Adeistic

rational rejection of supernatural mythologies

Bouncing back to Dave

Now to the substance of your comments:”

“Science does refute The Book of Genesis

Where? This seems to be your presupposition, to which you assume all right thinking people must subscribe.”

Everywhere that Genesis makes creation claims. Not my “presupposition” at all. It’s a posteriori knowledge based on empirical science. If you wish to provide me with empirical evidence for talking serpents, magical knowledge endowing fruit, etc, then I shall retract my assertion that Genesis is falsified. It’s a creation myth, Dave. Creation myths are found in almost all religions that anthropologists have studied and they are an accepted facet of religious belief. Many Christians accept that Genesis is a creation myth and move on. I don’t think that the Council of Nicea had any aspirations toward writing a science text, rather they were interested in selecting those texts that fit the moral allegory that they wished to promote. “Unless, that is, you know something that I don’t about conversions amongst remote hunter-gatherer tribes not previously exposed to the J-C-I monotheistic religions. I’m surprised you are not at least familiar in a rudementary way with Christian missionary work in reaching those people of the world who do not live with any exposure to monotheistic religion.”Not what I said. I said “tribes not previously exposed.” I am quite aware of missionary activity, as is most of the educated Western world.  You don’t win arguments by responding to something that the person never wrote, so I assume that you simply misread me.

“If you have a URL to reputable research on actual numbers, I’d be interested to read it.

Since any numbers are going be produced by religious organisations, I’m sure you would not consider them reputable.”

You are making unjustified assumptions. I shall take that as your, “No, I do not have any numbers that support my position.”I would genuinely be interested, though I think that the study would be hard to conduct. I am very interested in the psychology of religion, and in cognition. However, let me point out that veridicality is not determined by popularity contests.

“Atheists have typically reached a rational view of the utter lack of foundation for belief in the supernatural. 

Atheists operate in the presupposition that that which is empirical must a) be true, and b) be the only source of truth. This is based upon the prior assumption that the human mind is capable of knowing and understanding all things. Because of these things, God’s existence must be proved to be true, as if God, should He exist, would have some sort of obligation to meet the criteria of human-derived intellectual frameworks.”

Religion attempts to “explain” two basic categories of phenomena – how we got here and where are we going after death.  (I don’t categorize the moral lessons as falling under explanation, rather they are prescriptions and proscriptions.) Because we are part of the physical world, any agency that produced us has impacted the physical world, so must necessarily be a physical agency by virtue of that interaction. This means that empirical methods are the only appropriate means by which to understand our physical origins.

Creationists like to subvert science to their needs, but that subversion is NOT science. It is not possible to trace what happens after we die. However, because life is demonstrably a physical phenomenon, it is not rationally justified to assume that cessation of the physical mechanisms that produce consciousness and metabolism continue in any way after physical death.  Oh sure, religious people wish to believe in an afterlife because they cannot imagine their personally ceasing to exist as individuals.  However, wishing for the supernatural cannot be claimed to have any more substance than being a conjecture – Descartes’ idea of God, which, of course, he had been taught at his Jesuit school was not a priori.

Believe in it if it comforts you, but please don’t claim that it has basis outside the conceptual. The concept of God undeniably exists as a meme. Claiming that we cannot know God does not work as an argument, though it is standard apologetic fare, because if you wish to claim that “we cannot know God”, then we are back at “we cannot know anything about God and all is conjecture”. After all, apologetics and belief begins and ends with human-derived intellectual frameworks.

It’s fallacious to assume that the impossibility of knowledge constitutes a knowledge claim. Ontological arguments fail, in other words. The unknowable argument, which the agnostic not theistic position incidentally, is an impossibly weak argument for deistic or theistic belief.

I did not explain my intended meaning when I “religionist”.

Most Christians are probably moderate believers, whereas religionists make a religion of being religious. They are obsessed with defending their beliefs and imposing their morality on society.

So “religionist” is a category of your own making.

