would not accept the first, but would you want to argue that the second should not be practiced? Unfortunately, none of us has been wholly successful at it. But it qualifies as an absolute that everyone should adhere to, if we grant that the biblical God exists. If we deny that he exists, then there really is no compelling reason why this or any other moral code should be universally binding. (8)

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Now, I am curious to know if you think there is such a thing as justice. How would you define it? How could objective justice exist in a world without any moral absolutes? Why was Hitler wrong? Peace to you, Alan ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From IL to Alan Myatt, >First, your definition of an absolute illustrates the nature of the problem that atheism generates.< You're an atheist? >> You are asking me to prove a proposition that belongs to Christian theism on the basis of atheistic assumptions. << Nope. You made a statement of fact. I am asking you to support that statement of fact. You have stated that there are moral absolutes. Define one. >> My response is to challenge the validity of the atheist assumptions by asserting that your definition of an absolute is in error.<< So, you define an absolute as something other than a basic unchangable item? Is absolute zero around -459 F or is it exactly -459.67 F? The problem here Alan is that it does not appear as if you understand the difference between logic and opinion. You can hold any opinion you want, but when you state it is fact, well, there are certain practices that must be followed. >> So here is a definition that would be appropriate in ethical theory: A moral absolute is a principle of human conduct that ought to be adhered to by all people of all cultures at all times.<< Well, let's take your definition at face value. Can you give one now? >> By this definition we will discover that absolutes are general principles which may have different applications depending on the circumstances.<< So an absolute is conditional? And wet is dry, black is white, red is blue, rich is poor, yada, yada, yada.

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>> Clearly the existence of an objective and transcendent moral order is necessary for the existence of moral absolutes. And such a moral order can only exist if there is a personal Creator God, distinct from and sovereign over the universe. Hence, in atheism there can never be true moral absolutes. Only opinions.<< ROFLMAO! You have twisted yourself a nice pretzel there Alan. It's not right, it's unsupported by anything, but h***, you actually took time to write it. What a waste. Tell you what - God tells me you are wrong. He said it, I believe it, that settles it. >> 1) Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and 2) Love your neighbor as yourself. An atheist would not accept the first, but would you want to argue that the second should not be practiced?<< Easy - I can't imagine circumstances where I would kill myself. If my neighbor attacked my family, i would have no problem ending their life. As for loving God etc, that ain't a moral absolute. But bad try. >>Now, I am curious to know if you think there is such a thing as justice. How would you define it?<< Whichever way suited me at the moment. >>How could objective justice exist in a world without any moral absolutes?<< Well, reality dictates that justice is defined by the culture. >> Why was Hitler wrong?<< Because the winning side says so. Me, I happen to agree with the winning side, but I am learned enough to realize that Hitler never considered what he was doing as wrong. Stalin did not concern himself over it too awful much either. The KKK believe they are doing right. Me, I believe they are childish, arrogant, whining, simpletons, but that's just me. The sad thing about this whole conversation Alan is that you believe you've made any point at all. Here's a clue Alan, even in philosophy it is much preferred that the statements made not be self contradictory. --I (I fear you will ignore mine and God's advice) -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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From Alan Myatt to IL IL, First of all, I did not see a violation of the law of contradiction in my response, so if it is there you need to specifically point out it. Secondly, I want to point out that it is not I that have introduced a bizarre definition into the discussion. It is you who have done so. You have changed the definition of ethics to fit your preconceived notion of absolutes as dictated by your atheistic assumptions. Clearly you don't have a clue as to what ethics is. Why not get a few intro texts and do some reading? Ethics is about what ought to be, not what is. For over 2000 years philosophers and ethicists have understood the definition of a moral absolute to be a principle that everyone ought to obey, regardless of whether or not they do. Now you want to change the definition to support your own presuppositions (which you of course, do not have in the first place). Ethics are not the same as physical entities, and hence notions such as absolute zero are irrelevant. This is a serious category mistake, and is a completely fallacious comparison. Maybe I should rephrase my definition of an absolute by saying that my definition is of an ethical absolute. You defined it as something that is always practiced by all people everywhere. You are not going to find many philosophers and ethicists defending that kind of a definition because it has never been considered the correct definition of ethics. Nope IL, you cannot simply arbitrarily redefine terms like ethics, that have been a part of philosophical discourse for thousands of years, just to suit your idiosyncratic notions of existence. Ethics is about oughtness, and there are absolute oughts. But not in an atheist's universe. Your decision to kill your neighbor in defense of your family is also purely arbitrary. You happen to have an irrational emotional attachment to them. I bet if your kid were raped you would be outraged and even more upset if the perpetrator got away with. You would be looking for justice, not an opinion. Alan

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From ZC to Alan Myatt >>A moral absolute is a principal of human conduct that ought to be adhered to by all people of all cultures at all times.<<

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Your examples of "loving" God or your neighbor do not describe "conduct" and therefore do not describe a moral absolute by your own definition. (BTW, you are "asserting," not demonstrating, the invalidity of empiricism. You are "demonstrating" the opposite, however unintentionally.) Whether Hitler was "wrong" depends on the point of view. Of course, the overwhelming consensus of humanity, from a myriad of points of view, condemns Hitler. But your question itself exposes the fallacy of your assertion regarding a moral absolute. According to your Biblical authority, you are required to love Hitler as yourself. What then, would your "conduct" have been toward Hitler? ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to ZC Z, The Greek word agape, which is the one (of four possible Greek words) used for love here, describes primarily one's conduct and not necessarily how one feels about someone else. The moral absolute, then is that we must act in accordance with the dictates of love towards all people, even our enemies like Hitler. That does not preclude justice, but rather supports it. Also, there are situations where love for others (say the Jews) would demand that Hitler be brought to justice. Your world view has no rational basis for the notion of justice however. It is all a matter of preference only. You tell me what love is on the basis of atheism? A biological reaction based on hormones? A mechanism for the survival of the human race? What ultimate meaning does it have in a universe where everything ultimately reduces to particles of impersonal matter and energy? And why should anyone care about the survival of the human race when in the end it will all be destroyed anyway? Why should point of view have anything to do with whether Hitler was wrong? In your universe all points of view are equally valid or equally vacuous. The word wrong implies a standard by which wrong could be determined. But only arbitrary standards could exist in your universe. You would be more consistent to say that whether one agreed with Hitler or not is a matter of one's point of view. In other words, whether one agreed with Hitler or not is a matter of whether one agreed with Hitler or not. There are no rational ethics in an atheist universe because ethics is about oughtness and there is no ought in an atheist universe. Only arbitrary opinions. I have elsewhere demonstrated the invalidity of empiricism as an epistemology by showing it to be logically incoherent, incapable of accounting for human experience, and hence, irrational. Logical demonstration is a demonstration and not a mere assertion. But in any case, Hume and the Greek skeptics have already made the case better than I. Refute them if you will. Resolve the difficulties they raise for empiricism. Nobody else in

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the history of philosophy has. Bertrand Russell spent about 70 years trying. He never succeeded. So go for it. Alan ****************** FOOTNOTES (1) This is an interesting twist . He takes the argument against the ultimacy of matter to be an attack on matter itself, sort of like the gnostic affirmation that all matter is corrupt and evil. This is a straw man argument, since nowhere did I assert or imply that matter is corrupt or evil. In any case, the Christian doctrine of creation affirms that matter is good, because God created it and declared it to be so. In fact, matter could never be seen as good in the absence of a transcendent moral referent that could give it value. In the materialist universe, matter just is, that's all. One could argue that for the materialist all matter will eventually be corrupted due to the unrelenting progress of entropy that will eventually render it into a static state of chaos and disorder. But the point here is to note that the argument against the ultimacy of matter is the only basis for asserting that matter is good in the first place. (2) At times atheists make assertions based on a lack of familiarity with the history of philosophy and of Christian theology in general. This occurred several times as the discussion developed. Any standard history of philosophy documents the progression from Thales to skepticism and finally to the gnostic mysticism of Plotinus. Another good resource is C. Gregg Singer, From Rationalism to Irrationality which shows clearly how modern thought has degenerated into irrationalism under the influence of Greek presuppositions. (3) Proverbs 10:8 - "The wise of hearts will receive commands, but the babbling fool will be thrown down." 15:5 "A fool rejects his father's discipline, but he who regards reproof is prudent." 17:10 - "A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding, than a hundred blows into a fool." (NIV) The identity of the fool is given for us in Psalm 14:1, "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'". The fool refuses to receive correction when confronted. He arrogantly escalates his rebellion against his Creator, unless the Holy Spirit graciously grants him repentance. He suppresses the truth in unrighteousness as Paul outlines in Romans 1:18ff, and when confronted with the overwhelming reality of God, he still refuses correction. professing himself to be wise, but demonstrating his folly for all to see. In Acts 17, at the end of Paul's sermon, some laugh at him, a few others say they want to hear more, and a final few believe. (4) This response shows most clearly the self-contradictory nature of naturalistic, or what this discussant calls evolutionary, epistemology. If it is true that, "You can debate until you are out of breath about what's "really out there." But it's a pointless and futile exercise. There is no way we can directly perceive whatever that external reality is. Or even if it is." and "you will never know anything with absolute certainty.", then on what rational basis could anyone ever know that, "Our ability to perceive whatever reality

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exists is by way of categories and forms of perception that have been fixed prior to our individual experiences through a selectionist process of fit. Our "axioms" are not arbitrary choices at the fundamental levels but, rather, the end product of our evolution and encoded in our nervous systems. They arose through the interaction between our ancestors and their environment. Those with the best fit to whatever exists survived to procreate."? The naturalist claim to explain the capacity for knowledge as a result of evolution is based on the alleged knowledge that evolution occurred in the first place. But if truth cannot be known on the basis of evolutionary epistemology, then how does he know that the theory of evolution is true? (5) See Gordon Clark, Three Types of Religious Philosophy, Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, Greg Bahnsen, Always Ready (see also the taped debate between Bahnsen and atheist Gordon Stein), Carl. F. H. Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, six volumes, E. J. Carnell, Introduction to Christian Apologetics . (6) At this point this particular discussant began resorting to ridicule and ad hominem attacks. The posts became so offensive that eventually I quit responding to them. There was simply no substantive content to respond to. I take it as a rule of thumb that when a debater begins to resort to ridicule against the person of his opponent, that this is an admission of the intellectual vacuity of his own position. Unfortunately, in my experience of dealing with atheists there are those who resort to this, often becoming quite nasty. They simply run out of arguments, and under the weight of seeing their position demolished, they respond with rage and abusive language. This is not the case with all atheists. Many are very civil and polite. It is most unfortunate that Christians sometimes engage in these tactics as well. In any case, it never is helpful. (7) This seems to be a form of pragmatism, in the tradition of William James. It has been thoroughly refuted in the above mentioned works as well as the helpful Guide to Philosophy by C. E. M. Joad. pp. 448 - 464. (8) Unfortunately I missed a great opportunity here by not posing another absolute, but I did not think of it until long after these discussions were over. If I were to answer this post again I would present the following as a moral absolute and challenge any atheist to argue against it. Here it is: No man should have sexual relations with a two year old. It is always objectively wrong and therefore immoral to molest a child. I seriously doubt that any atheist would want to argue against this position, but the unwillingness to assert that in at least one circumstance it would be okay to perform such an act constitutes an admission that there is at least this moral absolute. Then the question becomes, if atheism is true, why not? If the moral absolute holds, then atheism cannot be true. Alan Myatt, Ph.D.

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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From CI to Alan Myatt Alan, >> but would you want to argue that [Love your neighbor as yourself] should not be practiced? << What if I don't like the way my neighbor loves himself? What if he is suicidal? A drug addict? A smoker? A vegetarian? A lover of loud country music? A sexual prude? The best thing he can do for me is to leave me alone. But I wouldn't expect him to leave himself alone. C. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From RD to Alan Myatt: >>>>> A moral absolute is a principle of human conduct that ought to be adhered to by all people of all cultures at all times. then why do you insist it has to be linked with your christian god? >>>>>>> Clearly the existence of an objective and transcendent moral order is necessary for the existence of moral absolutes. clearly? then surely you can demonstrate why this must be so? >>>>>>> And such a moral order can only exists if there is a personal Creator God, distinct from and sovereign over the universe. Hence, in atheism there can never be true moral absolutes. Only opinions. that's all you're claiming too -- your christian opinions. you claim moral order requires a personal creator, but there are plenty of moral beings now and in the past who didn't need one >>>>>> So you asked me to name one moral absolute. I'll name two. These are moral principles that all people at all times should obey. ROFL -- so everyone has to love your god, or be considered immoral? (1)

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>>>> They are, as summarized by Jesus in Mark 12:28-34, 1) Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and 2) Love your neighbor as yourself. An atheist would not accept the first, of course not, since it has nothing to do with morality. >>>>>> but would you want to argue that the second should not be practiced? Unfortunately, none of us has been wholly successful at it. no, but it does form the basis for many moralities, not just yours. Kant's categorical imperative is this same principle, minus any godjargon. >>>>>>> But it qualifies as an absolute that everyone should adhere to, if we grant that the biblical God exists. If we deny that he exists, then there really is no compelling reason why this or any other moral code should be universally binding. that seems to be a pretty feeble sort of morality -- one that requires a god in order for people to be good! in fact, there are excellent arguments from evolution alone as to why morality might be useful (2) R ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to RD: The question is, if ultimate reality is reducible to particles of matter and energy, then from whence come abstract universals? But abstract universals are necessary in a variety of areas: mathematics, logic, formation of abstract categories of classification, and ethics. The fact that a principle may be useful is quite irrelevant to the question as to whether or not it is moral. Useful for what? To accomplish what end? And why is it good to accomplish what? Survival of the human race? Do you think the rest of the universe cares about that? In an atheistic universe there is no reason why it is good or right for the human race to survive. Just look at our track record. Maybe somebody ought to push the button and get rid of us all. But I can't say ought because ought does not exist. If you don't think moral absolutes depend on the existence of a transcendent moral order, then please demonstrate how this could be so on the basis of atheism. Nobody else in 2,500 years of philosophy has managed to do it, and most atheists are willing to admit it. Moral beings need a transcendent moral order, which depends on a personal Creator. Why?

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1) Transcendent moral principles are abstract concepts. So are the laws of logic, the value of pi, and many other things that atheists admit must exist. But they do not exist in empirical matter as such. 2) Being ideas, they can only exist as thoughts. Thoughts only exist in minds. 3) In order to be transcendent and universal they must exist in a transcendent mind that knows all things. 4) Only a personal, infinite, transcendent God who is the Creator of the universe, and thus the origin of its being and its meaning would be able to transcend the universe and know it exhaustively. He could not be simply another being in the universe, but would rather be independent and antecedent to it. 5) If no such God exists, if all is only matter, energy and the void, then no such transcendent mind exists and there is no place for universal abstract ideas to exist. 6) This leaves no explanation of how such things come to exist in the various finite human minds on the earth. Since universal abstract ideas such as logic are antecedently necessary in order to interpret empirical data, they cannot have been first derived from material data, for this would require interpretation in the first place, which could not be done until after the ideas were derived. So the existence of logic and other universal abstractions cannot be explained on the basis of atheism. 7) Granting that abstract principles do exist (though they shouldn't if atheism were true), if they only exist as secretions of finite brains then there is no universal character to them. They are only the ideas of finite persons, and can only ever be personal opinions. There is no reason why they should be considered to be objectively moral or true. There are two sets of conclusions which flow logically from two different presuppositions. Flowing from the presuppositions of the atheist is the conclusion confessed by IO that while he doesn't like Hitler, Hitler was only wrong because our side won. Flowing from the presuppositions of atheism nothing could be known because the laws of logic would not be universally binding and empiricism alone is incapable of providing truth. Flowing from the presupposition of the existence of the personal infinite Creator triune God of the Bible is the conclusion that logic exists and is universally binding on all rational thought, because it represents the rational mind of the Creator who made the universe to conform to its pattern and rules. Empirical knowledge is possible because this same rational God created both the human mind and the external universe and he created them to operate in a uniform fashion and in such a way that there is a correspondence between the perceptions of the mind and external reality. Finally, flowing from the Christian presuppositions there is a universal moral order. There really is ought that objectively exists in the character and will of God, so that some things are objectively right and others wrong.

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R, I'm glad I don't live in your universe. I live in the rational one that God made, in which there are universal abstractions such as the law of contradiction and the law of love. You also live in God's universe as do all atheists. This is clear because you atheists are constantly smuggling universal abstract ideas into your system, stealing them from theism, because without them you cannot function. And all the while you insist loudly that they don't exist. As for me, I prefer to start my reasoning and base my life on presuppositions that uphold rationality rather than destroy it. Alan ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From J to Alan Myatt me<<>The only demonstrable absolute in the world is that there's no other absolutes. <G>< <<That works until you come home and find out that it was your house that got broken into and ransacked. >> Please prove this assertion. I'm sure no self-respecting presuppositionalist would expect me to take any assertion on faith. <G> << Then you want justice. >> Can you demonstrate to me how you know this to be true? Can you trace for me how you have exhaustively examined the presuppositions you hold which allow you to make such a claim? << And an objective standard of justice presupposes an absolute standard of morality.>> You seem to presuppose it does, but why? Please start at the very beginning, if you expect anyone to take your assertions as anything beyond your personal opinion. First, prove to me that you exist, please... <G> J ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to J

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Message text written by J >me<<>The only demonstrable absolute in the world is that there's no other absolutes. <G>< <<That works until you come home and find out that it was your house that got broken into and ransacked. >> Please prove this assertion. I'm sure no self-respecting presuppositionalist would expect me to take any assertion on faith.

<< Then you want justice. >> Can you demonstrate to me how you know this to be true? Can you trace for me how you have exhaustively examined the presuppositions you hold which allow you to make such a claim? < My observation comes from having spent a number of years working with young men in trouble with the law. Having observed how people interact with the criminal justice system I would say that people tend to demand justice when they have been personally damaged by someone's criminal behavior, and they are not satisfied to simply let it go and say that the action against them was not immoral. As a counselor with victims of abuse I have also observed the same thing. People talk about relative morality until their own ox is gored. Then they show a different attitude entirely. Most liberals that I know, those who affirm ethical relativism most loudly, show by their actions that they believe in moral absolutes because most all of them seem to have some commitment to "social justice" and many are quite passionate about it. If they were consistent with their own world view they would recognize that their notion of social justice is nothing more than a personal opinion and that they have no inherent right to force their morality down the throat of a skin head or Nazi. Indeed, the very notion of "rights" is without any kind of objective content in an atheistic universe. Obviously I do not know how you in particular might react, but I bet you also have a sense of justice deep within. Such a thing is nonsense unless there are moral absolutes. Why? Because the definition of justice has to do with that which is inherently right. And in a universe that reduces to matter, energy, and the void, there can be no inherent right or wrong. What is, is, and that's all. Alan ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From LA to Alan Myatt: > My point is, in a materialist universe there can be no such thing as an act that is intrinsically wrong... < Yes. And?

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> But the fact that people have a moral code and believe in it and that it may be necessary for sociological reasons, etc. does not really address the issue I raised. < You're raising a non-issue. The purpose of human ethics is species survival. You say you want some sort of "philosophical justification" or some such. I think you're saying you want "god" to be assumed and then demand the naturalists operate on your territory. (3) Sorry. I'm not buying. Our ethics evolved to aid our survival as a species. They are so intrinsically part of human survival strategies that we have also created mythologies to explain their origins in our pre-Darwinian understanding of the world. > You are left with relativism, pure and simple, and if all morality is ultimately relative, then nothing is absolute. Then morality is reduced to the level of opinion... < No. It is not reduced to "opinion." Your opinion will not change what happens when you jump off a cliff. You will fall and break your neck regardless of your opinion. Human "morality" evolved in a context. As a best fit to an environment. Now that environment is changing but there are still things that must be part of any human society if it is going to survive. (4) > If reality is ultimately impersonal, then there is no morality resident in it. Right. There is only survival. L ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From LA to Alan Myatt: > OK I will keep my God based laws to myself. I will not allow them to cause me to interfere with anyone who might have an impulse to kill you, rape your wife, steal your bank accounts, burn your home, etc. < Nope. Not going to get away with that canard. You're assuming that which you have not proven. That is, these laws are "god based." There are other quite reasonable explanations for why such laws exist among humans. And that similar laws appear across pretty much all human societies regardless of their particular "god" beliefs actually, IMO, lends credence to the thesis that these laws have other origins. (5) > It reminds me of a story Chuck Colson told about how he heard a high school principal brag at a conference about how he had removed the ten commandments from the walls of the school. Then he went on to complain about the drugs, violence, theft, guns, etc. in the

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public school system and suggested that we ought to teach some kind of moral code to the kids. < Cute. But correlation is still not causality last I checked. > From whence do we derive universal moral principles for any kind of rational ethic then? < From exactly where they came from. See still already exist. What has not been proven is the "god" as origin idea. > If there is no personal absolute distinct from the universe, then there is no reason, aside from an irrational emotional prejudice, why cockroaches should not eventually inherit the earth (after the nuclear holocaust). < And what's this to do with the issue at hand? Why should there be any reason for humans to be somehow special? If we are stupid enough to nuke ourselves out of existing, some other species may well arise later to take our place. And? > Nobody has succeeded in deriving a rational ethic from philosophical naturalism .... But human beings have done just that. You're still presupposing your "god" theory. But you cannot show that any ethics the human species has lived by (including the "ten commandments") has any origin other than human beings operating in the natural world and seeking their survival. Without substantial supporting evidence to the contrary, we have no reason whatsoever to assume that any human ethical systems has a "divine" origin. it's far more reasonable to assume that all human ethical systems arise naturally. Including the ethical systems you appear to support. (6) >So we will keep our God-based ethic to ourselves and then when anarchy comes.... There's no such thing as a "god based ethic." All ethical systems are human in origin. This is the position I take until someone can come up with some seriously persuasive evidence. L ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From IL to Alan Myatt: Message text written by Alan Myatt > But if we suppose something can be rational for me but irrational for someone else, then it seems that we are defining rationality in a subjective manner that already

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confesses that there is no final truth, but rather multiple truths that may even be contradictory, but nevertheless true and rational for those who hold them. < This is, I must admit, amusing. You may tell me that strawberries taste delicious. That is true for you. I will tell you that strawberries taste horrible. That is true for me. Who is right? Both of us even though we hold contradictory positions. If you are going to argue for an absolute truth, you'll need to at least list in what context you are referring. Truth, as a final answer, is definable in some cases and is not in others. 2+2 always equals 4 in the base 10 numeric system. Killing is not always wrong in our society. I can demonstrate where morals and truth are subjective. Please demonstrate any circumstance in the matter of religion where morals and truth are absolute. >> Yes, the unbeliever thinks his position is rational, but they too are controlled by their presuppositions.<< Uh, no. People who hold no religious beliefs base their conclusions from available evidence. There is no empiracle (sic) evidence to support a religious belief. I must admit I am more than amused when I hear people claiming faith declare that they have verifiable proof for their belief rather than personally acceptable evidence or indications. If it is about faith, why the insistence it is not? --I (is there something wrong with faith that it must be hidden?) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to IL >I must admit I am more than amused when I hear people claiming faith declare that they have verifiable proof for their belief rather than personally acceptable evidence or indications. If it is about faith, why the insistence it is not? < Hi again I, The discussion here, which you must have missed at the outset, is over the nature of faith and reason. I never said that my position is not based on faith. What I said was that the definition of faith is simply to believe in a proposition. At least that is the Bible's definition. The word "faith" is the noun form of the verb "to believe" in the language of the NT. I reject the definition that says that faith is belief in the irrational.

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>Uh, no. People who hold no religious beliefs base their conclusions from available evidence. There is no empiracle (sic) evidence to support a religious belief. < No, I don't think so. It appears that you do not understand the nature of your own position. All world views, including the varieties of atheism, are founded on presuppositions or axioms that are not the conclusion of other arguments and are therefore unproven. They are givens, just like the axioms of geometry, and on them everything else depends. Now there are some atheists who think they have no presuppositions. They just believe in empirical facts. But the belief that empirical facts provide knowledge cannot be empirically proven and, in fact, it relies on several nonempirical presuppositions. Even the very notion of what a "fact" is cannot be resolved empirically. There are no "facts" as such. There are only facts as interpreted in the context of some system or other. Change the system by introducing new assumptions and the meaning of the facts changes too. None of the axioms of empiricism are provable by empiricism. The atheist assumes a metaphysical system at the outset of his argument. He who thinks otherwise just does not understand the nature of world views. And he who thinks he has no presuppositions that control his thought is just deluded. He has not even thought critically about his own position, so why should he be taken seriously as someone who has thought critically about the problems of theism? Hence, all world views, including atheism, start with axioms that are statements of faith (belief). The question is, which axioms establish a rational basis for knowledge (or ethics) and best account for the universe that we find ourselves in. Atheism fails as a rational world view because its axioms create irresolvable contradictions that if held consistently, would destroy the basis for all rational knowledge. So to be consistent, the atheist must either become a skeptic or consider that perhaps his presuppositions are in error and start again. Or he could just abandon rationality altogether. After all, mysticism might keep him entertained for awhile. But then if he gets bored, nihilism is always an option too. Finally, your statement that there is no empirical evidence to support a religious belief presupposes your own omniscience, since it means that you must have examined every case of empirical evidence that ever has existed or ever will exist in all parts of the universe. Otherwise you could never know that such evidence does not exist. Of course, you could say that you got your information by revelation from an omniscient being, but then you would be admitting to the existence of God. So we see that the assertion of your position requires that you presuppose that theism is correct after all. That is another sign of the internal incoherence of atheism. I think it would be more accurate to say that your presuppositions disallow the possibility of there being any empirical evidence in favor of God, so that you must find a naturalistic interpretation of all events. This assumption, then, you carry with you as a bias before any investigation starts. Thus, you cannot approach the historical evidence for, say, the resurrection of Jesus objectively, but are committed to explaining it away before you even look at it, because by definition in your system dead people don't come back from

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the grave. Personally, I find the events surrounding the death of Jesus, the empty tomb, and the founding of the Christian church to be inexplicable on a naturalistic basis. Anyway, since you assert so confidently that there is no evidence, I am left wondering exactly what you might be willing to accept as evidence. Alan (hoping you are having a good day) ******************* FOOTNOTES (1) This is precisely the issue. The question between the atheist and God is not principally an intellectual question, it is a moral question. Scripture makes this claim explicit. To the atheist this seems ridiculous because he imagines that he can autonomously create his own moral order. However, given that he cannot rationally rise above relativism on the basis of naturalism, he must presuppose God in order to get to objective morality. Hence, bowing the knee before God is the only rational way to establish such a morality. Repentance is the pre-requisite for a rationally defensible moral life. Atheists find this to be highly offensive, but the Christian can never afford to soft-pedal this claim. The ROLF (rolling on the floor laughing) reaction is one of the typical responses of the atheist, who imagines that he is the source of the definition of morality. The ROLF is also a convenient way to insulate oneself from seriously considering the frightening prospect of what the consequences would be if the Christian claim were true. (2) Once again, an example of the atheist shifting the argument. Whether or not morality is useful is not the question. The question concerns whether or not there are objective moral absolutes. (3) This is an interesting asserting, repeatedly found in atheistic literature, but one has to wonder how it could ever be proven. What kind of empirical evidence exists to prove such a notion? Nobody was around to observe the supposedly evolution of moral behavior over the hundreds of thousands of years of supposed human evolution. No anthropologist has observed the development of the moral code of a society from scratch. Even the most "primitive" societies have highly developed moral codes. The assumption is made that they evolved in order to promote survival, but this is surely an example of massive begging of the question, based on the assumption of biological evolution. The reasoning really goes as follows: biological evolution is a fact, and it follows the logic of natural selection or survival of the fittest. So the biological characteristics that exist in humankind evolved because of their survival value, ergo, psychological factors, such as morality must have evolved for the same reason. But where is the empirical proof? And in spite of the various attempts, no evolutionist has really given a satisfactory explanation of altrusim. (4) The confusion of the moral order and the physical order here does not help his case. The assertion that all morality is mere opinion in an atheistic universe holds because there can be no rational basis for deciding on any ultimate value. Certainly it is correct to

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assert that regardless of one's opinion, certain values might be more profitable for survival's sake, but he has not demonstrated why the survival of the human race is a good thing. This would only be another mere opinion. Remember, the question at stake is not what behaviors and values are more useful for survival or some other arbitrary purpose, but rather, what values are objectively moral and good, regardless of human opinion. The frustrating thing about discussing this with atheists is that they must make these shifts in the discussion if they are to defend morality, but this is not the question that is at stake. (5) He missed the point of my response. This is intended, not as a proof, but rather as an attempt to show the results of a certain type of logic. The atheist wants the Christian to keep his "religiously" motivated laws to himself. A good example is the pro-life stance of Christians. However, the atheist needs to understand that since the Christian holds that all laws are God-based, he will not be inclined to make a distinction between laws that are "religious" and laws that have a secular justification. I was pointing out that if the atheist wants me to keep my opinion to myself in some areas, then consistency will demand that I do it in all areas. Thus, when the atheist is raped or murdered I will simply allow the rapists and murderers to get away with it rather than impose my religious views on them. I don't think this is where the atheist wants to go. In addition, it seems that since survival of the fittest has supposedly produced such a massive variety in the animal world, then it would likewise produce such variety in the moral world. But that is not what we find. While there is some variation, he correctly notes that the striking thing about morality in different cultures is that it is so similar. This is much better explained by the biblical teaching that God created people in His image and placed in the human psyche his own moral law, which is inescapable, even though humankind's sinfullness causes it to be twisted in different ways (Romans 2). This explains both the unity and diversity of human morality as we find it around the world. The need for survival seems to be inadequate as a final explanation. (6) Again, the question is not supposed historical origin, but the establishment of a rational basis for imagining that morality is more than mere opinion. Notice the continual refusal to face the issue at hand by means of this confusion. Alan Myatt, Ph.D.

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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From CI to Alan Myatt: Alan, You wrote to IL >> All world views... are founded on presuppositions or axioms that are not the conclusion of other arguments and are therefore unproved. They are givens, just like the axioms of geometry... << Okay, are geometric axioms pulled out of thin air? Did a bunch of people decide on them like driving on the right side of the road? I think you misrepresent what axioms actually are. >> But the belief that empirical facts provide knowledge cannot be empirically proven... << I suppose we got to the moon because of a lucky guess! Your statement is nonsense. (1) >> None of the axioms of empiricism are provable by empiricism. << But they could be demonstrated as false by empiricism if they were not axioms. (2) >> The atheist assumes a metaphysical system at the outset of his argument. << If by metaphysical you mean something like "theoretical" then you're not telling anybody anything they didn't know. I assume that I did not will the universe into existence. I'd love to be proven wrong, btw. >> Hence, all world views, including atheism, start with axioms that are statements of faith (belief). << This "hence" comes out of nowhere! You have not proven that all axioms are statements of faith. You have merely asserted it, like it's your own personal first axiom. I assert that your first axiom is not one at all, therefore your theories based on that axiom are suspect. >> Atheism fails as a rational world view because its axioms create irresolvable contradictions that if held consistently, would destroy the basis for all rational knowledge. << Oh, so now I understand where you are going. Atheism is the philosophy of the devil! It's bent on destroying all rational knowledge! LOL! (3)

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>> So to be consistent, the atheist must either become a

skeptic ...<<

Skeptic of what exactly? All knowledge? That's the Christian position -- it says so right in the Bible. Of course it says the opposite too, which is a consistent epistemology I guess. (4) >> ...or consider that perhaps his presuppositions are in error and start again. <<

Yes! You're catching on. If an atheist sees the error of his ways, he's forced to start over, hopefully with good presuppositions this time. The theist, however, refuses to see the error in his way because there can be no error. Maybe this is why you doubt the authenticity of all axioms -- you're forced to project your bad ones on the atheist's good ones. (5) >> Finally, your statement that there is no empirical evidence to support a religious belief presupposes your own omniscience, since it means that you must have examined every case of empirical evidence that ever has existed or ever will exist in all parts of the universe. << This is a vacuous argument. You are advocating total chaos. By your logic anyone could make any statement, no matter how bizarre, and we'd be forced to accept it at face value because we are not omniscient. (6) >> So we see that the assertion of your position requires that you presuppose that theism is correct after all. That is another sign of the internal incoherence of atheism. << Very, very shabby logic! You are trying too hard. Do I need to be a god to "know" that the sun will rise tomorrow, or that Santa is a fiction? (7) >> I think it would be more accurate to say that your presuppositions disallow the possibility of there being any empirical evidence in favor of God, so that you must find a naturalistic interpretation of all events. << You falsely assume we have no way of distinguishing between a natural event and a clearly unnatural event. If God told us that tomorrow he was going to turn off gravity on planet earth, and then he did it, I'd have to say he was THE MAN. No question about it. >>This assumption, then, you carry with you as a bias before any investigation starts. Thus, you cannot approach the historical evidence for, say, the resurrection of Jesus objectively, but are committed to explaining it away before you even look at it, because by definition in your system dead people don't come back from the grave. << But you see, people don't come back from the grave. So the presupposition obviously works. Evidence shows it works every time. I think you have the same presupposition

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but you temporarily abandon it because it makes you feel good. In this case the atheist is the one who stays objective. (8) C ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From IL to Alan Myatt: Message text written by Alan Myatt >Unbelief is not always innocuous. I think the history of the 20th century bears that out. Take Stalin and Mao for example. You really can't make a case that its only the zealots of belief who commit atrocities.< Alan, do you honestly belief that Stalin and Mao were not zealots? I would ask that you consult a dictionary for the definition of the word as it would appear you represent it as having an exclusively religious meaning. --I (and that just ain't so) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to IL: I would say they were zealots of unbelief. Ergo, atheism is not always innocuous. But I also think it unfair to judge the validity of a world view on the basis of its worst examples. Alan ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From IL to Alan Myatt: Message text written by Alan Myatt > As for the error of insisting that our own world view is correct and rejecting others, the Christian world view is of such a nature that if it is correct then its contrary cannot be true. So is atheism. So if I decide to admit that both Christianity and Hinduism, for example, could be true, then I would in fact have already abandoned Christianity.< Y'know Alan, the admission that you might be wrong is not the same as declaring another person right.

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Granted, it is easier to proclaim you have the one truth but the ability to shout you are right is not proof of anything but volume. I believe my beliefs are correct, but I might be wrong. Thus I will continue thought and discussion. I suppose I could just declare myself right and ignore all evidence. Hmmmm. Sounds good. Therefor it is concluded that the universe was created 13 days ago when the Great Bird ate a magical fruit and excreted the world in it's present form. --IL (the matter is now closed) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From IL to Alan Myatt: Message text written by Alan Myatt > That is partly because God has implanted morality as an inherent structure of the human mind (see Romans 1-2).< No, that was the Great Bird. --IL (just ask me) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From B to Alan Myatt: (9) >>>>Are you assuming that there is more than one kind of rationality? <<<< I suppose I am. For example, since you have a God base for your world view, then, within the given context of such a base, it is rational to believe praying to God means something, that God created the universe, that God is concerned with every minute aspect of your existence, including your sex life. I, however, although not an atheist, do not possess the same God base you do. I allow for some kind of being's existence, but I do not assign such an entity any specifics, as to do so would to me cross over into supposition, which for the most part for me is not rational in respect to this kind of unknown. So, one might then ascertain that a certain degree of rationality is subjective. Gee...is that such a wondrous revelation? Not really.

