Archived

Craig vs Krauss

Read 47855 times

Sandspirit

  • **
  • 306 Posts
    • View Profile
Can Philosophy Count as Evidence?
« Reply #45 on: April 28, 2011, 05:02:31 am »
Then how do you explain the enlightenment era, and all the progress we have made? Clearly it doesn't obfuscate.


I'm not sure when we look back on the 20th century we can claim to have made much progress. We have better ways of killing and better ways of patching up maimed and injured people but is this progress?

Says...? You. How do you know this?


I admit I haven't carried out a survey with a representative sample but if your frame of reference includes a personal God with certain characteristics Craig's arguments will probably make sense, if however your worldview excludes this God Craig's arguments are unlikely to mean anything.

Take the evidence for the resurrection as an obvious exaple. If you don't believe in God the idea that Craig's "facts" can be explained by God's intervention is excluded apriori. The claim means nothing.

Then there's the strange phenomena that always follow the debates. Both sides always claim victory. From the reactions you can see in the internet it's hard to see any movement on either side. Of course it's possible that there are people out there carefully considering the arguments and being shifted in Craig's direction but I doubt it.

Personally, and I'm not an atheist, I find Craig's approach quite bizarre, but maybe that's just me.

1

Ian Smithers

  • **
  • 509 Posts
    • View Profile
Can Philosophy Count as Evidence?
« Reply #46 on: April 28, 2011, 06:02:30 am »
Sandspirit wrote: I'm not sure when we look back on the 20th century we can claim to have made much progress. We have better ways of killing and better ways of patching up maimed and injured people but is this progress?
I think the enlightenment has brought about massive improvements, especially on the moral and ethical front, and as you say in our scientific knowledge.  The reason the enlightenment has been so tremendously successful, is because it's combined all these disciplines, prior to that, everything was kept separate and so progress was minimal, and even hindered.  Free thought has brought around a great deal of overlap where entire disciplines have been merged in other fields so they could benefit from their work and understanding.  Which is where the toolbox and tools analogy is especially true, as we recognised different tools suit different tasks.  Which is why I think rejecting philosophy (even if I grant that you actually believe that and I'm sorry, as presumptive as it may sound I simply don't think you actually live out that claim) is impossible.

Sandspirit wrote: I admit I haven't carried out a survey with a representative sample but if your frame of reference includes a personal God with certain characteristics Craig's arguments will probably make sense, if however your worldview excludes this God Craig's arguments are unlikely to mean anything.
Well I would say that this is untrue.  Some of WLC's arguments are religiously neutral, they are merely asserting an intelligent design, again I would say check out the AV section, which has a huge array of topics in it, and listen for yourself.  Some deal with specific issues like the Christian God, others are merely based on intelligent design, and others still are about lower level issues such as morality and ethics.  The logic used is deductive, and all you need to do to show that the argument presented is false, is disprove one of the antecedants.

Sandspirit wrote: Take the evidence for the resurrection as an obvious exaple. If you don't believe in God the idea that Craig's "facts" can be explained by God's intervention is excluded apriori. The claim means nothing.
I think you misunderstand this argument.  The argument isn't that God exists, and so clearly God resurrected Jesus (bear in mind this is about as far from religiously neutral as you can get) the argument is that given what we know, in terms of the historical evidence - ie, the empty tomb, the eyewitness accounts, the context in respects to the culture and history of the people living at those times and so forth, the best explanation is that God raised Jesus.  If not God, then a divine being, WLC simply moves to God since within the context of these accounts he believes the identity of this being as Yaweh.  The best explanation is judged on specific merits, like explanatory power, scope, tests of embarrassment and honesty, simplicity and the like.  Which are tests we use for any explanation to be accepted, not just religious claims.

Sandspirit wrote: Then there's the strange phenomena that always follow the debates. Both sides always claim victory. From the reactions you can see in the internet it's hard to see any movement on either side. Of course it's possible that there are people out there carefully considering the arguments and being shifted in Craig's direction but I doubt it.
Well in this case I tend to agree, I get essentially tired of the cheerleading, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't respond, if someone simply states that such and such won, we can ask why they think they, what about this argument, that argument and so on.  As with everything, on the surface it all sounds pretty reasonable and straight foward, but on closer examination things become clearer.  If drcraigvideos would stop banning people from his channel, then perhaps I could discuss with them without getting interrupted.

Sandspirit wrote: Personally, and I'm not an atheist, I find Craig's approach quite bizarre, but maybe that's just me.
Well no saying he is for everyone that's for sure.