No, religionist is a very obvious behavioral category of Christian behavior and belief. If it’s a neologism, fine. The point is not whether anyone has ever used the word before, the point is the phenomenon. You presumably now understand what I signify by the term. The original point was that some Christians hold Absolute Beliefs in Biblical Literalism. I am confident that you are aware of their thinking – it’s easy to find on the Internet.  

“You write with vacillating certitude and hesitation about Christians.”

Not so. I write with certitude. You simply don’t like what I say.

“It appears that your knowledge of Christians is based upon your perception of the “religionists” while ackowledging that there may be some you would find more palatible because they compartmentalise and internalise religion away, thereby letting social policy be decided by right-thinking non-religious liberals.”

Have you never noticed the vast theological range of religious beliefs? My goodness, you may be the only Christian who has never heard of Flat Earthers or the Protestant Reformation. (I am kidding.) Yes indeed, some Christians spout beliefs, such as a 6,000 year old Earth, that are so ridiculous that other Christians reject them.

“I assume that you live in England or Canada, yet you were well able to recognize that I was talking of American creationists, so my description clearly did fit the bill.

If you read my “About” page to find out, you would know that I am an American living in England.”

Ah, that explains a great deal. Midwest?  I read your comment, but I did not read anything about you because I was most interested in the content of this conversation. That certainly explains why you are so familiar with American-brand creationism.  You could tell me whether or not some British religious folk have similar belief systems.

“What I was able to recognise is that your descriptions fit stereotyping I have seen in the past. The anti-intellectual stereotype wouldn’t be possible if you couldn’t find at least a few examples of what you describe. However, having been a Creationist on several different philosophical and theological levels, I don’t think I fit the stereotype and I know many, many young earth Creationists and Intelligent Design proponents who do not.”

Ah, then you have heard of the dizzying variety of Christian beliefs! (Kidding again.)

“What religionists seem not to fully comprehend are the empirical, rational, and logical reasons for atheism. Theists don’t understand them because they do not consider them without emotional prejudice.

Again, you presume to understand your opponent while assuming that he cannot understand you.”

I said understand reasons for atheism, I am not concerned with whether or not you understand me.   

You also may not be aware of the latest theist theory that atheists are atheists by virtue of having Asperger’s syndrome.

Not being a sort of generic theist, I don’t keep up with their latest theories. I know that within the complex subsets of Christian apologists, there are a variety of epistemological views – an internal debate that has raged for centuries. From whence this particular theory sprang, I wouldn’t know. I also haven’t read any blogs about the correlation between “religiosity” and AS, so I wouldn’t know the validity of their research or conclusions.”

The AS-atheism concept is not really an epistemological hypothesis so much as a psychological hypothesis based on the assumption that atheists simply fail to feel God. 

religionists who neither comprehend the nature nor content of science

Being quite familiar with fundamentalist Christian homeschooling, which does seem to be something of the focus of your ire, the predominant curricula employed tend to include as much science content as their public school counterparts. What I think you are referring to are religionists who do not accept the dominant philosophy of science rather than science itself. I believe the only bits of science that are in dispute concern theories of origins.”

I was not talking of homeschooling, but of the the attempts to push creationism into science classrooms – the ID platform that mainstream creationists (those who admit to being creationists) wish to hook their caboose onto.

Obviously, the main areas of science that are unacceptable to creationists relate to evolutionary biology and cosmology.  Philosophy of science, as I’m sure you well know, is not science. Many creationists seem not to know the difference. Misinformation and pseudoscience has spread beyond evolutionary biology and cosmology, though – the creationist campaign of discrediting science has resulted in many creationist with whom I have talked believing that all of science is a matter of pure guesswork. The confusion reminds me of the what-are-the-limits-to-the-fantasy that pertains to science fiction.  Once science fiction has left the known limits of scientific fact, how far should the imagination travel?

