Friday, January 25, 2013

FacePlant of the Day - Debunking Christianity: Enough of This Utter Nonsense, On Knowing the Supernatural

John Loftus likes to pretend that if science cannot be used to confirm something then there is no reason to there is no validity to it. He agrees that we can't trust our own perceptions, yet thinks that science is the great equalizer. Further, anyone who points out that science can't tells us everything we need to know about reality is labeled by him as a science hater. This is not true. While he claims that believers have major intellectual problems he fails repeatedly to explain how science protects him from the same problems. He also fails repeatedly to correctly explain who Jesus is and what Christians believe about Him.

A Christian commented on a recent post having to do with how science could know the supernatural:
Let's posit for a moment that the supernatural does exist. It then follows that science, which by definition focuses on the natural, would have absolutely no means to measure it or detect it. It could thus never serve as a method and no scientific protocol could ever be established to rule it out, regardless of how real the supernatural would be.
Oh my gosh, believers have just pawned us god-hating atheists now, haven't they? *Throws in the towel in defeat.* Wait, on second thought, this is utter hogwash and it should be easily seen. So here goes.

Nope. Atheism has been pawned by God through over 40 authors and a period of 1500 years.

Let's grant that science by its very nature cannot detect the supernatural, or better, a supernatural being, since that's surely what he believes. Why would it bother anyone if this is the case? I see nothing problematic about this conclusion at all. If science cannot detect a supernatural being then science cannot detect a supernatural being. It's only a problem for a particular kind supernatural being, one that wants to be detected, and/or one whom we need to detect in order to live a good life both here and later in the afterlife. Without these additional characteristics a mere supernatural being is an unnecessary hypothesis, one we can safely live without.

 So Loftus admits that if a supernatural beings is necessary to live a good life here and in an afterlife we cannot safely live without him. I can hear the objection that Loftus is talking about being able to detect such a being. The problem however is that the God of  Judaism and Christianity can be detected. More than that He says that we have no defense for concluding that He does not exist.

 18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. - Romans 1:18-20

I'm aware that people trying to side-step this by claiming that this scripture is wrong because we don't know if God exists. I invite people to read Paul's letter more carefully. He's not claiming that people instinctively know about Jesus and the need to believe and confess by default.  Far from it.  The letter builds from the idea of just knowing that there is a God to how you can learn more about that God in detail. In the above passage, the argument is that we know God exists because we can know somethings about God from what has been made. Let me make it simple: we can know more about God from just looking a what God has created - through um science. This means you do not have luxury of unbelief.

So we need to additionally suppose that a supernatural being wants to be detected and/or that we need to detect her in order to live a good life both here and later in the afterlife. Well then, whose fault is it if we cannot detect her through science?

According to Romans 1, science can help us to know about God. Who is right? Loftus or God? Due to my own studies in science and engineering, I'd have have to believe that God is the one who is right. 

It wouldn't be the fault of science. It can only detect the detectable based on the standard rules of evidence-gathering. So if science cannot detect the supernatural and she wants detected then the fault for this state of affairs is laid clearly on her back. No one else is to blame.

No, the problem is how you have interpreted the evidence, not the evidence, nor science. The fault is in you.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. - Romans 8:5-8

If you are a committed atheist or have no relationship with God, Paul was talking about you. 

 In fact, it must be what she wants, even though believers have been reduced to making stupid arguments in defense of religious experience as evidence for their three-in-one incarnating atoning resurrecting God. They have been reduced to looking like fools, since William Lane Craig still has not answered my challenge regarding the so-called testimony of the inner witness of the Spirit. I don't suspect he can. I don't think any believer who accepts the inner witness of the Spirit as reliable testimony can answer my challenge. Give it a go, someone, will you?

Does anyone not get this?