2

Sandspirit

  • **
  • 306 Posts
    • View Profile
Can Philosophy Count as Evidence?
« Reply #47 on: April 28, 2011, 07:02:14 am »
I think the enlightenment has brought about massive improvements, especially on the moral and ethical front, and as you say in our scientific knowledge. The reason the enlightenment has been so tremendously successful, is because it's combined all these disciplines, prior to that, everything was kept separate and so progress was minimal, and even hindered. Free thought has brought around a great deal of overlap where entire disciplines have been merged in other fields so they could benefit from their work and understanding. Which is where the toolbox and tools analogy is especially true, as we recognised different tools suit different tasks. Which is why I think rejecting philosophy (even if I grant that you actually believe that and I'm sorry, as presumptive as it may sound I simply don't think you actually live out that claim) is impossible.


I think our apparent moral and ethical progress is actually an offshoot of material progress. When we have physical comfort and plenty of food we behave better (in our own backyard). A few hundred years ago we burned witches for superstitious reasons, now we slaughter for enlightened reasons, supposedly to defend freedom (but actually to defend our standard of living). I don't see this as progress.

Of course in the broadest meaning of the term none of us can escape from philosophy - but I try to keep it to a minimum. Of course I have hypotheses about life but I'm careful to make these only working hypotheses that are constantly subject to revision and sometimes complete rejection. I want to minimise the filter through which my experiences and perceptions have to pass.

Well I would say that this is untrue. Some of WLC's arguments are religiously neutral, they are merely asserting an intelligent design, again I would say check out the AV section, which has a huge array of topics in it, and listen for yourself. Some deal with specific issues like the Christian God, others are merely based on intelligent design, and others still are about lower level issues such as morality and ethics. The logic used is deductive, and all you need to do to show that the argument presented is false, is disprove one of the antecedants.


This is exactly my point - the gulf that separates the atheist from the theist. Most atheists would not see a claim of intelligent design as religiously neutral. The possibility of a "supernatural realm" is completely alien. Life is just what-you-see-is-what-you-get and nothing more. And in this frame of reference WLC's logic is meaningless.

Personally, I don't use the term intelligent design because in its normal usage it suggests some kind of anthropomorphic being. I think there is some kind of intelligence behind existence but I think trying to define it (philosphically) is counterproductive.

I think you misunderstand this argument. The argument isn't that God exists, and so clearly God resurrected Jesus (bear in mind this is about as far from religiously neutral as you can get) the argument is that given what we know, in terms of the historical evidence - ie, the empty tomb, the eyewitness accounts, the context in respects to the culture and history of the people living at those times and so forth, the best explanation is that God raised Jesus. If not God, then a divine being, WLC simply moves to God since within the context of these accounts he believes the identity of this being as Yaweh. The best explanation is judged on specific merits, like explanatory power, scope, tests of embarrassment and honesty, simplicity and the like. Which are tests we use for any explanation to be accepted, not just religious claims.


Again, the gulf that separates the two camps. Bart Ehrman made the point that from a strictly historical pov miracles are the least likely explanation for anything. The atheist wants documented evidence, preferably a You Tube video and a TV documentary series. It doesn't matter how coherent the argument is. If you remove God as a possibility He cannot be part of the explanation. The atheist will simply say, "there must be some other explanation that we don't know about."

From my own pov I don't accept the Christian narrative and consequently I can't accept the argument.

3

Ian Smithers

  • **
  • 509 Posts
    • View Profile
Can Philosophy Count as Evidence?
« Reply #48 on: April 28, 2011, 09:38:24 am »
Sandspirit wrote: I think our apparent moral and ethical progress is actually an offshoot of material progress. When we have physical comfort and plenty of food we behave better (in our own backyard). A few hundred years ago we burned witches for superstitious reasons, now we slaughter for enlightened reasons, supposedly to defend freedom (but actually to defend our standard of living). I don't see this as progress.
I think that's too vague.  Witches were burned for superstitious reasons, but we do not kill for superstitious reasons in modern times.  There are wars, but there were wars in medieval times too - so I think it's erroneous to link witches to modern day wars.  Unless you are thinking of something more analogous when you say 'slaughter' which is a term that almost begs the question.

Sandspirit wrote: Of course in the broadest meaning of the term none of us can escape from philosophy - but I try to keep it to a minimum. Of course I have hypotheses about life but I'm careful to make these only working hypotheses that are constantly subject to revision and sometimes complete rejection. I want to minimise the filter through which my experiences and perceptions have to pass.
I don't see what is broad about the disciplines I listed, these are foundational to present day life and function on both the high and low level.  You say that you can revise or reject hypothesies, which is not different from what the Christian does.  Philosophy isn't a filter, it's a tool.