“scientists who are religious have almost certainly been exposed to religious teachings since early childhood

Your theory is consistent: it’s that darn religious teaching that damages so many minds, that even otherwise rational scientists can escape it’s dastardly clutches.”

You are being facetious, but that is exactly the phenomenon that I am talking about. You don’t like the implications. There are many deists who accept the facts of cosmology and of biological evolution (the empirical facts and the explanatory theories). The problem areas involve those belief systems that necessarily deny scientific fact in order to survive falsification.

more likely to be physicists or mathematicians than biologistsBecause the former have not been as thoroughly indoctrinated in atheistic evolutionary theory.”

It is not atheistic evolutionary theory, it is the fact of biological evolution.  I am sure that you are aware that science, by virtue of its physical nature, is necessarily religion neutral.  However, given that science provides experimentally replicable evidence that explains origins, then that has the byproduct impact of rendering supernatural “explanations” superfluous, indeed falsified.

“If you deal with a purer science, God gets harder to avoid. Romans 1:20 and all that. One exception would certainly be Alister McGrath, whose Oxford doctorate is in molecular biophysics. Much of his theological work deals directly with atheism, including, The Twilight of Atheism: The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World, Dawkins’ God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life, and The Dawkins Delusion?”

As I said before, determination of veridicality is not really a popularity contest. However, much of quantum mechanics must have seemed beyond the fantastic to Neils Bohr, and much of theoretical physics has moved into the realm of philosophy (unless it can be experimentally tested.)

“Your reaction is very emotional in tone

My apologies, Mr Spock.”

You probably mean that as an insult, but I shall take it as a compliment.

“You may or may not be familiar with the triune model of brain evolutionHow true.”

Obviously, I should have explained it in the first post.  “I’d point out that Christians have been using emotional “religious experience” in an attempt to prove God’s existence since Jean Jacques Rousseau

The religious experience argument, like any other argument, does not prove or disprove anything. It provides evidence. One of the leading proponents of this argument is Oxford philosophy professor Richard Swinburne (retired 2002). I would suggest reading some of his work to understand why such an argument should not be dismissed out of hand.”

Subjective experiences are open to interpretation about their mechanism/meaning. Neuroscience demonstrates an inextricable connection between emotional experiences and neural activity. To toss another, undetectable mechanism into the mix defies parsimony and is without empirical foundation. Speaking of the psychology of religion, though, I think that the emotional appeal of religious belief is the chief reason for entertaining such belief even though this does not constitute any kind of verification.

“there are many studies that indicate a positive correlation between atheism and IQ, educational level, science background, and liberal attitudes. Theists demonstrate a negative correlation with those parameters. Since I assume that you understand Venn diagrams, I also assume that you realize that such correlations are not 100% categories.

I teach using Venn diagrams, even when I teach on Religion and Science. So what you are saying is that all theists aren’t stupid – just most of them. And of course I shouldn’t treat these studies as suspect because they were done by atheists, should I?”

Now you are being facetious for the sake of your argument. I don’t actually know who conducted the studies. They were mostly in the US, probably because it had already been established that education did not necessarily reduce religiosity in Bible Belt colleges. Conversely, it had also been fairly well documented that university education usually correlated with lower rates of religiosity. However, given that atheism remains relatively uncommon in the US in comparison to most Western countries, it seems statistically likely that many of the studies were actually conducted by theists.  I doubt that any Absolutist Creationists would even have contemplated conducting such a study, but that’s just a guess.

As you said, I am not saying that all theists are unintelligent and uneducated, nor that all atheists are intelligent and well educated.  However, if you look around Internet sites, it becomes fairly clear which group has the greater proportion of articulate and unemotional debaters.

If you don’t wish to look at the US correlations, then I don’t think that the statistics for the Western nations versus the underdeveloped nations have all been falsified by prejudiced atheists.

The fact that American creationists are trying so hard to have creationism placed in the science curriculum illustrates both my point about need for childhood indoctrination and religionist fear of science. 