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Now, are you seeking for some kind of absolute rationality? I'd say it's the same illusion as one who thinks he can know God absolutely or have an understanding of God exactly how God is like, or that God has available to humans some absolute matters. Even if such things exist, no human being can know them in an absolute sense. Therefore, given this limitation, it becomes rather pointless to sweat over whether something is "absolute" or not. >>>> But if we suppose something can be rational for me but irrational for someone else, then it seems that we are defining rationality in a subjective manner that already confesses that there is no final truth, but rather multiple truths that may even be contradictory, but nevertheless true and rational for those who hold them.<<< Well, even if there is "final" truth, or as some put it, "absolute truth", no one person can know this truth absolutely in an absolute and final form. (10) Suppose for the moment that "truth" is a stand-alone entity. It is not subject to human interpretation....it's just there. Emotions, moods, fads, etc. have no effect on it. So, this entity, given its nature, must now come up against a creature whose view of things is almost entirely subjective, even when presented with objective elements emanating from this "truth". Therefore, can this creature be expected to glean the entire, objective, absolute reality of this entity? Nope. The best it can hope for (here I go personifying it <g>) is that certain vital elements of itself will be discerned by a mind subject to untold thousands of meaningless distractions. Would you agree that within the context of your world view, it is "rational" to pray to God? You would probably say yes. Me? It's not rational for me because I don't view a god as having that kind of micromanaging interest in my life. If I saw some evidence that it did, I might change my view. It would then be rational for me to pray, for I have evidence that it has meaning and relevance. You may find comfort in the mere act of praying, therefore it would be rational in a sense, given that it comforts you and perhaps releases stress. I ease stress through other means, such as drawing, music, writing, and exercise. I don't think it would be rational for another to tell me my stress relief valves are faulty, any more than I would be to say it's pointless to pray. I've done a lot of praying in my own day....there's definitely a soothing aspect to it. >>>> Or do you think that it can be the case that God does exist and he does not exist at the same time? This is a capitulation to a completely irrational world view. <<<<< Your supposition I find irrational, because of what it is...a supposition. Nobody with any sense is going to hold a view that God can both exist and not exist. It's not something the human brain is fond of cherishing. Human minds essentially want things to be one way or the other, not both. It's just easier, a cerebral Occam's Razor, if you will. I, however, in my world view, most definitely allow that people can believe there is or is no God, yet it makes little difference whether there really may or may not be one. That we cannot know with absolute certainty, for if we could, all speculation regarding it would be pointless. There's God...end of discussion. There's no God.....the universe is a personless entity...end of discussion. Since we don't have anything iron clad either way, then the

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only rational thing for someone as myself to do is allow for both, or neither, or something inbetween, in regards to how others see the world and universe. Whether any one of them are in an absolute sense absolutely correct is irrelevant to me, for my own view states that nobody is. In fairness this would allow that nobody is absolutely wrong, either. >>>> Yes, the unbeliever thinks his position is rational, but they too are controlled by their presuppositions. Presuppositions control what a system can consider as being rational. <<<< Exactly! I have no problem with that! That's what being human is! Since I think both of us would readily agree that any possible absolute is not absolutely knowable by any human being, the best we can expect is some rational form of supposition! Rational in the sense that it has some consistent merit to it, such as prayer giving comfort and skepticism serving well the agnostic or atheist. (11) Let's be frank. It's a big spooky world out there, and nobody left behind blueprints on how exactly the thing works. We younger ones learn from older ones who are still wondering what it's all about. The best we can expect is nothing absolute, but something rationally relative. (12) >>>> However, it appears to me that if one starts with the presuppositions of non-theism then the end result, when they are carried to their logical conclusion, is the destruction of rationality itself. <<<< That's why I find agnosticism rational, but my atheist friends would not hold the same view. That doesn't bother me one bit. It makes sense to me, and in the end, that's all that matters for anyone. (13) Of course, the huge red herring immediately bursts to the surface....what if my "make sense" involves killing, maiming, sexual plundering, etc. etc. Well, it's a red herring, fer sure. Why don't I personally do those things? Not all that hard....I don't want to. It's not my thing, you see. And not because God is standing over me with a holy baseball bat. I have enough basic love and respect for my fellow man that I don't want to have a legacy left behind me of beating the crap out of every person I meet. So, the argument that one needs a theistic base with "absolute" truth sprinkled in to be a decent human being is, in my understanding, irrational. (14) >>>>You, however, can make no rational positive or negative assertions at all, if, as it appears, you don't believe in the law of non-contradiction. <<<< I believe in the law of non-contradiction when it comes to developing a base of rationality upon what is expected to be consistent. Like an all-knowing, all seeing, all feeling, all aware God, for instance. One would expect anything that particular God may have left behind in the manner of clues would be consistent and make consistent sense. It doesn't. If the desire for rationality to be consistent is the aim, non-contradiction is a basic requisite.

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I've spent a great deal of my life repairing mechanical gizmos of one kind or another, especially air conditioning systems. I expect a certain level of consistency when it comes to how they perform and why. I understand the theory, after all, and a great deal of the physical science involved. I've troubleshooted thousands of a/c units with little variables in how I did it, or what was the cause of the problem. However, now and then, there's a unit out there that has my number and plays the full deck. I'm left scratching my head, thinking this thing cannot have possibly ever worked right, but it does, or the failure it has experienced should have never happened, or it has failed in such a strange way, I can't initially figure out what's wrong. In other words, there's variables even within what I understand to be a basic correct way for a/c systems to operate, and also in how they can be repaired. Once those variables are known and understood, they become rational to follow when the situation merits their implementation. Under most circumstances, to employ the unusual methods would be irrational, for they do not apply, and would not be consistent with what's at hand. But you're talking about world views, I know. I still hold that nobody has an absolutely correct world view, but I do have a basic expectation that world views of any kind have not only a reasonable degree of consistency, but that they jive with common human experience and what can be somewhat objectively observed (consistently, again). It's a reasonable world view to hold that lightning strikes are dangerous. I have enough personal experience to be convinced they are. To say that God strikes people dead with lightning is to me irrational, because I have no way to know whether God is doing it or not, but the science behind lightning strikes leads me to think God isn't anywhere involved with it, at least in a directed, vindictive, or intentional way. Lightning strikes to me are random, based upon converging forces coalescing to a climax. >>>>Unbelief is not always innocuous. I think the history of the 20th century bears that out. Take Stalin and Mao for example. You really can't make a case that its only the zealots of belief who commit atrocities.<<<< Zealots of any stripe are nothing more than misdirected idiots who thrive on the displacement of others to bolster their own faltering ego in spite of any bluster they may spew forth to the contrary. Stalin and Mao can only take their place alongside legions of Dark Age popes and crusaders, Salem witch trial enthusiasts, Ancient Israeli conquerors, early American settler slaughtering of Indians, David Koresh, Jim Jones, Timothy McVeigh, Muslim terrorists, Idi Amin, etc. >>>>As for the error of insisting that our own world view is correct and rejecting others, the Christian world view is of such a nature that if it is correct then its contrary cannot be true. So is atheism.<<<< I'd have to modify that.....your understanding of a "Christian world view" is such that it cannot allow the contrary to be true. There are other Christians who do not hold that. If you want to play the game that their Christianity is somehow diminished by their stance, be my guest, but that diminishes any form of belief, no matter what it is. If you respond

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that they are not "true" Christians because they do not hold that their own beliefs are absolutely correct, I have to wonder at your arrogance, and how that is supposed to be "Christian". (15) Most atheists I know don't give a flip about what Christians believe, until Christians start going around saying everybody must believe this way or there will be dire consequences, whatever nature those might take. In the past, it was deeming every little alleged deviance as "heresy" and therefore giving excuse to kill the "heretic". In our day, it's fundamentalists, the Christian Coaltion, Pat Robertson, and so forth saying that America's screwed because there are so many unbelievers and atheists. What arrogance. (16) >>>> So if I decide to admit that both Christianity and Hinduism, for example, could be true, then I would in fact have already abandoned Christianity.<<<< That's your conundrum to muddle through, not mine. I don't have a problem if a Christian holds his belief as true and a Hindu his, but neither should beat each other up or kill each other or oppress each other for any divergences between the two belief systems. Self delusion of any kind remaining in an innocuous form is cool with me. <g> (just kidding....I give belief systems respect for the power they can have on a person) >>>> The issue I want to get the atheist to face, before we start comparing evidence, is what is the nature of proof in the first place. What conditions are necessary before one can prove anything at all? <<< Let's start with a reasonable expectation that what we are seeking to have proven can be proven at all. A hundred years ago it would have been ludicrous for me to go up to a colleague and tell him that I can prove to him that men will go to the moon. Now it's old hat...it would be stupid for me to attempt to prove that men and women cannot go to the moon, and never have. But you can't prove God, you cannot disprove God. So what's the point? The atheists I know do not base their views on "proof". Many say the lack of proof is more compelling, but some will also say they just see no need within themselves to believe at all...period. Call it lack of motivation, call it theistic apathy, call it nonchalant indifference. It's just not there. I think it would do you some good to have some civil discussions with atheists. It would open your eyes a lot. >>>> Either way, atheism fails to be rational.<<< That is an irrational supposition. <g> >>>> Basically, there are no cool, decent and moral people when measured by God's standard of absolute moral perfection.<<<< Says you and your delusion of God. <g> So nyah! <ggg>

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Seriously, here's a good opportunity for the "proof" argument. prove , objectively, that God has these kind of standards. Don't use a bible, don't use any sacred writ. Just prove it. Should be pretty simple if God is this iron clad. (17) >>>> So if you thought you would like to kill someone, or if you fantasized about sleeping with your friend's spouse, then as far as Jesus was concerned, you were guilty. <<<< Well, if Jesus thought that badly about my moral constitution, then what can I do? He's pretty spaced out to think that any testosterone endowed male doesn't ever think of sleeping with some off-limits babe or that some chick doesn't dream of being with some hunked out guy. I mean, what's all this emphasis on the males, BTW? Did Jesus think women were sexually mute? My friend's spouse is pretty cute, and we'd probably have fun, but I've known my friend forever. I value our friendship far more than one night rolling in the hay with his wife. I also love my own wife and told her she's the only one for me. I'm not fond of turning myself into a liar. Does Jesus have a problem with that? >>>> He often had defendants who went to great lengths to tell the court about all their good deeds, accomplishments, and positive contributions to society. However, that was all irrelevant to the issue at hand. The issue at hand was a specific charge and whether they did that or not. <<<< That is because these folks generally have an immature level of moral development. They're deluded into thinking their good deeds directly relate to offsetting the one bad deed, or several, which they don't. Good deeds don't hurt anybody, one bad deed can. No amount of good deeds, no matter how noble, can offset the reality of snuffing out a life, or permanently disfiguring a human body or psyche, or, on a more mundane scale, stealing, vandalism, etc. It comes to this...if you don't have a basic love for your fellow man, then forget it. No set or understanding of any kind of law, "absolute" or not, will amount to a hill of beans. Isn't that one of the concepts Jesus put forth, much to the chagrin of the religious idiots of his day? Isn't that a core belief of Christianity, in most of the forms it takes? >>>> So God gets ticked off because sin is serious and we are all guilty.<<<< Then God has a flawed understanding of human nature and has failed to instill in man a basic love for their fellow man. He's says we're sinners on one hand but doesn't seem to convey the idea that love for one's fellow man is greater than any law ever created to convict one of "sin". (18) >>>> As for the old notion that religion supports dysfunction and neurosis, I think that has been adequately debunked by scientific research into religion. Dysfunction and

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neurosis are complicated, occur in many varieties and have varied causes (just look at the size of the DSM-IV), most of which are unrelated to religious issues.<<< I agree. Not all dysfunction is religious based. It can even be argued that in many cases, certain tenets of certain religions were only contributory factors of a neurosis, not a cause. However, there should be a similar level of study done on exactly how much certain teachings can contribute to dysfunction and neurosis. One cannot rule out that it never does. >>>> That is partly because God has implanted morality as an inherent structure of the human mind (see Romans 1-2).<<<< This argument is weak in that it assumes the bias of a deity implant is a given, based upon a book written a long time ago. I hold that human morality is based upon survival instinct, higher forms of it are merely evolved from this base. Chances are real good that if I am known for being more of a positive influence on those around me than negative, I'm not going to end up dead by their hands. If I go around killing their wives, cleaning out their bank accounts, selling their cars across the border to Mexico, getting their kids hooked on drugs...do you really think I stand a good chance of living to be seventy, let alone forty? I'd like to live....I prefer it to death, at this point. I'd like to live happily and well, so I make choices to tip the scales favorably. My concepts of happiness and wellbeing aren't based on screwing other people over. It's that simple. >>>> It is my contention that the notion of an essentially immoral act cannot be defended successfully once the existence of God is denied.<<<< It may be your contention, but there's a chance that's all it is. I cannot defend genocide, even if God told me to do it, like he may have to Ancient Israel. I can, but will not cheat on my wife, because I told her I wouldn't. She should be able to bank on that. I can't defend myself if I went back on that. I wouldn't expect her to understand if I did. If she did, she's a better person than me. I can't justify telling the world that only MY belief system is absolutely true, even if I thought it was. I give my opinion and let folks weigh it for whatever merit it may have. I also can't defend those who insist they have a hammerlock on truth. >>>> Of course, since God is the origin of all being then a human is hardly in any position to dictate what is becoming or not for him.<<<< But God should expect humans to do stuff like that. Why is it such a shock to him? Does it impugn his sovereignty, diminish his holiness, taint his ideal to be other than human, even though by all aspects I see (the biblical God, I'm referring to) he is very human? >>>>My point here is that the argument that people believe in something for emotional comfort, etc. is just as likely to be the case for an atheist as anyone else.<<<<

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For some atheists, it might be that. Again, have you talked to enough of them to know? I do know some Christians that if I pressed the matter with them, they would say they believe mainly for emotional comfort, and they don't seem to have the struggle with it you might. Does that make them less of a Christian? >>>> I made this remark in response to F's post, which I took to imply that Christians hold their beliefs because they need them emotionally (since they couldn't possibly be true). This has the convenience of removing the necessity to deal honestly with the other person's arguments.<<<< Not really. If we could absolutely demonstrate that not one aspect of Christianity is true, then there might be something to dismissing Christian based arguments. I, however, know there are elements of truth in Christian teaching and thought, but I do not hold the entire aspect of Christianity to be true. I see what truth there is and respect it as that. Atheism, however, seldom if ever comes across as having any codified form of belief. Unbelief is not like belief, and it is rather vain to compare the two as if they are and expect to argue along those lines. >>>> I was simply pointing out that following Christ is not something one does in order to be comfortable, as would be implied by the notion that one becomes a Christian (in spite of it being false) according to Freudian, etc. explanations. Clearly there are nonbelievers of all types who exhibit self-sacrifice, altruism, and any number of praiseworthy actions.<<<< Then what's your point? Are you trying to suggest that "following Christ" with any accompanying pain is more noble than any pain that accompanies unbelief? If not, your whole point is moot. I mean, who cares? If you really believe something, or don't but are visible either way, you'll feel some pain. That's just the way it is. You may believe your God gives you brownie points for feeling pain for him. That's fine. I don't. I think the pain is there to learn from and that's about it. Nothing special or noble about it. It's just part of the territory. In closing, despite any gulf that may exist between us, I have enjoyed our exchange. You demonstrate more depth of thought than many of your genre, for which you are to be commended. I only encourage you to dive even deeper, as I seek to do. B ******************************** Footnotes (1) Note the assumption here again that if it works then it must be true. This is just as flawed as the notion that the inductive form of argumentation is logically valid. I will get back to this issue again before we are done.

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(2) The logical positivists and others tried this move once it was pointed out to them that their verification principle (only statements that can be empirically verifiable are meaningful and thus capable of being true) is itself not capable of empirical verification and hence self-refuting. They resorted to the principle of falsifiability; i.e., only statements which are capable of empirical disproof are meaningful. The problem is, there are no principles of empiricism that do not depend upon at least some non-empirical or metaphysical axioms. The notion that the axioms of empiricism would be falisifiable if they weren't axioms reveals a profound lack of understanding of the issue. It is an irrelevant response, because the axioms of empiricism are, in fact, axioms. They are not falsifiable by the empirical method. For example, the axiom that nature always behaves in an ordered and predictable fashion and will continue to do so in the future cannot conceivably be falisified by empirical testing because the future, by definition, is always unavailable to us. Yet this axiom is fundamental to empiricism, and must be assumed if anything like getting a man on the moon is to be done by means of science. Who would get into the rocket to make the trip without trusting (i.e., having faith) that the future will continue to follow the mathematical priniciples being used to guide the spacecraft? (3) One of the difficulties of any debate is getting people to respond to what you actually said. This is a case in point. I did not say that atheists are trying to destroy rationality (although some atheists like Sartre and Stanley Fish have tried to do so), but rather that the logical conclusion of atheistic thinking is the destruction of rationality. Most atheists who still believe in empiricism portray themselves as the only ones who are rational, although they have no basis for such a claim. (4) A piece of advice for atheists who want to debate Christianity; don't make a claim that the Bible says something without giving the reference and showing by valid exegesis that it actually says what you claim it does. I have read the Bible from cover to cover numerous times and never found anything like what he claims here. It is hard to know how to respond since he does not give a reference. I have read a number of anti-Bible tracts and books by atheists who claim to be pointing out contradictions and absurdities in the Bible. What these reveal is that the atheist often has no clue what the text is actually saying as he foists an interpretation on it that no informed Christian, much less a scholar of Greek or Hebrew, would ever accept. Then he uses his eccentric intepretation as a basis for asserting the existence of a contradiction or some other absurdity. Such treatments make the atheist look like an idiot and are singularly unimpressive to the believer. (5) The problem as evidenced by this discussion is that the atheist refuses to start over, even when he reaches a dead end. He obviously does not understand the issue, for if he were to actually give up his axioms as an atheist, this would entail ceasing to be an atheist! My argument was never against the validity of axioms, only against the validity of the atheist's axioms. Occasionally it appears that these atheists are so blinded by their assumptions that they cannot see that they are, in fact, mere assumptions. They imagine that no one could possibly reason on the basis of non-naturalistic presuppositions so they regard an attack on these presuppositions as an attack on rationality itself. But they never face up to the question of what are the pre-conditions of rationality in the first place.

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(6) No, I am only saying that when you make a statement of universal proportions (about all of reality) then that type of statement does presuppose omniscience, either on the part of the one making the statement or on the part of someone who reveals truth to that person (i.e.; God). The statement that there is no available empirical evidence to support a religious belief requires that the one who made it have access to all available empirical evidence. Of course, this raises the question as to what is meant by available. Available to whom? If only to me, then on what basis do I say that the evidence available to, say, the apostles (the empirically verified resurrection of Jesus) is not valid? If available to everyone, then again, you must be omniscient to know this. In either case it is an irrational assertion. My charge, however, does not advocate chaos, but it does point out that if there is no omniscient reference point at the base of all knowledge, then chaos would be the result. Hence, the necessity of presupposing the Triune God in order to get a valid epistemology off the ground. (7) Well, yes. Given the naturalist assumption that pure chance is one of the guiding principles behind the behavior of the universe (witness, for example, the role of chance in evolution), then it is more rational to think that anything could happen tomorrow, than that nature will continue to behave consistently. Unless one were omniscient, or knew that nature will continue to behave regularly because an omniscient Being had revealed it to be so, one could not rationally know that the sun will come up tomorrow. David Hume demonstrated this quite clearly. (8) Here we have massive begging the question again. He asserts and assumes what needs to be proven, namely that evidence proves every time that dead people don't come back. But part of the argument is whether or not the case of Jesus' resurrection is evidence to the contrary. Adopting the mentality of the close minded, dogmatic fundamentalist, the atheist decides on philosophical grounds that dead people never return from the dead, and then uses that to rule out the evidence of Jesus, rather than letting the evidence speak for itself. A rational and open minded approach would be to at least admit that it could occur and then examine the evidence surrounding the resurrection of Jesus to see if it might actually be empirical support for the fact that in at least this one case, someone did return from death. The assertion made by the atheist here is incredibly arrogant and without any rational warrant. Of course, in the end this shows that no evidence really can speak for itself, but rather, all evidence takes its meaning within the framework of an intepretive system; a world view. However, the Christians contention is that the Christian world view offers a much better explanation of the evidence than philosophical naturalism. (9) Of all the responses I received in this dialogue this is probably the most coherent (and most respectful). The author is an agnostic and my response to him was given in a lengthy post at the end of the discussions. (10) This statement, itself, is an assertion of an absolute truth, and it requires the assumption that one knows at least one thing absolutely about the nature of ultimate reality; namely that knowledge by revelation is impossible. This amounts to the assertion that the the universe is of such a nature that whatever else might be the case, there could

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not under any circumstances be a God such as the Bible describes who is capable of revealing Himself and also of revealing true propositions about ultimate reality to the human mind. Otherwise there would be no way to guard against the possibility that the Christian view might be true after all. Hence, the move towards agnosticism is not indicative of humility, but rather involves statements that legislate what is or is not possible for all of reality, just as much as in the case of statements made by atheists. There really is no way of avoiding taking a position on ultimate issues and the agnostic who thinks otherwise is only deceiving himself. A serious problem with his response here is his equivocation on the meaning of the term "rational." I used it, arguing that there cannot be multiple world views that are contradictory but equally rational in the sense that "rational" means at least conforming to the basic laws of logic such as non-contradiction, identity and excluded middle. I took this route because these laws are fundamental to all thought, and to point out that the Hindu, who says that all religions are true, is advocating a rationality of another sort all together. It is a rationality that is really irrational; i.e. it allows for the existence of contradictory truths. In his response, B is apparently using the word "rational" to signify "that which makes sense to a person within his or her own frame of reference." Clearly, if this is what rationality is, then it is rational for the Christian to pray and equally rational for the atheist to scoff at prayer. But this is simply to ignore or miss the point that I was making. From the standpoint of the law of non-contradiction there cannot be multiple equally true but contradictory world views. (11) Here we have pragmatism again, not that it is objectively true if it works, but if it has a good function, go ahead and do it even if it cannot be known to be true. I would reply that it is simply irrational to talk to someone if you don't have good reason to believe that they are actually there and listening. Whatever comfort might be derived from this would be based on a delusion. Prayer provides comfort to the believer because he is convinced that God is actually there. (12) This assertion is tantamount to a proclamation that he knows that the Bible is not God's revealed blueprint to us of how the world works. But that is one of the points in contention. Again, this is a declaration about the nature of ultimate reality. It is not a position of humbly withholding judgment, but a declaration that what Christians claim to be true, cannot possibly be so. I would also dispute the notion that there can be such a thing as the "rationally relative" since the whole point of relativity in epistemology is the notion that truth is not fixed, i.e.; it does not have to conform to the dictates of either correspondence to an objective reality or the laws of logic. This again is the whole question at dispute in these discussions, whether atheism (and agnosticism) can rise above realtivity to attain to rationality. It cannot. (13) This kind of subjectivism presupposes that he knows that in the end that he won't face God on judgment day, when according to the Bible, what he believes will matter a great deal to someone else besides himself. But if he truly does not know whether or not

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God exists, how can he be sure of this? It also assumes that one's actions, which flow from one's world view, somehow do not matter to others, especially those one has a direct impact on. (14) The notion of red herring implies that this objection has no bearing on reality. However, the scenario he rejects here certainly was no red herring to the German Jews in 1939, the Christians in the Soviet gulag during the 1950s or dissidents in China during the "cultural revolution" of the 1960s. The fact that he avoids committing atrocities because he doesn't want to is nice, but it provides no rational response to a Jeffrey Dahmer, who became a murderer and a cannibal after deciding that there are no moral absolutes. History shows that without the restraint of a belief in transcendent morality, human behavior can become very savage quickly. (15) Here he says that if we insist on defining precisely what Christian belief is, the we are being arrogant and un-Christian. He contradicts himself by denying that there is any way to define what constitutes Christian belief, but yet he uses a presupposed notion of the content of Christian belief (that one should not be judgmental) to condemn the possibility of defining the content of Christian belief. In fact, the foundational documents of Christian faith (contained in the Bible) along with the first ecumenical creeds, have been accepted as the minimal definition of Christian belief for centuries. This, of course, rules out liberal "Christians" who would be the ones holding that one can be a Christian while affirming that contradictory systems of belief are also true. The charge of arrogance here is good for emotional effect, but it is no more valid than charging that a Republican is being arrogant when he points out that a fellow registered member of the Republican party who supports socialist policies is really no Republican at all! (16) Actually, there are a number of atheists who have made a career out of attacking and deliberately attempting to destroy and limit Christian belief. Bertrand Russell, John Dewey, Paul Kurtz, Corlis Lamont as well as the entire American Humanist Association, Prometheus Books, the ACLU, and the American Atheists founded by Madalyn Murray O'Hare, not to mention dozens of university professors in tax funded institutions across the United States. Others attack Christian principles, attempting to root them out of society; i.e., the National Organization of Women, the National Education Association and homosexual rights organizations. The Christian organizations he mentions here, while sometimes over zealous and lacking in perfection, were created largely in response to attacks by anti-Christians. Numerous historical works demonstrate that Western democracy is the fruit of the Christian world view being worked out in culture and that it is the atheists and agnostics who have arrogantly attacked this foundation in order to destroy it. See John Wesley Bready, England Before and After Wesley: the evangelical revival and social reform. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938 and C. Gregg Singer, A Theological Interpretation of American History. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1981. Bready was an unbeliever who set out to show that Christianity was harmful to democracy, but a careful study of the evidence led him to the opposite conclusion. Singer presents a Reformed interpretation of the American experiment in liberty.

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(17) He is asking me to prove that God has established absolute standards by starting from the unbeliever's assumption that there is no revelation from God. That is like asking me to prove that there are Frenchmen starting from the assumption that France does not exist. What he fails to grasp is that we are discussing the preconditions for proving anything at all. Certainly atheists base their views on proofs, for they write entire books attempting to prove that there is no God. And it won't do to say that they base their belief on a lack of proof for the affirmative. The adoption of a position by the attempt to discredit arguments for the affirmative is certainly a form of proof. Not to mention the numerous books by the likes of Sagan, Dawkins, Wilson, Gould, et. al., that purport to show how the world could develop and evolve without the need for God. These do serve as attempts at proof by atheists. The writer has simply dodged the question here. (18) Now he sits in judgment on God. This is another common reason why atheists and agnostics reject God. They have a preconceived notion of what God would have to be like if he existed, and when they find that God does not fit that standard, they declare him to not exist or to not be worthy of human worship. It really boils down to them not liking God very much and so choosing to reject him. Alan Myatt, Ph.D.

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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to FZ: Hi FZ, >No offense, but I know you think you have a Great Truth that you wish to share, and you must needs see as perversely intransigent (or intransigently perverse) those who don't buy into your Great Truth. << None taken. However, I wouldn't put it that way. It's just that if I see someone in a burning house I want to point it out to them before it is too late. > You keep saying that non-theism is irrational, but I haven't seen an adequate case for that yet.< Well, if your theory of knowledge (empiricism) is unable to show how one can know truth about nature as it is, Kant's well (un)known ding an sich, then it really has nothing to say about the truth status of any proposition about ultimate reality. Thus, it is quite irrational for an atheist to use such an epistemology (empiricism) as basis for rejecting belief in God. But this is exactly what the atheist does. That's in the same category as trying to use a thermometer to measure how many decibels a jackhammer is producing. Thermometers don't measure sound, and empiricism can't even show that there is a connection between the external world and one's perceptions. On the basis of pure empiricism the only thing that anybody could ever know is his or her own sensations. Beyond that, no one has demonstrated how a sense perception becomes an abstract idea, yet this is a necessary link if we are to suppose that empiricism actually gives us truth about the universe. I haven't seen any atheist anywhere establish an epistemology that doesn't degenerate into irrationalism eventually. Empiricism certainly does not qualify. I would hope that in light of the last two centuries of philosophy, the atheist would face up to this challenge. But there don't seem to many takers. I do think it interesting that so many atheists are unwilling to put their basic presuppositions up for rational scrutiny. That does not speak too well of the confidence they have in their world view(s) .But as we proceed we can certainly bring out in the open the basic presuppositions of nontheism and see what happens. >Do you think I'm worried about whether it's true? How could I tell the difference, whether it is or isn't?< I thought we were trying to get at what is the truth. That's the whole point isn't it? You and I are both making a universal claim about the nature of ultimate reality. If you cannot tell the difference, then it seems that you have hit a dead-end. Your empiricism does not allow you to know whether or not you were created ten minutes ago with a history and all, and it does not allow you to know whether or not you are, say, a character

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in a holodeck program on the Enterprise, created by some Starfleet engineer to experience a certain series of sensations which you interpret as the "real" world, and all for the amusement of the crew. Neither can you know whether or not you are merely an idea in the mind of God. All you can know are your own sensations, and from there you make a leap of faith to belief in your non-theistic interpretation of a universe outside your own mind. So you should be worried about if it is true or not, because if you want to maintain that non-theism is rational then you have to be able to rationally rule out the possibility that somewhere out there in that external reality that you cannot know, God is there running the whole show anyway. >Nope, don't need to prove it.< Now let me see. Atheism is rational. It can sustain a rational world view. But its construction of reality cannot be proven. That's okay tho, I don't have to prove it. I just believe. Sounds like a leap of faith to me. Concerning the notion of the supposed evolution of theism you said ,>Nope, it's just a reasonable assumption, given the evidence.< You are a psychologist. Okay, my doctorate is in religious studies. I'm pretty familiar with the literature on this subject, so would you mind pointing me to the "evidence." I guess I must have missed it somewhere. Of course, since on your basis empirical evidence can say nothing about the world as it actually is, that would have to include history (Lessing's great ditch that he could not get across). So it would be irrational to place confidence in such evidence anyway until you establish a valid empirical epistemology. But for the sake of argument I'd be glad to see whatever historical evidence you can come up with. Otherwise you are still stuck with a dogmatic assertion only. ( By the way, the literature indicates that sociologists of religion and anthropologists have given up on these types of explanations years ago. They don't fit the empirical evidence.) > Seems like it's only when the topic is religion that theists wanna have some "special" rules.< I suppose if you have the notion that only empirical testing can determine truth then you would consider any other approach to be a case of special rules. Since the history of thought has shown other ways of rational argumentation as well, it seems that the nontheist is the one who wants special pleading in order to avoid having to subject his assumptions to a wider range of testing. Logical positivism is dead, however, and the presuppositions of the empiricist/atheist are just as subject to rational analysis as those of any other world view. One way of argument would be to apply the rules of logic to the propositions that are derived from the axioms of the atheist and see whether or not they form a non-contradictory system. It is exactly that kind of thing that resulted in postmodern skepticism. >Existentialism? Think you could find ten people out of a hundred chosen at random who had ever heard the word existentialism, let alone what it's about? I dunno about pragmatism, cos it always seemed to make pretty good sense to me. Postmodernism, well, it's likely a reaction of those who went overboard on what they thought science

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could do for them -- when they didn't understand science anyway. And when science didn't fulfill their expectations they got in a hissy fit and declared that nothing could be known. I don't take them seriously, and they don't seem to have had much of an effect on the scientific end of psychology.<< I think you ought to consider that irrationalism in these various forms is having widespread influence in popular culture. I bet you don't like that any more that I do. Maybe not one in ten ever heard of existentialism but millions have seen Woody Allen's films as well as other items in the popular media that promote such irrational philosophies. I would say that irrationalism pretty much has free reign in modern culture, but why don't we leave that for the folks in the sociology department to argue about. Certainly the nature of postmodernism as a global cultural phenomenon is a hot topic over there. Anyway, this kind of superficial analysis of the rise of post-modern skeptisicm is another case of ignoring the arguments. Ad hominem arguments of this sort may make you feel better, but they do not amount to a refutation of post-modern relativism. And the assertion that they don't understand science anyway is quite a generalization. On what basis do you make such a claim? >Now, if you guys can't even agree on points of doctrine when you all claim to have a hammerlock on "Absolute Truth," why should I take any of you seriously?< Now, how many different schools of psychological theory are out there now? Probably more than when I did a psych major as an undergraduate 20 years ago, and I had trouble keeping up with it then. And many of these schools are incompatible with each other in their interpretation of the data. How many interpretations of human nature are currently found in psych departments and clinics around the world? Well, heck FZ, if you guys in psychology can't agree on your points of doctrine .... If you accept Kuhn's analysis, it could be cogently argued that psychology is still in the preparadigm stage. If you guys can't get your major theorists to agree on the interpretation of the data then why should I take any of you seriously as practitioners of a science? Much less as any kind of an authority when you pronounce belief in God to be a delusion. > Without emotion, you can be even crazier than someone displaying excessive emotion.< Yes, I always thought Spock was a bit of a fruit cake. Tuvok is worse. But I like those Vulcans anyway. <g> > I think they just think they know what God wants, and it's all internally manufacutered.<

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Another assertion necessitated by your presuppositions, but beyond any hope of empirical verification. >Yeah, you're not called a "filthy atheist," you aren't automatically consider to be of dubious morality and patriotism. . . Lotsa bennies.< Like being called a red-neck right wing fundamentalist. Or to quote Isaac Asimov, "What they (that's us Christians) believe is incredibly stupid." >Just as long as you don't think critically about the LPD.<G><< Sorry, I don't get it. LPD? (1) >Alan, you've convinced me that you do have to sacrifice one's mind from what you've written.< Really FZ, you seem like a nice guy. How about a rational argument that supports your empiricism instead of personal jabs? It's been fun, but I'm going to be away this weekend, so it may be another week or so before I get back to this. But, I'll be here. God willing. Peace, Alan ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From LA to Alan Myatt: > ...empiricism can't even show that there is a connection between the external world and one's perceptions. On the basis of pure empiricism the only thing that anybody could ever know is his or her own sensations. Beyond that, no one has demonstrated how a sense perception becomes an abstract idea, yet this is a necessary link if we are to suppose that empiricism actually gives us truth about the universe. < This is getting entertaining. Okay, so now that you've demolished there being a link between the external world and one's perceptions, you, of course, are going to explain to me just exactly how you can read a bible (or, for that matter, know that the book you're holding is a bible, or that you're even holding a book...). (2) > I would hope that in light of the last two centuries of philosophy, the atheist would face up to this challenge. But there don't seem to many takers. < Well, I'd deal with the last two centuries of philosophy except I can't find my shovel. Know how I'd deal with philosophy? I'd get a real job.

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L ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From IL to LA: > Know how I'd deal with philosophy? I'd get a real job.< This would be funny if it were not so true. OK, it is funny and true. I like the position of Muriel Hemmingway in the Movie with Peter O'Toole - 'Creator' in which she is listening the the pompous ramblings of alleged philosophy professors who start by saying 'how can we even know we are here, having this discussion?' The reply? 'Tell you what - why don't you start by assuming you don't exist and see where that gets you.' --IL (We need an Occam's Double Bit Ax for philosophy) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From LA to IL > The reply? 'Tell you what - why don't you start by assuming you don't exist and see where that gets you.' < <chuckle> Funny thing about this little flap, I think, is that it is, basically and essentially, valid to say that we do not and can never know for certain that our senses report anything isomorphic to whatever is Out There. The solipsistic cul de sac I think Alan's backing himself into isn't going to help his case IMO. I mean, if you can't know what's really there, how on earth does he know his god is who he thinks it is? I mean, for all any of us could ever know, the whole thing is some big, practical joke by some cosmic trickster who's going to just giggle at the people who swallowed it in this alleged "afterlife." How would you know ? But if he really believes it's all just a matter of "faith," I want to see him stand in the middle of the freeway and not believe in the cars...