Sandspirit wrote: This is exactly my point - the gulf that separates the atheist from the theist. Most atheists would not see a claim of intelligent design as religiously neutral.
That's because they're willingly ignorant and prideful.  But to be less dramatic and insulting about it, what is not religiously neutral about an intelligent designer?

Sandspirit wrote: The possibility of a "supernatural realm" is completely alien. Life is just what-you-see-is-what-you-get and nothing more. And in this frame of reference WLC's logic is meaningless.
What logic are you talking about specifically?  I get this weird feeling from reading your replies, as you make these very general and vague statments, and on the surface it sounds good, but the devil is in the details I find.  I don't agree the supernatural realm as a concept is completley alien, if it is, I just think that person is either very sheltered, or extremely bad at history.  Mankind, since we could write and record our lives, has been fascinated with the supernatural, so there is nothing that is not familiar to us, as a concept.

Sandspirit wrote: Personally, I don't use the term intelligent design because in its normal usage it suggests some kind of anthropomorphic being. I think there is some kind of intelligence behind existence but I think trying to define it (philosphically) is counterproductive.
Why?

Sandspirit wrote: Again, the gulf that separates the two camps. Bart Ehrman made the point that from a strictly historical pov miracles are the least likely explanation for anything. The atheist wants documented evidence, preferably a You Tube video and a TV documentary series.
I always find this amusing, and sometimes I am mean about it.  The atheist wants nothing of the sort, because the atheist will continually move the goalposts.  The reason I say this, is because in our modern day world, with all our technology, we cannot even recontruct what happened yesterday with any degree of certainly.  I mean hell, two planes crashed into sky-scrapers in America, and still no one really knows what happened.  So this idea of a YouTube video, or some pictures, or miraculous revelation, means absolutely nothing.  Because those who do not want to believe, never will believe, and it's really that simple.  I've spoken to so many, so many, many, many atheists, and each and every one of them has what I call the lowest common denominator - which is the one thing that is stopping their belief.  Some have the same issue, some not, but it isn't often 'evidence'.  The evidence is there, it's more how we think as people, how we use the tools we have to interpret our reality, and how we draw conclusions.  One thing I really like about WLC, is that he shows how preposterous the atheist view is, much like as I mentioned earlier, on the surface it sounds plausible, but the devil is in the details.  So this talk of wanting undeniable evidence seems to skip over the 'deny' part, because there is a will involved in that, and for the most part atheists don't even give themselves a chance.

Sandspirit wrote: It doesn't matter how coherent the argument is. If you remove God as a possibility He cannot be part of the explanation. The atheist will simply say, "there must be some other explanation that we don't know about."
Then the atheist is caught violating the logic that he clings to so dearly.

Sandspirit wrote: From my own pov I don't accept the Christian narrative and consequently I can't accept the argument.
Fair enough.

4

Sandspirit

  • **
  • 306 Posts
    • View Profile
Can Philosophy Count as Evidence?
« Reply #49 on: April 28, 2011, 02:46:38 pm »
I think that's too vague. Witches were burned for superstitious reasons, but we do not kill for superstitious reasons in modern times. There are wars, but there were wars in medieval times too - so I think it's erroneous to link witches to modern day wars. Unless you are thinking of something more analogous when you say 'slaughter' which is a term that almost begs the question.


Given the carnage of the 20th century I think it's difficult to argue that we've progressed in any way. We are remarkably good at coming up with rationalisations for barbarism. We can drop a couple of atomic bombs on Japan without feeling the slightest twinge of cultural guilt. People still die of starvation and epidemics while we pour vast resources into the stupifyingly idiotic entertainment industry. Is this progress? If humanity were seriously focussed on ending hunger and poverty, which is possible potentially, I'd be happy to talk about progress. But no, we're just as brutal when needed and indifferent in general as we ever were.

I don't see what is broad about the disciplines I listed, these are foundational to present day life and function on both the high and low level. You say that you can revise or reject hypothesies, which is not different from what the Christian does. Philosophy isn't a filter, it's a tool.


I don't think I do anything differently in principle to what a Christian or anybody else does though I'm much less attached to my ideas than most people. Philosophy abstracts from and thereby simplifies a very complex reality. I try to avoid giving too much credence to my own simplifications and, crucially, I try to accept contradictions when they appear, because contradiction is a part of reality, at least when viewed from our perspective. Logic of course always wants to resolve or eliminate contradiction but perhaps we just have to live with the fact that, for example, killing someone in self-defence is both right (protecting our own life) and wrong (taking a life).