Loftus, obviously doesn't get it. If one just follows Paul's argument. He starts with studying the creation - science, to consciousness and morality, and then to Jesus Christ. One who can dismiss the testimony of the Holy Spirit has never had such an experience. Given that Loftus claims to have once been a believer must have never had such confirmation which best explains his apostasy. And given that God never expects us to live on Blind faith nor on just your feelings or what you think, no Atheistic argument based on these claims work.

Let's go deeper. Let's think outside the present realities for a moment, something required when comparing any given hypotheses. The whole idea that science cannot detect the supernatural is a hindsight Christian rationalization for justifying the Christian faith due to the onslaught of modern science.

Science has never disproved the Bible.  Atheists like Loftus like to keep asserting this lie but when pressed they can't really offer up a single example. There isn't a single example. Sometimes people like to bring up macroevolution but there isn't unanimous assent to macroevolution being a fact. In fact it's still under heated debate. Sometimes people point to the order the Bible says things came into being in Genesis 1 and 2 as being in conflict with science. However not everyone agrees. Dr Hugh Ross, an Astronomer, does an excellent job in showing how this conclusion is not necessary.  

Prescientific superstitious people would never have said this, primarily because modern science had not yet arisen. Anything that could not be explained by the science of their day was considered an act of God. Their God was constantly intervening in their world, even causing the sun to rise every morning. "You want scientific evidence that God exists?," they would ask. "You can see it every single morning when the sun rises," they would answer. This was considered "scientific" evidence in the minds of believers because, as always with believers, scientific evidence is considered by them to be the lack of scientific evidence. Get it? I don't either. This is the basis for a great deal of pseudoscience, something I've written on before right here, which has gotten the 3rd highest hits at DC in seven years of Blogging.

I don't get why God is still not responsible for things that we actually understand and can predict. The more we learn through science, the more questions arise. We also know that something is holding reality together. The second law of thermodynamics tells us that everything is breaking down - tending to disorder. Yet things are still being refreshed and living things are still being born. How why? The more we look into the atom, the more smaller and smaller particles there are and the more we don't know what is holding it all together. Science is important and necessary, but it's doesn't lead us away from God.

Not only this, but if we believe the Bible then anyone who wanted scientific evidence for God would just have to sail in Noah's boat, or cross the Red Sea with Moses, or live for forty years in the wilderness on manna and be led by a pillar of smoke by day and fire by night. They could go to the circus where for an extra shekel Balaam's ass would talk, or in the booth next to it they could see Elisha's actual axe head float in a tub of water. They could follow Jesus around, or Paul, or Peter, and see blind men who were healed, and dead men who lived to tell stories about their After Death Experience (ADE vs NDE).

Yes, miracles served as empirical evidence for God. However God is still doing miracles today. Didn't Loftus ever experience a move of  God intervening in his life or someone else? I thought he said he was a Christian. If he had never experienced such why would he waste that much time as "Christian"? I'm not buying that. If I had never seen God move or intervene I would have been giving up being a Christian the first year after I was saved.

So when Christians admit science cannot detect a supernatural being what they're doing is conceding the whole argument. They're conceding science has correctly concluded that a supernatural being cannot be detected. Let. This. Point. Sink. In.

Science can't conclude that there is no God to detect because it shows evidence that there is a creator. I concede no such thing given my own education in Physics and Chemistry and that God doesn't expect me to believe Him despite the realities of science.  As a methodology for finding out about the universe science cannot be wrong, but scientists can be wrong (and have been) in the conclusions they draw.

Breathe slowly and deeply if you feel like fainting. Get some smelling salts on hand. Sit down if you must. For if science could detect a supernatural being then Christians would be crowing about it. You know it. I know it. Everyone knows it. Don't try to Billy Goat me to death with your endless "buts." I know them. I've used them myself in defense of an indefensible faith. There are no ifs ands or buts about this.

Funny it doesn't seem to stop atheists from crowing about lack of evidence while they shut their eyes and stick their fingers in their ears. 