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LA ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From IL to LA: >But if he really believes it's all just a matter of "faith," I want to see him stand in the middle of the freeway and not believe in the cars... < <G> Exactly. And I agree with your other point as well. It is true, we cannot ever really determine if our senses report reality. But h***, they are all we have and ignoring them just don't seem prudent. (3) Selectively ignoring them, as it would seem Alan would like for us to do, is like playing Russian Roulet with a Howitzer. --I (I suppose it is one way to obtain a clear head) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to IL: > And I agree with your other point as well. It is true, we cannot ever reallydetermine if our senses report reality. But h***, they are all we have and ignoring them just don't seem prudent.< This is exactly the point guys. You have no epistemology, and yet you want to make a universal claim about the nature of ultimate reality (i.e. it is ultimately impersonal and purposeless, both of which necessarily follow from the premise that there is no God). So if your senses cannot ever be known to actually report reality then it is self-contradictory to rely on them to tell you that there is no chair in the room, much less that there is no God. Therefore your claim to not believe in God due to lack of empirical evidence is self-contradictory and hence irrational. I have quite a bit more to say by the way, and I'll get back to you soon, when I get caught up on some of my work. (and I'm certain that my students do exist and that I must therefore grade their papers) By the way, your various replies have been most entertaining. Please keep it up. The assertion that they (the senses) are all we have cannot be proven empirically, leads to a self-contradictory epistemology that destroys rationality, and is itself a dogma accepted on blind faith. Perhaps knowledge, if it be possible, has a different base after all.

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Alan (who knows that my keyboard is here because my world view has a rational theory of knowledge) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From LA to Alan Myatt: > You have no epistemology... But we have bananas today. LA ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From IL to Alan Myatt: > You have no epistemology, and yet you want to make a universal claim about the nature of ultimate reality (i.e. it is ultimately impersonal and purposeless, both of which necessarily follow from the premise that there is no God). < Well Alan, you could be more wrong, but I am not certain exactly how you would accomplish it. Me, I believe in the existence of God. But it cannot be proven, it cannot even be indicated. It is a belief without evidence. On the one hand you are arguing that we never know reality and on the other that there's proof of God. While this is an interesting dance, it is self-defeating since you cannot hold both positions without looking extremely silly. (4) >> I have quite a bit more to say by the way, and I'll get back to you soon, when I get caught up on some of my work.<< Imagine my concern. >>Alan (who knows that my keyboard is here because my world view has a rational theory of knowledge)<< What a load of BS Alan. How do I know? Easy - because I control all reality. It is through me that you exist. I hold the entire world in a corning of my mind. I think, therefore you are.

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--I (obviously I've been absent-minded in your case) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to IL: I, Your responses are entertainment of the highest order. And they happen to be some of the most incoherent replies I've ever seen here. Of course I understand that you are simply trying to ridicule me, and I find it to be quite amusing. Ridicule, however, is the last resort of one who has no rational defense of his position. How about responding with a rational argument. Or are you fresh out? Alan ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to LA: Pardon me, but your reply comes across as a type of anti-intellectualism that is quite unbecoming for an atheist. You can't refute the arguments of two centuries of philosophy that have consistently shown that non-theistic presuppositions lead to skepticism, so you would just say its all BS and shovel it away. I don't think that is an adequate way to conduct a rational discourse. Of course my main contention is that all atheism eventually degenerates into irrationalism, and your reply seems to me to be quite consistent with that. As for my knowing that I have a Bible to hold, starting with different presuppositions than those of the atheist/empiricist might just provide a basis for knowing. Actually, I've got a great job. (How often do you get to go to the beach in Rio? <g>) Alan ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From LA to Alan Myatt: > Pardon me, but your reply comes across as a type of anti-intellectualism that is quite unbecoming for an atheist. < Have I earned your disapproval?!? Say it isn't so! Frankly, I find the obfuscation in your posts to be severely anti-intellectual. People often get what they give you know?

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What I've seen so far looks like a deductive cul-de-sac that's not producing much more than semantic games. Words piled upon words to hide the inconsistent, self-contradictory nature of what's being written. (5) IAC, the subtle ad hominem of the above quoted isn't going to bother me much as in the context of the discourse, I actually am "anti" this kind of "intellectual" game. > You can't refute the arguments of two centuries of philosophy that have consistently shown that non-theistic presuppositions lead to skepticism... < First of all, the idea that non-theistic presuppositions lead to skepticism doesn't bother me. I am a skeptic. I am skeptical. I value skepticism. If this is intended to be a charge against atheism, it falls quite flat. > I don't think that is an adequate way to conduct a rational discourse. What I find fortunate is that your particular values do not control the definitions. > Of course my main contention is that all atheism eventually degenerates into irrationalism, and your reply seems to me to be quite consistent with that. < And, of course, since you appear to believe you can define the standards by which the discourse is handled, such a conclusion is inevitable. Which, to me and IMO, appears to be the draw of a "presuppostional" watusi. That is it enables people to "presuppose" the very important principle of "I'm always right!" > As for my knowing that I have a Bible to hold, starting with different presuppositions than those of the atheist/empiricist might just provide a basis for knowing. < Except that according to much of what you've posted, you don't know you have a bible at all. Since you appear to contend that we cannot rely on our senses to report useful information, you may actually be holding a, oh, potato and insisting it's a bible. Or, perhaps, there's no such thing as "bible" to begin with. But, rather, just a shared delusion that such a thing exists. I've seen them before but that's when I was under the influence of religious memes. I haven't seen one lately. So I can't be sure such things actually exist. Not even if I did "see" one. Ah well, don't worry. Since there's no reliability in the empirical, I'm probably just a figment of your imagination anyway. > Actually, I've got a great job. (How often do you get to go to the beach in Rio? <g>) < You think. Don't tell me you're relying on your senses! Perish the delusion! Maybe it was Cleveland. BTW, I didn't know there was such an income potential in being a philosopher. Amazing that.

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L (wait, I don't know it, my senses are telling jokes) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to LA: Forgive me for the "subtle ad hominem." However, if you think this is all a semantic game then I fear that you have not really understood what the issues are and what exactly is at stake here. To that I can only recommend that you go back and read it over again. The argument against empiricism is designed to show what results if we begin with the axioms that are necessary to the atheist world view. On the basis of theistic axioms, empirical knowledge can be justified. But I just posted that elsewhere. No, I don't make lots of money, but I live and work in Rio, and the beaches are great (and they do exist). No, I do not set the rules for rational discourse, but it seems to me that it is irrational to simply ignore arguments that you cannot answer. And I think your variety of skepticism is not the same thing as what finally finished off Greek philosophy and what Hume produced. Peace to you, Alan ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From LA to Alan Myatt: > Forgive me for the "subtle ad hominem." However, if you think this is all a semantic game then I fear that you have not really understood what the issues are and what exactly is at stake here. < Forgive me for the insult, here's another? Sheesh. I suspect I understand the issues only too well. But what I'm seeing are posts that appear to be a collision between 19th century quackery (aka "philosophy") and that peculiarly French waste of time called "deconstruction." I've seen the comment more than once of "I've shown" or words to that effect when, really, about the only thing the barrage of posts has shown me is a propensity to MEGO. Other than that, the undercurrent is fairly obviously a revolt against reason probably

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driven by some rather desparate religion memes whose survival is threatened by the progress of science. Problem is, you've deconstructed things to the point that the choice of axioms is arbitrary. You claim atheism degenerates into the "irrational." I counter claim that the approach in your posts that I've seen so far degenerates into gang warfare. Without some standard for evaluating the models generated from the axioms chosen, with only "faith" to establish them, you push the human species back into the days when the arbitration of reality was done by the point of a weapon. (6) It's nothing but New Age rehashing of Dark Ages thinking. Self-appointed priests deducing their way to paradise and counting angels on pins. And when the peasants dare resort to relying on the evidence of their senses instead of the priestly authority, off they go to the inquisition to be enlightened. > On the basis of theistic axioms, empirical knowledge can be justified. There's more in heaven and earth than are dreamt of by your syllogisms. LA (Goedel's on line one)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From IL to Alan Myatt: >Now let me see. Atheism is rational. It can sustain a rational world view. But its construction of reality cannot be proven. That's okay tho, I don't have to prove it. I just believe. Sounds like a leap of faith to me.< Gee, you couldn't get it more wrong even if you had an idea about what you were speaking. Atheism is not a construction, it is a conclusion. If I go into a bare room and look around and say ' There are no indications of chairs in this room' I am doing nothing more than acknowledging the situation. You could the come in and lecture me on how there is a chair and I would see it if I just were to bang my head against the wall for a day or 1000. My conclusion would be accurate according to available evidence, your conclusion would be constructed without available evidence. Atheism is the logical conclusion from available physical evidence. It is not represented as anything more by anyone except those zealots attempting to redefine it in a vain hope that it may make their own position somehow more tenable.

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It would appear Alan that your posts do not use logic in a consistent manner. --I (and what do you know, I even have evidence of my position) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From LA to IL: > Atheism is the logical conclusion from available physical evidence. Ah. But physical evidence doesn't really exist. L (which raises questions about printed bibles) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From IL to LA: >Ah. But physical evidence doesn't really exist. LA (which raises questions about printed bibles)< Yeah, I love the way the argument is structured and then ducked. It must be one of those 'special case' arguments which only makes sense after you've banged your head against a sharp object for a day or 30. --I (gives repetitive stress injury a whole new slant) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From AZ to Alan Myatt: >>Well, if your theory of knowledge (empiricism) is unable to show how one can know truth about nature as it is, Kant's well (un)known ding an sich, then it really has nothing to say about the truth status of any proposition about ultimate reality.<< Just because Kant struggled with "ultimate reality" doesn't mean everyone else does. >>Thus, it is quite irrational for an atheist to use such an epistemology (empiricism) as basis for rejecting belief in God.<< Quick! Stop that strawman atheist! Equip him with some real <g> epistemology!

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>>empiricism can't even show that there is a connection between the external world and one's perceptions<< Ya know, if a 5-year-old exhibits difficulty making this distinction he or she is tagged as autistic, schizophrenic or at least developmentally challenged. But if an adult makes such a statement, we conclude that they've been to college. What happens to that once capable 5-year-old to make him renounce his proven abilities to perceive and make sense of his surroundings? I don't think the average atheist buys into Kantian blah-blah. Christian Platonists, on the other hand, seem susceptible to it. >>One way of argument would be to apply the rules of logic to the propositions that are derived from the axioms of the atheist and see whether or not they form a noncontradictory system.<< Just as a method check, I assume that you wouldn't mind running the theistic case through the same dialectic in parallel with the atheistic case. Right? ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From J to IL: <<Just as a method check, I assume that you wouldn't mind running the theistic case through the same dialectic in parallel with the atheistic case. Right? >> I'd LOVE to see this... <G> J

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to J: Hi J, I'm glad to see you are open to having a look. It's been done. I would suggest that you check out the following books, if you'd really love to see it. A Christian View of Men and Things by Gordon H. Clark Thales to Dewey: A History of Western Philosophy by Gordon H. Clark Religion, Reason and Revelation (esp chapter five on the problem of evil) by Gordon H. Clark The Defense of the Faith by Cornelius Van Til

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God, Revelation and Authority (six volumes) by Carl F. H. Henry A New Critique of Theoretical Thought (four volumes) by Herman Dooyeweerd and for those of you who think that science is the key to all knowledge: Christianity and the Nature of Science: A Philosophical Investigation by J. P. Moreland these represent only a small sample. Each of these authors is rigorous in his logical examination of Christian axioms as compared to atheist axioms. I challenge you to work your way through some of this material. I'd say start with the first book by Clark and then tackle the Moreland book. Also, Thales to Dewey is an entertaining read, and a good general history of epistemology. My experience has been, however, that many atheists, like liberal theologians, tend to ignore evangelical scholarship, preferring to continue in the smugness of an assumed superiority rather than actually encounter the arguments of the other side. Refusal to engage the arguments of your philosophical opponents does not qualify as a rational response. So go for it. I'd be singularly impressed if you've got the guts to do it. I'm afraid that I don't expect to get many takers however. BTW, I've read atheists such as Flew, Lamont, Kurtz, George Smith, as well as more well known philosophers like Bertrand Russell and I have not found one of them who is able to overcome the epistemological futility of their position. That is because the underlying presuppositions of atheism are self-contradictory. Peace, Alan ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From CI to Alan Myatt: Alan, >> My experience has been, however, that many atheists, like liberal theologians, tend to ignore evangelical scholarship, preferring to continue in the smugness of an assumed superiority rather than actually encounter the arguments of the other side. << Many, maybe. But many evangelicals are just as smug. I, for one, keep an eye on evangelical "scholarship" if for no other reason than to be able to predict where their arguments are leading. I just don't find them at all convincing. >> BTW, I've read atheists such as ...[list]... and I have not found one of them who is able to overcome the epistemological futility of their position. That is because the underlying presuppositions of atheism are self-contradictory. << Or maybe your logical criticism is flawed.

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CI. ***************************** FOOTNOTES (1) The intials LPD were used several times by the atheists, but I guess I came in late because I never got a definition of what it stands for. If anybody reading this knows please tell me. (2) Several times atheist discussants assumed that I was arguing against the possibility of all knowledge, period, despite the fact that I tried to make it clear that I was drawing the conclusion of skepticism based on what would logically follow if we granted the atheists axiom that the basis of all knowledge is empirical experience. If we begin with theistic axioms, then knowledge can be justified. (3) It is exactly this assumption, that the senses are all we have, that I have been demolishing. Note what he says here. The senses don't really tell us about reality, we can't really KNOW what reality is, but since we don't have anything else, then we should trust them and use them to make judgments as to what reality is. So he uses something that he admits is unable to discern what ultimate reality is, as a basis for setting up criteria for making pronouncements about the nature of ultimate reality. This is supposed to be rational? The argument assumes that the basis of all knowledge is sense experience, and concludes that since sense experience gives no direct evidence for a God, then there either is no God, or there at least there is no rational basis for believing in God. But if the premise is invalid, as is admitted by the atheists in this discussion, then why on earth do they think that the conclusion is valid? The entire argument is really circular, because the assumption of empiricism as the only source of knowledge requires the corollary assumption that there could not be another source of knowledge, such as revelation. But you could not know that there is could be no revelation unless you already knew that there is no one there to reveal anything. In other words, naturalism is assumed and used as a basis for proving atheism. The point of my argument, which this discussant never seemed to comprehend, was that the contradictions generated by empiricism is evidence (logical evidence) that naturalism is false. Rather than admitting that the senses are not adequate to give us knowledge, but then irrationally sticking with them because "they are all we`ve got", the rational thing would be to admit that back behind sense experience there must be a more basic foundation for knowledge that provides a framework that will support the utility of sense experience. Namely, revelation is the necessary presupposition that provides the only philosophical framework that will validate empirical knowledge; Christian theism. (4) What I am arguing is known as the Transcendental Argument for God, and it asserts that the atheist, on the basis of his axioms, cannot know anything (or justify knowledge). But since knowledge exists, and since the atheist's axioms are selfcontradictory, then atheism is necessarily false. Pantheism suffers from the same difficulties, leaving us with theism as the one alternative that proves to be viable. So the argument is, the atheist can't know anything, but the Christian can and this ultimately IS the proof that God exists.

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(5) This kind of accusation surfaced more than once, but he fails here to point out any specific inconsistencies or logical fallacies. Assertions of this nature require accompanying refutations if they are to be taken seriously. (6) Again the atheist's dillema is highlighted. He is correct in asserting that there must be some sort of standard for evaluating truth claims, but in all of his many posts he finally demonstrates that his own standard of empiricism cannot lead to truth. And he seems to miss the point that if one's axioms are the result of another argument, then they are not really one's most basic axioms at all. Rather, the presuppostions of the argument used to establish one's axioms would be the real most basic axioms of one's system. Axioms are not the result of other arguments by definition. Finally, the only final test available for the axioms of a world view is whether or not they are adequate to establish the preconditions for proof (the validity of logic, a basis for trusting sense experience, the universal validity of ethics), in the first place. Then it becomes necessary to see if one's axioms can provide a coherent account of fact and experience without degenerating into logical contradictions. The axioms of atheism cannot do this. It is also interesting to note that several times such modern irrationalist philosophies as existentialism, and in this case, deconstructionism, were ridiculed, yet at no time was a refutation of them offered. Alan Myatt, Ph.D.

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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From RD to Alan Myatt: >>>>>>> That is because the underlying presuppositions of atheism are selfcontradictory. that's just YOUR underlying presupposition, based on your presupposition that there is a god..... R ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to RD: R, That's a result of the analysis of atheism based on logic. (at this point I referred him to check out a lengthy message I had just written, which you will find on page ) Then read Clark's Thales to Dewey if you want to see the total deconstruction of atheism. (1) Alan

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to AZ: > Just as a method check, I assume that you wouldn't mind running the theistic case through the same dialectic in parallel with the atheistic case. Right? < First I would like to find an atheist here who is really willing to seriously face up to the implications of his world view. You may not like the implications of Hume and Kant for your position, but that does not constitute a refutation. And a refutation is what is required if atheism is going to be shown to be rational. Alan (still looking for a rational account of knowledge from an atheist) -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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From B2 to Alan Myatt: > Alan (still looking for a rational account of knowledge from an atheist)< You will never find one, nor will you hear from them the answer to how existence exists or for that matter, big bang theory, well, what gave birth to the space? With love and peace in Christ, B2 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From LA to Alan Myatt: > First I would like to find an atheist here who is really willing to seriously face up to the implications of his world view. < Wait, aren't you the guy that ducked everything I said? LA (or did you just not sense me?) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From B to Alan Myatt: >>>>First I would like to find an atheist here who is really willing to seriously face up to the implications of his world view.<<<< As if these "implications" are tremendously horrific. Is that the implication here? Let's see: All the atheists I know don't come knocking on my door trying to "convert" me to atheism. All the atheists I know have a sharp sense of human worth. All the atheists I know have a concern for humanity. All the atheists I know face the same problems as anyone else. All the atheists I know can laugh, cry, be hurt, be joyful, be angry, be sad, hope, dream, and enjoy life...just like anyone else. (2) All the atheists I know have no problem with a church on the corner of the block, or a synagogue across from it, or a temple down the street. It's only when the church and the synagogue and the temple get together and decide their "world view" (whatever the *** it

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may be) is superior to that of an atheist (because the atheist cannot possibly be anywhere near as moral and virtuous and compassionate toward the lot of mankind) and therefore must become legislatively significant. (3) >>>> (still looking for a rational account of knowledge from an atheist)<<<< What is your criteria for a "rational account"? (4) >>>> And a refutation is what is required if atheism is going to be shown to be rational.<<<<< Here's what I understand from the atheists I know. They are free to refine or modify this as is appropriate: A) There is no demonstrable "proof" of a deity. It is not possible to "prove" a negative. (5) B) Lacking "proof", this is often coupled with a lack of motivation (not a negative implication) to gravitate toward asserting belief in what is not demonstrable. It may be due to a reluctance to build speculation upon what is by default a speculative assertion. C) For some atheists, the notion of any deity resembling in any form a likeness to human beings is at best specious. This alone is usually not the sole basis for atheism, however. To me, atheism is a rational position from the standpoint it bases itself largely in a lack of evidence for a deity. Given the lack of evidence, it would not be logical, from a purely thinking perspective, to build supposition upon essentially nothing. One might look around him and build supposition from what does exist, such as the trees and the stars and so forth, but is that not as empirical as the assent of an atheist who declares there is not sufficient evidence to "prove" God? Also, one must remember a literal definition of the term "atheist"....a*theist...."a" meaning "non" or "neutral" and "theist" as one holding a system of belief regarding a deity or gods. So, an atheist is essentially one who holds to no theism, no firm assertion as to the nature of a deity. That would satisfy me, personally, if I could successfully quell the notion that there just "might be" something out there. However, even so I am not motivated at this time to adopt any form of theism to explain such a possibility. B ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From LA to Alan Myatt: > I prefer to challenge the atheist's rules at the outset. Stacking the deck in favor of this "god" thing.

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> This seems to indicate that your system includes (or depends on) the belief that there is such a thing as scientific knowledge. < Oh cute. I love this game. Deny the existence of the very thing enabling you to type the denial on. > What I am referring to is one who believes that no knowledge is possible because he recognizes that on the basis of pure empiricism no knowledge can be justified. < Yeah. If you want to sit around and pontificate like the religious have for millennia and debate how many angels can dance on a pin maybe. In the world of pontificating patriarchs the choice of axioms is arbitrary. But in the real world selectionism is the rule. Knowledge is acquired by a selectionist process. > But not all starting points are of equal value. Right. And naturalism has produced. The evidence is under your fingers as you type your posts and in front of your face as you read mine. The more we take the naturalist view, the more results we see. Religion has never produced anything comparable. (6) LA ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From LA to Alan Myatt: > But my problem is, if you are right and I am wrong, then when we both die we will simply slip into oblivion with our last breath. However, if I am correct and you are not, then you face a most unpleasant future as you will stand before God and give an account for your sins without the benefit of Christ's sacrifice to atone for them. Personally, I do not want to see that happen to you and as I am convinced that Jesus is your only hope, you will understand why I at least have to press the issue to some degree. < Pascal's dead, give the poor man a rest. You seem to like logic. Try this. The wager is seriously flawed. It posits only a single alternative to the atheist viewpoint. And does so for purely cultural reasons. Why is the Judeo-Christian belief the only alternative to atheism? If we admit the possibility of "god," on what basis (other than cultural prejudice) are all the other human beliefs excluded? (7) I see no reason, for example, to accept a deity that has only a five century tenure on this continent and was established as the dominant deity here by conquest and genocide. Given the historical context, I'd hazard that if we grant for purpose of argument that the Judeo-Christian god of Euro-Americans exists, we'd likely conclude he's a deceitful being

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who will promise anything to get what he wants (well, look what his followers did to get the land). So the wager gets complicated. How do we know this Yahweh isn't some usurper who's just temporarily gotten the upper hand? Maybe one of the deities that's been here a long time is the right one and this is just some dark age while evil runs rampant but will lose in the end. So one "hedges" their "bet" and, on dying, finds that they picked the wrong deity! Oops. Or what about all the gods the human species has discarded along the way? What if one of them (or several even) are the Real Gods and humanity is apostate for abandoning them? What if you die, believing in Jesus, only to be face to face with Zeus? Or Mithra? Or somebody so forgotten we don't even have records anymore? Or what if the Wiccans are right? Or the Aztecs? Or even just the Jews? I mean, according to the faith that Christianity originated from, Jesus was not the messiah and, well, that makes his promises to "save" people rather hollow eh? So how do you deal with the plethora of gods that may or may not be awaiting us on "the other side?" You present a choice between atheism and Yahweh/Yeshua. But it's not that simple. If you're going to reduce "faith" to opportunistic bet hedging, there are a lot of bases to cover. Even bases you can never cover because there are religions in human history that are now just flat gone and cannot be reconstructed. Maybe one of them was right and we're all doomed regardless. Further, what kind of god would honor such opportunism? And would you want a deity that would honor such a belief of convenience? Doesn't sound like much of a god to me. LA ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From IL to Alan Myatt: Message text written by Alan Myatt >This seems to indicate that your system includes (or depends on) the belief that there is such a thing as scientific knowledge. We will come back to this point later.< Why? Is there something that is wrong with testable theories? I must wonder if there is no such thing as scientific knowledge how we are managing this conversation. As much as I try, I have to use electricity to power my machine, it never activates when I pray.

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>> It is difficult for me to imagine then, under what circumstances even the staunchest empiricist/atheist could allow the fundamental assumption that the universe is all there is to be challenged by the evidence. He would always find a naturalistic explanation (no mater how implausible) because he has set up the rules of the discussion in such a way that that is the only type of explanation possible. << Golly, I've got to admit that I don't see any scientists declaring the unprovable as fact. Can you provide an example of such which is accepted by the scientific community? (8) >> However, if I am correct and you are not, then you face a most unpleasant future as you will stand before God and give an account for your sins without the benefit of Christ's sacrifice to atone for them. Personally, I do not want to see that happen to you and as I am convinced that Jesus is your only hope, you will understand why I at least have to press the issue to some degree.<< Oh. Is that all? Well, not to worry Alan, God and I talked all about it and She tells me that the whole concept that any person has discovered the only right answer is too laughable to consider. So, the thought is appreciated but just ain't needed. Don't take my word for it, I wouldn't presume to claim such knowledge, but I know you'll honor God's word. >> The Christian God is not just a warm fuzzy, a teddy bear that you clutch in the night when you are afraid of the dark. He is, in fact, very awesome and threatening.<< No, not true. God tells me that She really ain't so bad. so, given the choice, I'm sure you'll understand why I must trust God in this. >> He will have to admit that he is a sinner and that he deserves God's judgment and punishment. He can no longer be a freethinker if that is taken to mean free to believe anything you want. << Wow, you could only be more wrong if you continued to post more. >> R. C. Sproul wrote an interesting book . . .<< Well, what do you know. You managed. >>Certainly there are many benefits to being a Christian. In particular I would assert that being a critical thinker is an essential aspect of developing a Christian mind. I just wanted to point out that the God the Christian serves is not one who exists for the comfort of the believer.<<

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After applying critical thinking to you post I have concluded that it is not accurate. --IL (glad that's settled) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to J: (note - this post was given earlier but I repeated it here to provide a convenient context for the following responses) Hi J, >>Why a rational alternative? A leprechaun believers demand to produce a rational alternative to "leprechaun belief" by no means upholds the rationality of arguments supportive of that belief. << No, not about leprechauns anyway, although if a non-leprechaun believer could not construct a coherent theory of a leprechanless world I would be inclined to at least consider the possibility that they might exist. But seriously, one can hardly put the Triune Creator God of the Bible on the same level as leprechauns. The existence of leprechauns might be an interesting curiosity if it turned out to be true, but I think the modifications it would require in your world view could probably be accomodated without radically altering it. On the other hand, if there is a God, then the structure of ultimate reality as you understand it is fundamentally in error. It would call for a reconstruction of your world view of the most radical kind imaginable. The stakes are much, much higher. Atheists are constantly accusing Christians of buying into an irrational belief. Well, I think if they reject belief in God because they are committed to rationality, then they should be able to show how the notion of a universe where there is no God can be rationally defended. Otherwise they need not imagine that they are somehow holding to a more intellectually defensible position than the Christian. Back to the issue of presuppositions, I agree and disagree with you. I agree that atheists are a varied lot and I have spent some time taking to atheists of various types. Atheists have different world views in some respects, however, I think that the postulation of atheism necessarily involves certain common presuppositions. So one may be an existentialist, a pragmatist, a logical positivist, etc, each with a different world view, yet operating on common assumptions that follow necessarily from atheism. I would like to see the atheist examine the implications of those presuppositions. That's all. Alan ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From LA to Alan Myatt:

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> But seriously, one can hardly put the Triune Creator God of the Bible on the same level as leprechauns. < Why? Because you happen to believe in one but not the other? (9) > Well, I think if they reject belief in God because they are committed to rationality, then they should be able to show how the notion of a universe where there is no God can be rationally defended. < So we're about to go into the prove the negative game eh? No dice. You have the extraordinary claim about your imaginary friend of unusual size, you prove he exists. (10) LA ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From IL to Alan Myatt: Message text written by Alan Myatt >No, not about leprechauns anyway, although if a non-leprechaun believer could not construct a coherent theory of a leprechanless world I would be inclined to at least consider the possibility that they might exist. But seriously, one can hardly put the Triune Creator God of the Bible on the same level as leprechauns.< True, leprechauns have better press. --IL (and they're magically delicious) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From LA to IL: > True, leprechauns have better press. They're much cuter too! LA (almost as much as the bunnies... almost) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From IL to Alan Myatt: Message text written by Alan Myatt

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> Atheists are constantly accusing Christians of buying into an irrational belief. Well, I think if they reject belief in God because they are committed to rationality, then they should be able to show how the notion of a universe where there is no God can be rationally defended.< Everyone knows the Great Bird created all. Please detail a rational universe where the Great Bird did not create all. --IL (kids today) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to IL: That's easy. It's the universe that the Triune God of the Bible created. God's grace be with you, Alan ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From IL to Alan Myatt: Message text written by Alan Myatt >That's easy. It's the universe that the Triune God of the Bible created.<<

BZZZZZZZT! Wrong answer. how do I know - easy - God told me so. >God's grace be with you,< Always is. how do I know? God tells me so. --IL (though it does get amusing when we eat out) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From CSE to QB: "What if God were one of us.... Just a stranger on a bus...."

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----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From QB to CSE: "What if God were one of us.... Just a stranger on a bus...." Would he give up his seat for someone more needy? Or would he be standing to start with? Cheers, QB ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From CD to CSE:

>"What if God were one of us.... Just a stranger on a bus...."< If God is on the bus, you have an imposter on your hands. God is the driver, or it's no game. <g> CD ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From CSE to CD: CSE >"What if God were one of us.... Just a stranger on a bus...."< CD: >>>"If God is on the bus, you have an imposter on your hands. God is the driver, or it's no game. <g>"<<<

Why? <s> CSE ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From CD to CSE:

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>CSE >"What if God were one of us.... Just a stranger on a bus...."< CD: >>>"If God is on the bus, you have an imposter on your hands. God is the driver, or it's no game. <g>"<<< CSE > Why? <s>> CD: If God is; then we are taking a creator, a creator of the universe. This my dear CSE is no mean player. We are not talking about a super Secretary General for mankind, but the CREATOR of all things. If you like, God is the bus, the highway, the destination and the driver. So if the lady sitting behind you and me gets up and proclaims her Godhead, we had better hang on to our wallets, because it's a scam for certain. LOL by the way computer keyboards, don't wear out that easily, two words or the second flood, next time? <S> Yours CD ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to CD: I think you have hit the nail on the head. It appears to that the atheists in this forum don't even understand what the concept of the Christian God is, much less have a valid argument against his existence. Alan ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From LA to Alan Myatt: > I think you have hit the nail on the head. It appears to that the atheists in this forum don't even understand what the concept of the Christian God is, much less have a valid argument against his existence. < Talk about presumptions. Some of the atheists of this forum--this atheist of this forum is one--were christian. I understand the concepts (note the plural) of the christian god. I was raised with one such. Also, I think you're missing the point that the atheist position isn't really "god does not exist" but more "I don't accept that god exists." Some atheists (of what is sometimes called the "strong" atheist position) do say the former. But even then, getting into

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splitting hairs, they're asserting that they find it highly improbable that god idea X has any validity. Personally, I find the christian god concept (in general) to be too self-contradictory to be a valid theory. And the issue tends to turn on the very slippery idea of "free will" and whether the universe is deterministic (which I suspect it is though I don't care for the idea and have some reason to doubt but realize this could be an issue of perception and, IAC, the experience is that it is not... muddled issue that one). But the burden is on the one who makes the claim. My position is I'm just not persuaded. LA ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From CD to Alan Myatt: Alan, >>I think you have hit the nail on the head. It appears to that the atheists in this forum don't even understand what the concept of the Christian God is, much less have a valid argument against his existence.<< Always smile at atheists, they are only believers, who don't know where they are, yet. CD ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From IL to Alan Myatt: Message text written by Alan Myatt >It appears to that the atheists in this forum don't even understand what the concept of the Christian God is, much less have a valid argument against his existence. < Actually it would appear that you have not realized the concept or reality of God. How do I know? Easy - god told me. --LA (therefore, god must be right) -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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From RD to Alan Myatt: >>>>> I think you have hit the nail on the head. It appears to that the atheists in this forum don't even understand what the concept of the Christian God is, how can we when so many of the alleged christians here keep telling us THEIR god is the only one (and yet they cant agree among themselves!)

>>>>>> much less have a valid argument against his existence. who needs an argument against it? all we're asking for is some evidence that SUPPORTS the notion of a god -- ain't seen none so far... R ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to RD: >all we're asking for is some evidence that SUPPORTS the notion of a god -- aint seen none so far...< Empiricism AGAIN?, oh no, I'm to tired to rewrite my refutations of empiricism which I previously posted, maybe you can still find them there. Meanwhile, I'm going to bed. Later, Alan ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From FB to Alan Myatt: Message text written by Alan Myatt >I think you have hit the nail on the head. It appears to that the atheists in this forum don't even understand what the concept of the Christian God is, much less have a valid argument against his existence. < Alan, I think you are mistaken. I believe that the particular atheists on this forum are very familiar with the concept of the Christian god. They simply do not believe in its existence and are waiting for you to provide evidence of your god's existence. At least that's the

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case with me. However, such evidence cannot be tautological, which is why no such evidence can be presented. I honor your belief in the existence of a particular supernatural entity, and respect your belief. However, I cannot see the logic of it, despite years of studying Christianity and other religions. As near as I can tell, all gods are creations of mankind...I've seen no evidence to convince me otherwise. Have you some? FB ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to FB:

It is quite clear that many in this forum do not understand what the Christian God is as their arguments reveal so clearly. I just made a lengthy post that states my position, in addition to my earlier posts. 11 I'm to tired to continue right now. I'll check back in here in a week or so. Alan *************************** FOOTNOTES (1) The reader will please forgive me for referring new discussants to previous messages, but eventually I began getting so many responses to my posts that it became physically impossible to respond to them all individually. And it does grow tiresome, having to repeat my arguments over again to those who entered the debate late. Several of my previous posts address the question raised here. (2) Besides representing a rather limited experience of atheists, (obviously not all atheists are this virtuous), this kind of statement is simply irrelevant to the discussion. The implications that B still refuses to face are the philosophical implications of the fact that atheistic presuppositions are self contradictory. And to this point in the discussion, while several have objected to this argument, none have actually shown how atheistic assumptions are not self contradictory. (3) I think the history of atheist anti-Christian activity in the 20th century shows that atheists can be among the most intolerant people imaginable (chill out atheist reader, I did not say all of you are like that, but certainly bigotry is as prevelant among unbelievers as it is among believers). The systematic slaughter and oppression of millions Christians and people of other faiths by the atheists who have held power in the Soviet Union and China during the 20th century is a case in point. In the United States atheists have at various times used the judicial system and every legal means to supress the first amendment rights of free speech and free exersize of religion of Christians. And this is

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so to the point that the defacto legal situation in the United States at the beginning of the 21st century is the unconstitutional government enforcement of an official religion of naturalistic humanism. Theistic belief is only tolerated as a "hobby" that people have in their private lives. Those of us on the other side of this battle simply are not impressed with this kind of nonsense. We've seen all too often the "virtue" and "tolerance" of the activist atheist. (4) I was surprised and frustrated at this statement, since a reading of my posted messages makes this quite clear. For the record, however, a rational account would be a theory of knowledge whose axioms do not lead to self-contradictory conclusions, and which would justify the metaphysical assumptions necessary to support the validity of empirical knowledge and the scientific method. So far, no atheist in this discussion even made the attempt. (5) Actually, this is quite wrong. I can prove a negative, for example, John is not at home, simply by proving a contradictory proposition; i.e., by proving that John is at the park. There are logical forms for arguments of this nature. B's assertion would mean that the logical form P or not-P could not be solved. But clearly this is in error. I can prove not-P simply by showing that P cannot be the case. B's assertion that a negative cannot be proven is a strategy designed to get the atheist off the hook by shifting the burden of proof to the theist. This is just a cop-out. Since a negative can be proven by proving the impossibility of the positive, it is incumbent upon the atheist to establish the rationality of his position by disproving the existence of God. Despite their protests to the contrary, they know in their hearts that they must do so, otherwise, why do they spill so much ink in books and articles attacking the Christian concept of God? The appropriate theistic response is to attack atheism, exposing its irrationality, and thus prove Christian theism by showing the impossibility of the contradictory. (6) Here again is the assumption that naturalism is the same thing as the scientific method. They are not identical, however. It is true that the scientific method has produced very much, and what the atheist has to come to grips with is that at no time did philosophical naturalism, as a world view, produce the scientific method. It is a well documented historical fact that modern science and the methods it uses are a product of the Christian world view prevelant in Western Europe from the middle ages through the Reformation. Naturalism did not prevail as the assumption behind most science until well into the 19th century. Numerous books have documented this, but probably the best one is Stanley Jaki, Science & Creation: from eternal cycles to an oscillating universe. (7) That is a good question, and it is answered (in a nutshell) by noting that there are only two real possibilities about the ultimate origin and nature of the universe. Either the origin of the universe is due to a personal Being who is distinct from and prior to it, with a rational purpose, hence making ultimate reality personal, or the origin of the universe is impersonal and non purposive (i.e. random chance), meaning that ultimate reality is impersonal. All forms of atheism, agnosticism, pantheism and most polytheisms (including Mormonism and other "theisms" like the ancient Greek, Norse, etc. that posit merely finite gods) reduce to the view that ultimate reality is impersonal, meaning that

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the various world view differences between them or between various types of atheism are really mere in-house disagreements among those whose most basic assumptions are the same. Hence, a refutation of these basic assumptions is sufficient to refute them all. This leaves us with those who hold to a personal beginning for the universe; namely the religious heirs to the judeo-Christian tradition. As to why none of the other gods that humans believe in are candidates, the Christian will argue that in order to preserve a truly personal ultimate, there must by a diversity of persons in the unity of the Being of the One God. In other words, the doctrine of the Trinity is necessary to sustain a truly personal ultimate. This eliminates the monisms of other religions (the monism behind African derived religions such as Candomblé, the monism of Islam, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.) because they necessitate that God be reduced to an element, along with the rest of the universe, existing against the backdrop of a larger and impersonal Being in general. Hence, in the end the argument leads us to either the Christian God of the Bible or else complete irrationalism and chaos. (8) If anyone wants to see examples of atheists declaring the unprovable as fact then one need only read the works of Carl Sagan, and various others who write popular literature purporting to be scientific while making all kinds of philosophical and metaphysical pronouncements that are beyond the pale of scientific proof. Sagan's assertion in Cosmos that the "cosmos is all there is, all there ever has been, and all there ever will be" is just one of the many examples of this kind of statement. One has to wonder if these guys have actually ever done any reading of the works of their own best known defenders. (9) No, because the two concepts are so radically different that this kind of comparison is simply invalid. The difference is at the most fundamental level of the nature of being, as explained in my post. (10) No, I did not ask them to prove that there is no God. I asked them to show that the assumptions necessarily involved in the notion that there is no God can form the basis of a rational world view. Does it seem too much to ask that they who claim to disbelieve because they think religion is irrational show that their own position is itself rational? I find it amusing that this is the same atheist who accused me of ducking everything he said! (11) The post referred to is reproduced on pages 141 – 152. . Alan Myatt, Ph.D.