That's because they're willingly ignorant and prideful. But to be less dramatic and insulting about it, what is not religiously neutral about an intelligent designer?


Firstly I have a question. You are judging people here. Is this okay for a Christian? I know some Christians say it isn't okay to judge.

I would say that your judgement, in general, isn't true and if you really want to engage with the enemy you need to understand this. For an atheist an intelligent designer is not at all neutral, it suggests a supernatural realm. Between different religions it can be seen as neutral. But for an atheist it's a statement that existence extends beyond the material - that which is knowable with the senses - and this is automatically rejected.

What logic are you talking about specifically? I get this weird feeling from reading your replies, as you make these very general and vague statments, and on the surface it sounds good, but the devil is in the details I find. I don't agree the supernatural realm as a concept is completley alien, if it is, I just think that person is either very sheltered, or extremely bad at history. Mankind, since we could write and record our lives, has been fascinated with the supernatural, so there is nothing that is not familiar to us, as a concept.  


The supernatural realm is alien to atheists. When they draw parallels between God and the flying spaghetti monster it's simply an expression of the belief that if you can't bang your head against something it doesn't exist.

I happen to think that we may not need dualism, body and soul, and that instead there ¡s a continuum between the finite and the infinite, the material and the immaterial, rather than a counterposition.

Why?

Trying to define conceptually that which defies definition in this way is counterproductive. Self-reflective consciousness is obviously limited and it's an act of self-deception to believe we can come up with some definitive explanation concerning the nature of our existence conceptually.

I always find this amusing, and sometimes I am mean about it. The atheist wants nothing of the sort, because the atheist will continually move the goalposts.


Perhaps, but possibly so will you. Do you really want to engage? Of course this risks having to entertain doubt. As far as I can see neither side is willing to do this.

Then the atheist is caught violating the logic that he clings to so dearly.


No, not at all, and this is where you completely fail to understand the pov of your opponents, perhaps because you view them as opponents.

5

Ian Smithers

  • **
  • 509 Posts
    • View Profile
Can Philosophy Count as Evidence?
« Reply #50 on: April 28, 2011, 06:48:57 pm »
Sandspirit wrote: Given the carnage of the 20th century I think it's difficult to argue that we've progressed in any way. We are remarkably good at coming up with rationalisations for barbarism. We can drop a couple of atomic bombs on Japan without feeling the slightest twinge of cultural guilt. People still die of starvation and epidemics while we pour vast resources into the stupifyingly idiotic entertainment industry. Is this progress? If humanity were seriously focussed on ending hunger and poverty, which is possible potentially, I'd be happy to talk about progress. But no, we're just as brutal when needed and indifferent in general as we ever were.
I don't disagree with what you are saying in essence.  But you drew a connection to burning witches and modern day wars, whereas the connection would be between medieval wars, and modern day wars.  The fact that we no longer punish people for superstitious beliefs, is progress - no?

Sandspirit wrote: I don't think I do anything differently in principle to what a Christian or anybody else does though I'm much less attached to my ideas than most people. Philosophy abstracts from and thereby simplifies a very complex reality. I try to avoid giving too much credence to my own simplifications and, crucially, I try to accept contradictions when they appear, because contradiction is a part of reality, at least when viewed from our perspective. Logic of course always wants to resolve or eliminate contradiction but perhaps we just have to live with the fact that, for example, killing someone in self-defence is both right (protecting our own life) and wrong (taking a life).
Well if you use logic, you use philosophy.  This is what I don't understand, you talk on a very high level, and it sounds fine, until I ask for specifics, and then you admit to using philosophy just like everyone.  But then two seconds later you say you don't hold it in any high regard... well in that case, STOP USING IT!

Sandspirit wrote: Firstly I have a question. You are judging people here. Is this okay for a Christian? I know some Christians say it isn't okay to judge.
Well I think there is a distinction to be made in that Jesus specifically said not to be hypocritical when he referred to not judging others.  Specifically to beware of the plank in your own eye, rather than the speck in your brother's eye.  He never said we cannot form conclusions, or that we can never point out the speck, or that we can never form an opinion about someone or something.  In fact there are also verses in the Bible from God commanding us to judge in honesty and righteousness.  When I say that, and I do use a generalisation here granted, most atheists are willingly ignorant and prideful, I am drawing a logical conclusion from my observations of their behaviour and my interactions with them.  In many situations, it seems that the mere thought of agreeing with a Christian, is tantamount to intellectual suicide for them.  In respects to being prideful, I say this because even when you have them caught, so comprehensively, they will not retract their statement or assertion.  The irony of this, is that more often than not, the things I end up catching them on, are so absolutely inconsequential to their cause or worldview, that the only explanation for them hanging on so tightly, is pride.  They aren't wrong.  They are never wrong.  They will never retract anything, and never consider any argument if it lets a divine foot in the door.  Again, generalisation, not all atheists are like this, I sort of speak of the internet/loud-mouth/YouTube variety.