Here is where I think you misunderstand the motivation of American creationists. The idea of childhood indoctrination is motivated independent of any issues about competing views of origins as propounded through scientific theories. This is an expression of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Proverbs 22:6 (which I use as examples, not as specific prooftexts) in Christian views of childraising.”

For any belief system to propagate and sustain itself, its adherents must have a mechanism for ensuring exactly that.  Wasn’t it you who mentioned Christian missionaries spreading the message to native tribes?  (Rhetorical question.)

What Deuteronomy and Proverbs say is irrelevant to my point, which is that it does not take Freud to explain why people mostly continue to adhere to the beliefs that they learned in childhood rather than adulthood. (I’m not giving Freud a vote of confidence, merely using the symbol.)

Sure, some people switch religions or religious sects, but if you believe (why else believe?) that your version of “reality” is the correct version of competing “realities”, then you will probably want your children to share your belief system.  I doubt that you would honestly contend that such harmony of belief can be best achieved by delaying all religious instruction until the child has reached adulthood.  

I’ll put it this way. Because I do not believe, it is unlikely that I will be convinced to suddenly adopt religious beliefs. However, if I were to suddenly start believing, I would adopt Christianity simply because I am most identified with the Christian culture.

I don’t have to prove my point with logic, the known facts illustrate my point.

Your known facts are a little skewed, so I wouldn’t ditch the logic entirely yet.”

Clearly, we shall have to differ on that one. Neither of us can replicate and explicate the entire body of details on which we base our interpretations.

However, I am sufficiently acquainted with psychology, both theory and practice, to be confident about the mechanisms I described. You don’t like my conclusions and you do like the idea of God.

“You are upset at feeling that you’ve been called a reptile, which is quite understandable.

Understandable, but not true. It takes a lot more than that to upset me. Actually, I was more upset by your approach to blogging which appears to be a new type of spamming.”

Which, I suppose is why you wanted to join in and post replica comments. That was not the gist of your initial reactions, though. In those you talked of reptilian brains and low intelligence.

“I’ll start with the last bit first. As you will have noticed on my own blog where I commented about this post, I only posted identical comments in several places because there were several different blogs with the same blog post under different names.”

I’ll end with this blog-police issue: That’s correct.  I provided links because I was not hiding anything. I make no apologies – I was experimenting with the system. Unusual, but not illegal. I was hoping to elicit an intelligent conversation. I found one, thanks to you.

“I did not spam anything repeatedly onto the same blog. I think it is an unusual tactic to create a variety of blog identities just to put out the same information multiple times. This is actually a different blog from the one where I made my original comment and to which I referred in my own blog.”

I received an email notifying me that your comment were on this blog.  I had to choose one. I chose this one.

If you had read the post carefully, you’d see that I was referring to that subsection of believers who believe in Biblical inerrancy – Creationist Absolutists.You are correct. Since I posted my comments at your “So Say We” blog and didn’t see anything about Creationist Absolutist in the preamble to the same post on your “Naturalism” blog or your “MetaThoughts” blog, I didn’t catch a slightly different preamble on this blog where you mention the creationist family on the “God’s Christian Warrior’s” program. Otherwise you only mention them well into the body of the post, which indicated that they were an example rather than the archtype upon which your entire premise rested.”

Confusing, I dare say. It was an experiment, not a game plan for spamming.  Because I don’t like trying to post in that tiny little comment box, I have moved this into its own post. This box isn’t much easier, though!

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August 26, 2007 - Posted by | atheism, creationism, critical thinking, religion, science

2 Comments »

  1. All the double back quoting makes things a little hard to follow. I hope you don’t mind that I don’t repeat the entirety of the last message in many different fonts.

    Many Christians accept that Genesis is a creation myth and move on.

    I see arguments both ways. How to understand the Creation story has never been an article of the Faith. However, there is no philosophical necessity for it to be proven empirically one way or the other. You assume the events of Creation must be reproduceable to be credible.