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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From ZC to Alan Myatt: I appear to have come in late, but I am enticed to toss in my two cents. I don't know whether the universe was "created" by some extra-universe entity. I don't know if there is any "existence" after death. I do know that both points are unknowable in my life. Does god as described in the Bible exist? No, simply because such a god would not exist. The god of the Old Testament is an ass, setting up his new creations for damnation and punishing others for not worshipping him the right way. No god worth his salt would bother with such "human" foibles. (Would you want your goldfish to grovel before you and set aside some of their fish food to offer back to you?) The interpretation of the New Testament -- believe in Jesus as a deity and get to heaven -- don't believe and don't get to heaven -- regardless of behavior -- is absurd. I wouldn't want to have anything to do with an egotistical god who rigged up such a game. (An eternity with the "born agains" would be hell for me, so maybe I'm going to heaven.) Many atheists, IMO, support their outlook in part on the rejection of the god of the Bible. In my view, though, the fact that the Bible is so flawed (when taken literally) is not a valid basis to assert that there was and is no god (meaning, there was and is no extrauniverse creator and there is no existence after physical death). Just because the attempted explanation in the Bible -- and in all of the world's religions to date -- is so preposterous does not negate a creator or an existence after physical death. At a basic level, believers and unbelievers look at the injustice, even horror, of the world and find solace from adopting one of two alternative world views: The believers hope that all of this life is not meaningless, that its not all random bs and that somebody somewhere has a plan and is in control. The unbelievers hope the opposite, that it is all random, because if there is something out there controlling all this, then that something is a monster, to put it mildly. Either world view involves faith, since there is no "reason" that can prove either view with certainty. In a simplistic way, a two-part question could be posed: (1) If you knew, for sure, that there was a god and an existence after death, would you change the way you live your life? (2) If you knew, for sure, that there was no god and no existence after death, would you change the way you live your life? When you're able to answer both questions "no" simultaneously, you're living life the way you should -- the way any good god would want you to. As for me, I thank god I'm an atheist. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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From Alan Myatt to ZC:

> (1) If you knew, for sure, that there was a god and an existence after death, would you change the way you live your life? (2) If you knew, for sure, that there was no god and no existence after death, would you change the way you live your life? When you're able to answer both questions "no" simultaneously, you're living life the way you should -- the way any good god would want you to. < Z, This kind of response demonstrates more your personal dislike for the notion of the biblical God, and I won't ever dispute your right to that opinion (in human terms), although I think God himself certainly would. In any case, you cannot consistently make any comments about how anybody should live their lives, for in an atheistic universe the notion of should, at least in the sense implied here, is arbitrary or empty. You have no standard of absolutes by which shouldness can be measured. As for me, it makes a huge difference how I live my life. And the only way you could know what God would want is if he revealed it. Your idea of what God should or would do is purely your own preconception as well. Why don't you ask him to tell you himself? Alan ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From IL to Alan Myatt: Message text written by Alan Myatt > I never said that my position is not based on faith. What I said was that the definition of faith is simply to believe in a proposition. At least that is the Bible's definition. The word "faith" is the noun form of the verb "to believe" in the language of the NT. I reject the definition that says that faith is belief in the irrational. < The sad thing is that you do not see the contradiction in your statements. If I look at the evidence I can detail, explain, predict, and work with gravity. That is a rational position. If I say I just don't believe in gravity - that is irrational, even if I say it is the effect of the letter 'G' that holds it all together. >> It appears that you do not understand the nature of your own position. << Really? And what is my position, pray tell? >> All world views, including the varieties of atheism, are founded on presuppositions or axioms that are not the conclusion of other arguments and are therefore unproven.<<

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Wrong. Atheism is not a denial of dieties. Atheism is a conclusion from available evidence. No evidence exists to indicate dieties. >> But the belief that empirical facts provide knowledge cannot be empirically proven and, in fact, it relies on several non-empirical presuppositions.<< Let me guess, next you'll be asking me about the tree in the forest thing, right? >> He has not even thought critically about his own position, so why should he be taken seriously as someone who has thought critically about the problems of theism?<< LOL! I love it. Fine, here's my position: "I have thought critically about everything and therefore I am correct in all things. Just ask me" >>Hence, all world views, including atheism, start with axioms that are statements of faith (belief).<< Only if the person making the statement is a moron. >>Finally, your statement that there is no empirical evidence to support a religious belief presupposes your own omniscience, since it means that you must have examined every case of empirical evidence that ever has existed or ever will exist in all parts of the universe.<< Well, that's not my statement. My statement is that the conclusion from available evidence is that there is no proof of dieties. Notice the word 'available' in the sentence? That indicates, 'on-hand,' 'known,' 'current.' What part of that is unclear? (1) >> Of course, you could say that you got your information by revelation from an omniscient being, but then you would be admitting to the existence of God.<< I would never admit the existence of God. I would say that I believe God exists. I would say that it is my opinion that God exists, I would even say that I feel God exists, but I would never demean my faith by declaring it fact without evidence. since there is no evidence, I will never pretend my faith is something it is not. Me, I believe in an honest relationship between, not only myself and God, but between my faith and the world. If I proclaim opinion as fact I do my faith and God no good. >> So we see that the assertion of your position requires that you presuppose that theism is correct after all. <<

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Some people might say that was a stupid thing to say, but I am more polite than that. >> I think it would be more accurate to say that your presuppositions . . .<< LOL! You are one to talk about presuppositions Alan. I am a Christian. Since you are wrong in the basic construction of your argument, it is further indication that you couldn't recognise a clue were it to burrow into your brain and explode. >>Anyway, since you assert so confidently that there is no evidence, I am left wondering exactly what you might be willing to accept as evidence.<< How about some evidence? How about you show me anything which could prove God such as gravity can be proven? How about this. God tells me you are wrong and that She left know evidence. How about you prove God wrong? --IL (Stand back folks, he's gonna blow!) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to IL: Really IL, your replies get more and more bizarre each time. And your insults are really petty. I'm sorry that you feel that you must respond in such a manner. But, it doesn't bother me personally. I just see that you are unable to offer any rational response to my arguments, and you cannot defend rationally your empiricism, so you result to ridicule. I suppose there is not much left to say. As for your claim to be a Christian, it makes me wonder what on earth your definition of a Christian is. And finally again, you ought to go back and study some about the nature of world views. There is plenty of material in anthropology and philosophy dealing with this. It is a delusion to imagine that you have no presuppositions or axioms underlying your thought. And those who are unaware of their own assumptions are at the mercy of those very assumptions. They don't even understand why they reach the conclusions they reach. It's pathetic really. Peace and blessings to you, Alan -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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From RD to Alan Myatt: >>>>>>>>> Finally, your statement that there is no empirical evidence to support a religious belief presupposes your own omniscience, since it means that you must have examined every case of empirical evidence that ever has existed or ever will exist in all parts of the universe. nonsense -- no one claims perfect knowledge (except those who claim they know their religion is the only one). no atheist claims anything like those ideas. all an atheist says is they know of no evidence for a god -- you don’t have to have omniscience to break that claim -- just show ONE shred of evidence for god's existence. >>>>> Otherwise you could never know that such evidence does not exist. that's the difference between science and faith -- science understands that no knowledge is ever perfect; all science ever says is that X is the best explanation for the facts as we know them today. faith claims it has a lock on truth >>>>>> you got your information by revelation from an omniscient being, but then you would be admitting to the existence of God. no -- you would just be admitting to a belief in the existence of a god >>>>>> Personally, I find the events surrounding the death of Jesus, the empty tomb, and the founding of the Christian church to be inexplicable on a naturalistic basis. me too -- but then much of that story is unsupported by any facts. R **************** FOOTNOTES (1) Actually, he said that there is no empirical evidence to support a religious belief, which he repeats in this post by saying there is no empirical evidence to indicate the existence of a deity. He did assert that non-believers base their conclusions on available evidence, but it did not appear to me that he qualified his proclamation that no evidence exists. In any case, my objection still applies either way. Alan Myatt, Ph.D.

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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------B, FZ et al., My apologies for not replying to each message individually, but hey, there's only so much time in a day and right now I'm bogged down in some administrative stuff, besides having deadlines, well you know the score I'm sure. First, I have enjoyed the discussion and your stimulating (and generally polite) responses. I agree with you B on the need to keep digging deeper. The learning process never stops and I think I have much to learn from those with whom I disagree most, if for no other reason than that it is in having our assumptions and opinions challenged that we are forced to think the hardest. That motivates me to keep coming back. Now, having said that, it is obvious that I have a view point of my own to get across and I want to elaborate on that some more while responding in a general way to what has been said. There are several things that seem to stand out in your various responses that point up the nature of our differences. If my summary reflects a misunderstanding of your position then please correct me, but I think this accurately reflects what I am reading. 1) No one can know ultimate truth, whatever that might be. So that is not really the issue, or at least is not what you are interested in. 2) The empirical (scientific) method is the best and most reliable way of knowing truth. It may not give us ultimate reality but it gives us an approximation. We know this, or at least should depend on it as trustworthy, because the empirical method works. It produces results. It produces computers and all the useful (and not so useful) technology that we have today. On the basis of this method there is no empirical evidence for the existence of God or gods. 3) Absolute moral values are not available and are not necessary to provide a basis for ethics. The basis of ethics is survival of the species. 4) Atheism is not a system or world view. It implies no positive beliefs. It is only the absence of belief in God. There may be other points, but I take these to be the most important. I would like to address each of these in turn, although not necessarily in this order. Indeed, I will start by saying that the second point I have already refuted and the answer I have received from you is basically a pragmatic, indeed dogmatic reassertion of the position with nothing offered by way of epistemological justification for the empirical method. But I am not done with this point and I will get back to it momentarily. For now I will start with points 1 and 4.

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Traditionally, atheism has been the assertion of a particular premise, namely that no God exists. Agnosticism was coined by Thomas Huxley in an attempt to describe what is really a softer form of atheism, but Huxley defended philosophical naturalism overtly. It has only been recently as far as I can tell (and I could be wrong) that atheists have shifted to the simple notion of a lack of belief. I think this move is an attempt to relieve themselves of the burden of proof, throwing it onto the theist to demonstrate his case, while demanding that the theist do so in terms of a supposedly neutral epistemological position that the atheist posits as the only reasonable way of knowing. If the Christian accepts this type of setup it quite naturally gives the atheist a great, I would say, insurmountable advantage and it results in the kind of thing that we see in the traditional proofs for God's existence, such as Aquinas' famous five ways. Thus, the atheist presents himself with no positive world view to defend, attempting to make himself immune from attack. I think that LA's rather indignant reply of "No dice" to my challenge is a good example of this move. However, I think it is misguided for several reasons and only serves to derail the discussion from ever getting at the real issues, which have to do with the preconditions of proof, rationality, and the intelligibility of human experience. So I will gladly agree with the atheist that the traditional proofs for the existence of God, such as the cosmological argument, and the ontological argument are invalid, at least in the way they have been typically used, because they presuppose the validity of the atheist's own epistemological method. And this, as I have argued, is the heart of the question. That the arguments may have some usefulness is another question, but strictly speaking they do not prove the existence of the biblical God. Now before you get bored and stop reading, thinking that I am only going to repeat myself, I intend to expand into some new issues that have not been broached yet. So at least hear me out, as you have exhorted me several times to talk to and listen to atheists (that is one reason why I keep this up) then I hope you will do the same, for it is my perception that your responses show that at least some of you do not at all understand what is involved in the assertion of the existence of the Triune God of the Bible. And I have not perceived that you have really faced the implications that are involved in the denial of the existence of such a God. But it seems to me that if the central issues are not understood then the conclusions you hold may very likely be invalid. So back to 1 and 4. What we are dealing with here is the issue of world views. The atheist says he is not promoting a belief, just stating a lack of one. Back of this is the hidden assumption that the atheist and the theist inhabit the same conceptual universe, except the theist believes in the existence of an additional element in that universe which the atheist simply does not believe in. It is as if both the atheist and the theist are traveling on the same ship together, with the theist believing that there is an additional passenger (maybe even that God is the captain), while the atheist simply sees the ship as being self-driven, on automatic pilot so to speak. Thus the atheist looks about the ship and failing to see the invisible captain, challenges the Christian to prove that he exists. But this conception represents a distortion of the Christian position that cuts to the very heart of what the Bible teaches about the nature of God and the universe. If the Christian

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position were taken seriously in its claims (and if it turned out to be true) then this analogy is not at all accurate, because we are talking about two entirely different ships on two different oceans where the meaning of everything is different. The Trinitarian theistic claim is not at all that God exists as an element of a common universe which the atheist and Christian interpret alike, except for one element. The theistic claim is that the real universe is essentially different from what the atheist thinks it is and that his lack of belief in God alters entirely how the universe is to be understood. This becomes clear as we look at the claims of the Christian position, which I will attempt to briefly summarize. God is a self-contained, independent, personal Being, in whom exist three distinct centers of consciousness (called persons), who equally exhaust the essence of the one divine nature, yet relate to one another in absolute love and unity of purpose, thought, and action. This God existed in eternity before the creation, standing in need of nothing. Yet he (note that I do not believe that God has gender) freely decided to create. The universe was created from nothing, that is, it is not eternal and its existence is not independent. The universe was created as a real entity, distinct from the Creator and according to a divine plan which includes its history. The universe, then, is not the ultimate reality, indeed, it is not ultimate in any sense at all. Its origin is personal and it is ordered with a design and purpose in mind. God is not merely an element of the universe or a larger Being in general. As a friend of mine put it, the existence of the Christian God "... is not merely one debate topic among others. The issue of God's existence is of such a character that if true, it would affect the relative meaning of every other proposition, since such a god would be the condition of being and meaning of all other facts and propositions." The created universe does not encompass all that is, it is entirely dependent upon God for its being, structure, and interpretation. Subsequent human sin altered the state of the universe from its created form, introducing evil (which we can discuss later if you wish). The upshot of this is that the Christian and the atheist are not on the same ship at all. The Christian assertion implies that the ship is something of a completely different sort than what the atheist thinks it is. Hence, the lack of belief in God is not simply a discussion about who is on board. It is a discussion about what is the meaning of "ship" in the first place, and whose interpretation of "ship" is intelligible. So when the atheist denies or says he does not believe in a God, he is necessarily making a number of positive world view presuppositions about the nature of the universe. What are some of these? At least the following: 1) The universe is self-sufficient in its existence and operations. It is autonomous and not dependent upon another external entity, but functions based on the laws of nature which determine its character. 2) The principles of knowledge or interpretation of the universe are contained within and derived from the universe itself. There is no need for a revelation or interpretation of the universe from a vantage point outside of the universe. Since there is no outside the universe, according to the atheist, no such revelation could exist in any case. Therefore, the ultimate reference point for predication and interpretation is a principle such as logic,

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sense perception, intuition, all of which must exist in the universe, and which were derived ultimately from human reason. The human mind (or brain, FZ <g>) is autonomous and is adequate to discover truth on its own, using its own methods. All truth claims must pass the test of human reason. There is no higher authority. 3) Right and wrong are relative terms that describe social norms developed by humankind to enhance its survival and pleasure. There is no absolute right and wrong and in the end, it is the autonomous human mind that legislates morality. 4) There is no discernible purpose to history or in the operations and existence of the universe. The universe is the ultimate reality and it is impersonal and unconcerned about us or our fate. It is simply there and appears to be what it is largely as a result of chance. The human future is undetermined, since there is no divine plan governing it. The meaning of life is what we make of it based on the decisions of our autonomous wills, and there is no final meaning in the end. Each of these four notions corresponds to an interpretation of the four areas that define a world view: ontology (the nature of reality or being), epistemology (the theory of how we have and justify knowledge), ethics (the theory of the ultimate good and of moral action), and teleology (the theory of the purpose of it all). Thus, we see that the denial of belief in God necessarily implies a basic set of world view assumptions (axioms or presuppositions) that form a positive interpretation of the state of affairs. Now, it won't do for the atheist to deny that we are discussing the nature of ultimate reality, because that is exactly what these assumptions are about. Everyone has a world view, and everyone has presuppositions, and these, held consciously or not, are views about what is ultimately real. Also, the atheist may protest that there are numerous atheistic philosophies and they cannot all be reduced to one world view. I will grant that there are different atheist philosophies, but the difference between them should not obscure the fundamental agreement on these basic points. The dialectical materialist Marxist, the existentialist, the pragmatic scientist, and the secular humanist may disagree on a number of important but secondary issues, but they are all riding on the same ship, no matter how much they differ in their arrangement of the deck furniture. So the atheist position is not at all the simple denial of a belief, but rather involves a definite interpretation of reality with a number of positive assertions, all of which have the character of assertions about what is ultimate in each of the four respective world view areas. Now once this is brought out in the open, it immediately becomes legitimate, particularly in a discussion of faith and reason, to ask whether or not this set of presuppositions is coherent or internally consistent, and whether or not they satisfy the claim to rationality. Indeed, it becomes imperative to examine them to see if they are capable of giving an intelligible account of human experience and knowledge. That, then, becomes the burden of proof for the atheist, precisely because he continually claims that the Christian belief is irrational, without evidence, illogical, etc. Yet he assumes his own position is rational without a critical evaluation. It is to that that we now turn.

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Now returning to points 3 and 4 above, we must examine again the questions of epistemology and ethics, before we address ontology and teleology. This time, however, we will not restrict ourselves to the problems of empiricism, but we go directly to the problem of universals and particulars. One of the central problems of philosophy is the relation between Unity and Diversity, Permanence and Change, Universals and Particulars. The ancient Greeks recognized that in order to make any intelligible predication about reality it would be necessary to somehow bring to bear universal or general categories of interpretation on the particular elements. The atheist view implies a nominalist view of the universe. The only thing that really exists are the particulars; particles of matter and energy, and the physicists are busily debating about what these really are. (Indeed, some are moving towards pantheism (which is not really theism at all sense it denies the existence of an ultimately personal Being back behind the universe), implying that all things in the end reduce to a field of energy and hence all is One. We won't concern ourselves with this as most atheists do not accept it, but the criticisms of atheism are equally applicable to this view). The Greeks early on divided into two camps, some following Heraclitus who taught that all is flux with the Many being ultimate, and others following Parminides, teaching that all is One and that change is illusion. Later Greek philosophers tried to resolve the problem, such as with Plato and his theory or the world of ideals, but none of them succeeded, and as I have pointed out before, the Greek philosophical experiment eventually degenerated into skepticism and mysticism as has happened in our own culture. So what's the point? Basically, that upon the presumption that the Universe is all there is and that the principles for interpreting it are to be found within it, the One and Many problem immediately arises as the central problem for establishing a rational interpretation of reality. Ontologically the question is, which is ultimate or original, the diversity of the individual particles of matter and energy or the so called laws of nature that supposedly give order to them? Normally, an atheist will say that there is no purposeful order to the universe, so all is ultimately reduced to random chance. The evolutionary process is driven by random mutations, for example, and even scientific literature frequently waxes eloquent over the purposelessness of the universe. This fits with atheistic ontology, because it holds that the only real or concrete elements that exist are the particulars of matter and energy. But the notion of pure chance is incompatible with the idea of causality, for a purely chance event would be uncaused. To account for the apparent order of the universe the atheist appeals to the laws of nature, or to logic. But both of these are problematic in a non-theistic universe. Atheists claim that things behave according to principles that are rational - so for example, not just any combination of atoms can occur since the particles have positive or negative charges and only certain ones can combine in any one reaction. So a law of nature is invoked to stave off the threat of a chaotic universe that follows logically from the notion of chance. But then, the idea of the laws of nature creates a mechanistic reality, and if humanity is included, then such notions as free-will go out the window. So the atheist will say that the laws of nature are not really laws after all, but only descriptions of how nature behaves. They are only theoretical constructs that seem to describe reality. And so then we are back to

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chance again. Now, I have seen this kind of ping-pong back and forth between deterministic law and indeterminate chance in atheistic literature as well as in debates with Christians. And it raises some significant problems. The atheistic principle of diversification (chance) destroys the unity of things. The atheistic principle of unity (logic or laws of nature) threatens the individuality of the particulars, but it even involves more serious problems. I have a tape of a debate between a Christian and an atheist where the atheist talked about the laws of logic, the law of contradiction for instance, as being essential for rationality. Later, the atheist crossexamined the Christian and asked, "Do you believe in the existence of immaterial entities? If so, give me an example." The Christian responded, "Yes, the laws of logic." And here is the problem. If ultimate reality is reducible to matter and energy, and your assertion, FZ, that only brains exist and not minds, is an example of this, then explain to me how there can possibly exist any type of universally true, abstract principles of reasoning such as logic. They are immaterial. They are not generated by the universe, for no immaterial realities exist. Or if they are generated by the universe they are generated in the individual specks of the matter and energy found in the brains of the people who formulated them. In that case, then, they cannot have a transcendent character, being simply finite elements generated by chance process in the brain. Thus, no necessary universal validity.

In defense of empiricism, or the scientific method, it has been stated that the method works, it produces technology, so obviously we ought to depend on it to tell us about truth. It may not give us the final truth, but it gives us a close approximation of truth and after all, its all we've got. This response seems reasonable on the surface, but it has several serious problems. First of all, the idea that it gives us a close approximation to the truth, but not the truth itself and that it is the only access we have to the truth, violates the law of contradiction and is hence irrational. There is no way that the method could be known to give a close approximation of the truth, unless the truth itself were already known and this could be compared to the results of the empirical method to see if it is actually a close approximation. But it is precisely the final ultimate truth that is admittedly not known (and presumably unknowable) by the atheist. But the atheist must presuppose that the final truth is known in order to know he has an approximation. Hence, this defense of empiricism assumes that the atheist both knows and does not know the ultimate truth. In fact, this defense merely begs the question and leaves the atheist asserting, by blind faith, that the result of his scientific method is actually approximately close to an unknowable truth about an unknowable ultimate reality.

The other fallacy in this atheistic defense of empiricism is the idea that because science "works" then the empirical method must tell us truth about reality. But this notion can be shown to be patently false on the basis of historical examples. That is, there are various examples, both ancient and recent, of theories that were held to be true for years, that functioned fine as predictors of various physical events and phenomenon, yet are today thought to be totally in error as to their description of reality. One of the best examples is

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the Ptolemaic system of astronomy which places the earth at the center of the solar system, with the sun and planets revolving around it in circular orbits. The mathematics of this system were worked out by the ancient Greeks. Indeed, even before Ptolemy, Thales of Miletus was able to successfully predict an eclipse as long ago as 500 BC. The ancient Greek system functioned for nearly two thousand years and adequately handled the empirical data available. In my history and philosophy of science class as an undergraduate I was surprised to learn that at the time of the Copernicus and Galileo controversy, the data available actually supported Ptolemy better than it supported Copernicus. (BTW I did not attend an evangelical or Christian university). The observations of Galileo (who believed in the inerrancy of the Bible) began to raise empirical doubts about the Aristotelianism that made a philosophical dogma of the ancient Greek system, but it wasn't until Tycho Brahe's observations in the latter part of the 16th century that sufficient data existed to show that the Copernican system might be preferable. But even then, until the mathematics of elliptical orbits was worked out by Kepler, the Ptolemaic system was equal in its ability to predict. One of the main motives for moving to the idea of the sun at the center of the solar system was that it eliminated the necessity of epicycles (small circular motions) in the orbits in order to explain the observation (from earth) of the temporary reversals of direction in the planets' motions through the sky. Thus, one of the major motivations for the new theory was that it was simpler and thus more aesthetically pleasing. In fact, the law of parsimony (the simplest explanations are usually the best) is frequently appealed to in science today, but it is merely a metaphysical assumption, or even an aesthetic preference, and itself not empirically proven (scientists in practice often chose theories for non-empirical reasons). The shift to Kepler's system, however, seemed to be preferable for mathematical reasons as well and it comports better with the much superior data we have today. But this case clearly demonstrates that a theory now known to be false, that of Ptolemy, can qualify as one that works to produce good practical results. In 1983 J. L. Mackie, an atheist, presented a theory that denies the Special Theory of Relativity but is empirically equivalent (see Space, Time and Causality, ed. Richard Swinburne). I am not qualified to evaluate this theory, but it exists as an option. Personally, I have no reason to doubt either Kepler or Einstein, but it seems reasonable to suppose that if history has shown various false scientific theories to work in the practical world of application and technology, then the fact that a current empirical theory works is in no way proof that it is true, much less that it tells us anything about ultimate reality. This has led many philosophers and scientists to adopt operationalism, the notion that science is really a set of laboratory and experimental operations, and not a description of any supposed external reality. The conclusions of the scientist are about the readings on his instruments, and these are adequate to produce technology and successfully predict other experimental results. In any case, you can consult any good text on the philosophy of science or works on the history of science such as Thomas Kuhn's The Copernican Revolution and the books of Stanley Jaki for more information.

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So the defenses offered in favor of empiricism by atheists stand refuted and my original challenge unanswered. Empiricism, assumed as the source of all knowledge, cannot tell us anything about what actually exists or not, about what is real or isn't real. The empiricist can only tell us about what his sense experiences are and even then he has to smuggle in universal and abstract categories that he does not get from empirical knowledge in order to communicate the content of these senses. He cannot tell how abstract ideas and universals can be derived from sense experience, he cannot justify nor explain the universal necessity and applicability of the laws of logic and he cannot show that what he thinks he knows actually corresponds to anything objective outside his own head. In the end, the Christian would say that the atheist has knowledge, but the atheist cannot explain why or how, and indeed if the atheist were consistent with his own presuppositions all rationality would be destroyed as all universals evaporate in the abyss of the pure chaos of the random Many and all facts, or particulars, become absorbed into the undifferentiated unity of the One. So my conclusion remains. The atheist is irrational in his assertion that his empirical method provides a valid reason to not believe in God because by it he sees no evidence of God. The atheist draws a conclusion about the nature of ultimate reality based on a method that he admits can say nothing about what is ultimately real and in fact, that I (and many others) have shown to be incapable, on the basis of atheistic assumptions, of providing any truth whatever. Now we shall return to the question of ethics. B>>I can, but will not cheat on my wife, because I told her I wouldn't. She should be able to bank on that. I can't defend myself if I went back on that. I wouldn't expect her to understand if I did. If she did, she's a better person than me.<< B, you gave an admirable attempt at defending ethics in the absence of absolutes, but really, there is no reason other than personal preference that you should act as you have described. Without absolutes, the statement that I should not cheat on my wife is on the same level as the statement, "I don't like cream cheese." It just tells us about what you like. I admire you for being a man of your word. But why should she be able to bank on it. Because it will make her happy? So is that the standard of right and wrong? What exactly is the standard? You and several others stated that the survival instinct produced ethics. First of all this is a purely dogmatic assertion. It is not empirically verifiable. But beyond that, this confuses the question entirely. The survival instinct might generate behavior useful for survival, but it tells us nothing about why anybody should survive. And that is what ethics is about. It is not an anthropologist's description of what is, but rather discussion of what ought to be. Even your own assertion presupposes this. You could not know that your wife was a better person than you for understanding, because on the basis of your theory of ethics, the notion of better or worse has no referent. It is vacuous. Or are you saying that her understanding has better survival value?

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Perhaps another way of putting the question would be to discuss the notion of justice. About 15 years ago when I lived in Colorado, a little 3 year old was kidnapped and three days later found abandoned at the bottom of an outhouse in a park in the mountains near Denver. The child was alive, but had been there for a couple of days. Quite naturally, there was a general sense of moral outrage over this. And this from Christians and nonChristians of all varieties. How do you feel about this? Was this an act of injustice? Is there an objective standard of justice that demands that the perpetrator be punished? On an emotional level I bet you would agree. But on the basis of your presuppositions it logically follows that no such standard of justice exists. The very notion of justice presupposes the existence of an objective moral standard that is absolute. Once the notion of moral absolutes is introduced we are once again back in the realm of universal abstract concepts that cannot be derived from a universe composed of energy and matter. Such ideas seem to be necessary, unless we are to abandon justice entirely, but they are not available in the atheist's system. However, the atheist lives and acts as though they were. If, after all, we reduce ethics to survival of the species or to social consensus, then really, what basis is there for saying that Hitler was wrong? Maybe his action would support the survival of the species, nobody could predict what the results would be in 200 or 1000 years. If ethics is derived from survival of the species, then why not take control of our own destiny and improve the human race by eliminating inferior races? Sounds horrible, but in the atheist's universe there is no rational reason not to follow this course. I will not belabor the ethical problem as I have raised it repeatedly and again, no one has justified morality on the basis of naturalism. The Leff article to which I referred earlier still stands in need of a response if atheism is to commend itself as a rational world view. B >>Yet this still avoids the crux of the matter....how do we, how can we know this "revelation" is from God and that this God, among countless other competitors, is the one we should trust as reliable? Ya see, it comes back to a bias thingie. If you start with a God/creator bias, it slants everything you see, just like you and your wife duking it out over covers vs. ten tons of air conditioning. She's right to want to be warm under a heap of steam heated blankets while asleep, you're right to want an iceberg suspended from the ceiling dripping on your bare chest so you can snooze. But who is ultimately right?<< B, this does not avoid the crux of the matter, but it gets right to the crux of the matter because the matter is the question of bias, or rather presuppositions. And they do slant everything, just as your presuppositions slant everything in your interpretation. But as for the matter of why this God, the Triune God of the Bible, instead of the other competitors, it is because there are no other competitors. That is, there is no other God who is distinct and prior to the universe and who is absolutely personal in his nature. He is both One and Many and is hence not dependent upon the universe for the experience of diversity or anything else for that matter. As Creator he is the source of the being of all particulars. Yet since ultimate reality is personal then universal abstractions do exist. Logic exists and is grounded in the character of God. He is rationality itself and since he created the universe according to his own rational plan, its order is perfectly accounted

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for. Universal abstractions such as moral absolutes reflect the character of God, and they also exist. Now the atheist has knowledge and he has ethics and even insists, in moments of moral indignation, that there is real objective justice, but his presuppositions logically destroy both knowledge and ethics (oughtness). He lives in a universe of both abstract universals and real particulars, but his ontology, if allowed to go to its logical conclusion destroys either the unity or the particulars. His world view cannot explain both the oneness and the manyness of the universe. The atheist is left with a mass of confusion in an unknowable universe, but by blind faith in his principles he keeps going. He must, for he cannot live consistently as if what he thinks is true actually were true. Unable to justify them in terms of his atheistic axioms, the atheist must borrow concepts such as universal abstract principles of logic, moral oughtness, and purpose from the Christian theistic world view and from the general revelation of God in nature and in his own heart (metaphorically) (Romans 1:20-21). In this sense he is living on the cultural capital of the Christian west, which produced modern science in the first place (see Stanley Jaki, Science and Creation: from eternal cycles to an oscillating universe for a detailed history of the cultural roots of modern science and exactly why it never developed to fruition in a non-Christian context). We all begin, as I said, with a faith commitment. That is, we start our reasoning with propositions that we take for true that have not been proven by empirical means or prior rational arguments. Otherwise they would not be axioms. And all thinking presupposes something. If, after a thorough examination, the axioms of atheism are found to be selfcontradictory and incapable of accounting for knowledge, ethics, the nature of the world we encounter, and unable to provide meaning for life, then the only rational course of action is to reject them in favor of a system that can meet these requirements. At least, once we see where atheism (and agnosticism as well) really leave us, the atheist may not be as inclined to ridicule the Christian theist for choosing different axioms, namely, that the starting point for all reasoning is on the basis of the presupposition of the Triune God and his revelation in the Bible. The reason for accepting the God of the Bible as the true God is simply, that unless he is presupposed, rationality dissolves into the abyss of skepticism, morality evaporates into arbitrary opinion, and the meaning of life finally is crushed in the future destruction of everything human as this world, and eventually the entire universe succumbs to the inevitable dominion of entropy. The existence of this God is the necessary presupposition of all rational predication. Unless he exists it is not possible to rationally prove anything at all. The Bible says that "The beginning of knowledge is the fear of the LORD" (Proverbs 1:7). This is not a pietistic cliché. It is a profound epistemological statement. There is no adequate reference point for interpreting the universe to be derived from within it. Such a referent must come from a sovereign and omniscient mind that knows and controls the universe from beginning to end. It must come from outside of the finite universe, from an infinite point of reference. In sum, it must come from God's revealed word. And only one revelation exists which presents us a God adequate to meet the epistemological, ethical, and existential needs of humankind.

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FZ >>I'm sorry, Alan, but this is absurd. You have not brought a convincing argument to the table, despite your otherwise excellent style. What kind of "truth" would revelation bring? The contents of the CRC handbook?<< F, you may not be convinced, indeed, only God the Holy Spirit can convince you, but given the disastrous implications of your presuppositions, I prefer to choose presuppositions that can account for: 1) the laws of logic, 2) rationality, 3) both the order and disorder of the universe, 4) morality (the reality and intensity of love as something that is intrinsic to reality since ultimate reality is personal, rather than a mere function of the secretion of hormones driven by our DNA's need for survival, the sense that we all have that there is justice and things ought to be a certain way), 5) human knowledge - the fact that what is in my head does correspond to what is out there (since a rational God made them both so that they would), and so on. And the kind of truth that the revelation of God in the Bible brings is exactly this truth that tells us who God is, what the universe is (a creation of God), who we are (creatures of God in his image, who are sinners in need of salvation) and that this is God's universe and he will one day call each of us to give an account of ourselves to him. You may find this absurd. I'm sure you do. But it is not because you have a rational alternative. It is rather, as the Bible teaches, a result of ethical rebellion against your Creator. The apostle Paul put it well when he said "The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing...where is the wise?...where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" (1 Cor. 1:18, 20). And the appropriate response to this is to repent, give up the presupposition of your autonomy from your Creator, and exchange your irrational world view for the only one that can rescue you from the epistemological and ethical futility of denying him. He came to this world, suffered and died in the place of sinners like us, so that we might be saved from such intellectual chaos, and that we might have eternal life. Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, is the Logos, the logic, the rationality that illumines the world. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). "But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8). Well, its been fun guys and I'd like to continue in the future some time, but for now I will take a break I think. I have enjoyed our discussion and wish you the best. Alan

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*********

I was swamped with work at this time and had high hopes of gracefully exiting from the discussions as I had insufficient time on my hands to respond adequately. However, there came a few more posts that demanded a response, so the dialogue continued for several more days. Alan Myatt, Ph.D.