Sandspirit wrote: I would say that your judgement, in general, isn't true and if you really want to engage with the enemy you need to understand this. For an atheist an intelligent designer is not at all neutral, it suggests a supernatural realm.
Like I said, the only possible explanation that ID suggests supernatural to an atheist, is because the captain of their brainship is drunk at the wheel.  Why they insist on injecting supernatural into something which makes no supernatural claims, is a mystery.  Or, in my case, not much of a mystery at all really.

Sandspirit wrote: The supernatural realm is alien to atheists. When they draw parallels between God and the flying spaghetti monster it's simply an expression of the belief that if you can't bang your head against something it doesn't exist.
Well this shows the ludicrous thinking they subscribe to.  First of all, the FSM is an arbitrary analogy, it's amusing on a high level, but it doesn't hold up on the low - and this is purely as an analogy.  All these contrived and ad-hoc analogies, like tea-cups orbiting planets, invisible sentient computers, unicorns, fairies and the FSM fail on the fundamental level.  Because when you rob something of all the attributes that make it that thing, it's not longer analogous.  You can't say that God is like believing in a sentient, disembodied, personal, timeless, invisible computer.  Because what you just described, sounds an awful lot like God.

Sandspirit wrote: Perhaps, but possibly so will you. Do you really want to engage? Of course this risks having to entertain doubt. As far as I can see neither side is willing to do this.
I don't understand this viewpoint.  Why would I entertain doubt of something so real to me?  Do you entertain doubt that you breathe oxygen?  Do you entertain doubt that you are a human being?  I mean, there comes a point where there is no room or reason for doubt, and the atheist knows this too, and I think this is rational and reasonable.  The issue is, are there good reasons for what the atheist believes, AND, are they consistent.  On this front, I don't think so, I feel I can show consistency in the Christian worldview, which I hold to, but the atheist is often caught violating their own beliefs.

Sandspirit wrote: No, not at all, and this is where you completely fail to understand the pov of your opponents, perhaps because you view them as opponents.
Well they are opponents, their worldview is the antithesis of mine, and has no meaning, no hope and no purpose.  So they certainly are opponents for the purposes of discussing these worldviews.

6

Sandspirit

  • **
  • 306 Posts
    • View Profile
Can Philosophy Count as Evidence?
« Reply #51 on: April 29, 2011, 04:46:02 am »
The fact that we no longer punish people for superstitious beliefs, is progress - no?


Of course that is progress but two things: firstly, the body count in the period since the enlightenment is pretty staggering (remember the French Revolution, liberty, equality, fraternity and madame guillotine?) Secondly, if you live in Iran or North Korea or Saudi Arabia etc you may not feel that much progress has been made since the middle ages. So, overall I don't think we deserve a pat on the back.

Well if you use logic, you use philosophy. This is what I don't understand, you talk on a very high level, and it sounds fine, until I ask for specifics, and then you admit to using philosophy just like everyone. But then two seconds later you say you don't hold it in any high regard... well in that case, STOP USING IT!


I don't see how it's possible to stop using logic and philosophy completely given the way we are made, the way we think, the way we interact with the world. So I accept that I'm stuck with it. But I don't have a high regard for the results of reasoning in this way. I'm not looking for a logical system to explain life, the universe and everything because I think that what can be explained in this way is very limited. So I'm aware that I speculate about the nature of our lives but I try not to allow those speculations harden into "facts" that will exclude or filter perceptions that contradict the "facts". And sometimes I have perceptions that I merely allow to rest in my consciousness without explanation, because I have no explanation, I don't try to shoe horn them into a theory.

It makes sense to me (there you go, another philosophical statement).

Well I think there is a distinction to be made in that Jesus specifically said not to be hypocritical when he referred to not judging others. Specifically to beware of the plank in your own eye, rather than the speck in your brother's eye. He never said we cannot form conclusions, or that we can never point out the speck, or that we can never form an opinion about someone or something.


I agree with this sentiment. It's impossible not to form judgements but we need to be honest and self-reflective about what those judgements say about ourselves.

I don't understand this viewpoint. Why would I entertain doubt of something so real to me? Do you entertain doubt that you breathe oxygen? Do you entertain doubt that you are a human being? I mean, there comes a point where there is no room or reason for doubt, and the atheist knows this too, and I think this is rational and reasonable. The issue is, are there good reasons for what the atheist believes, AND, are they consistent. On this front, I don't think so, I feel I can show consistency in the Christian worldview, which I hold to, but the atheist is often caught violating their own beliefs.