    That there are Creation myths in every society gives credance to the Genesis story. Throughout all of human history there has been a recognition of a conscious purposeful Creation act. How that act took place and how figurative and poetic the language of Genesis is in describing that has been the subject of differing opinions. Science does not refute Genesis – it only offers a variety of explanations of how the events in Genesis took place. What science cannot prove is that there is no purpose or meaning to the universe. Given that humanity has always believed there is a purpose and meaning, regardless of their angle on the Creation story, the burden of proof is upon the atheist to show otherwise.

    I shall take that as your, “No, I do not have any numbers that support my position.”

    Well, as mission work it a bit of a fragmented process, I have not found a central repository of cumulative numbers. However, I can suggest sources like Adherents.com which, while not dealing directly with conversions do deal with the number of Christians (or other monotheists, if you are interested in expanding you research) distributed across the world. You can extrapolate from the emergence of monotheistic religions in those areas how recently those areas have converted from animism/pantheism. Consider that the third largest branch of Christianity is the African indigenous sects, predominantly in the sub-Sahara, with about 110 million adherents, and that these are only a fraction of the approximately 350 million Christians on that continent.

    What your view also does not take into account is the initial spread of Christianity. While there was a smaller evangelism of Jews within Palestine and amongst the Diaspora, the vast bulk of evangelisation was amongst the Gentiles, none of whom came from a monotheistic religious background. Within 40 years of the Resurrection, Christianity had spread to every corner of the Roman Empire and beyond.

    I don’t categorize the moral lessons as falling under explanation, rather they are prescriptions and proscriptions.

    I suppose that if you see them as just some sort of abritrary rules, then you would not see them as religion explaining how we should then live.

    Because we are part of the physical world, any agency that produced us has impacted the physical world, so must necessarily be a physical agency by virtue of that interaction. This means that empirical methods are the only appropriate means by which to understand our physical origins.

    This seems to be part of the thesis of your whole blog. However, your reasoning is specious. It presumes that an agency operating outside the physical world cannot be so far superior to a being in the physical world as to interact without being in itself a physical agency. No doubt you are aware that this is contradictory to the philosophical/theological concept of transcendance. The existence of transcendant being means that empirical methods are only available inasmuch as such a being decides to let them be. The thing you cannot disprove is the existence of such a transcendant being.

    Creationists like to subvert science to their needs, but that subversion is NOT science.

    Well, I certainly don’t purport to speak for all Creationist or their methods. If by this you mean they subordinate current scientific understanding to their theological presuppositions, always throwing the former into doubt if there is an apparent conflict between the two, then yes, this is usually the case.

    Believe in it if it comforts you, but please don’t claim that it has basis outside the conceptual.

    Why not? Christianity is a revealed religion.

    Claiming that we cannot know God does not work as an argument

    It is simply a fact that if God is infinite and omniscient, we who are finite cannot know God beyond that which He chooses to reveal. Orthodox Christianity takes more of an apophatic approach than Western Christianity.

    apologetics and belief begins and ends with human-derived intellectual frameworks.

    Apologetics does, but belief does not.

    The unknowable argument, which the agnostic not theistic position incidentally

    The argument is used in different ways by different positions. There is not one “unknowable” argument.

    The original point was that some Christians hold Absolute Beliefs in Biblical Literalism. I am confident that you are aware of their thinking – it’s easy to find on the Internet.

    I have known it intimately from infancy – there is no need for me to find it on the Internet. Depending on how you understand literalism, you might or might not consider me such a person, though there are many Christians who would not. I am certainly an Absolutist, however.

    I write with certitude. You simply don’t like what I say.

    I think you still have the residual belief that I take your atheism personally. I was simply noting that you are very certain that Christians belief certain things, but appear uncertain about their belief in other things. I was particularly referring to “Most Christians are probably…”

    some Christians spout beliefs, such as a 6,000 year old Earth, that are so ridiculous that other Christians reject them

    I believe the earliest estimates are 6011 years (Ussher’s 4004BC – AD2007), though this is by no means a universal position of Young Earth Creationists.