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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to LA, >> Well, I've read a good bit of atheistic material by different types of atheists, so I think I have a good grasp of this type of thinking. < Now it's time for Without Miracles by Gary Cziko. ISBN 0-262-03232-5. But my money is on you won't. L< I'll order a copy as soon as I get my next paycheck. Normally it takes a couple of months for me to get stuff here by surface mail, but I'll be glad to read it after it gets here (1) Alan ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to LA, Message text written by LA >. And it is the only one available to us. You can debate until you are out of breath about what's "really out there." But it's a pointless and futile exercise. There is no way we can directly perceive whatever that external reality is. Or even if it is. All we have are our predictive models which, as they work, increase our confidence in their assumptions. And, as they fail, decrease that confidence. But you will never know anything with absolute certainty. < The incoherence, that is the self-contradictory nature of your world view becomes apparent here L. These statements of yours are statements about the the nature of ultimate reality. To state that it is unknowable is to state something about its ultimate nature. To state that the empirical method is the only method available to us is also a universal generalization about the nature of ultimate reality. So you both say that you cannot know about what is really there, but you do know some of its attributes. You know that it can generate human beings without divine creation. You know that whatever it is, it does not include the possibility of revelation. As I showed before, from this logically follows a number of propositions about reality. But since elsewhere you have denied that logic is universal then you can contradict yourself if you want. Your system is irrational. It reduces to blind faith. It says, well really we cannot know what is out there, but we can

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know that whatever it is, it could never under any circumstances be the Christian God. It simply dodges and begs the epistemological question. Message text written by LA > > As for the question of knoweldge, the issue is whether of not atheistic presuppositions can sustain a rational epistemology. I and many others claim that they cannot. < A position that can only be maintained by steadfastly remaining in the 19th century. L< An interesting dogmatic assertion L, offered without a shred of documentation. In fact, the 20th century has been much, much harder on atheistic epistemology than the 19th. Can you reference any 20th century thinker who has answered the skeptics? With the existentialists, post-mods, etc., it has been much more clear that atheism leads to irrationalism and the denial of the possibility of truth. I think it is you who are out of date, but then that is neither here nor there. The question is can you justify knowledge on the basis of your system. And from what you have said here the clear answer is no. Message text written by LA > You still believe in "abstract universals?" Boy, you are out of date. Let me know when you reach the 1930s.< Your post makes my points better than I ever could. Since there are no universal abstract principles then there is no rule that says, what is most recent is true. Besides, The kind of skepticism you are supporting is as ancient as the Greek skeptics, (whom you have not answered). If logic arose by chance as you suggest, then it is not in any way universally binding. Rationality is thus not a requirement for continued discourse. If I want to violate the law of contradiction, no big deal, because it arose by pure chance. But how can the irrational give rise to the rational? Anyway, the discussion is now over, since you reject the universally binding character of logic there is no further possibilty of logical discourse. At least that seems to me to be the implication of your view. Alan -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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From LA to Alan Myatt, > The incoherence, that is the self-contradictory nature of your world view becomes apparent here L. < Only if one attempts to squeeze what I say into one of those handy-dandy, predefined, presupposed, premade strawmen (now available in convenient six packs!). > So you both say that you cannot know about what is really there, but you do know some of its attributes. < No. You didn't pay attention. Maybe your presuppositions got in the way. I'm saying we do not know anything with certainty. That we gain confidence in the assumptions of our models by how useful they are. > You know that it can generate human beings without divine creation. You know that whatever it is, it does not include the possibility of revelation. < No. I take the position that there is no evidence of "creation." And that the concept of "revelation" really doesn't even make any sense. It's rather begging the question to say that some being you can't demonstrate exists has told you things. And since it told you things, it must exist. > It says, well really we cannot know what is out there, but we can know that whatever it is, it could never under any circumstances be the Christian God. It simply dodges and begs the epistemological question. < I did not say this. But I'm sure you cannot help but hear this since it fits one of your little pat, canned replies. > Anyway, the discussion is now over, since you reject the universally binding character of logic there is no further possibilty of logical discourse. < Of course the discussion is over. I've refused to concede that Alan Myatt has all the answers. That's what your post is actually saying. Several times, you make comments like: > As I showed before, from this logically follows a number of propositions about reality. < I mean get real. You have "shown" this to yourself. Not to anybody else. These "as I have shown" kinds of fatuous comments actually show that your posts are not intended to be discussion. They're nothing but lectures. You act as if we all should be taking notes. Well, I'm not interested. Presup strikes me as nothing but some perverse offshoot of postmodernist deconstruction. Your view is the arbitrary, irrational one. All you've done is

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argue that there's no way to judge between worldviews, that it's all "faith," and so what you do is just pick the premises you like. I mean your posts are full of all kinds of polysyllabic words and names of dead philosophers but you don't respond to anything anybody says to you. It's almost as if keywords trigger a macro. I still say that if the denial of the usefulness of emperical evidence leads to arbitrariness in judging between worldviews. Empericism has its limitations. That you seem to have just stumbled over this and trumpet it so loudly is almost amusing. But, then, there is this: > In fact, the 20th century has been much, much harder on atheistic epistemology than the 19th. Can you reference any 20th century thinker who has answered the skeptics? With the existentialists, post-mods, etc., it has been much more clear that atheism leads to irrationalism and the denial of the possibility of truth. < You're into that philosophy waste of time are you? Philosophy is a dead end off shoot of religion full of people who couldn't hack it in any real degree, can't get real jobs, and sit around sniping at anybody who accomplishes anything because real world accomplishments belie their sad little denials of the world going on outside their tiny, pointless little academic circle (hm... can't use that word... I'll end with "circles"). IAC, you've ignored any real attempt to engage you on some of your ideas. You still won't tell me how, if everything is a matter of choosing ones suppositions, what makes your suppostions any better than anybody's? You swear up and down you've logicked your way to glory but your conclusions still rest on your premises. That you find my approach "irrational" means what? It means I disagree with you. And nothing more. Because, in your approach, all I have to (2) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From QO to Alan Myatt, >> If logic arose by chance as you suggest, then it is not in any way universally binding. Rationality is thus not a requirement for continued discourse. << You know, Alan, that is one of the most confused pieces of reasoning I've ever seen, and I see it every time a "philosophical" theist comes to this forum. Trust me: It makes no sense, this thing you've just said above. Or don't trust me: Let's talk it out. Let's see if you can actually answer hard questions about it in anything approaching a meaningful manner.

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Start with this one: If rocks arose by chance, does that mean that they cannot be useful to humans? Now here's another one: No matter how logic arose, do you think anyone other than the insane will take you seriously as a dialoguer here if you write with complete illogic? See if you can answer those two questions. It will help you see the nonsensical nature of your assertion which I've quoted at the top of this message. q.... ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to Q, >Trust me: It makes no sense, this thing you've just said above.< Sorry, I don't trust you. I need more than an assertion. I need you to prove it. >Or don't trust me: Let's talk it out. Let's see if you can actually answer hard questions about it in anything approaching a meaningful manner.<< As soon as you give me a hard question I'll be glad to answer it. I haven't seen you deliver one yet. > If rocks arose by chance, does that mean that they cannot be useful to humans?< The issue here is not is logic useful, but rather does it actually provide us with truth. The theory of epicycles was useful to explain and predict the motion of the planets, but further research with better technology indicated that it was not true. The question here is how can the rational arise out of the irrational? And if irrational forces are ultimately the source of our reason, then why on earth should we trust it to tell us about truth? If logic is not universally binding, that is, if it has no objective status over the many finite human minds that exist, then why should it be binding in the specific case of this discourse? Because it is useful? Useful for what? To manipulate others? Or to actually insure that our discourse is rational because it adheres to an objective standard of rationality. If logic arose by chance it might have some uses, but it would be purely arbitrary to assert that it is a signpost to the truth. >Now here's another one: No matter how logic arose, do you think anyone other than the insane will take you seriously as a dialoguer here if you write with complete illogic?< No, I don't think so, but again this dodges the issue. Indeed, the fact that those whose world view has no way to account for logic find themselves dependent upon logic for even the most simple communication should give them pause to think. On the one hand

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your presuppositions imply that logic is arbitrary and they cannot justify either its existence or its validity. On the other hand you can't make any kind of an argument without assuming the necessity and validity of logic. See the contradiction here? Atheism leads to epistemological chaos. Please demonstrate otherwise. I'm waiting. Alan Myatt ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to LA, Message text written by LA >> Since it is clear in my own mind, and the minds of many others (I can give you the references if you like) as to exactly what I mean and why it shows the impossibilty of atheism, I have concluded that perhaps you just have not understood. < >I love it. "Whoever doesn't agree with my every position just does not understand. References on request." Still waving that Chilton's manual around?< Well, it wasn't just a matter of disagreement, since Z asserted that my statements did not say anything and since he offered no analysis and refutation. I was puzzled as to exactly what he did not get. I am content to wave my copy of Hume around until one of you accepts the challenge to answer him. (The 20th century approach, seems to me to be to discuss Hume in history of philosophy courses, and then to continue on without offering any kind of a refutation.) >> On the other hand, if we begin with the presupposition that the universe is a dependant creation of a rational God, then it becomes possible to justify both empirical knowledge and abstract universal principles as found in the laws of logic. << >"On the other hard, if we begin with the presupposition that the universe is a dependant creation of a rational Great Bird, then it becomes possible to justify both empirical knowledge and abstract universal principles as found in the laws of logic."< >Makes just as much sense.< If the Great Bird had attributes identical to those of the God of the Bible then it would. The question that you have consistently dodged, L, is the issue of the location of ultimacy in predication, being, morals, and purpose. What are the metaphysical preconditions of rationality? You continue to dodge the issue while asserting that you have knowledge and

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asserting that Christianity is irrational. And then you make dumb statements about great birds that are irrelevant to the question at hand. Now you have just made another bare assertion, a dogmatic statement, and offered no support whatever. What you have not done, not even attempted to do, is to analyze the Christian notion of God and explain why it makes no more sense than the big bird. On the other hand I have offered a deconstruction of the epistemology and ethics that must follow in an atheistic universe, and I am still waiting for any one of you to show how this is not the case. So far all you have done is simply reassert you empiricism, without giving any answer to the problems. In another post you said: > You've denied any way of judging between the chosen axioms. < No, I have not. What I have said is let us set forth the basic axioms of various world views and see where they lead to logically. You seem to be saying that empiricism is the final arbiter for deciding what axioms to choose. In anycase, whatever you say is the final arbiter, that becomes your basic axiom, because it is not decided in terms of anything else. The axiom of empiricism, which seems to me to be your faith principle, in a nontheistic context leads to skepticism. On the basis of Christian theistic assumptions empirical knowledge is justifiable. >More accurately, that the concept "ultimate truth" has no real meaning. < That is itself a statement about the nature of "ultimate reality." Try as we might we cannot avoid making assumptions about the nature of what is ultimately real. There is no neutral ground. The negation of one thing involves the assertion of others, like it or not. No I am not merely declaring victory an fleeing. I think that you and others have offered some challenging responses, although not really anything new to me. Then again, nothing I have said here is original either. However, I think our positions are about as fully stated as they are going to be (I could say more about the details of your various replies), and I fail to see that anyone here has refuted my basic argument. So I am turing my time to other responsibilities but I will be back from time to time. Alan

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From LA to Alan Myatt, > If the Great Bird had attributes identical to those of the God of the Bible then it would. <

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And that's it, right there. You are choosing between worldviews by choosing the end that you prefer. There is no reason to prefer any religion over any other in your worldview because it is all a matter of choosing "suppositions." > And then you make dumb statements about great birds that are irrelevant to the question at hand. < "Dumb" only because you disagree. And that which Myatt disagrees with is Wrong. No, it's not irrelevant. And you just showed why. You say the bit about the Great Bird would make sense if it were the god you choose to believe in. Which is exactly what I've been saying. That your worldview is arbitrary and whimsical. > On the other hand I have offered a deconstruction... Maybe that'll impress the French. Or not. They've been abandoning deconstructionism lately too. > So far all you have done is simply reassert you empiricism, without giving any answer to the problems. < I'm not interested in conceding your premises. > No, I have not. What I have said is let us set forth the basic axioms of various world views and see where they lead to logically. < Oh yes you have. You've set up your personal analysis as being The Truth. And the arbiter for what axioms to choose is obviously you. Which, I think, is the point of modern christianity. A smoke screen for the belief the nuagers are at least open about of "I am god." > That is itself a statement about the nature of "ultimate reality." No it isn't. It's a statement about human perception. Whatever (if anything) is "out there," all we have are our perceptions. All you have are your perceptions. Logic is a method of perception. Your bible is something you perceive. And, btw, you operate on the same basis I do. You only know that there is a bible by empirical evidence. That you see them, that you can touch them, that you hear and read others talking about the same thing. Else, how do you know it's not something you just made up in your head? In fact, how can you ever be sure? People who are insane are quite sure their perceptions are real. (3) L

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Footnotes*********************************

(1) I did buy the book. It is an attempt to show "that all novel forms of adapted complexity -- whether single celled organisms or scientific theories -- emerge from an evolutionary process involving cumulative blind variation and selection" (quote from the back cover notes of the paperback edition). But if this is the case then Cziko's theory itself is the result of cumulative blind variation and selection, i.e., it was belched up out of the chaos of the sea of Being through a process not subjected to the rational control of any personal mind. If this is the case, then on what basis should we imagine that it actually corresponds to whatever reality might exist? On what basis can we rationally believe Cziko's theory to be true? The nature of the problem is pointed out by Cziko himself on page 86, although he appears to completely miss the obvious selfcontradictory and irrationalist element in his "selectionist" epistemology. He says:

It does appear that an evolution-inspired epistemology is resisted by many philosophers because it is inconsistent with their attempts to establish an infallible, justifiable foundation for human knowledge. In this sense, the continually reappearing themes of providentialist rationalism and instructionist empiricism can be seen as attempts to find some bedrock, some firm base on which to base our knowledge, whether it be infallible prior knowledge, God, or completely trustworthy sensory experience. An evolutionary selectionist epistemology cannot provide such a foundation since selectionist processes are not foresighted and give no guarantee of errorless fit, especially not with future environments not yet encountered. Yet just such a selectionist perspective is the basis for an alternative epistemology that avoids the problems of providential and instructionist epistemologies while at the same time accounting for the increasingly better fit of our knowledge to the world.

But how does he know that our knowledge is increasingly fitting better with the world? He could only know this if he had some prior knowledge of the nature of the world, what it is like and what is true about it, so that he could compare our knowledge with this independent knowledge of the world and see that there is indeed an increasingly better fit between the two. Yet this independent knowledge of the world is what he explicitly denies is possible when he denies the existence of any "infallible, justifiable foundation for human knowledge". In fact, he would need what amounts to a revelation from God in order to have such independent knowledge of the world to which he could compare our

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knowledge. I have already dealt with this issue in these discussions and Cziko offers no solution because his system, in principle, cannot do so. He assumes that our knowledge is fitting increasingly with the world without any rational basis whatever. He simply begs the question, or if you will, makes a blind leap of faith that such is the case when he has no way of showing this. In fact, future generations may find that much of the structure of scientific theory that we call knowledge today is hopelessly off base. The history of science demonstrates this time and again. Cziko's theory, with all its sophisticated scientific dress, still boils down to the age-old tension between chance and law (determinism), fact and logic, that plagues all nonChristian thought. This is the rationalist-irrationalist tension that Van Til and others have pointed out as basic to non-Christian thought since all such thought is built on selfcontradictory assumptions. As long as this dilemma remains unresolved any attempt at a theory of knowledge will eventually collapse under the strain of the irresolvable contradiction between the two. And the dilemma is in principle unresolvable on the basis of philosophical naturalism. (See Greg L. Bahnsen, Van Til's Apologetic beginning with page 389 for a discussion of the problem.) In addition, Cziko offers no attempt, in his discussions of the development of learning, language, and knowledge by selection and chance, to account for the existence and origin of information, especially of the complexity encountered in the most basic molecular structure of life. The word "information" does not even occur in the book's index. This information presumably existed before there was any intelligence that could process information, but how is complex information created by chance and selection? Werner Loewenstein, biologist at Columbia University, describes the massive complexity of this information in detail and attempts to give an evolutionary acccount of it. Yet he notes that ultimately whatever information there is that gave order to the universe must have been present from the beginning and after pushing as far back to the origins of the universe as he can get, simply states that we have no idea how such information came to be, it's just there (see The Touchstone of Life, New York: Oxford U. Press, 1999, chpt. 2). Michael Behe, in Darwin's Black Box (New York:Free Press, 1996), demonstrates that such complexity is beyond naturalistic explanations. Once again I will refer the reader to the writings of those working in the area of intelligent design theory. William Dembski argues convincingly that there are good scientific grounds for demonstrating that the specified complexity encountered in the information contained in DNA and RNA could not possibly be the result of naturalistic processes but must have been designed by an intellegence. Dembski has two earned doctorates, a Ph.D. in mathematics (University of Chicago) and a Ph.D. in philosophy (University of Illinois at Chicago). His arguments and conclusions were defended in The Design Inference (Cambridge Unversity Press). He later published a simplified version, Intelligent Design (Downers Grove: Inter Varsity Press) so that the educated layperson could follow the argument without the knowledge of complex mathematics. The interested reader should also consult Dean L. Overman, A Case Against Accident and Self-Organization for a summary of the kinds of problems and difficulties that beset the position held by Cziko.

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(2) There must have been a glitch here because the original post abruptly stops and appears to have been cut short. Anyway, I never got the rest of it as far as I could tell. In any case, by now it was clear that there was no point in continuing the discussion much longer. L's post degenerated into a diatribe against philosophy and philosophers in general, indicating the kind of anti-intellectual irrationalism that I had argued all along must be the end result of atheistic thinking if allowed to run its course. Again, ad hominem arguments are the stock in trade of those who have no refutation of their opponent's position. (3) There did not seem to me to be any point in responding to this as we had obviously reached an impass like two kids saying "did not" "did so" etc. I would just point out to the reader that in spite of his protests to the contrary he is making all kinds of assertions about the nature of ultimate reality. Certainly the statement that all we have are our perceptions is a statement about the nature of ultimate reality. He defends his empiricism by finally appealing to the notion that there is nothing else. But he has never given any adequate reason as to how he knows there is nothing else. In fact, he reaches this conclusion because it is the only one left open to him by virtue of his presuppositions. By the way, he did not appear to understand my remark about the Great Bird. I was not, obviously, admiting that the Great Bird (whatever that is) is as rational to believe in as God. I did say that if the Great Bird had attributes identical to God then he would be a sufficient reference point for truth. This is simply to say that if the Great Bird had God's attributes then he would clearly be God, and the name "Great Bird" would simply be another, albeit quite strange, way of refering to God. The point is not the name, the point is that all valid predication depends on the existence of a Being with the attributes of the Triune God as described in the Bible. Alan Myatt, Ph.D.

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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From CI to Allan Myatt, Alan, You keep writing things like:

>> On the other hand I have offered a deconstruction of the epistemology and ethics that must follow in an atheistic universe, and I am still waiting for any one of you to show how this is not the case. << >> But how can the irrational give rise to the rational. << Basically, you claim that atheistic assumptions cannot support a theory of knowledge. But this claim is based on one huge false assumption. You wrongly demand that knowledge _must_ be based on certainty. But this is an irrational demand. You presuppose the existence of God. I presuppose the existence of the physical world. I can rationally deny God. I can behave as if he does not exist and I will suffer no consequence in doing so. I will have no reason to doubt my assumption. You cannot rationally deny the physical world. If you behave as if it does not exist you will surely suffer consequences -- in this lifetime. You will eventually have reason to doubt your assumption. You will become fairly certain there are very hard things out there that are beyond your control. This is a painful knowledge system most of us learned as infants. Some misguided philosophers have tried to convince us we cannot be absolutely certain of this knowledge. Well, maybe so. But claims of certainty have nothing to do with knowledge. In fact, it is often its opposite. Obsessive quests for certainty lead to pathological self-doubt and irrationalism. Certainty is almost always irrational -- both claims of it and demands for it. If we waited for absolute certainty before we made everyday decisions we would be racked with indecision. How could I know that Interstate 35 runs through Dallas today? It did yesterday but how can I be certain it does today? So if I cannot be certain of this, does it follow I have no knowledge of the highway system? Do I have nothing but "faith" that the highway system is still there? This is an absurd prerequisite for knowledge. It's a theological demand. Maybe this is why you obsess over it. The atheist is not concerned about your theological demands. They know those demands are irrational and lead to intellectual paralysis. Knowledge is not based on certainty. Presuppositionalists must get over the naive notion that what is not undeniably true is therefore utterly irrational. Knowledge is much more complex than that. It's not based on all evidence. It's based on the best possible evidence. It's not based on "beyond the shadow of a doubt" but rather on

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"beyond a reasonable doubt." Knowledge is based on what is most likely true. Once this is realized, the presuppositionalist complaints about atheistic epistemology crumble away. They are seen for what they are -- flawed arguments based on fear of the unknown. Additionally, the tables are turned. Since the presuppositionalist demands a foundation of certainty for the atheist, he must either accept his own hypocrisy or admit it's a goal he can never achieve for himself. Absolute certainty of the existence of God implies absolute knowledge. There is no way a presuppositionalist can claim his Holy book came from God unless he eliminates all other possible explanations. Claims of revelation are ultimately irrational claims of personal omniscience. He is not claiming to know God, he is claiming to be God. This I don't think he is willing to do. Therefore he is left in the embarrassing position of holding atheists to an unrealistic standard to which he is unwilling to hold himself. And it gets worse. Since the Christian presuppositionalist is unwilling to challenge his original presuppositions, what he really has is a theory of dogma, not a theory of knowledge. This makes it hard for him to understand how an atheist can live in an undogmatic world. Since the atheist's presuppositions are not dogmatic, they can be challenged. Presuppositionalists see this as a weakness, but it is, in fact, a strength. It permits a true feedback system of knowledge such as gotten from the Scientific Method. Such a system is impossible under the presuppositionalist's theocratic system. Aberrations in the knowledge base could never force adjustment of "divine" presuppositions because those are assumed to be true to the end of time. Results are forced to conform to fixed presuppositions or they are explained away as miracles. OTOH, the atheist does not consider his presuppositions to be divine. Atheist presuppositions are forced to track the empirical evidence. This is the reverse of the presuppositionalist's world view. Presuppositionalists are supposition oriented. Atheists are result oriented. That's why the Christian presuppositionalist finds empiricism so repugnant. Ultimately, observations might challenge all presuppositions. This is very scary stuff. This fear causes the Christian presuppositionalist to stick his head in the sand. The universe is unfriendly. It's an impersonal place. It doesn't care a flip for his glorified presuppositions. He chooses instead to cling to a comfortable fiction. But he's really just floating alone in a warm shark infested sea. He's isolated. The non communicability of the religious experience tends to isolate the individual. There is no sharing of the subjective experience. Meaning is strictly personal. The Christian refuses to permit us to derive meaning from the only common ground among us -- nature. Meaning comes only from an invisible world they cannot be sure exists and cannot prove to anyone else. Meaning is based the subjective abstract, on personal revelation. But there is no medium in which to share this religious experience. There is no way to communicate ones revealed truth. True communication is impossible. If they have knowledge, they cannot share it, and we could never know it. There is no arbitration of Truth because I cannot really know my neighbor's arbitrator. Human problems cannot be discussed in any meaningful way. For all practical purposes, there is no foundation for true knowledge to exist at all in the theocratic system.

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Therefore, religious experience as the basis of meaning and knowledge is doomed. It is inherently personal rather than universal. Truth is experienced from within, not from without. The relevancy of the real world is put into doubt. Sensual experience is questioned. Since Christian presuppositionalists question it themselves, they try to force their doubt onto the innocent bystanding atheist. When the only common ground among people is scorned, all hope of knowledge is put into jeopardy. So religious man has no way to distinguish between what is real and what is only in his head. Fantasy and reality are fused into a confused personal mess. There is no objective standard with which to determine whose invented reality is true. Evidence and logic are corrupt from the start. No objective conclusion is possible. People talk at one another rather than to one another. Christians, for example, suppose their "truth" is based on the "certainty" of the Bible. Yet what has this "certainty" lead to? Factionalization. Christians agree on very little. Who is right? The Baptist? The Presbyterian? The Roman Catholic? The Latter Day Saint? How can "certainty" lead to both a true-blue Christian liberal and a ultra-conservative? A Neo-Nazi or a Mother Teresa? Shall we be a Pat Robertson materialist or should we reject possessions and imitate Jesus? Shall we dance? Shall we handle snakes? Shall we use modern medicine or pray for miracles? Shall we go to "R" rated movies or limit ourselves to Disney? Or shall we boycott Disney altogether? This chaos happens because Christian epistemology is inverted. They assume Truth and attempt to build knowledge like an upside down pyramid. It's balanced precariously. Truth is diffused, diluted and scattered away from reality rather than directed towards it. Knowledge about reality cannot be logically deduced from original abstract assumptions, be they God or anything else. There is no mystical jump from "certain" abstractions to "certain" reality. Abstractions can never prove realities. If knowledge is anything it must be subject to destruction. Attempts to base it on certainty deny this. The physical world must be the final arbitrator. Knowledge cannot arbitrate reality. But this is the Christian presuppositionalist demand. One cannot presume a root of Truth and claim knowledge is everything deduced from that. This gives Truth a status of reality it doesn't deserve, like some sort of supernatural entity. Knowledge is nothing more than an abstract tool used to track and forecast the physical. It has no reality of its own. It is not Truth. It is not true or false. Most knowledge (i.e., not definitional knowledge) is what is more true than false. When it stops tracking the physical or presumes to supersede the physical it ceases to be knowledge. The Christian obsession for "certainty" inevitably leads to moral relativism. If one starts with the assumption that there is a supreme lawgiver who can be experienced only on a personal, subjective level, it inevitably leads to the conclusion that there are no morals except my morals. Written laws are useless because words must be understood and interpreted in the "spirit." Revealed laws cannot truly exist except as personal revelation. Of course there is no way to communicate my personal revelation of the meaning of the law to anybody else. The result is dogmatic chaos. Everybody is right so everybody is wrong. Morals are relative to me. This is no different than the accused relativism of the atheist. However it is usually expressed much differently. Christian relativism tends to value conformity. There is no arguing with "divinely" revealed truth, even if I am the only one who got it right. Atheist relativism tends to emphasize the value of diversity.

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But is the atheistic world really that relativistic? It seems this Christian view of atheism is based on the old fashioned notion that we are born a blank slate. We are not. We are born with much of our moral wiring. We are by nature social animals. Our true presuppositions are not based upon logic, and are not logically deducible. They are based on evolution. Most of us are born with certain moral predispositions like we are born with two eyes. Philosophers could argue that logically we should have one eye or three eyes or no eyes. The fact that I have two eyes might be "proven" to be totally irrational. But this is an exercise in futility. It does not change the fact that I have two eyes. Much of our moral system is inherent in the same way. Morals are not truly relativistic. They are evolutionistic. Nature assumes some variation is much more useful in the dynamic real world. This is true even though some variations are actually dangerous. Basically we are flesh wrapped around DNA. Our bodies are nothing more than a chemical vessel. Our brains are chemicals trying to understand chemistry. We are rational because chemistry is rational. We merely mimic our own components. This is the ultimate foundation of logic. The ancients had it right when they worshipped the sun. We are the by-products of nuclear fusion. We feel like part of the universe because we are part of the universe. We love nature because we are nature. We imitate nature because we are nature. If anything is God, it is the collective us. We are the Universe trying to understand itself. All knowledge is derived from the physical we are all members of. We are the natural evolution of the godless creator. C. ******* ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to C.I., C., This is probably the most serious attempt to engage the issue from a philosophical standpoint that I have encountered so far in this discussion. Despite it's attempt to actually answer the central issue it fails to do so adequately. Before attacking it point by point I would make the general observation that you either misunderstand or misconstrue the nature of the epistemological failure that I have repeatedly raised and that in the end you dance around the central issue but fail establish that atheism is rational. I think this is because that in spite of your assertion that the atheist feels free to question his own presuppositions, you in fact, never open yours to any serious questioning, but quite the contrary everywhere take them for granted. You treat them as unquestionable. But let's get down to specifics.

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>Basically, you claim that atheistic assumptions cannot support a theory of knowledge. But this claim is based on one huge false assumption. You wrongly demand that knowledge _must_ be based on certainty. But this is an irrational demand<< Here is the first misconstrual of the argument. The failure of atheistic assumptions to deliver certainty of anything is a symptom of the more basic problem, one which I raised in my more lengthy response previously and which you do not address at any point in your discussion. It is not simply the demand for certainty that is the problem. The problem is that atheistic assumptions fail because they contain an inherent irrationalism -they are self-contradictory. The ontology set forth by a materialist world view involves incompatible, yet necessary assumptions within the system. Irrationalism is built into philosophical naturalism right from the start, so the outcome is inevitable. > I presuppose the existence of the physical world.< The question is not so much in the presupposing of the existence of the physical world. I would agree that it exists. The problem arises in assuming that the physical world is ultimate, that there is nothing else, that there is no referent either in the realm of being or knowledge that is more ultimate. This assumption postulates that since the ultimate is impersonal, then from the impersonal no ultimate purpose, plan, or logic can be derived for the universe. Atheistic literature, both in philosophy and science is abundantly filled with affirmations that the universe is what it is by chance. This is not only a essential assumption of neo-Darwinism, it goes right down to the core of the materialist understanding of reality. Since there is no rational plan governing the universe due to the fact that the ultimate impersonal cannot produce such a plan, then the universe "just is" to put it in the words of Bertrand Russell. It is fundamentally undetermined (since there is no determiner) and processes of blind chance account for who we are and how we got here. This relates back to the One and Many problem which I discussed earlier and which you do not resolve here. Having chosen to give priority to the reality of the Many by denying rational purpose to the universe, the problem arises as to how to relate the disparate many, the individual facts of the universe (including the chance events and the individual particles of matter and energy) to each other in a coherent way that preserves the order of the universe which is observable all around us. Universals are necessary and you assume them throughout your own argument even while it appears that you deny them. Modern materialism attempts to get at this unity by introducing concepts such as logic and the laws of nature as discovered by empirical science. It must do so, otherwise the result is chaos and the science that the materialist worships will fall to pieces. Yet, the fundamental challenge is not answered. Indeed, it is never even brought up lest the cover under which the entire materialist project is hiding be blown. It remains obscured by your response, but we will bring it out into the open again. The notion that chance processes govern the universe, including the process and results of human thought, and the notions that there are laws of logic that describe rationality as well as that there exists uniformity in nature (that can be reduced to scientific "laws") contradict each other. The notion of any type of correspondence of the chemically produced ideas in a human brain

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to an external world is logically incoherent, once the chemical processes are said to be ultimately the products of an impersonal origin governed by chance. Not only is there no rational connection that can be made between these ideas, they would seem to exclude each other. Your own response offers illustrations of this. >I can rationally deny God. I can behave as if he does not exist and I will suffer no consequence in doing so. I will have no reason to doubt my assumption. You cannot rationally deny the physical world.< First of all, outside of a few philosophical idealists, Christians do not deny the physical world. I certainly do not, so your point here is irrelevant to the discussion. What is at issue, as I have stated, is whether or not the physical universe is ultimate. That is another question. Your assertion that you can rationally deny God is also what is at issue here. Before you can make such a claim, you have to establish that you can affirm or deny anything rationally. You have yet to do this. The next assertion is unwarranted and begs the question, simply being a dogmatic assertion whose validity depends on God actually not existing. If God exists, then the consequences will naturally be quite grave. They are in fact grave, and you have not escaped from them as will become evident. >claims of certainty have nothing to do with knowledge. In fact, it is often its opposite. Obsessive quests for certainty lead to pathological self-doubt and irrationalism. Certainty is almost always irrational -- both claims of it and demands for it.< Are you certain of this? I find it interesting, even humorous that your rebuttal attacks a notion that is inherent in the expression of the attack itself. In plain language you appear to be giving this as an absolute precept. If you are not certain that this is the case, then how can you be so sure that I am not correct. You seem to be very smug in your confidence that there are no consequences in not believing in God. But doesn't doubt at some point enter your mind? And if certainty has nothing to do with knowledge, then how do you know that it does not? And how can you say that you have no reason to doubt your assumption? Lack of certainty would seem to always leave room for some doubt. Perhaps one problem here is that you have not given a definition of knowledge. That might help clarify things some. I am taking the classic definition that knowledge can be considered to be justified belief in a true proposition. Now I am willing to grant that there are degrees of certainty that fall short of being absolute on many questions. And I am not arguing for foundationalism in a Cartesian sense. Descarte erred in trying to base his foundation on a proposition derived from within the universe itself, falling into the same difficulty that finally destroys a materialist epistemology. But it remains true that the alternatives to foundationalism all point to relativism. And it remains true that relativism is self-contradictory and irrational.