Just a shot in the dark. I'm not saying you do have doubts, I don't know you, but I do think if you want to persuade your opponents it's not enough to batter down their arguments. You have to understand how they experience the world.

The thing I suppose that I find the most confusing about the Reasonable Faith project is that WLC says that his belief in God is essentially experiental and not based on reason and rationality. If this is so why do you expect to be able to move people towards Christianity by showing inconsistencies in their arguments. At bottom I don't think belief is rational which is why when you knock down an argument you don't get a conversion or even so much as an admission that an argument is a bad one.

I'd just add that your description of atheists is pretty much the way they'd describe you.

Well they are opponents, their worldview is the antithesis of mine, and has no meaning, no hope and no purpose. So they certainly are opponents for the purposes of discussing these worldviews.


I find this rather dogmatic. I think it was Rabbi Julia Neuberger who made the observation that divisions along faith/non-faith lines were artificial because believers and non-believers often share the same values. Freedom of speech, assembly, conscience etc are surely things that should be defended in common.

7

Ian Smithers

  • **
  • 509 Posts
    • View Profile
Can Philosophy Count as Evidence?
« Reply #52 on: April 29, 2011, 07:09:17 am »
Sandspirit wrote: Of course that is progress but two things: firstly, the body count in the period since the enlightenment is pretty staggering (remember the French Revolution, liberty, equality, fraternity and madame guillotine?) Secondly, if you live in Iran or North Korea or Saudi Arabia etc you may not feel that much progress has been made since the middle ages. So, overall I don't think we deserve a pat on the back.
Well I don't mind talking about wars, however why is progress only limited to assessing conflict?  I addressed the witch example, as I didn't think the analogy was accurate, but since we agree on that, we can move on to conflict.  In this regard I think I may be tempted to agree with you.  I certainly feel that not much progress has been made on that front, and in some cases I think we've even gone backwards.  But progress isn't limited to assessing conflict only, surely you agree with that?

Sandspirit wrote: I don't see how it's possible to stop using logic and philosophy completely given the way we are made, the way we think, the way we interact with the world. So I accept that I'm stuck with it. But I don't have a high regard for the results of reasoning in this way. I'm not looking for a logical system to explain life, the universe and everything because I think that what can be explained in this way is very limited. So I'm aware that I speculate about the nature of our lives but I try not to allow those speculations harden into "facts" that will exclude or filter perceptions that contradict the "facts". And sometimes I have perceptions that I merely allow to rest in my consciousness without explanation, because I have no explanation, I don't try to shoe horn them into a theory.
Well that's fine, I think that's a very rational way to treat information and determine truths about reality.  But it seems that you feel I don't do this?  Or that Christians don't do this?  I can't even remember in all honesty what brought this up now.  But I guess my point is that I think it's good to be open to new information, and I feel confident that my Christian worldview does not violate this.

Sandspirit wrote: I agree with this sentiment. It's impossible not to form judgements but we need to be honest and self-reflective about what those judgements say about ourselves.
Sure, if I came across kind of trolly that was probably because I was, although you were not the target of that, so if you felt I responded unkindly I do apologise for that.

Sandspirit wrote: Just a shot in the dark. I'm not saying you do have doubts, I don't know you, but I do think if you want to persuade your opponents it's not enough to batter down their arguments. You have to understand how they experience the world.
Sure I don't disagree with that.

Sandspirit wrote: The thing I suppose that I find the most confusing about the Reasonable Faith project is that WLC says that his belief in God is essentially experiental and not based on reason and rationality.
I don't think that's quite correct.  I think his personal experience is the root of it, however as he himself has said, there are multiple reasons why he believes as he does. I think what Reasonable Faith is trying to show, is that overall faith in God can be rational as well as reasonable.

Sandspirit wrote: If this is so why do you expect to be able to move people towards Christianity by showing inconsistencies in their arguments. At bottom I don't think belief is rational which is why when you knock down an argument you don't get a conversion or even so much as an admission that an argument is a bad one.
I think the idea behind showing the inconsistencies, is to show that ultimately the foundation of the atheistic worldview, is actually non-existent.  It's self-contradictory.  At that point, you don't need to then jump into faith in God, but the atheist needs to recognise that his worldview, does not provide him with the best explanations for our reality, nor does it provide him with purpose or ultimate meaning.  The issue is that atheists of course live with purposes and meaning, and so I think we can start to demonstrate that there is a much more fulfilling way to live, without sacrificing your intelligence or rationality.