    Ah, that explains a great deal. Midwest? I read your comment, but I did not read anything about you because I was most interested in the content of this conversation. That certainly explains why you are so familiar with American-brand creationism. You could tell me whether or not some British religious folk have similar belief systems.

    I lived in the Midwest for a decade before moving to the UK. I spent almost the first quarter-century in Texas. There are Young Earth Creationists in the UK, but a far lower percentage. When I teach about cosmological models, my students are invariably surprised at the predominance of certain views in the US.

    I said understand reasons for atheism, I am not concerned with whether or not you understand me.

    Understanding atheism is what I meant. You assume that you can understand Christianity or theism generally, and that Christians cannot understand atheists.

    Philosophy of science, as I’m sure you well know, is not science.

    But science is not science without an underlying (if sometimes unperceived) philosophy of science. Science cannot exist in a philosophical vacuum.

    the creationist campaign of discrediting science has resulted in many creationist with whom I have talked believing that all of science is a matter of pure guesswork

    I think your causal link in pure speculation.

    that is exactly the phenomenon that I am talking about. You don’t like the implications.

    All I am saying is that you are consistent in believing in the pervasive nature of this phenomenon. It’s not that I don’t like the implications. I believe your view is flawed.

    I am sure that you are aware that science, by virtue of its physical nature, is necessarily religion neutral.

    No, I am aware that science, due to it’s philosophical underpinnings, cannot be religion neutral.

    However, given that science provides experimentally replicable evidence that explains origins, then that has the byproduct impact of rendering supernatural “explanations” superfluous, indeed falsified.

    This appears to be a case of not just circular reasoning, but of concentric circular reasoning. Science provides replicable experiments that can be used as evidence supporting certain views about facets of biological history, within the framework of a certain range of philosophical systems. They provide no byproduct, because they cannot explain the how or why the initial processes began, much less broadly falisfy the existence of the supernatural.

    determination of veridicality is not really a popularity contest

    You have dismissed McGrath unread with a non sequitur.

    You probably mean that as an insult, but I shall take it as a compliment.

    Not as an insult. Merely that you appear to think emotion is superfluous, if not something that mitigates against the validity of an argument.

    Speaking of the psychology of religion, though, I think that the emotional appeal of religious belief is the chief reason for entertaining such belief even though this does not constitute any kind of verification.

    I realise that yours is a common belief about the psychology of religion. But as you would say, the determination of veridicality is not really a popularity contest.

    However, if you look around Internet sites, it becomes fairly clear which group has the greater proportion of articulate and unemotional debaters.

    I’m guessing we have had quite different experiences while looking around the Internet.

    I’m not giving Freud a vote of confidence, merely using the symbol.

    I feel better about you already.

    However, if I were to suddenly start believing, I would adopt Christianity simply because I am most identified with the Christian culture.

    If your underlying theory is correct. I would think that if you were to start believing, you would adopt Christianity simply because you believe it.

    I am sufficiently acquainted with psychology, both theory and practice, to be confident about the mechanisms I described. You don’t like my conclusions and you do like the idea of God.

    The psychology to which you adhere must also have a philosophical basis. It is not that I don’t like your conclusions; it is merely that I think they are flawed. I do like the idea of God because “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

    It was an experiment, not a game plan for spamming.

    As long as your conclusion is that the experiment was flawed, this is a sufficient explanation and my ire is thus placated.

    Comment by Dave | August 27, 2007 | Reply

  2. […] in WordPad and saving them until I see them live. So when I was responding at some length to a post specifically addressed to me, which relates to one of the more popular non-Ron Paul posts I’ve written, I was disappointed […]

    Pingback by No Things in Moderation « Out of Ergyng | August 29, 2007 | Reply


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