To drive this point deeper, if there is a supernatural being who wants us to detect her then she could have either, 1) kept modern science from arising in the first place,

He's been using modern science. 

or 2) kept on providing scientific evidence in verifiable miracles in the same ways we read in the Bible.

Interesting that Loftus ignores the verifiable miracles we have today. Too bad. He should read more of Dr Gary Habermas' work.

Such a supernatural God could easily have kept modern science from arising merely by keeping any thought of scientific progress away from the minds of people who were close to attaining such a thought. See, that was easy. *Snap* You're now stupid.

Why would God do that? Instead God has put scientific progress in us. And he's been merciful enough to gift it to even to unbeliever too blind to appreciate God or acknowledge God.  Scientists like Isaac Newton credited God for their successes.

Or, much more interestingly, such a God could have created an earth as a flat disk in a much smaller universe just as we find described in the Bible, with the sun moon and stars created on the fourth day to revolve around the earth, with no amphibians so evolutionary science could not have arisen. If God had created the universe in six literal days then *BAM* along with other things modern science could never have arisen at all.

I don't know what's more pathetic - that Loftus thinks that the Bible teaches that the earth is flat  that that the solar system is geocentric or the possibility that Loftus may have thought that this when he thought that he was a Christian.

Christians, could your God have done this or not? Yes or no? Now then, please tell us all why the rise of modern science is a much greater value to your God then the loss of so many billions of people to hell. You do realize that modern science is one of the major factors reasonable people all over the world think your faith is bunk, don't you?

Yeah, that is why they are wrong. 

 Of course, that's why you reject the other religious faiths as well. Ahhhh, the good 'ole double standard days which will end soon, but we'll have to wait for my soon to be released book The Outsider Test for Faith: How to Know Which Religion Is True.

I'm really hoping that Loftus does a better job actually describing what Christians believe in this book, because so far he has not gotten it right in his blog posts. He'd have a point if he could demonstrate that the Bible is actually wrong about something.

Isn't it funny that the more science has explained the fewer and fewer miracles believers claim to have experienced, exactly in the same way that science has disconfirmed the existence of UFO's from Mars?

Explaining day and night or the seasons or how birds fly is not the same as explaining how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead or walked on water. Don't get confused about what a "miracle" is  and isn't Science also cannot tells us the why, but it does a good job of helping us understand how.  Nothing about purpose. It's all meaningless without a designer or a creator. Science is a long way from explaining a lot of things. And what we can understand and demonstrate as true beyond a shadow of doubt points to God.

Debunking Christianity: Enough of This Utter Nonsense, On Knowing the Supernatural
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ID.Plus: The Ontological Argument (question begging?)

Peter S Williams posted this really interesting video regarding the Ontological Argument for the Existence of God. I like the argument but without being drawn by God it is impossible to understand that without God there is no "being" at all.

ID.Plus: The Ontological Argument (question begging?)

Answering Muslims: Refuting Shabir Ally on the Preservation of the Bible

David Wood rebutts the arguments of the Shabir Ally against the reliability of the Bible

Answering Muslims: Refuting Shabir Ally on the Preservation of the Bible

Confident Christianity: Is The Story of Christ a Copy of the Pagan Myths?

Mary Jo Sharp recently gave a very good presentation demonstrating that Jesus is not copy of pagan myths. She didn't have the time to present every fact of evidence possible but hit the major ones concerning Osirus, Horus, Mithras, and Dionysus. She shows how different these mythological persons are from the reality of Christ. Even if you don't believe the Bible about Jesus, you can't claim that it says the same things that are said of these pagan myths.

Confident Christianity: Is The Story of Christ a Copy of the Pagan Myths?
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Answering Muslims: The Preservation of the Bible and Qur'an - Debate

This was good debate. I think everyone should find out what they believe and be able to explain why they believe it. This is a good way to weigh the claims of Christianity against the claims of Islam. These claims are dependent on the reliability of the the Bible  versus the claims of the Qur'an.

Answering Muslims: The Preservation of the Bible and Qur'an - Debate
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