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The degree of confidence you have in your knowledge of what Interstate runs through Dallas may vary for many reasons. However, in relation to the discussion at hand it is an uninteresting issue. By bringing it up you have shown a confusion of categories. Metaphysical knowledge of ultimate principles and empirical knowledge of particulars are not the same thing. Using the latter as an example to attack the previous is both irrelevant and counterproductive to your own cause. In any case, you cannot have knowledge of the existence of I-35 in Dallas even while you are sitting on it in rush hour traffic. You can believe that you are and that belief might even be true, but you cannot rationally justify it. The problems of getting from your sense perceptions of things to any kind of external reality that is really there on the basis of empiricism still exist, regardless of your willingness to give up the ideal of certainty. Indeed, this is just an admission of the trouble you are already in. On the basis of materialist presuppositions there is no reason to suppose that there is any rational connection between your perceptions and what exists. Kant's noumenal still shrouds everything in the void. You can never penetrate it, not even to get to what is "likely" or "beyond a reasonable doubt". I do not need to demand certainty to demonstrate this. In fact, the most devastating arguments showing the vacuity of empiricism weren't even developed by Christians. Hume certainly wasn't. He himself was in the empiricist camp, yet he was unable to save it from self-destructing. Neither will you. > It's a thelogical demand. Maybe this is why you obsess over it. The atheist is not concerned about your theological demands. They know those demands are irrational and lead to intellectual paralysis. Knowledge is not based on certainty.< It is more correctly a metaphysical demand, and the atheist had better be concerned about that because there is no getting around metaphysics. Every postulate offered by the materialist has a metaphysical foundation somewhere. And despite your protests, it is evident that you both need and in fact, appeal to principles which you assume are certain in order to maintain your atheism. The assertion that knowledge is not based on certainty is an example. But in any case, as I have just said, it is simply false that the critique of materialist empiricist epistemology is based on the demand for certainty. It is not. It is based on the inherent irrationality of materialist presuppositions and the inability of the empiricist to show how that which is irrational can produce rationality. >Presuppostionalists must get over the naive notion that what is not undeniably true is therefore utterly irrational. Knowledge is much more complex than that.< Knowledge is complex indeed, and I never said that what is not undeniably true is therefore utterly irrational. I don't know of other presuppositionalists who say that either, although that is beside the point. I am saying that what is self-contradictory is irrational and that therefore, believing something is true that is contradicted by the metaphysical assumptions of your own system is irrational. It may be rational to believe many things that are not undeniably true. But it is irrational to dogmatically hold to an entire world view, asserting that it is really true to what is, when the fundamental assumptions

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necessary to that world view contradict each other. Now what I perceive that you are doing here is not simply taking an agnostic view about the question of God's existence. You appear to be affirming that it is irrational to believe that God exists and that seems to me to be a claim for certainty. Yet you tell me that certainty is not possible. Does that mean that it is not undeniably true that God does not exist? So do you allow some degree of possibility that God could exist? You must if you are to be consistent with your own theory of knowledge. >It's not based on all evidence. It's based on the best possible evidence. It's not based on "beyond the shadow of a doubt" but rather on "beyond a reasonable doubt." Knowledge is based on what is most likely true. Once this is realized, the presuppositionalist complaints about atheistic epistemology crumble away. They are seen for what they are -- flawed arguments based on fear of the unknown.< Attributing psychological motives to one's opponent's beliefs is typically a means of explaining them away. It is to say, "since we know that his argument, beliefs, etc, have no rational support then they must have originated for some irrational reason." Such arguments used to be the staples of psychology and sociology of religion but current scholarship has largely abandoned them. They turned out to be falsified by the empirical research on why people believe. I could respond by saying that bringing them up here is more of an evasive tactic, designed to give an air of superiority to one who knows that his arguments are weak, but I will resist this temptation. In any case, they presuppose certain knowledge that the opponent's view is false. But no such certainty exists according to you. Therefore, on your own view of things it is not at all certain that presuppositionalist arguments are flawed and based on fear of the unknown. However, the more interesting question raised here is that of, how do you determine what the "best" evidence is? How do you arrive at beyond a reasonable doubt? How do you know what is most likely true? Each of these presupposes the existence of some kind of a standard. Where does this standard come from? You will no doubt fall back on the scientific method and empiricism here. But that is exactly what is in dispute. I have argued that if the universe is what the atheist says it is then these methods are not valid. Your response is to assert that knowledge is arrived at on the basis of examining the best evidence. I assume that you mean to include in that, knowledge of whether or not my argument is correct. In that case, what you have offered is not an argument, it is just a dogmatic reassertion of your faith in empiricism. The readers of this discussion will perceive that to simply assert that empiricism is valid and use that as the standard is again just begging the question. It evades facing up to the argument. You cannot simply assume that empiricism is valid and then use it as the standard for evaluating the evidence as to whether or not empiricism is valid. Yet you offer no other epistemological base. When we face up to this question we discover that the validity of the empirical method itself depends on the truth of several metaphysical notions that are not empirically verifiable. In fact, these propositions contradict the reality that must be the case if atheism were in fact true. I have already covered this ground in these discussions, but it might be worthwhile to elaborate a bit more at this point.

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Here are some of the basic metaphysical propositions presupposed in the empirical methods used by science to evaluate evidence and discover what is most likely to be true beyond a reasonable doubt.

1. Nature exists as a world external to the human mind. 2. Nature is intelligible. It can be known. 3. There exists an underlying necessary order in nature. 4. There is an interconnectedness and simplicity to the way nature works (nature's "laws"). 5. The principle of cause and effect. 6. Nature behaves the same way whether observed or not. 7. Nature will continue to behave the same, rendering it possible to base predictions of future empirical results on present empirical observations. 8. The universal and necessary validity of the laws of logic. 9. There exists a correspondence between human sense perceptions and the events and elements of the physical universe. 10. Human sense perceptions and memory are trustworthy. 11. The necessity and validity of communication with other selves. 12. There is an objective moral obligation to accurately report the results of one's work and to not falsify data. (1) What is noteworthy about these assumptions is that if they are false, if they do not describe how the universe is, then empiricism is dead and the scientific method, in particular, is useless as a source of true knowledge about what is. (2) Empiricists face two issues here that must be resolve in order to preserve their claim to a rational basis for knowledge. The first is that none of these propositions can be proven by the empirical method itself. Knowledge of their truth depends on philosophical and metaphysical proofs. The second is that these propositions are inconsistent with the type of universe posited by the materialist. If the universe is what the atheist says it is, then the necessary conditions that make the scientific method capable of producing knowledge do not exist. Let's look at these in a little more detail. First of all, the claim that the empirical method of science is either the only, the best, or most reliable means of gaining knowledge is rendered highly suspect if it is not capable

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of justifying its own necessary assumptions. Given that the assumptions that underlie empiricism cannot be proven empirically, it follows that if all knowledge rests on empiricism, then the assumptions of empiricism cannot be known to be true. If it is irrational to believe that which is not empirically verifiable, then it is irrational to believe that the necessary presuppositions of empiricism are true. Hence if empiricism is the basis of knowledge then there is no rational reason to believe that empiricism provides knowledge. Clearly the kind of epistemology propounded by the atheists in this forum is irrational. Its premises lead it into an irresolvable self-contradiction. What gives rise to the first problem is the lack of an adequate metaphysical context for sustaining the rationality of the empirical method. The question that must be faced is from whence can such a base be derived? This question leads us to the second problem in that not only does the materialist conception of the universe lack such a base, it positively destroys it. It will not be necessary to examine each of the principles in the above list in order to establish this point. A few examples will suffice. Regarding propositions 2, 3 and 7 above, it would seem that the intelligibility and orderliness of nature presuppose that nature is rational. We attribute rationality to processes that show evidence of purposefulness. It is not typically associated with randomness. Indeed, if a human being consistently produces random behaviors and responses to our interaction we soon begin to suspect that he or she is insane. Now it has already been noted that materialists accept as an axiom that there is an underlying randomness inherent in the universe. We are here as a result of blind chance they say. But what exactly is involved in the notion of pure blind chance. Chance events are essentially events that are not determined. Not being determined is tantamount to saying that they are uncaused. They are inherently unpredictable. But if this is the case, then upon what basis do we believe that nature is orderly? And how can we maintain that that which is indeterminate, that which happens for no cause, is intelligible. Intelligibility requires the presence of rational processes. Making generalizations based on observations is simply not possible if chance is what ultimately controls reality. Chance cannot produce orderliness and it makes predictability impossible. Some materialists have responded by asserting that chance events, when looked at in the aggregate, can produce order as is proven by the mathematics of probability and statistics. While no one can predict a single chance event (say the tossing of a fair coin) using statistics we can successfully predict the probable outcome of tossing the coin 100 times. But the analogy fails, because the mathematics of probability still presuppose an order back of things. If I have a jar of 50 black and 50 white marbles and start pulling them out one at a time without looking we could say that this is a random process. However, it can be statistically analyzed because we already know the total of each color and we know that the marbles are not going to spontaneously change colors. The parameters of the procedure are not ruled by chance. They are predetermined. It is the knowledge of the determined aspects that makes prediction possible. The kind of randomness presupposed by materialism is different. It is pure, operating for no predetermined reason.

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As C.S. Lewis put it:

If all that exists is Nature, the great mindless interlocking event, if our own deepest convictions are merely the by-products of an irrational ,process then clearly there is not the slightest ground for supposing that our sense of fitness and our consequent faith in uniformity tell us anything about a reality external to ourselves. Our convictions are simply a fact about us -- like the colour of our hair. If Naturalism is true we have no reason to trust our conviction that Nature is uniform. (3) >Additionally, the tables are turned. Since the presuppositionalist demands a foundation of certainty for the atheist, he must either accept his own hypocrisy or admit it's a goal he can never achieve for himself. Absolute certainty of the existence of God implies absolute knowledge. There is no way a presuppositionalist can claim his Holy book came from God unless he eliminates all other possible explanations. Claims of revelation are ultimately irrational claims of personal omniscience. He is not claiming to know God, he is claiming to be God. This I don't think he is willing to do. Therefore he is left in the embarrassing position of holding atheists to an unrealistic standard to which he is unwilling to hold himself.< We are making a rather stronger claim here in one sense, and a much weaker one in another sense. I assume that by absolute knowledge you mean exhaustive knowledge of all things. However, your failure to add that clarification adds confusion to your argument that evaporates its force once the distinction is made. Absolute certainty does imply in one sense absolute and exhaustive knowledge, but it does not imply that the human knower be the repository of that knowledge. The necessity of God's existence is demonstrated in part by the necessity that somewhere, there exists absolute exhaustive knowledge. However, the Christian readily admits that he can never attain to such a thing. It is possible that knowledge of a particular proposition can be absolute (known to be certain) without entailing exhaustive knowledge of all things. All that is necessary is for that knowledge to be rooted in a point of reference that does have exhaustive knowledge. And in this sense the Christian believes that there is absolute knowledge. Now the heart of the Christian message is that no one attains to such knowledge, but rather that it is given as a free gift. If someone who knows all things absolutely tells you that proposition x is absolutely true, then it is rational to believe so. You correctly observe that no Christian wants to claim to be God. However, he does not need to. He takes it as proof of God's existence that unless it is presupposed, then there is no rational basis for believing anything. It is not just that we are asserting that no absolute certainty exists. With the implosion of the empirical method as far as it is based on materialist presuppositions, we are claiming that you cannot even get to the probably true. There will always be a reasonable doubt that can be raised to anything that the atheist asserts since it is always reasonable to doubt what is derived from arbitrary methods that themselves cannot be made rationally credible given the atheist's own view of what reality is. We deny the charge of hypocrisy, but for the sake of argument we

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will be glad to make the much more modest demand that the atheist justify even the supposedly tentative knowledge that he claims. You have failed to do even that.

As for eliminating all other possible explanations, that is exactly the position that we hold. There are numerous lines of argument to support this. The one I am pursuing here is to demonstrate that non-Christian religions and philosophies, regardless of their differences, hold to certain common presuppositions that inevitably reduce them to irrationality. As I have said before, just any old God won't do. To quote myself from a previous post (in case you missed it). "But as for the matter of why this God, the Triune God of the Bible, instead of the other competitors, it is because there are no other competitors. That is, there is no other God who is distinct and prior to the universe and who is absolutely personal in his nature. He is both One and Many and is hence not dependent upon the universe for the experience of diversity or anything else for that matter. As Creator he is the source of the being of all particulars. Yet since ultimate reality is personal then universal abstractions do exist. Logic exists and is grounded in the character of God. He is rationality itself and since he created the universe according to his own rational plan, its order is perfectly accounted for. Universal abstractions such as moral absolutes reflect the character of God, and they also exist." The Bible eliminates all other revelations as false because of the nature of the God that it reveals. It reveals a God who is absolutely distinct from the universe, who is personal, and who is a Trinity. Only such a God, in the nature of the case, can be an adequate point of reference for resolving the problems of being, knowing, ethics and purpose that cause other world views to self-destruct. It is therefore, not necessary to engage in a detailed refutation of all non-Christian philosophies in order to establish the argument for God. As worthwhile as such a project may be, it is sufficient to show that the Christian presuppositions are absolutely unique among all other systems of thought and that those other systems all share a set of common basic flawed assumptions over against the Christian system. What are those common assumptions? Basically these: 1) The universe is - there is no ultimate distinction between it and its creator. There exists something that we may call Being in general. All that exists has its existence by virtue of its participation in Being. This means that God or the gods, if they are allowed, also exists against the backdrop of this Being in general. Being is ultimately impersonal, or at best God represents a personal element against the more ultimate backdrop of impersonal Being. Hence, the being of God is correlative to the Being of the universe. In plain language what it means is that God is not independent of the universe. He depends on its existence for his own completeness of being. As such, Being itself becomes the ultimate reality. The atheist looks at this state of affairs and concludes (correctly) that in such a system God is superfluous. If Being is ultimate then it must be sufficient unto itself. Who needs to posit the existence of a God within it? 2) The universe (Being) is undetermined and has no overarching purpose . Since Being was not created or designed by any kind of intelligence for a purpose, the universe is what it is today as a result of chance processes. Human personality itself is a result of

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chance. If a god or gods exist in such a universe, then they are faced with the ever present threat of random flux and chaos. For such a god, creation is the act of trying to over come the chaos and bring about order. It is a never ending struggle and ultimately the god or gods are themselves caught up in the repetitive cycle of being as it moves from chaos to order and back again. (4) 3) The universe operates according to impersonal, deterministic "laws". Whether they are called the fates, destiny, karma, astrology, or the laws of nature as defined by science, whatever structure and regularity observable is due to impersonal forces that determine the future. Again, god or the gods are themselves subject to the impersonal laws of being. They must obey and employ these laws if they are to achieve their goals. Ultimately they are determined by them. This type of determinism inevitably threatens and eventually swallows up human freedom. 4) The principles for the interpretation of the universe are derived from within it. There can be no point of reference for knowledge outside of Being in general for that is all there is. Being is assumed to be adequate to interpret itself. Outside revelation is therefore impossible and unnecessary. Human reason is adequate to interpret reality and to determine what is true and what is the nature of good and evil. Humanity, individually and/or collectively is the ultimate reference point for knowledge. Human reason is the final arbiter of truth. It alone has the power to legislate what is possible or not. Yet, human reason is finite and limited. Being unable to ascend to an absolute point of reference, all human knowledge in the end is confronted with ultimate mystery. 5) Human beings are autonomous. Human beings have freewill and determine their own destiny and their own meaning in life. Not only are they autonomous as knowers, they are autonomous as actors. The create their own destiny. However, since the universe is determined by impersonal forces, humans are not free. They are subject to these forces and must conquer and manipulate them (whether by occult superstition or technological achievements) in order to control their own destiny. Only Christianity negates each of these assumptions. Christianity is utterly unique as a world view in this respect. It is true that some of the principles of Christianity have made their way into aspects of non-Christian philosophies and religions. But such hybrids do not escape the central problems raised here. And this makes all the difference. Even the great monotheistic religions like Islam do not escape. Though they formally negate various of the propositions above, their denial of the Trinity renders God dependent upon the universe, for as an absolute unity he finds his correlation to diversity in the creation itself. He is incomplete without it and is thus subject to the larger Being in general. From this he logically becomes just another element within the larger impersonal universe of Being, whose properties logically include the other points above. Irregardless of the other religions, atheism certainly holds to these assumptions. But as I have argued repeatedly, the assumptions of atheism contradict each other. Take propositions 3 and 5 for instance. Within non-Christian thought the persistent belief in freewill resides in tension with the implications of the existence of impersonal forces that

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determine reality. Proposition 3 implies that even human behavior is determined and that freewill is an illusion. But if this is the case, then human beings are not autonomous after all. They are just cogs in the giant wheel of fate that is grinding out the centuries towards the void of an unknown future. In order to hang on to the belief in freewill it is always possible to run for cover under proposition 2. If the universe is controlled by chance (undetermined) then perhaps, just perhaps, human freedom can be preserved. However, clinging to this escape hatch eventually brings about the dissolution of all structure and meaning as pure random chance swallows up purpose leaving only chaos in its wake. So to avoid being swallowed up in the abyss the atheist must make a dash for the structure provided by the "laws" of nature and it all starts over again. I saw a beautiful example of this as an undergraduate in a psych course on human personality. After a lecture in which the professor brilliantly presented the case for the behaviorism of B.F. Skinner a student raised his hand and asked, "But Dr._____ what about freewill?" The professor responded, "Oh, I believe in freewill. When I'm at home playing with my kids I have no doubt about freewill. But when I'm in the lab doing research I leave that belief at the door." >Since the Christian presuppositionalist is unwilling to challenge his original presuppositions, what he really has is a theory of dogma, not a theory of knowledge.< What I have been saying all along is let's put our two sets of presuppositions side by side, analyze them and see where they lead logically. Let's see which ones better fit with and explain our experience in the world. I have laid this challenge down repeatedly in these discussions. I am perfectly willing to accept any challenge that you can bring. What I have not seen is an honest attempt on your part to allow your presuppositions to be challenged. >Since the atheist's presuppositions are not dogmatic, they can be challenged. Presuppositionalists see this as a weakness, but it is, in fact, a strength. It permits a true feedback system of knowledge such as gotten from the Scientific Method. Such a system is impossible under the presuppositionalist's theocratic system. Aberrations in the knowledge base could never force adjustment of "divine" presuppositions because those are assumed to be true to the end of time. Results are forced to conform to fixed presuppositions or they are explained away as miracles. < What I find most interesting about this part of your response is that it leaves me wondering just exactly which of your presuppositions you are willing to allow to be challenged? You say that your assumptions are not dogmatic, but tell me, which of your presuppositions you are willing to put to the test? Apparently not your empiricism. I think you really don't get it. The presuppositions that we are talking about are not features of the system that could be readjusted with shifts in the content of knowledge. They are the base of the system without which it would be something other than what it is. What we are talking about are the necessary preconditions for knowledge in the first place. You assume empiricism without facing up to what those preconditions might be

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and then force all results to conform to it or otherwise explain them away as impossible and .nonexistent >OTOH, the atheist does not consider his presuppositions to be divine. Atheist presuppositions are forced to track the empirical evidence. This is the reverse of the presuppositionalist's world view. Presuppositionalists are supposition oriented. Atheists are result oriented. That's why the Christian presuppositionalist finds empiricism so repugnant. Ultimately, observations might challenge all presuppositions. < You say that atheist presuppositions are forced to track the empirical evidence. This presupposes that on the basis of an atheist world view empirical evidence could be tracked. But that is precisely the presupposition that I am challenging. You can't know that observations might challenge all presuppositions until you can have confidence that your observations are trustworthy. But that is the question. If the universe is what the atheist says it is then there is no reason whatever to trust any observations. That is why I find empiricism objectionable, because it is irrational. Yet you continue to hold to it dogmatically without answering the problems that it entails. As far as I can tell you have not allowed any observations to challenge your empiricist presuppositions. On the other hand, you accuse the Christian of being unwilling to challenge his presuppositions when my entire argument is just the contrary. In any case, it is inherently irrational to hold, as you clearly do, that your presuppositions must track the empirical evidence in order to be valid when your empiricism itself cannot do so in the nature of the case. >This is very scary stuff. This fear causes the Christian presuppositionalist to stick his head in the sand. The universe is unfriendly. It's an impersonal place. It doesn't care a flip for his glorified presuppositions. ...... There is no sharing of the subjective experience. Meaning is strictly personal. The Christian refuses to permit us to derive meaning from the only common ground among us -- nature.< Here you have articulated some of the basic non-Christian presuppositions that I described above. The universe is impersonal (which assumes that it is ultimate). Nature is our ultimate environment and thus our only common ground. Meaning is personal (human autonomy). These are your dogmas. I have yet to see you allow anything to challenge these dogmas - empirical or otherwise. You accuse me of fear. But what are you afraid of that you won't question these assumptions? You said there is no such thing as certainty Again I ask you, how do you know then that the universe is impersonal, that Nature is ultimate and that meaning is personal? How can you even say that these are "likely" or "beyond a reasonable doubt" if your method of knowing is itself built on an inherent contradiction? >Meaning is based on the subjective abstract, on personal revelation. But there is no medium in which to share this religious experience. There is no way to communicate one's revealed truth. True communication is impossible. If they have knowledge, they cannot share it, and we could never know it. There is no arbitration of Truth because I cannot really know my neighbor's arbitrator. Human problems cannot be discussed in any

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meaningful way. For all practical purposes, there is no foundation for true knowledge to exist at all in the theocratic system.< Here we have what amounts to an imposition of the weaknesses of atheist epistemology on the structure of the Christian world view. As becomes apparent, you have slid into a post-modern subjectivist view of knowledge that is really nothing more than veiled skepticism. It is in fact an admission that the Christian critique of atheism is correct after all. You say that on the basis of revelation true communication is impossible. But it is exactly here that our different assumptions matter. On the basis of the Christian assumption of the Triune God there is every reason to believe that communication is not only possible, but that it reflects what reality is at its deepest levels. The ultimate reality being a personal intelligence who is sovereign over his creation, there is no inherent reason why he could not create rational beings who could communicate via rational propositions. Your criticism of religious knowledge might have some force against mysticism and I would join you in making this same criticism. However we are not talking about mysticism. We are talking about the revelation of rational propositions about reality. Since revealed truth consists of rational propositions then clearly they can be communicated to other rational beings. Knowledge is propositional and as such is communicable. The Christian revelation is neither subjective nor personal in some mystical sense. It is a body of publicly given propositions, rationally intelligible and subject to public scrutiny. > Sensual experience is questioned. Since Christian presuppositionalists question it themselves, they try to force their doubt onto the innocent bystanding atheist. < Here is more evidence that you have missed the point of the argument. Presuppositionalists do not question the reality of sense experience. We affirm the validity of empirical knowledge. What we are saying is that if the universe is what the atheist says it is, then empirical knowledge is not only questionable but impossible. But the universe is not what the atheist says it is. It is the ordered creation of a rational and personal Creator. He made the universe so that its structure does correspond to the rational human mind. We are not denying empirical knowledge at all. We are saying that empirical knowledge is neither autonomous nor primary. It depends for its validity on the truth of other propositions, which I outlined above, that can only be true if the state of affairs in the universe is what the Bible says it is. Empirical knowledge is only valid when it is freed from the burden of having to carry the metaphysical weight of all human knowledge on its shoulders. When set free at last it has rich possibilities. Science is free to flourish and the universe is open to our exploration. What blind chance could never do, a personal God can. The universe is knowable. Both the atheist and the Christian perceive this in their encounter with the world. But the atheist's presuppositions cannot explain it. Indeed, if atheism were true, then this correspondence between the mind and reality ought not exist. But the atheist dogmatically believes that empiricism is the foundation of all knowledge, stealing the capital of the Christian heritage that produced modern science in the first place and then using it to arrogantly assert that he or she can find no evidence for God.

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>So religious man has no way to distinguish between what is real and what is only in his head. .. There is no objective standard with which to determine whose invented reality is true.< What objective standard are you willing to provide by which reality can be judged? This seems like a rather strange complaint for you to make since you seem to think that the absence of such a standard is a good thing.

>People talk at one another rather than to one another. Christians, for example, suppose their "truth" is based on the "certainty" of the Bible. Yet what has this "certainty" lead to? Factionalization. Christians agree on very little.<

This is simply a false statement and easily refuted by a simple survey of systematic theology texts from various Christian traditions. One of the best to look at would be the three volumes written by Drew University theologian Thomas Oden. (5) The premise of his work is to expound the consensus of Christian teaching through the centuries. There are a number of propositions that are essential to defining what Christianity is and on these things we agree. The Trinity of God, the creation, the fall into sin, the need for redemption, the divinity of Jesus Christ, his atoning death on the cross, his bodily resurrection and that salvation comes through him. I could go on. This kind of statement really reveals an ignorance of Christianity that is truly mind boggling. >Who is right? The Baptist? The Presbyterian? The Roman Catholic? The Latter Day Saint? How can "certainty" lead to both a true-blue Christian liberal and a ultraconservative?..... This chaos happens because Christian epistemology is inverted. They assume Truth and attempt to build knowledge like an upside down pyramid. It's balanced precariously. Truth is diffused, diluted and scattered away from reality rather than directed towards it. < This I found to be rather amusing. It confuses what Christianity is in its essence with its various cultural manifestations. It imagines that what is essential to Christianity cannot be known and understood from the Bible because there is divergence of interpretation of secondary, non-essential questions that the Bible does not treat in such detail. Having denominational divisions is our way of agreeing to disagree on secondary questions while recognizing that our own community of Christian faith is not the only one that is valid. Are you really unaware of the vast amount of interdenominational cooperation that goes on everyday through the thousands of parachurch groups that exist in the world? And as I said to F earlier, I have not noticed that atheist epistemology has brought any kind of unity of belief to them. Shall we be Freudians or Marxists? Pragmatists a la John Dewey or deconstructionists like Derrida? Humanists such as Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan or objectivists like Ayn Rand? As for the Latter Day Saints, they are not Christians - since they have introduced their own holy books and prophetic pronouncements that propound a world view at odds with

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the Bible on every account. In fact, they are much closer to you atheists. They don't believe in any kind of an ultimate God over the universe. They believe in many finite gods who are just elements of the larger impersonal universe, like we are. So called liberal Christians are likewise practitioners of a different religion. They, in fact, are typically philosophical naturalists or sometimes pantheists who dress up their philosophy in Christian language. They don't believe the Christian revelation any more than you do. They take the Bible for a book of myths. Sorry C. Your argument has no force here because it tries to make essential what is not.

And if truth is scattered away from reality rather than toward it am I to understand that your assertion that atheism is true is not intended to tell us anything about reality? >Knowledge about reality cannot be logically deduced from original abstract assumptions, be they God or anything else. There is no mystical jump from "certain" abstractions to "certain" reality. Abstractions can never prove realities. If knowledge is anything it must be subject to destruction. Attempts to base it on certainty deny this. The physical world must be the final arbitrator. Knowledge cannot arbitrate reality. But this is the Christian presuppositionalist demand. One cannot presume a root of Truth and claim knowledge is everything deduced from that. This gives Truth a status of reality it doesn't deserve, like some sort of supernatural entity. < This section again engages in question begging. The uncrossable breach between logic and fact that you propose here IS certainly inherent in the kind of reality posited by the atheist. But the objection only has force if atheism is true. And that is what is in dispute. You say you are willing to question your presuppositions so let's get to it. Let's suppose for the sake of argument that your presupposition that the universe is ultimate is not true. Let's question that assumption by assuming, again for the sake of argument, that God exists after all. What does that do to your objection? It gives us a scenario in which the original abstract assumption comes from a source, a mind, that has exhaustive knowledge of physical reality. He, in fact, created physical reality according to those abstract principles. Assuming for the sake of argument that this is the case then there is a connection beginning with the first step of logical deduction between the abstract and the concrete. Thus, any valid logical deductions made from this true abstract assumption that corresponds to physical reality will speak truly about that reality. Knowledge is not arbitrating reality. Only God does that. What knowledge does is tell us what reality IS. And of course, knowledge is not limited to what is deducible from first principles. It also includes what we discover through empirical research. That is, assuming that Christianity is true. If we decide not to question your assumptions after all then we are truly in the dilemma that you raise. And that should be quite disturbing to you, for if that is the case, then nothing that you deduce logically can be said to have any status as truth about reality. That would include, of course, any logical arguments you have against the existence of God. You cannot connect logic to physical reality so in spite of your best arguments God might be hiding out there somewhere after all.

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>Knowledge is nothing more than an abstract tool used to track and forecast the physical. It has no reality of its own. It is not Truth. It is not true or false. Most knowledge (i.e., not definitional knowledge) is what is more true than false. < Finally we have a definition of knowledge. Your definition seems to reduce knowledge to nothing more than pragmatism. I think that the experts in information theory would be quite interested in hearing that knowledge has no reality of its own, that it is neither true nor false. You reduce all of reality to the merely physical. But is this tenable? Do numbers exists? How about the number for pi? What about the information contained on this page? Is it reducible to the physical? What physical entity would that be? Would it be reducible to the printed letters on the page? The symbols of the English language? Que tal eu escrevo isso em português? What if I write this in Portuguese? Those last two sentences contain the same information - exactly. Yet they have very little if anything in common in a physical sense. Does the proposition represented by those two sets of symbols exist? If so then how so? To say that knowledge has no reality of its own is tantamount to saying that information can only exist in physical objects. Any book, say The Hobbit, can be translated into many languages. I have a copy in English and another in Portuguese. Both communicate the same information. Its only physical form is in the symbols written on the page (or the binary code on the computer disk) yet the very fact that the information - the knowledge - could be contained in both English and Portuguese, or better yet, Chinese and German - which have no common physical symbols - is clear empirical proof that the information is independent of any physical expression of it. Where does it exist then? In human brains perhaps? But if it only exists there in physical form, then its only existence is as it is encoded into brain cells. Whatever process this involves it ultimately is done with physical symbols. But that cannot be all that the information is because we have already seen that it is independent of physical symbols. We could say that it exists in human minds, but then we are considering the mind as something that transcends the physical. And you don't want to go there I'm sure. Besides, that also ignores the possibility that a book could be written that no one has read in 200 years In that case the knowledge contained in that book would not exist in any human mind. Yet the book could be read tomorrow by someone and the knowledge retrieved. So I ask again, where does the knowledge exist? It clearly does exist. It is real. If The Hobbit did not exist I would not have been able to read it. Yet it also clearly is not reducible to the merely physical. It appears that there is no way to avoid the conclusion that knowledge does exist independently of the physical. This is a real problem for atheist, because he or she asserts that only the physical exists. As I said before, what atheism cannot account for empirically it simply explains away as non-existent. But abstract knowledge and information are not going to go away. For the Christian this poses no problem, since the most ultimate reality is a rational, personal mind. >When it stops tracking the physical or presumes to supersede the physical it ceases to be knowledge.<

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Another dogmatic assertion that begs the question. This would only be the case if you knew that the physical is all that there is. But of course you can't be certain of this since nothing is certain. What if you are wrong? My previous paragraph would strongly suggest that you are. >The Christian obsession for "certainty" inevitably leads to moral relativism. If one starts with the assumption that there is a supreme lawgiver who can be experienced only on a personal, subjective level, it inevitably leads to the conclusion that there are no morals except my morals.< Perhaps, but then this is not the Christian presupposition. You raise a straw man here C. We deny that the Supreme Lawgiver can only be experienced on a personal subjective level. He can also be experienced corporately and objectively. He can and has communicated publicly through objective propositions. Thus HIS moral principles are objectively knowable and transcend my morals. >Written laws are useless because words must be understood and interpreted in the "spirit."< The written words of the Biblical revelation are understood and interpreted according to the rules of grammar and syntax of their language just as any other written communication. This process is no different from the process of reading and interpreting what we have written in our posts. If you want to press this argument you will wind up denying the possibility of any communication through writing at all. Of course you will have done so by communicating your argument through writing. >Revealed laws cannot truly exist except as personal revelation. Of course there is no way to communicate my personal revelation of the meaning of the law to anybody else. The result is dogmatic chaos. < This first statement is not only false, it seems to me to be pretty naive. Tell me, how is it that the proposition "You shall not steal" only exists as some kind of private, unintelligible personal revelation? A rational Creator, if we allow for the sake of argument that he exists, could certainly reveal, i.e., communicate, such a proposition to his rational creatures. Once that is done there is nothing to prevent it from being communicated to others. And the proposition itself is pretty straightforward. It is possible to squabble over some aspects of its interpretation, such as whether or not cheating on your income tax is stealing. But pretty much, most people understand what it means. And such definitional squabbles are not very impressive when brought up in court. The law assumes that people understand the basic concept and holds them accountable for that. In fact, if you survey the history of Christian ethics as a discipline it becomes clear, as in the case of theology, that there is a massive area of agreement among Christian thinkers. It is clear that the atheist knows this already. Otherwise he would not be so terrified of the idea of Christians having an influence on politics and legislation.

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>But is the atheistic world really that relativistic? It seems this Christian view of atheism is based on the old fashioned notion that we are born a blank slate. We are not. We are born with much of our moral wiring. We are by nature social animals. Our true presuppositions are not based upon logic, and are not logically deducible. They are based on evolution. Most of us are born with certain moral predispositions like we are born with two eyes. Philosophers could argue that logically we should have one eye or three eyes or no eyes. The fact that I have two eyes might be "proven" to be totally irrational. But this is an exercise in futility. It does not change the fact that I have two eyes. Much of our moral system is inherent in the same way. Morals are not truly relativistic. They are evolutionistic. Nature assumes some variation is much more useful in the dynamic real world. This is true even though some variations are actually dangerous.< Again you display you lack of knowledge of Christianity. Christians do not think that we are born a blank slate. We quite agree that we are already born with much of our moral wiring. Of course we believe that this is the case for different reasons. The Bible teaches that God wired us with certain moral precepts (Romans 1:18ff). That we all are created in God's image and share a common human nature explains the uniformity of this. The problem with atheistic relativism is in its irrationality and your attempt to escape from this is based on the typical logical fallacy that atheists commit when addressing this question. You confuse the question of the supposed origin of morals with the question of whether or not there is in fact such a thing as good and evil. You confuse the sociology of morals with ethics. I addressed this question at length in my earliest posts. Let me give just a brief restatement of the point here. The real bottom line question is, Is there such a thing as justice? Unless there is a transcendent moral truth, then there can be no such thing as justice in itself. There can be, as you state, ideas of justice that have evolved in different cultures. You admit that in such a scenario there will be variation. You say that some of these are dangerous. Why? Does that mean that they lead to undesirable consequences? But who says what consequences are undesirable? You already confessed that the impersonal universe does not give a flip about our aspirations. Now you say that Nature assumes some variation is more useful. Useful for what? Survival? So what if we don't survive? Why is that good? Because you were evolved to say so? And by the way, if nature is what you say it is, then it does not assume anything. It is simply dead matter and energy. It has no mind. Writing it with a capital "N" does not change that. You invoke an anthropomorphism in order to avoid the obvious implication of your world view that really, it was blind chance that barfed you up out of the abyss of Being. Hence, your aspirations are little more than cosmic vomit, spewed out into the world to contemplate itself for a brief period before rotting back into nothingness. In addition, the analogy you use of the two or three eyes is irrelevant. Whether or not you have two or three eyes does not touch on questions of metaphysical importance. What we are discussing here is whether or not you can make a credible claim to have been treated unjustly when you are kidnapped and enslaved by an alien culture that

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evolved a different ethic than yours where slavery is held to be acceptable. You must deny the possibility that such treatment would be inherently unjust if you are to be consistent with your world view. Yet something tells me you would never accept this in real life. Especially if it were your wife or child. Unlike the situation with physical characteristics such as eyes, people can and do radically change their morals. They do so when they become convinced that beliefs about good and evil are more than just physical statements about people. They become convinced that there are moral principles that truly represent what ought to be and that it is good and just that they conform their behavior to those principles. Thus a philosopher or theologian might demonstrate that certain practices (slavery for example) are irrational and immoral and ought to be abandoned. And it might very well result in the change of the behavior of an entire culture. That would not be an excersize in futility. That would be progress. Think of the abolitionist movement in England in the 1700s. The abolitionists faced what appeared to be insurmountable odds in a culture that took slavery for granted. Yet, because they were convinced that they had a revelation from God in the Bible that made slavery morally unacceptable they pressed on with their cause until they not only succeeded in getting the slave trade outlawed, they convinced Anglo culture that slavery is immoral. And that to the point that we can hardly comprehend today how it was ever approved of. Atheistic relativism is truly the precursor to moral chaos and tyranny. It allows people to do as they please and then blame it all on evolution - or worse - justify it in the name of evolution like the Nazis did. And if you are correct then there is indeed no rational reason why they could be condemned for being immoral or unjust in their treatment of those whom they considered to be their inferiors. Supposedly evolved characteristics of behavior are irrelevant to deciding what is intrinsically good or evil and leave us with no basis for arbitrating between conflicting claims of different cultures, except for the use of brute force. >Basically we are flesh wrapped around DNA. Our bodies are nothing more than a chemical vessel. Our brains are chemicals trying to understand chemistry. We are rational because chemistry is rational. We merely mimic our own components. This is the ultimate foundation of logic.< This statement alone is an admission devastating enough to your position that it should put it to rest once and for all. Not that it will of course, because you will never allow the presuppositions articulated by it to be seriously questioned. But I will elaborate anyway. You confirm my observations that atheism reduces logic and rationality to purely physical processes. You say these processes are rational, yet they are grounded in pure random chance on the one hand and impersonal determinism on the other. Either way, there is no rationality behind them. Rationality requires the presence of purposeful thinking. The impersonal does not and cannot do so. If your thoughts are nothing more than the result of chemical reactions in your brain then these reactions are what they are as a result of either pure chance or blind determinism (or maybe some kind of combination of both). In neither case is there any rational reason to suppose that thoughts

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so produced have any rational connection with the empirical reality that you say exists outside of your brain and which is the source of all knowledge. Logic based on such a foundation would also be a product of chance and again have no connection to external reality. That being the case, there is no way that you could ever know or prove that we are only flesh wrapped around DNA. DNA itself is a system of highly complex information, coded in a language. Atheists have no explanation for how this information ever got into the impersonal universe, since information presupposes an intelligence in order to produce it. As the philosopher J.B.S. Haldane stated it: If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motion of the atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true...and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. (6) The burden of proof is on you to show how impersonal chemicals, combining themselves either by chance or impersonal deterministic "laws", can produce knowledge and rationality capable of knowing that it is only chemicals in the first place. > The ancients had it right when they worshipped the sun. We are the by-products of nuclear fusion. We feel like part of the universe because we are part of the universe. We love nature because we are nature. We imitate nature because we are nature. If anything is God, it is the collective us. We are the Universe trying to understand itself. All knowledge is derived from the physical we are all members of. We are the natural evolution of the godless creator.<

I am not sure what to make of this except to say that it looks like a rather typical lapse into mysticism whose function is to disguise the fact that in the atheist universe there really is no meaning or purpose to anything. It is certainly quite a religious statement. Connecting yourself to something that is unimaginably larger than you are, like the universe as a whole, and giving it a capital letter, creates the illusion of being a part of something important and grand. It is awesome, even for the atheist, to look at the stars at night and contemplate the millions of galaxies out there. It sends chills up the back and makes you think that there is something important going on here. But really, let's be honest about this. The physical enormity of the universe adds not one whit to its ultimate significance and even less to yours. If it is only impersonal matter and energy that barfed you up by accident, subject to the whims of chance or the tyranny of impersonal determinist laws, then your existence doesn't mean squat. You are really no different than the cockroach I caught and flushed down the toilet. You are trapped in the whirlpool of impersonal forces that are taking you inexorably to the oblivion of the sewage dump of the universe. Products of nuclear fusion burn out in the end. And when entropy finally wins, then what?