Sandspirit wrote: I'd just add that your description of atheists is pretty much the way they'd describe you.
Oh sure I don't doubt that.  In fact one of my most memorable er...memories - great sentence there, was of a particular atheist I was talking with over on ChristianForums.  He was actually quite mean-spirited and was very harsh in his views and allegations.  At that time I had a specific format to all my posts, I simply said, "Hello, [body], All the best." and kept it as neutral as possible, whilst engaging in the subject at hand.  Now that entire thread ended badly, either he or I stopped responding, but 14 months later I got a PM.  Now at that point I simply had no idea who this person was, but the PM essentially thanked me for everything I had said to him, that he was going through a really tough time in life, and I was a 'consummate gentlemen' (first time someone has called me that).  After some clarification I realised who he was and that he had become a Christian.  So regardless of what people think, and how they may act initially, I just remember that.  Because ultimately you really cannot tell how these things play out, and (on my worldview) I just trust in God.

I've had other people PM me and confess they are just lurkers, but a lot of what I said in such-and-such a thread, resonated with them.  I don't doubt that sometimes I talk complete nonsense, I've certainly gone back and read some things I've written and thought, "Wow... why did I say that, that's just rubbish." but that's just life really, you live you learn.

Sandspirit wrote: I find this rather dogmatic. I think it was Rabbi Julia Neuberger who made the observation that divisions along faith/non-faith lines were artificial because believers and non-believers often share the same values. Freedom of speech, assembly, conscience etc are surely things that should be defended in common.
I would completely agree with her words.  But the atheistic and Christian views speak to all of those things, and so when I talk about God, and am immediately shunned or rejected or mocked about that belief, without even the time to consider it or hear my reasons, then I think her words lose some of their power.  I do my best to inject that sense of respect, and certainly I have more than one discussion going with quite friendly and well-mannered atheists at present who do likewise.  I wish there were more, I really do.

8

Ian Smithers

  • **
  • 509 Posts
    • View Profile
Can Philosophy Count as Evidence?
« Reply #53 on: April 29, 2011, 07:12:53 am »
Oh, by the way, I just started reading On Guard, one of WLC's books, and in the opening by Lee Strohbel, he mentions that one of the first debates where WLC gained some prominence, 7700+ people attended.  At the end the attendees were asked to turn in anonymous ballots, and 82% of the non-Christians in attendence concluded that the evidence offered for Christianity was the most compelling.  In addition, 47 non-Christians walked in, and after hearing both sides, walked out as confessing Christians.  So I think these debates do have an impact, more so if one of those 47 becomes a pastor, or a philosopher like WLC.

9

Fred

  • ****
  • 6456 Posts
    • View Profile
Can Philosophy Count as Evidence?
« Reply #54 on: April 29, 2011, 04:39:19 pm »
Oh, by the way, I just started  reading On Guard, one of WLC's books, and in the opening by Lee  Strohbel, he mentions that one of the first debates where WLC gained  some prominence, 7700+ people attended.  At the end the attendees were  asked to turn in anonymous ballots, and 82% of the non-Christians in  attendence concluded that the evidence offered for Christianity was the  most compelling.  In addition, 47 non-Christians walked in, and after  hearing both sides, walked out as confessing Christians.  So I think  these debates do have an impact, more so if one of those 47 becomes a  pastor, or a philosopher like WLC.

I am always suspicious of statistics.  How many of the 7778 were truly agnostic/atheist?  What question was actually asked on the ballot? Was it worded as stated by Strobel, or was it worded more like "who won the debate?"   Of the 47 converts, what did they walk in with?  Were they simply unwilling to affirm God, and all it took was a compelling argument to tip them over to the camp of believers?  Did they stay converted?  Did they explore further?  

That being said, I agree wholeheartedly that Craig gives a compelling argument and he is a master debater.  He wins most of his debates. Still, anyone who converted on the sole basis of listening to a single debate, without exploring his arguments for themselves, seems like someone who is either gullible or lazy (lazy in that they would let Craig's opponent do their thinking for them).  I say this irrespective of whether Craig is correct. It's just that there are good counters to all the superficial arguments one can hear in his debates. I know from reading Craig that he indeed goes considerably deeper, and can counter the counters*, but you absolutely don't get that to that level of intellectual exploration in a 2 hour debate - you can only scratch the surface.