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No thanks C. Your arguments are fallacious and unconvincing. The alternative you propose leads to chaos, despair and finally the void. I think I'll stick with Jesus. And if you want to escape from the chaos and futility of atheism you will come to him to. It is only there that you will find the love that will truly fill the void in your soul. He invites you to come to him today. Alan Footnotes ************************* (1) see J. P. Moreland. Christianity and the Nature of Science: a philosophical investigation. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988. , Bernard Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1954. (2) The atheist could respond by opting for operationalism in order to try to save science without these assumptions. Operationalism posits that science is valid as a series of operations that are performed in experiments whose results are useful for creating technology and such, but that do not claim to represent what the world is really like. This will not help the atheist's case however. Since the argument of the atheist demands that the Christian produce empirical evidence for God, then he is assuming that his empiricism describes what really is. If that be the case then opting for operationalism destroys his case, because he admits that evidence has no bearing on describing what is. And as I have argued, if it cannot be established that empirical evidence describes what is, then it is irrational to demand that the Christian produce empirical evidence to prove that God exists. (3) C.S. Lewis. Miracles. New York: McMillan, 1947, 109. (4) This is exactly the kind of thing that is repeatedly encountered in the creation myths of ancient cultures such as the Egyptians and the Babylonians. The difference between their mythologies and the fiat creation depicted in Genesis 1 is striking. Modern religions such as Mormonism and New Age gnosticism also share in this difficulty. (5) Thomas C. Oden. Systematic Theology 3. vols. The Living God. vol 1, The Word of Life. vol 2 Life in the Spirit, vol 3. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1986, 1989, 1992. (6) quoted by Malcolm Jeeves in Psychology and Christianity: the view both ways. Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1977, 120.

Alan Myatt, Ph.D.

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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to B: (1) Message text written by B >Killing somebody simply because they're Jewish is stupid, period. End of story. The amount of carnage is an injustice.< Why? >Wrong. Any atheist worth his salt knows that social diversity is vital to the quality of the survival of the species< Why should I care if the species survives? > Well, don't hide out too long. You threw out a helluva lot of stuff, inviting response, so it's only polite, only rational, for you to read the responses and continue the dialogue.< For one thing, the sheer volume of stuff that you guys are turning out is too much for me to respond to. I just don't have that kind of time to devote to this. In any case, I think the discussion has about run its course. Your responses are pretty much the same kind of stuff I have seen before. Various times you all have remarked that you do not have faith commitments (presuppositions), but no one here has yet produce any justification for knowledge in terms of atheism. I never expected that you would accept my arguments, but I have not seen anything that solves the problems of atheistic assumptions. At this point, you say you have answered me. I have seen you reasserting your position, responding to individual points here and there, but it seems to me to amount to basically a matter now of me saying that I refuted you, and you saying "did not" while I say "did so." <g> I do appreciate you B. Your posts have been irenic, intelligent and indicative of a genuine respect for others. Alan ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From B to Alan Myatt,

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>>>>>I do appreciate you B. Your posts have been irenic, intelligent and indicative of a genuine respect for others.<<<<< <blush> aww shucks... <g> >>>>Message text written by B >Killing somebody simply because they're Jewish is stupid, period. End of story. The amount of carnage is an injustice.< ALAN>>>>Why?<<<< Not hard. Hitler's ideas were stupid. A "master race", is it? Give me a break. Jews were the source of all Germanic woe? Right. Inept government on part of the Germans, but it's the fault of the Jews. Great reasons to nuke six million of them. It is an injustice any time anybody dies for a stupid idea. Six million people died because of one man's stupid idea. That's an injustice. (2) >>>>>Wrong. Any atheist worth his salt knows that social diversity is vital to the quality of the survival of the species< ALAN>>>>Why should I care if the species survives?<<<<< Again, not hard. If they don't survive, neither will you. (3) Or, those who desire to survive will be around to put pressure upon those who are otherwise indifferent about it. Of course, it's been a while since there's been any activity on this thread and I just got back from vacation, so the quotes above may be from an entirely different context. However, I'm inclined to think that on some level within your cognitive abilities, you have a vested interest in whether the human species survives or not. I also note I was referring to the "quality" of the survival, vs. mere squeaking by, which you deferred by voicing an apparent indifference to whether the species survives at all. Mind 'splainin' that? (4) <g> B ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From ZC to Alan Myatt, I understand your argument about the irrationality of atheism to be the following: One cannot know whether sensation and cognition, etc., are real or are hallucinatory delusions. Despite the apparent consistency in the ability of humans to measure certain phenomena and to communicate the measurements, those perceived abilities could be part of one's own hallucination or mass hysteria. Since "knowing" anything is objectively

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unreliable, there is no rational basis to rely on thought to draw any conclusions about existence. Therefore, it is not rational to view the world in any particular way based on external sensations and cognition about those sensations, including an atheistic view that God is not necessary to existence. Is that an accurate rephrasing of your position? If not, please try to correct me in the fewest number of words that you can use and still be clear about your position.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to ZC, I had hoped that my position was clear from the post that I wrote previously. (5) In any case I will try to state the issue as succinctly as possible. You seem to think that I am arguing that that the situation you describe represents the human condition in general. I am saying no such thing. What I am saying is that if we grant that atheism is true, or if in fact it were true, then the situation you describe would be the case. If we grant that Christian theism is true then these difficulties do not exist. Atheism destroys the necessary preconditions of knowledge. Christianity provides these conditions. Ergo, unless God is presupposed, knowledge is not possible. The proof for God is that unless he exists there can be no proof of anything at all. Clear? Alan

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From J to Alan Myatt, Message text written by Alan Myatt > Such a thing is nonsense unless there are moral absolutes. Why? Because the definition of justice has to do with that which is inherently right.< Nope, you're mistaken. Humanity judges what is right or wrong in any given situation; and frequently enough, we're not terribly competent at it. <shrug> So what? That doesn't mean we should quit trying. It doesn't mean that we're not getting better at it, either. But it does not follow that there are moral absolutes. That's like saying, "Just because I perceive some light wave refraction as something I call 'yellow', that means that there

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must be a perfect, universe-defining yellow out there that is beyond human comprehension and exists without humans to call it yellow." It's a non sequitur. It's also wishful thinking on your part, apparently. You haven't demonstrated anything except that you wish God exists. <shrug> You Presups are a silly bunch, really. I can prove God doesn't exist by using your same methods: First, assume God doesn't exist... <G> J. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to J., You again illustrate my points here perfectly. You first of all assume that while humanity decides what is right or wrong it is at least possible to get better at it. Then you assert that it does not follow that there are moral absolutes. But then how could you ever know if we were getting better at determining right and wrong? The notion of better presupposes some kind of standard by which human judgments could be measured to see if they are more right than previously. But it is precisely this that you are denying by denying that there are any moral absolutes. And the question of universals in morals is not exactly the same as the question of universals in defining colors. However I will save that for later, since another post has addressed the question in more detail. >You Presups are a silly bunch, really. I can prove God doesn't exist by using your same methods: First, assume God doesn't exist... <G>< And then work out the logical implications of that assumption for the theory of knowledge and ethics. I have been attempting to lead you down that path since these discussions started and you just don't seem to be willing to go there. Alan

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From ZC to Alan Myatt, A point for consideration:

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How do you know that Satan did not take on the form of a human called Jesus so that he could dupe Christians into worshipping him instead of having a spiritual relationship directly with God? If Satan had intended this ruse, he would have done and said everything that Jesus did and said exactly as recorded in the Bible. Everything in the New Testament is consistent with a diabolical plot by Satan to take on the form of Jesus and to trick men into worshipping him. Given the number of atrocities committed in the name of the Christian religion, is not there a strong possibility that Jesus is really Satan?

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to ZC, Z, C´mon. This is such a ridiculous notion it hardly deserves a response. In any case, the ethic of Jesus explodes the notion that Satan would have done what Jesus did. Besides, what would I accomplish if I disguised myself as someone else in order to secure their devotion to me? Any success I had would be actually generating more devotion to the one that everybody thought me to be. So, if Satan did pull such a ruse (assuming for the moment that he could also pull off the miracles) then he would be generating devotion to God, for that it was Jesus did. As for the atrocities committed in the name of Christianity, no one would deny that lots of stupidity has been perpetrated by organized religion of various types. But then Jesus himself predicted that such would be the case. He told us that many would come in his name who would show by their actions that they were not actually Christians at all. You might check out 1 John and James for other biblical discussions of this phenomenon. And there is the case of some real Christians who because of the influence of non-Christian philosophy, have acted in such a manner. What cannot be demonstrated is that such atrocities are consistent with the teaching of Christian ethics. They are not. However, the issue here is not what some people claiming to be Christians have done. The issue is which world view is coherent, rational, true and which is not. And as for the question of atrocities, read the Gulag Archipelago. Millions killed by Stalin according to the account there. And that doesn't include the numbers massacred in China and other atheistic regimes. But as I have said before, I will refrain from passing judgment on atheism on this score as it is my position that the truth of a world view ought to be judged on the basis of its best representatives not its worst. And atheism certainly has better representatives than these.

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If you check with Amnesty International (www.amnesty.org) and the World Evangelical Fellowship (www.worldevangelical.org) you will discover that the persecution of Christians is raging in various parts of the world. It has been said that more Christians have been killed for their faith in the 20th century than any other time in history. I don't have the figures but the web sites mentioned here give ample evidence of atrocities against Christians perpetrated by atheists and others. Of course, none of this proves or disproves either atheism or Christianity. It just proves that there are human beings who are evil hiding behind the cover of all kinds of world views. Finally, just what is an atrocity anyway, in a system that rejects the existence of moral absolutes? The very notion of atrocity implies the existence of an abstract and universal principle by which one could determine good and evil, right and wrong. But if ultimate reality is impersonal (matter and energy) then there are NO universally binding abstract principles and hence no objective standards of morality. Right and wrong are merely social convention, or individual opinion. Perhaps morals exist to promote survival of the species. Well, in that case since the Inquisition developed to promote the survival of Catholicism (not to mention the Spanish crown) against the encroachment Islamic, Protestant and other threats, then its actions were justified. Spain was, after all, the strongest military power at the time, the dominant (hence most "fit") nation-state. Thus the ethic of the survival of the fittest vindicates whatever measures it took that were necessary to insure its survival. Hence, on the basis of survival as the foundation of ethics, the Inquisition was not an atrocity, rather it was a moral necessity and it ought to be emulated. On the other hand, the ethic of love your neighbor as yourself, which you explicitly reject as a moral absolute, tells me that the Inquisition was objectively evil, and it was indeed, according to the standards of Jesus, an atrocity. So you tell me, on the basis of moral relativism what rational reason is there to accept it as true (rather than expedient, convenient) that anything is an atrocity. You may make such a declaration, but it is merely a statement that you don't like certain actions. For if you are to be consistent (rational) within the limits of your own system (world view) then it seems to me that the best you could do is say for me this is an atrocity. Not that there is any objective reason why anyone else should think so. Alan Myatt

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From CI to Alan Myatt, Alan,

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> And why is it good to accomplish that? < To answer a question such as this let's start with what looks like a simple one: "Is that banana yellow?" First we must ask ourselves things like how much "red" can the color "yellow" have and still be called "yellow?" Is all light "yellow?" Obviously we must precisely define a particular range of frequencies to limit the scope of the color. But who decides this range? You and I might agree but what if we start talking to a third person and she says we're too restrictive. Do we exclude her from the conversation or do we accommodatea wider color range? Let's say we accommodate. Later we are informed we have to fly to New York to give a speech at an artists convention. We start throwing around terms like "yellow" and everybody gives us a blank stare. "What in God's name is 'yellow'," someone stammers. Suddenly a simple question like "Is that banana yellow?" becomes complex. Can any large group of people agree on "yellow?" Can we incorporate the many personal concepts of a color into a universal absolute? No, you say! Human beings can never decide this question to the satisfaction of everyone. There's always someone who looks at a yellow banana and says it's "dirty yellow," or worse, "beige!" Let's not even think about those who are color blind! So we cannot possibly agree. We must appeal to God to tell us what "yellow" means. This argument is sometimes called "The appeal to the Holy Omniscient Interior Decorator." On second thought, it seems rather petty and inept for us to go running to this god to tell us what "yellow" means. I doubt that even the most theistic theist would carry their search for absolutes this far. After all, isn't it a simple categorization problem? Isn't it merely how we use language? We look to ourselves and say, Yes, we have self esteem! Yes, we can take this bold decision into our feable hands! We have no need for an abstract universal that covers "yellow." If we did, there would need to be one for "red" too. In fact, we'd need an infinite number of abstract universals to cover all possible colors. This seems frivolous to say the least. So let's throw out the concept of abstract universal in the name of simplicity. We merely define this pesky color! We set properties for "yellow" as we need them -- in this case, a narrow frequency range of light. If someone disagrees with our definition they're just going to have to live with it or take their conversation elsewhere. And since we have no need for an abstract universal to discuss "yellow" anymore, we have no need of a transcendent mind to contain it. Therefore we need no god! Now we can look at the question: "Is X good?" Does this look familiar? As with "yellow," this question has meaning only when we agree upon a definition of the word "good." Is this process any different than defining "yellow?" A bit harder and more heated, perhaps, but essentially the same. It needs no abstract universal. "Good" doesn't exist any more than "yellow" exists. Both are mere categories. We set the properties of the categories and then we have at it.

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C. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to C., I have to admit, on first glance I did not know quite what to say. You start out by quoting a question I raised and then you proceed not to answer it. I mean, basically you finish up by admitting that I was right after all - there is no such thing as the inherently good in your system, all we have are categories whose properties we set, and then we "have at it." I suppose by "have at it" you mean that we fight it out in order to get our own definition of the good to prevail. Which of course means that in the end the only standard of good or justice that such definitions represent are nothing more than our opinions; our likes and dislikes as individuals. These in the end are just arbitrary whims, based on the desire of the moment and subject to constant change depending on whatever might be convenient at that same moment. When these ideas conflict from one person to the next then we "have it out." The really insistent will resort to "having it out" with sticks, knives, guns, and eventually nuclear bombs in order to impose their personal view of the "properties of the categories" on the rest of us. And when it all comes down, it appears that you are simply saying that there is nothing else and so what? Now the difficulty I have with this is that it seems to take us right back to square one. That is, if "Good" doesn't exist, the neither does justice. What you are saying is that there is no situation x in which it can be identified that action y is inherently the right thing to do. From your atheistic standpoint you could only conceive of action y as being the right thing to do in terms of the pragmatic criterion of does y accomplish goal z which you see as desirable. However, there is no attribute of goal z that could be said to be inherently good or just and hence no way of that goal rendering action y just. In the end it all comes down to a simple question of your desires. And no one can come up with any reason why you should not realize them, whatever they are, outside of the threat of some other consequences that you might find unpleasant, that is, inconsistent with some other desire. In the final analysis your view of ethics degenerates into pure egoism, but hey, what's wrong with that? Now if there is no such thing as justice, then what is all this clap-trap about it that we encounter every day in our legal system? Why bother with the facade? And why should anyone give a rip at all about any of the social causes that you yourself no doubt are deeply concerned over? In the end you find yourself in the same dilemma that Arthur Leff describes in detail in the article cited in my earliest posts (6) Tell me, don't you ever feel a sense of outrage when you read in the paper that a child was molested, a woman raped, or an elderly person's life savings ripped off in a scam? No? Then the psychologists would label you a sociopath. Why? Because normal people do feel such a sense of outrage. But since it is likely that you are not a sociopath, then you DO experience such moments of outrage. When you have these moments you

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are not thinking that you and the perpetrator of the crime have "had at it", you prevailed, and therefore it is proper that you feel a sense of moral indignation. In fact, you never had at it with this person; your outrage from his standpoint is just your arbitrary opinion. Nevertheless, it is there, and one is compelled to ask, given that there is no such thing as justice, isn't it quite arrogant of you to imagine that what was done to the molested child, the raped woman and the ripped off senior citizen wasn't fair? After all, if you are correct then the concept of fairness is vacuous anyway. It means whatever anyone wants it to, which is only to say that it doesn't mean anything at all. So we are indeed back to square one. Hitler and his thugs "had at it" with their opponents and managed to get control of the government of Germany. They then proceeded to "set the the categories" with the barrel of a gun and reserved the concentration camps for those who disagreed as well as any others they defined as sub-human. The really marvelous thing is that you have shown us that those who criticized Hitler on moral grounds really don't have a leg to stand on. Once we assume that there is no such thing as "Good" that is. It's all very nice in theory B. But my money says that there is no way you can live with this in the real world. The minute someone rapes your wife, molests your child, steals your retirement, you will be screaming for justice. You won't be waiting to "have it out" before you decide how to respond. You will want the creeps who did these things to pay and pay dearly. No matter how much you protest to the contrary your whining is just not credible. And that is because in the deepest recesses of your heart you know that there is really a right and a wrong, good and evil, justice and injustice. God has created you with that knowledge and try as you may, you will never be able to repress it fully. As for your discourse on the color yellow I would say that is is both incorrect and irrelevant. Irrelevant because defining the physical characteristics of an object is not the same thing as defining a concept such as good, which is itself a universal. After all, when you say that some particular thing is good you always do this in reference to some other situation, entity, goal or reality. That is, you always are faced with the necessity of responding to the question, why? Now in the case of the color yellow the response to the question why is of a different sort. We perceive a common physical characteristic between the appearance of the objects and we give it a name. We can debate about what causes it, but we can see that there is a common aspect and we can name it. Even a nominalist such as yourself has to admit that giving a common classification to two entities that do not share numerical identity assumes some kind of common attribute. Now in the case of particular "goods" which are not physical objects, but rather actions, ideas, feelings, situations, and other intangibles, we still must find some kind of common characteristic or property in order to justify labeling these entities with a common title, when they do not share numerical identity. In fact, the differences between the various things that we will want to label as good may be much greater than that between different shades of yellow. What does assisting a blind person across the street have to do with choosing not to cheat on an exam even when you did not get adequate time to study and you have a bird's eye view of the paper on the desk next to you? You would not want to

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deny that both actions are good in some sense would you? But if they are, then why? What do they have in common? The minute you begin to look for that common characteristic then you are into making abstract generalizations. And the more particulars these generalizations are able to cover the more they approach being universals. Of course you can revert to saying that there is no need for such generalizations, but then you are left with arbitrarily labeling each thing you want to call good as being good for no reason at all, i.e., it is simply good because you say so and that's all. The minute you give a reason, any reason at all, then you are moving in the direction of universals. And you will not get a coherent account of the good until you reach a transcendent point of reference for determining it. God is there in the end after all. The incorrectness of your argument, even about the color yellow, now begins to become apparent because the larger underlying problem is surfacing. If the things you call good have no logical relation to each other then they are just a mass of disconnected, fragmented particulars. Really, such particulars would have no coherent relation to any other particulars. What is illustrated here is that in the atheist, materialist world view, the only things that exist are particulars. There is no way to unify these particulars. And that is as much the case for physical perceptions such as yellow as it is for abstractions such as good and evil. You cannot get rid of the One and Many problem by simply declaring it not to exist. Nor can it be gotten rid of by demonstrating some of the difficulties in solving it. Even defining a banana as yellow reveals the irrationality and arbitrariness of simply declaring that objects not sharing numerical identity do share something common after all. If the physical is all there is and the bananas are not numerically identical then the commonality is a sheer fiction. The moment you say that it is real, then you are admitting the existence of universals. And surely when you say that something is yellow you are saying that it really is yellow. You are saying that the attribute of yellow really does exist in some sense, even if only as a category in your mind. It isn't simply a question of how you use language. Language to be meaningful must have some kind of referent. Even in fiction we know what the concept of a unicorn represents and what it would correspond to if such a thing existed. How much more so in the case of things that do exist. Well, this debate over the One and the Many, universals, nominalism, etc., is very ancient and has perplexed minds much greater than mine. Thinkers much greater than either of us have disagreed over it and we are not likely to resolve it here. However, I see no reason based on your arguments to reach any other conclusion than the one that I have argued for since these discussions began. Atheism is irrational. It cannot produce a rational account of reality, knowledge, ethics and purpose. Human beings need an infinite personal reference point for that and only the Triune God of the Bible fits the bill. Alan Footnotes********************** (1) The original post written by B appears to have been accidentally deleted while the discussion was still underway. Subsequent attempts to recover it were unsuccessful.

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(2) Once again we have the assertion by an atheist that such and such a thing is an injustice without ever having shown that there is such a thing as justice. The point of my response was to note that without a transcendent basis for justice, the individual examples are meaningless. He just ignores the difficulty and makes his moral assertions without a basis. (3) To which the obvious response is "So what?" The fact that my personal survival is at stake offers no inherently moral reason why I should survive, whether I like it or not. (4) The question at issue here is not whether or not I am personally indifferent to the survival of the human race (I am not). That question is irrelevant. The question is whether or not atheist can offer any inherent reason as to why human survival is morally good. It cannot. (5) The post on pages 141 – 152. (6) Pages 11 - 14.

Alan Myatt, Ph.D.

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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From C.I. to Alan Myatt: Alan, Q: >> What is more rational about this God you've described than Thor or Zeus? << ME: >> BTW, all of the above did not even come close to answering Q's original question..." YOU: >> We are talking about two totally different worldview with entirely different ontologies, epistemologies, ethics, and teleologies. << You're stalling. These kinds of differences are implied in the question. >> You could benefit by doing some basic reading in Christian theology so that you understand what the concept is we are talking about, before raising irrelevant questions. << It's not as if your theology is that difficult to understand. It's aimed at the level of a six year old -- intentionally. >> The definition of the terms must be understood before an intelligent argument can proceed and Q's question would have never been made by someone who really understood what the Christian notion of God is. << This is pure evasion. Next you'll claim you can't possibly make your case unless you study the theological system of Thor. C.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Alan Myatt to C.I., Message text written by C.I. > It's not as if your theology is that difficult to understand. It's aimed at the level of a six year old -- intentionally. < C.,

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Yes there are some elements of Christian theology that are aimed at children, and that quite intentionally, however this statement is just mind-boggling. Surely you cannot be serious. I am currently working my way through Augustine's On the Trinity and I don't think it would go over to well in 1st grade Sunday School. There are lots of atheists intellectuals, such as Bertrand Russell, Antony Flew, Paul Kurtz, just to mention some of the more well known, who argue against Christian theism, but they would never make the kind of remark that you imply here. If you think that Christian theology is so shallow then you work your way through Aquinas' Summa Contra Gentiles, Calvin's Institutes or Cornelius Van Til's Christian Theory of Knowledge. But then you won't bother I'm sure, since you already know all about Christian theology. >You're stalling. These kinds of differences are implied in the question. < No, actually I am not stalling. The way the question was framed seemed to me to ignore that such differences exist. I showed in my response that the notion of Thor (as all polytheism) implies a back drop of pantheism or naturalism, and is hence philosophically much closer to atheism. I would reject it for many of the same reasons. Finally, demanding that you understand the definitions of the terms of an argument is not evasion. It is an essential aspect of rational discourse. Alan

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From C.I. to Alan Myatt, Alan, >> Yes there are some elements of Christian theology that are aimed at children, and that quite intentionally, however this statement is just mind-boggling. Surely you cannot be serious.<< I am serious. Orthodox Christians made the decision nearly 2000 years ago to keep things very simple so they could attract as many converts as possible. That was one of their big beefs with the gnostic Christians who wanted a complex theology. I think Paul even praises the simple understanding of children and implies this is to be the Christian model. >> I am currently working my way through Augustine's On the Trinity and I don't think it 200

would go over to well in 1st grade Sunday School. << But understanding Augustine is more of an intellectual curiosity than anything else. It is not a necessity prior to understanding and using the core theology. You claimed atheism was straightforward. I claim Christianity is even more so. Sure, you can claim Augustine makes things complex, and I could claim B.Russell makes atheism complex. Van Til might try to invent a Christian epistemology and B. Russell might claim to invent an atheistic epistemology. If you think atheism is so straightforward I wonder if you also think Russell's epistemology is as straightforward. That's what you seemed to imply. If so, it makes me wonder why you are surprised that I might point out that Christianity is also very straightforward. Do you enjoy dishing out what you are afraid to eat yourself? BTW, Calvin and Van Til might be considered complex theologians in some circles, but I wouldn't consider either to be great thinkers. Simplistic is more like it. >> No, actually I am not stalling. The way the question was framed seemed to me to ignore that such differences exist. << True. There are some differences between Christianity and some religions. But there aren't many differences between Christianity and some other religions. >> I showed in my response that the notion of Thor (as all polytheism) implies a back drop of pantheism or naturalism, and is hence philosophically much closer to atheism. << You complain that Thor is polytheistic yet Christianity has God, Jesus, Satan, and various angels. What Christians fail to recognize is that other so-called polytheistic religions are very similar to Christianity in their understanding of their gods. I don't know much about Thor but I do know some things about other religions. You are approaching us as if you are offering a religion with special attributes. You are not. For example, the Egyptian religion has one main god who is so unknowable he creates generations closer to mankind so we can comprehend something of the divine. Plus, he is so pure he cannot touch the real world without a go-between. But the Egyptians believed in a hierarchy with one all-powerful god who was really in control just like the Christian God. Lower gods do the handiwork just like God sent angels to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. The Egyptians also believed laws were divinely given and that the universe was made orderly by the gods. For the purposes of this discussion, their theology was essentially the same as Christian theology. Here are a few snippets from the Book of the Dead regarding Osiris: "The stars in the celestial heights are obedient unto thee, and the great doors of the sky open themselves before thee. "The imperishable stars are under thy supervision... "The uttermost parts of the earth bow before thee... "...permanent is thy rank, established is thy

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rule. "...the stablisher of Right and Truth throughout the World... I've seen you state previously: >> Thor or Zeus (or any of the other gods for that matter) are simply other beings who are alleged to exist in the context of the larger Being that encompasses all things,i.e. the Universe, Nature, or whatever. << But this is simply not the case. Egyptian gods were seen pretty much exactly like the Christian gods. >> The Bible is a different sort of thing altogether. He does not exist as a part of a larger Being, rather he himself is the original uncreated Being. << Just like Egyptian cosmology. Of course I know you know the meaninglessness of this. It just passes the problem of something from nothing onto a new entity called God. (Where did God come from?) It doesn't really answer the question, it just ignores it. >> The universe was created by [God] out of nothing and is utterly dependent upon him in every aspect of its own being. << Just like Egyptian cosmology. >> Thus, the Christian holds that the ultimate reality is personal, rational, and purposive. << And also the Egyptian view. Also similar to Greek, and most other religions. >> The universe is not ultimate...<< Nor is it for practically any religion, especially Egyptian. Given all of this, why aren't your arguments equally valid for the Egyptian world order? The fact is, Christianity and its theology is not very unique. Your attempt to single it out is a Christian reflex but it is not very well informed. So when you claim that your religion and only your religion explains reality with a special theology, epistemology, etc... it is an argument made from ignorance, deception, or wishful thinking. We ask pertinent questions like "Why your god" and you act like this is somehow improper. In reality it's something you don't want to confront because it challenges your delicate presuppositions. C.

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From Alan Myatt to C. I.,

C., There are some errors that are so elementary that when they are made it is almost embarrassing to have to correct them. This especially the case when said errors are cloaked in language that gives them the appearance of having scholarly support when in reality none exists. Unfortunately your post is a prime example of such mistakes and regardless of how awkward it might be for you, I shall have to expose and correct them anyway. You imply that my argument is based on ignorance and you purport to know something about religions, particularly ancient religions. You make several assertions about the cosmology of these religions and imagine that they are practically identical to that of Christian theism. Yet you offer no documentation whatever from any recognized scholarly works on the religions you discuss. Your one citation from the Book of the Dead does not come anywhere near giving an accurate picture of the Egyptian god in its context. Well, it happens that I know a little about religions myself (it helps to have a Ph.D. in religious studies) and for the sake of those reading these posts I will remedy your lack of documentation by citing what various scholars have written about the religions in question. We will look at the sources and see whose interpretation is correct. Now to the specifics of your post. >Orthodox Christians made the decision nearly 2000 years ago to keep things very simple so they could attract as many converts as possible.< My main comment here is to simply challenge you to prove this statement with documentation from any scholarly source. I have read quite widely in church history and have found no evidence of such a calculated decision based on this type of motive. The basic gospel message is simple indeed and it was kept that way over against the gnostics in order to avoid changing its content. BTW your ascription of simplicity to Christian theology would seem to contradict your earlier implication that most Christians of different denominations don't agree with each other over what Christianity is. If that were the case it would imply that Christianity is much more complex than you let on. You seem to change the content of your argument depending upon what is most convenient at the moment. >I think Paul even praises the simple understanding of children and implies this is to be the Christian model.< Your sloppy scholarship first shows itself in your citation of the Bible without giving references. It was actually Jesus who said that we must come to God as little children, and this was not so much a reference to intellectual understanding as it was to having an attitude of humility and trust as a child would (Luke 18:15-17). Of course Paul does not contradict Jesus, yet his writings were already known for their complex theological arguments even during the early years of Christianity. 2 Peter 3:16 mentions that in Paul's writings there are things difficult to understand. The fact is that while the basic

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message of Christianity is simple, the development of Christian theology involved grappling with the most difficult and complex of philosophical questions. >it makes me wonder why you are surprised that I might point out that Christianity is also very straightforward. Do you enjoy dishing out what you are afraid to eat yourself? BTW, Calvin and Van Til might be considered complex theologians in some circles, but I wouldn't consider either to be great thinkers. Simplistic is more like it.< This latter statement makes me wonder how much if any of the works of these men you have actually read. But that is not the real issue here. I never said that Christianity is not straightforward. In fact, I think it is. This aspect of the discussion arose from what appeared to me to be rather clear evidence that Q did not seem to understand the nature of God as understood by Christian theism. At least he did not appear to grasp the notion of the Creator-creature distinction which I articulated previously. This notion is essential to what the Christian God is and it is a concept that differentiates Christianity entirely from systems with finite gods such as Thor. Now it has become apparent that you don't get it either, since we have this: > There are some differences between Christianity and some religions. But there aren't many differences between Christianity and some other religions. ...You are approaching us as if you are offering a religion with special attributes. You are not.< and >I don't know much about Thor but I do know some things about other religions. You complain that Thor is polytheistic yet Christianity has God, Jesus, Satan, and various angels. What Christians fail to recognize is that other so-called polytheistic religions are very similar to Christianity in their understanding of their gods.< Your claim to know something about other religions is cast into serious doubt by the increasing confusion about these religions that becomes evident as your post progresses. Your confusion rears its head here in your implication that Christianity is polytheistic. This confusion explains why you imagine that Thor is somehow comparable to Yahweh. Even a superficial reading of the Bible is sufficient to pick up the fact that at no point does the Judeo-Christian cosmology consider Satan and the angels to be gods. They are all clearly shown, from the beginning, to be created beings who operate within the confines of the created universe. Apparently you think that God and Jesus are just beings ontologically equal to the angels in some sense. All of this stems from your bringing to your interpretation of Christianity the basic assumption that all that is, exists by participating in Being. If a God be identified, by definition then he must be an entity that exists in the realm of this prior Being. God is analogous to man and the angels in this view. He is just bigger. But this is the whole problem. By reading your own basic metaphysical presuppositions into Christianity you engage in a straw man argument against a system that is a figment of your imagination. Let me state it once again for clarity. According to the Bible there

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is no such thing as Being as such. God does not exist in the context of any environment other than himself. Van Til refers to God as being self-contained, meaning that he is not contained in nor does he participate in Being or any other context. The universe is an entity totally distinct from God and it is here that we encounter finite beings. The question is which is ultimate, God or the universe. You assume that it is the universe. Christians assume that it is God. Also, you imply that the notion of the Trinity is somehow polytheistic as well. It would be difficult to find any serious scholars outside of Islam who would pay any attention to you on this point. Perhaps if you bothered to read Augustine on the Trinity, whose work you seem to think has no bearing on the content of Christian thought, then you would have a clearer picture of the ontological unity of God as well as the diversity of persons in the godhead. Judaism is militantly mono-theistic. Christianity shares this heritage. >For example, the Egyptian religion has one main god who is so unknowable he creates generations closer to mankind so we can comprehend something of the divine. Plus, he is so pure he cannot touch the real world without a go-between.< Your confusion over other religions becomes quite clear with your complete misconstrual of the nature of ancient Egyptian religion in relation to Christianity. This confusion is evident right off the bat in that these first two statements, rather than being evidence of similarity with Christianity, demonstrate that the Christian concept of God is indeed quite different. The unknowability of God that you describe is not uncommon among nonChristian religions. It was part and parcel of the gnosticism which you mentioned earlier. Yet the Bible never, ever, represents God in this fashion. This was in fact one of the things that made orthodoxy so objectionable to the gnostics. If anything is clear about the biblical God it is that he is knowable. In fact, from the beginning of the book of Genesis to the end of Revelation one of the Bible's main themes is that God wants to be known. The very definition of a Christian involves knowing God. Of course this does not mean that God is totally comprehensible to human beings. He is not. But unlike the Egyptian deity, he does not need to create generations of mediators in order to be known. He becomes most known by himself taking on a human nature and walking among us in the person of Jesus. In doing so he enters into intimate contact with the real world. He touches it as closely as can be imagined and he himself is the only "go-between" that there is. He does this without becoming ontologically identified with the creation. The Egyptian god is ontologically identified with the Being of the universe, even while trying to remain totally aloof from it. The Christian God, on the other hand, is precisely the opposite from the description you generate here. Your statement establishes the opposite of what you are trying to prove. From here your post continues with several assertions about the nature of the Egyptian belief in god whose intent is to show that the Egyptian gods were viewed basically just like God is in Christianity. They can be summarized thus: 1. The gods of other religions, in this case those of Egypt, were not viewed as existing in the context of a larger, impersonal Being. The Egyptian god was seen as himself the

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original uncreated Being. 2. The Egyptians therefore understood ultimate Being (god) to be rational, purposeful and personal. They did not believe that the ultimate reality is impersonal. 3. The universe is not ultimate for Egyptian nor most other religions. It was created out of nothing (ex-nihilo) and utterly dependent upon the personal god for its existence. 4. The Egyptian god was all powerful and in control of the universe just like the Christian god. It is here that we encounter the most embarrassing part of your post. The simple fact of the matter is that each one of these statements is false. This is easily demonstrated by a perusal of recent scholarship by experts on Egyptian religion. While each of these statements accurately describes the God of the Bible they are nothing like that of ancient Egypt. An examination of the evidence shows that the Egyptian notion of god is exactly like what I previously stated. We shall take each point in turn. 1. Egyptian creation myths contradict this point at every turn. In one sense it is difficult to speak of a consistent Egyptian theology, since it evolved over time. Yet the creation myths point back to a common notion of deity and while later cosmology tended to elevate the Egyptian deity towards infinite attributes, the Egyptian concept of god was essentially that of a finite being. Let's look at some specifics: From Donald A. McKenzie, Egyptian Myth and Legend, London: Gresham Pub. Co., 1907, reprinted Portland, Maine: Longwood Press, 1976. "At the beginning of the world was a waste of water called Nu, and it was the abode of the Great Father. He was Nu, for he was the deep, and he gave being unto the sun god who hath said: "Lo! I am Khepera at dawn, Ra at Noon, and Tum at even tide". The god of brightness first appeared as a shining egg which floated upon the water's breast, and the spirits of the deep, who were the Fathers and the Mothers, were with him there, as he was with Nu, for they were the companions of Nu. Now Ra was greater than Nu from whom he arose. He was the divine father and ruler of gods, and those whom he first created, according to his desire, were Shu, the wind god, and his consort Tefnut, who had the head of a lioness ..." pp. 1-2. "Ra spake at the beginning of Creation, and bade the earth and the heavens to rise out of the waste of water." "When Ra, according to his desire, uttered the deep thoughts of his mind, that which he named had being. When he gazed into space, that which he desired to see appeared before him. He created all things that move in the waters and upon the dry land." The original reality was Nu, "the Primordial Abyss of waters (which) was everywhere,

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stretching endlessly in all directions. ... There was no region of air or visibility; all was dark and formless." (R.T. Rundle Clark. Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt Thames and Hudson, 1991, p. 35). One should not get the impression that God and Nu were identical. In fact, Nu was an impersonal void, ultimate being, from which god arose. Robert A. Armour notes that, "In the story of creation that was developed in Heliopolis, the idea that the first of the gods evolved out of chaos and darkness and brought order to a disordered universe runs parallel to creation stories from many other cultures, including the Greek and Hebrew. In the beginning were the primeval waters, named Nun (variant spelling: Nu) which, since they were unconscious and inanimate, were incapable of independent action. Out of the waters Ra raised himself on a hill and created himself. Ra says that at the moment of his creation nothing else existed, neither the heavens, nor the earth, nor the things upon earth. Until this moment he had lived alone in the primeval waters, where he developed in darkness and contained both male and female principles." (Gods and Myths of Ancient Egypt . Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 1986, pp.18, 20). Clark notes that the waters (Nu) are "the basic matter of the universe" (p.36) from which consciousness came into being. He quotes Pyramid text utterance 600 that states concerning the High God, "O Atum! When you came into being you rose up as a High Hill..." Later the creator says in chapter 85 of the Book of the Dead, "I came into being of myself in the midst of the Primeval Waters..." (Clark, p. 40). Note the phrase, "came into being." The very name of Yahweh in the Hebrew comes from his self designation as "I am" (Exodus 3:14). It would have been inconceivable for any Hebrew, biblical writer or otherwise, to have said of Yahweh that he "came into being." He is the original Being in Christian theology. The Egyptian god may have managed to somehow evolve himself out of Nu, but clearly he is not original nor self-contained. He is derived from, dependent upon and everywhere ontologically part and parcel of the impersonal Absolute that exists before him. His environment is impersonal, chaotic Being, which he must ever strive to master. We see quite clearly then that the Egyptian god, contrary to what you say, was not the original uncreated Being, but rather a secondary and dependent entity who regardless of his growth in the attributes of deity, never surpassed his more ultimate and impersonal environment. 2. That leads quite naturally to the second point. Since ultimate reality for the Egyptians was the impersonal void it is obviously not that case that they agreed with the Bible's teaching that ultimate reality is personal, rational and purposive. In fact they believed exactly the opposite. The original Being of the universe, Nu, is "unconscious and inanimate", obviously characteristics of an impersonal entity. Nu exists prior to the Egyptian god as an inanimate, impersonal and formless void. There is a superficial parallel with the biblical creation story, but with at least one crucial difference. In the Bible, God the Trinity exists alone prior to anything else. There is no impersonal Being, no Nu, no formless void, no chaos and darkness from which he evolves. The infinite personal God is there first - then he speaks and the universe comes into existence. The contrast between the order of events in Genesis 1:1-2 and that of the Egyptian creation 207

story is so striking that it must have been shocking to those steeped in the ancient mythologies. The formless waters of Genesis 1 were created from nothing by God. Then he proceeded to give them structure. Notice the difference. Christianity: God first, then the impersonal creation; Egyptian cosmology: impersonal Being first, then consciousness and the gods. 3. Given that for the Egyptians the ultimate reality was impersonal Being it followed that they had no notion of fiat creation from nothing. The doctrine of creation ex-nihilo is indeed unique to the Judeo-Christian tradition. Concerning the Egyptian concept of creation one scholar writes: "For the Egyptian mytho-theological mind creation was of the ultimate importance, for all things had come into being at some specific point, and there was no concept of an eternally existent cosmos. The universe had to have a beginning, and before that beginning there had been nothing. A Pyramid Text speaks of the time before the creation as follows; The sky had not yet come into being; The earth had not yet come into being; Mankind had not yet come into being; The gods had not yet come into being; Death had not yet come into being. One should not, however, state of this time before the creation that there had been nothing in existence, for the Egyptians seem to have had no philosophical notion of a creatio ex nihilo. In the beginning there had existed chaos, the primeval waters of Nun, a single existent reality in which there was a primitive demiurge, a type of Prime Mover, if one may express it in terms of a later philosophical vocabulary. Such a philosophical expression, however, would have been totally non-Egyptian, nor would the Egyptian mind have seen a need for an abstract elaboration of the primary substance of the universe. For the Egyptian mythopoetic mind it was sufficient to state that before the creation there had only been the Nun. This Nun, however, was not so much a primary substance or form of matter, but rather a mythic symbol of the abstract reality of the full potential of being, a principle which contained within itself both the masculine and feminine forces which were necessary for generation and procreation." (Vincent Arieh Tobin, Theological Principles of Egyptian Religion . New York: Peter Long, 1989, pp. 59-60.) In other words, ultimate reality is impersonal Being and out of this the Egyptian god emerges. There is no ultimate distinction between the creator and the creation. Both share equally in the impersonal Being which is the ultimate reality. The Egyptian god may be extremely powerful, he may even bring order to much of the chaos of Being and use it to fashion the rest of the world. But he is, after all is said and done, just another piece of furniture in the house of Being. Maybe the biggest, but nothing like the sovereign Lord of Creation depicted in the Bible. Like all of the pagan gods, the 208

Egyptian deities are not capable of providing the infinite reference point needed to rise above the relativity of the universe. In the end the Egyptian god descends into the chaos that spewed him forth in the first place. The eternal cycle never ends. 4. So while quotes such as the one you presented suggest that the Egyptian god is very powerful, yet he is not the all-powerful Creator as is described in the Bible. Eric Hornung writes in Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt: the One and the Many (translated by John Baines. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1982) that the "Egyptian gods have a beginning and an end in time. They are born or created, they change with time, the grow old and die, and one day will exist no more." p 143. The Egyptians may have made some strides towards a true monotheism like the Hebrews, but they never arrived. Really C., a survey of Egyptian religion reveals that it is not much different from the many run of the mill systems of occult doctrine that seem to have almost universally controlled the ancient mind. Ancient (and modern) Hinduism, Greek religions, the myths of Babylon, gnosticism, even the nordic religion of Thor, shared in common this notion of a primal impersonal Being from which the gods where generated and to which all things eventually return. History was seen as a series of endless cycles of the one Being. Not until the Hebrews encountered Yahweh did this scenario change. God was truly seen as absolute and history as linear, rational and purposeful. And that only makes sense, as not until the Hebrews do we encounter a concept of the Ultimate that is personal, rational and purposeful. So it is in light of what scholars have to say about Egyptian religion that we must evaluate your statements in our dialogue. (you)>Egyptian gods were seen pretty much exactly like the Christian gods.< and (me) >> The Bible is a different sort of thing altogether. He does not exist as a part of a larger Being, rather he himself is the original uncreated Being. << (you)>Just like Egyptian cosmology.< and (me)>> The universe was created by [God] out of nothing and is utterly dependent upon him in every aspect of its own being. << (you)>Just like Egyptian cosmology. < and

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(me)>> Thus, the Christian holds that the ultimate reality is personal, rational, and purposive. << (you)>And also the Egyptian view. Also similar to Greek, and most other religions.< (me)>> The universe is not ultimate...<< (you)>Nor is it for practically any religion, especially Egyptian. < And when we do so we see that all of your assertions are false. Whether or not this is based on your own ignorance, deceitfulness or wishful thinking I suppose only you and God know. What can be said for sure is that your assertion that > For the purposes of this discussion, their theology was essentially the same as Christian theology< is simply laughable. So clearly my arguments could not be equally valid for the Egyptian world order, since it is nothing like that of Christian theism. (1) Finally, you charge that making God ultimate does not explain anything since >It just passes the problem of something from nothing onto a new entity called God. (Where did God come from?) It doesn't really answer the question, it just ignores it.< Well, no it does not ignore the question, but rather it goes to the heart of the question. Unless you yourself are willing to believe in some kind of materialist eternal regression you have to deal with the same question. And the question is not how did something come from nothing. Obviously something does not come from nothing. Both you the atheist and I the Christian will have to admit that there is some type of original reality that is just there and always was there, one way or another. There is a necessary being of some kind; something of which existence is a necessary property. The real question is not where did ultimate reality or being come from. The question is: What is ultimate reality or being like? Is it personal? A rational mind? Is it identical with the universe we see around us? Or is it impersonal material and energy, without purpose and mind? Those are the questions. And how you answer them determines whether or not your own thought will eventually lapse into relativism and irrationalism or if it will be able to sustain a rational world view. Atheism is firmly in the former category. Despite your best efforts you have failed to establish that atheism can justify knowledge, ethics, and purpose rationally nor can you give a rational account of the universe. Your potshots at Christianity have revealed your own lack of ground to stand on. I previously stated my intentions to bow out of these discussions since I have other things to do and there does not seem to be much left to say. Your posts compelled me to stick with it a bit longer, but now seems to be an appropriate time to wrap it up. The best to you and the rest, Alan

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********************** Footnote 1 . In addition to the sources cited here, the discussion of Egyptian religion by R. J. Rushdoony in chapter 3 of The One and the Many is quite instructive. He shows that Egyptian religion shares with all non-Christian thought the basic denial of the Creator/creature distinction, rendering it vulnerable to the same epistemological problems that plague atheism. The discussion is well worth reading, not only for its treatment of Egyptian religion, but for its analysis of the basic problem involved in the notion of Being in general, so I am including an extensive quotation:

Rousas John Rushdoony, The One And The Many, (Fairfax, VA: Thorburn Press, 1978), pp. 36-45.
Available from Ross House Books

p.36

Chapter III THE CONTINUITY OF BEING
1. Egypt Apart from biblically governed thought, the prevailing concept of being has been that being is one and continuous. God, or the gods, man, and the universe are all aspects of one continuous being; degrees of being may exist, so that a hierarchy of gods as well as a hierarchy of men can be described, but all consist of one, undivided and continuous being. The creation of any new aspect of being is thus not a creation out of nothing, but a creation out of being, in short, a process of being. This conception of being in process, when seen in its cosmic aspect, can be either static or dynamic, the framework of reference being history. The process is static if it flows upward out of history, as in ancient Egypt; being in this perspective has achieved a desired earthly order and now exists to serve, magnify, and then move into the eternal order. The process is dynamic if it flows forward through history towards a final historical order, or if it merely flows forward as endless process, as in Mesopotamian thought. In both forms, a cyclic view is possible, and "eternal cyclic renovation" was an aspect of Egyptian Hermetic thought as well as of other philosophies.1

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For Egyptian thought, god and man were of a common nature and alike products of a common being. As Wilson has observed, "Between god and man there was no point at which one could erect a boundary line and state that here substance changed from divine, superhuman, immortal, to mundane, human, mortal." The Egyptian religious faith was not monotheistic but monophysite, not one god but one nature in common to gods and men. "It is not a matter of single god but of single nature of observed phenomena in the universe, with the 1. (W. M. Flinders Petrie: Personal Religion in Egypt Before Christianity (New York: Harper, 1909), p. 166.)

p. 37 clear possibility of exchange and substitution. With relation to gods god men the Egyptians were monophysites : many men and many gods, but all ultimately of one nature."2 This common nature was shared by the entire universe in varying degrees and set forth in various aspects of worship. Juvenal, in Satire XV, commented on the "garden gods" of Egypt: "It is an impious outrage to crunch leeks and onions with the teeth. What a holy race to have such divinities springing up in their gardens! "3 Both gods and men developed or evolved, and in a very real sense, battled their way out of the original chaos of being. According to Fontenrose, "The peoples of the Near and Middle East looked upon creation as a process of bringing order out of chaos." This is both process and combat. "For the cosmos has been won from the chaos that still surrounds it, as a cultivated plot from the encompassing wilderness."4 Chaos or darkness generates life; it is both the source of life and the enemy of life. "Life requires order, which means putting a limit upon action in certain directions. But an order that resists all change and further creative activity denies life and turns into its opposite: it becomes a state of inactivity and death." Chaos and life are thus in a necessary tension: life without chaos becomes death, but life which surrenders to chaos and abandons order is also death. Life requires order, and order means death, the triumph of chaos. As Fontenrose notes, "This is only to say that both life forces and death forces are necessary in a properly balanced individual and world."5 Here we have the dialectic of man in the ancient world: chaos and life, a dialectic which undergirds much of subsequent thought. Expressed in world-wide myths of antiquity, it reappears as modern medical science in the psychoanalysis of Freud and his theory of Eros and Thanatos, life instincts and death instincts." 6

2 John A. Wilson, "Egypt," in Henri Frankfort, etc.: Before Philosophy, The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man (Penguin Books, 1951 [1946]) p. 74f. 3 G. G. Ramsay, trans.: Juvenal and Persius, Satire XV, 11. 9-11 (London: William Heinemann, 1930 [1918]), p. 289. 4 Joseph Fontenrose: Python, A Study of Delphic Myth and Its Origins (Berkeley:

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University of California Press, 1959), p. 218f. 5 Fontenrose, p. 473. 6 Ibid., p. 474. See R. J. Rushdoony: Freud (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1964).

p. 38 Chaos and cosmos must thus co-exist in balance in the ideal state. Cosmos means the world of the gods and the world of men, heaven and earth, and chaos is the underworld. The ideal state, the high point of being and "the center of the world," is that society where the three levels of being-heaven, earth, and the underworld-are in communication, and "this communication is sometimes expressed through the image of a universal pillar, axis mundi," which brings all three together.7 A state or empire which dominated the world scene of its day was especially sure that its society represented the center of the earth, the high point in the process of being to date, that order in which chaos, men, and the gods were in communication. Thus, in Assyria the king officiated before a garlanded pole or tree which has been explained as "the ritual centre of the earth."8 This communication was the basis of political and religious life: "reality is conferred through participation in the 'symbolism of the Center': cities, temples, houses become real by the fact of being assimilated to the `center of the world.' " 9 This communication rested in a community of being, through participation in one common being, out of which the gods had germinated and developed, and from whom men were germinated. According to the Papyrus of Ani, The Osiris, the Scribe Ani, whose word is truth, saith : I flew up out of primeval matter. I came into being like the god Khepera. I germinated (or, grew up) like the plants. I am concealed (or, hidden) like the tortoise (or, turtle) (in his shell). I am the seed (?) of every god. I am Yesterday of the Four (Quarters of the Earth, and) the Seven Uraei, who came into being in the Eastern land. (I am) the Great One (i.e., Horus) who illumineth the Hememet spirits with the light of his body. (I am) that god in respect of Set. (I am) Thoth who (stood) between them (i.e., Horus and Set) as the judge on behalf of the Governor of Sekhem (Letopolis) and the Souls of Anu (Heliopolis). (He was

7 Mircea Eliade: The Sacred and the Profane (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1959), p. 37. Willard R. Trask, trans. 8 Eric Burrows, "Some Cosmological Patterns in Babylonian Religion," in S. H. Hooke, ed.: The Labyrinth: Further Studies in the Relation between Myth and Ritual in the Ancient World (London: SPCK, 1935), p. 63n. 9 Mircea Eliade: Cosmos and History, The Myth of the Eternal Return (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1959 [1954]), p. 5. Willard R. Trask, trans.

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p.39 like) a stream between them. I have come. I rise up on my throne. I am endowed with a Khu (i.e., Spirit-soul). I am mighty. I am endowed with godhood among the gods. I am Khensu, (the lord) of every kind of strength. 10 This pride of achievement manifested by the god Osiris can be shared by men. Man is able, by works of righteousness, to become one with the gods. To become one with the heavenly beings, he must be able to affirm a confession, which, among other things, declared: . . . I have not committed sin. . . . I have not stolen. . . . I have not slain men and women. . . . I have not stolen the property of God. . . . I have not committed adultery, I have not lain with men. . . . I have made none to weep. . . . I have not been an eavesdropper. . . . I have not shut my ears to the word of truth. . . . I have wronged none, I have done no evil."11 Having been judged innocent, the deceased becomes divine, declaring, "There is no member of my body which is not a member of a god. Thoth protecteth my body altogether, and I am Ra day by day."12 Salvation is deification. Moreover, "It is not spiritual but physical, salvation that is sought." 13 In the biblical faith, resurrection is an act of discontinuity and a miracle. In the Egyptian perspective, man, after death, manifested a continuity either towards chaos and destruction or towards deity and resurrection. The doctrine of the resurrection in Egypt was set in the context of a naturalistic, fertility cult perspective. The gods themselves "are not immortal but perennial" 14 The first creation arose out of the primeval waters of chaos, the 10 E. A. Wallis Budge, trans. and intro.: The Book of the Dead , Ch. LXXXIII (New Hyde Park, N. Y.: University Books, 1960 [1890]), p. 552f. On Osiris, see Sir James George Fraser: Adonis, Attis, Osiris (University Books, 1961 [1914]). On the centrality of Osiris, see Sir Wallis Budge: Egyptian Religion (University Books, 1959 [1899]). 11 Book of the Dead, Ch. CXXV, pp. 576-580. 12 Ibid., Ch. XLII, p. 608. 13 E. A. Wallis Budge: Osiris, The Egyptian Religion of Resurrection , vol. I (New Hyde Park, N. Y.: University Books, 1961 [1911]), p. 276. 14 Jane E. Harrison, "Introduction" to Budge: Osiris, p. V.

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p. 40 gods and the primeval hillock or mountain arising and then becoming the source of subsequent being. Chaos is the ground of being, and the source of being, and an Egyptian papyrus declared: The All-Lord said, after he had come into being: I am he who came into being as Khepri. When I had come into being, being (itself) came into being, and all beings came into being after I came into being. 15 The place of creation is the primeval hillock, mountain, or pyramid, arising out of the waters of chaos to establish order. This sacred mountain or tower is the meeting-place of heaven and earth, where communication is established between heaven, earth, and hell. It "is situated at the center of the world. Every temple, or palace-and, by extension, every sacred city or royal residence-is a Sacred Mountain, thus becoming a Center."16 True social order requires peace and communication with both chaos and deity, and society either moves downward into chaos or forward into deification. The significance of the Tower of Babel is thus apparent: it denied the discontinuity of God's being and asserted man's claim to a continuity of being with God and heaven. The Tower was the gate to God and the gate of God, signifying that man's social order made possible an ascent of being into the divine order. The Egyptian pyramid set forth the same faith. The gods arose out of chaos, and the primeval earth hill or pyramid is their fitting symbol. In relationship to eternity, the gods stand thus: . In relationship to man, the

. Man's relationship to the gods and heaven is also symbolized pyramid is inverted: by the pyramid, pointing upward. In later mystery religions, and in Kabbalism especially, the two pyramids, the inverted pyramid of the gods and the sky-reaching pyramid of man, were brought together to form a "star," , the double pyramid, the union of the human and the divine, their coalescence in the war against chaos. Its first known Jewish use is in the third century A.D. In Egyptian thought, there is a continuity 15 James B. Pritchard, ed.: Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, second edition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1955), p. 6; re. the primeval hillock, see. p. 3. 16 Eliade: Cosmos and History, p. 12. See also Henri Frankfort: Kingship and the Gods (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962 [1948]), p. 151ff.

p. 41 rather than a coalescence of human and divine, so that the relationship of the two pyramids can be perhaps described symbolically thus: . The meeting point of the two

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pyramids is the pharaoh. Ritually, "one of the highest sacraments consists in setting up a mound, or altar, which represents the world. The sacrifices by the ritual recreates the earth; but he recreates it by the same methods as were used by the original creator." 17 The ruler is thus also a priest as well as king, since he, as the apex of the pyramid, is the person who has contact with the gods. Indeed, he may be himself divine either in his person or office. The Egyptian pharaoh was both man and god, priest and king, the umbilical cord uniting society with the gods: Worship King Ni-maat-Re, living forever, within your bodies And associate with his majesty in your hearts. He is Perception which is in (men's) hearts, And his eyes search out every body. He is Re, by whose beams one sees, He is one who illumines the Two lands more than the sun disc. He is one who makes the land greener than (does) a high Nile, For he has filled the Two Lands with strength and life.... The king is a ka, (vital force. . the other self which supported a man) And his mouth is increase. He who is to be is his creation, (For) he is the Khnum of all bodies, (Khnum. . a god who fashioned mortals. . ) The begetter who creates the people18 As the umbilical cord, the pharaoh was of necessity central to both political order and religious order. As Mercer noted, "The most fundamental idea of worship in ancient Egypt connected itself with the person of the god-manifesting pharaoh."19 Similar concepts, traced together with the ancient Egyptian beliefs to "old and wide17 A. M. Hocart, "The Life-Giving Myth," in Hooke: The Labyrinth, p. 266. 18 Pritchard: Ancient Near Eastern Texts, p. 431. 19 Samuel Alfred Browne Mercer, "The Religion of Ancient Egypt," in Vergilius Ferm, ed.: Ancient Religions (New York: Philosophical Library, 1950), p. 37.

p. 42 spread Hamitic belief,"20 are present in Africa in the twentieth century, holding that "all the people are the slaves of the king," who is "absolute lord and master of the land, and of the bodies and lives and possessions of all his people."21 Common to these African cultures, as to those of the ancient Near and Middle East, is "the idea of a ladder, reaching from earth to heaven,"22 a form of the belief in the pyramid or tower.

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Atum, the first god, was bisexual, "that great He-She," according to a coffin text, and "He was not only God but all things to come."23 "Osiris is past and future--cause and potentiality. "24 These two aspects were opened to man by the pharaoh. "The king was the mediator between the community and the sources of divine power, obtaining it through the ritual and regularizing it through his government."25 The king was necessary to social order, and he was essential to social salvation. "The king was recognized as the successor of the Creator, and this view was so prevalent that comparisons between the sun and Pharaoh unavoidably possessed theological overtones."26 Kingship in this sense was basic to civilization, and the coronation of the pharaoh was "an epiphany." The pharaoh represented order against chaos. His death was a temporary victory for chaos. Nature required kingship, for nature represented order as against chaos, so that nature was not conceivable apart from the pharaoh, who was not only the mediator between the gods and man, and between society and nature, but the source of order as against chaos.27 Incest was an important aspect of Egyptian mythology,28 and, between brother and sister, common to the royal line.29 Al20 C. G. Seligman: Egypt and Negro Africa, A Study in Divine Kingship (London: George Routledge, 1934), p. 60. 21 Budge: Osiris, vol. II, p. 162. 22 Ibid., II, p. 168. 23 R. T. Rundle Clark: Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt (New York: Grove Press, 1959), p. 41. 24 Ibid., p. 157. 25 Ibid., p. 121. See also Wilson, op. cit., p. 73. 26 Frankfort: Kingship and the Gods, p. 148. 27 Ibid., pp. 3ff., 33, 101, 212. 28 Ibid., pp. 168f., 177, 178-180. 29 Immanuel Velikovsky: Oedipus and Athnaton, Myth and History (Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday, 1960), pp. 96-102.

p.43 though economic motives were present, such incest also had a deepseated religious motive. It was a controlled act of chaos, an act in which order deliberately entered into chaos to make it fruitful for order. Plutarch's Lives, in describing Julius Caesar at the Rubicon, reported "that the night before he passed the river he had an impious dream, that he was unnaturally familiar with his mother." Suetonius reported the same dream, or a similar one, for an earlier date in Caesar's life: The following night he was much disquieted by a dream in which he imagined he had carnal company with his own mother. But hopes of most glorious achievement were kindled in him by the soothsayers, who interpreted the dream to mean that he was destined to have sovereignty

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over all the world, his mother whom he saw under him signifying none other than the earth, which is counted the mother of all things.30 This concept, somewhat dimmed in Caesar, prevails full force in some contemporary cultures, where incestuous unions, normally a horror and a terror, become obligatory in the invoked chaos of the festival. 31 The king warred against and controlled chaos, and the duty of the people, as well as their privilege, was to be in subjection to the king in order to participate in the community of heaven, earth, and hell in the person of pharaoh. "One might say-though only metaphorically-that the community had sacrificed all freedom in order to acquire this certainty of harmony with the gods." Harmony was central to Egyptian religion. 32 Because of the centrality of the king to all things, the "great oath" in Egyptian courts of law was by the life of Pharaoh.33 For the Egyptians, "right conduct was `doing what 30 Suetonius: The Lives of the Twelve Caesars (New York: Book League, 1937), p. 6. 31 Roger Caillois: Man and the Sacred (Glenco, Ill.: The Free Press, 1959), p. 117. Meyer Barash, trans. 32 Henri Frankfort: Ancient Egyptian Religion (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1961 [1948]), p. 58. 33 Margaret A. Murray: The Splendour That Was Egypt (New York: Philosophical Library, 1961 [1949]), p. 78. See Genesis 42:16, Joseph's oath, "By the life of Pharaoh surely ye are spies." For Murray on the pharaoh as a god, see p. 174ff.

p. 44 the king, the beloved of Ptah, desired.' "34 Magic, man's attempt to manipulate and control the powers of nature, was central to Egyptian society and life; the gods had used magic against chaos, and man must utilize the magical powers made available by the gods.35 The king was one of the gods and "the one official intermediary between the people and the gods, the one recognized priest of all the gods." 36 He was the Shepherd, a divine title, of the people, over "men, the flock of the gods."37 The dialectical tension of Egyptian thought was between chaos and life, but chaos itself could appear in life, when social order collapsed or weakened.38 Chaos therefore could itself be in life, whereas order meant the unity and harmony of heaven, earth, and hell under the divine monarch. The one and the many were brought together in the person of the king. The Egyptian language had no word for "state."39 For them, the state was not one institution among many but rather the essence of the divine order for life and the means of communication between heaven, earth, and hell. Life therefore was totally and inescapably statist. In this perspective, anything resembling liberty and individuality in the contemporary sense was alien and impossible. Moreover, the cyclic view of nature and history which is basic to the Osiris faith and Egyptian religion made for a pessimistic

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world view. The Isis temple inscription, reported by Plutarch, cited two aspects of this faith: "I am the female nature, or mother nature, which contained in herself the generation of all things." "I am all that has been, and is, and shall be, and my peplum no mortal has uncovered."40 First, a total immanence is asserted deity does not transcend the being of humanity, it is a common 34 E. O. James: The Ancient Gods (New York: G. P. Putman's Sons, 1960), p. 261. 35 Sir E. A. Wallis Budge: Amulets and Talismans (University Books, 1961 [19301), p. XVf. See also Budge: Egyptian Magic (University Books, n.d. [18991). 36 Wilson, op. cit., p. 73. 37 Nora E. Scott and Charles Sheeler: Egyptian Statues, "Instructions for King Mery-kaRe" (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1945). 38 See "A Dispute Over Suicide," in Pritchard, op. cit., pp. 405-407. 39 Frankfort: Ancient Egyptian Religion, p. 30. 40 James Bonwick: Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought (Indian Hills, Colo.: Falcon's Wing Press, 1956), pp. 145, 149.

p.45 being, generated first out of chaos and then out of the gods. Second, it has an unknown potentiality: its future is unknown, covered, and veiled. There is no eternal decree of law and order, based on an absolute and totally self-conscious potentiality. Instead, there is only a tenuous community against a background of chaos and an unknown potentiality which may include chaos. The only slim wall against this was the king, the divine monarch and the human apex of the risen mountain of order out of chaos. In his person, pharaoh was the identity of all being and the identity of unity and particularity. All men had to be under him to be in being. The official voices from Egypt affirmed the stability and permanence of this order; history has entered its emphatic dissent. According to Anthes, for the ancient Egyptians "Eternity is oneness," and the "human goal after death is deification."41 Deification was entry into the oneness of the divine order, and membership in the state in this life was similarly participation in the divine oneness manifested in the pharaoh and protection against the horror of chaos and meaningless particularity. 41 Rudolph Anthes, "Mythology in Ancient Egypt," in Samuel Noah Kramer, ed.: Mythologies of the Ancient World (Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1961), pp. 41, 51. 42 Thorkild Jacobsen, "Mesopotamia," in Frankfort: Before Philosophy , p. 139f. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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ALAN D. MYATT, Ph.D.
Dr. Alan Myatt is a Doctor in Religious and Theological Studies from Iliff School of Theology of Denver University (EUA). He is regional coordinator of research for the Baptist Church of the South in the U.S. and professor of the Faculdade Teológica Batista de Sao Paulo. He is a visiting professor of Theology at Instituto Presbiteriano Mackenzie. He has co-written a mammoth book on systematic theology in Portuguese to be published in Brazil entitled “Systematic Theology: an historical, biblical and apologetic analysis for today's context.” He also wrote many academic papers and scholarly articles which are listed below.

Academic Papers Conference and Society Papers

The following are the academic papers which he presented at conferences and scholarly societies. The papers are in Adobe .pdf format.* "Is Pluralism Tolerant? An assessment of the pluralist interpretation of world religions in light of charges of Evangelical "hinduphobia"." A paper presented at the Evangelical Theological Society annual meeting, Nov. 19, 2008. "Can Joseph Smith Save Us From The Evils of Modernity? A critical assessment of the post-modernist turn in Mormon apologetics." A paper presented to The Society for the Study of Alternative Religions at the Evangelical Theological Society annual meeting, Nov. 18, 2004. "A Missionary Looks at Evangelicals and Catholics Together." A paper presented at the Evangelical Ministries to New Religions Conference, Denver, Colorado, Feb. 20, 2000. HTML version here. "Black Religion and Social Justice in Brazil: The Movimento Negro in the Roman Catholic Church." A paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, Albuquerque, New Mexico, November, 1994. "Recent Trends in Liberation Theology: Black Liberation Theology in Latin America." A paper presented at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, Tysons Corner, Virginia, November, 1993. "New Age Nursing: Religion and Empowerment in a Traditionally Female Profession." A paper presented at annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, Arlington, Virginia, November, 1992.

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"Liberation Theology and the Kingdom of God." A paper presented at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, Kansas City, Missouri, November, 1991. *In case you have trouble opening the files, right click on the link and click on "Save Target As..", then save the file your hardisk. You must have the free Adobe Acrobat reader installed in order to view the files.

Scholarly Articles Some of these files are in .pdf format and require the free Adobe Acrobat reader. (If the Acrobat reader does not open the file in your browser, try downloading the file and viewing it off-line. That should solve the problem.) You may download the articles for personal use, but please do not copy them to others without permission.

The Uniqueness of Christianity Are all religions the same? Truth Can it be known and does it matter? Who is Jesus, Anyway? What about the Jesus Seminar and New Age claims concerning Jesus Christ?

Conversations with Atheists This is a series of forum discussions between Dr. Alan Myatt and some atheists (and others) in which he tried to get the atheists to show that atheism is rational. He argued that atheism is inherently irrational and, indeed, ultimately destroys the possibility of rationality. Therefore, the only rational thing to do is abandon atheism and accept the Christian theistic alternative. He never got a satisfactory response. His conclusion: atheism requires the suicide of the intellect. The choice is clear: Jesus or the void.

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Race and Religion in Brazil For those who are interested in a more detailed picture of religious aspects of Brazilian culture, this document examines the interaction between African religion, liberation theology, and traditional Roman Catholicism in Brazil. This is Alan's Ph.D. dissertation, Religion and Racial Identity in the Movimento Negro of the Roman Catholic Church in Brazil. ( .pdf format 833kb.)

An Evangelical Missionary Responds to the Evangelicals and Catholics Together Document Click here for HTML web page format Click here for Adobe .pdf How does the teaching of traditional Roman Catholicism concerning salvation differ from the doctrines defended by the Reformers? Some say that we really aren't that different, or that the differences of the past are irrelevant for today. Here are some thoughts on the subject with a view of why it is important for Evangelicals to do missions in Latin America. A paper presented at the 2000 Evangelical Ministries to New Religions (EMNR) conference.

Liberation Theology (.pdf) The Kingdom of God and Liberation Theology (.pdf) Several people have asked Dr. Myatt if he has any information on liberation theology so he included here two papers he wrote on the subject. Many think that with the decline of socialism after the fall of the Soviet Union that liberation theology is no longer an issue. However, the marxist based theology of liberation continues to have significant influence in Brazil and other latin american countries, so the subject still merits attention. The two papers posted here were written some time ago and are a bit dated. Nevertheless, they provide an accurate background and snapshop of the central ideas of this movement.

www.myatts.net
NOTE: If you find this e-book “Conversations with Atheists” highly interesting, illuminating and edifying, you’ll also be interested to read the e-book of on-line discussions between another biblical Christian (Periander Esplana) and various infidels (atheists, skeptics, evolutionists, mystics, New Agers, critics, pseudo-Christians, etc.) entitled “The Meaning of Life” at www.scribd.com/perixmind

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Description: “This e-book of on-line debate/discussion between a biblical Christian (Dr. Alan Myatt) and various atheists/infidels is a clear demonstration that Bible-rejecting belief-systems (atheism, pantheism, polytheism, mysticism, naturalism, spiritualism, materialism, etc.) are ultimately irrational and indefensible while Bible-believing belief-system (Christianity) is the only rational faith in the world and really irrefutable. All unbelieving systems necessarily lead to nihilism, irrationalism and hedonism. Only in the Biblical worldview where reality, logic and morality can be found objective, meaningful and applicable. Only the Bible truth can adequately account the experiences of man and the phenomena of the universe. If you will use your intelligent and brilliant mind as you read this e-book, then you will be ready to open your heart to rationally believe the Absolute Truth, the Truth of truths, who is no other than the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (Jn.3; Rom.10; 1Cor.15; Eph.2).” - PERIANDER A. ESPLANA, Author of “The Bible Formula: 1Jn.5:7 = Gen.1:1 Rev.22:21” To download this document, visit or go to: http://thebibleformula.webs.com/kjbperfectmath.htm