* and Craig's counters can be countered...and so on....the philosophical arguments are complex.
Fred

10

Ian Smithers

  • **
  • 509 Posts
    • View Profile
Can Philosophy Count as Evidence?
« Reply #55 on: April 30, 2011, 04:43:33 am »

Quote from: fredonly
I am always suspicious of statistics.  How many of the 7778 were truly agnostic/atheist?
That sounds a bit like the 'no true Scottsman' fallacy to me.

 

Quote from: fredonly
What question was actually asked on the ballot? Was it worded as stated by Strobel, or was it worded more like "who won the debate?"
I don't think they asked who won the debate, I don't know for sure, but Strohbel says they were asked which side did they feel had the most compelling arguments.

 

Quote from: fredonly
Of the 47 converts, what did they walk in with?  Were they simply unwilling to affirm God, and all it took was a compelling argument to tip them over to the camp of believers?  Did they stay converted?  Did they explore further?
No idea as to the first question, in regards to the others I would imagine it was a mixed bag, perhaps some were on the brink already, and just needed something specific addressed, perhaps others were won over, but went on to investigate more.  From my own experience, it was part (A) part (B) sort of thing, but of course in regards to the attendees I can't say for sure as those details just aren't given.

 

Quote from: fredonly
That being said, I agree wholeheartedly that Craig gives a compelling argument and he is a master debater.  He wins most of his debates. Still, anyone who converted on the sole basis of listening to a single debate, without exploring his arguments for themselves, seems like someone who is either gullible or lazy (lazy in that they would let Craig's opponent do their thinking for them).
I think in many respects the debates are good to show that the arguments are strong and sound, what people take from the debates is likely very varied depending on the person.  I know that WLC has mentioned his arguments often resonate most deeply with people who are in logical fields, such as engineers for example.  I myself fall into that category as I'm a programmer.  I really like that there is a logical streak to these lines of inquiry, however I know for instance my parents don't follow WLC at all, they are far more interested in the historical background and the emotional side, which is just much more suited to their personality.

 

Quote from: fredonly
I say this irrespective of whether Craig is correct. It's just that there are good counters to all the superficial arguments one can hear in his debates. I know from reading Craig that he indeed goes considerably deeper, and can counter the counters*, but you absolutely don't get that to that level of intellectual exploration in a 2 hour debate - you can only scratch the surface.

* and Craig's counters can be countered...and so on....the philosophical arguments are complex.

Yeah pretty much, I actually wish a lot of the debates would take the format of a brief opener and rebuttal, and then a Q&A period where the debaters get to cross-examine each other, as that to me has always been the most interesting moments in the few debates I've seen where this happens.  The audience Q&A could almost fall away entirely, because it's always the same silly questions imho.


11

Sandspirit

  • **
  • 306 Posts
    • View Profile
Can Philosophy Count as Evidence?
« Reply #56 on: April 30, 2011, 04:50:07 am »
Well I don't mind talking about wars, however why is progress only limited to assessing conflict? I addressed the witch example, as I didn't think the analogy was accurate, but since we agree on that, we can move on to conflict. In this regard I think I may be tempted to agree with you. I certainly feel that not much progress has been made on that front, and in some cases I think we've even gone backwards. But progress isn't limited to assessing conflict only, surely you agree with that?


I think the single most important factor in assessing moral progress is our record in respecting life. When times get tough or we feel threatened (as nations or social groups) we kill in large numbers without so much as a second thought. The 20th century is a century dominated by wars and mass extermination, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, "ethnic cleansing" in the Balkans ... it was a truly horrific hundred years even while we were providing a car for everyone, air travel around the globe and consequently seemingly destroying our fragile environment. This may sound harsh but I think it's what a visitor from outer space would see first.

I would add that it's one of those paradoxes of human existence that we sometimes pour time and money into saving a single yachtsman in trouble at sea or tracking down a murderer who has taken only one life when at other times we kill in cavalier fashion.

Would the real human being please stand up?

Well that's fine, I think that's a very rational way to treat information and determine truths about reality. But it seems that you feel I don't do this? Or that Christians don't do this?


I don't know how open you are to new ideas or information. Certainly you have some beliefs that will not be easily dislodged, this though is hardly confined to Christians. About ten years ago I spent some time talking to a couple of Mormon women. They were very open and curious despite having an almost immovable core belief - so the two things, flexibility and certainty, can coexist. I have to add that as far as mormons go those two women seem to be the exception (in my experience).

Sure, if I came across kind of trolly that was probably because I was, although you were not the target of that, so if you felt I responded unkindly I do apologise for that.


No damage done, don't worry.

I don't think that's quite correct. I think his personal experience is the root of it, however as he himself has said, there are multiple reasons why he believes as he does. I think what Reasonable Faith is trying to show, is that overall faith in God can be rational as well as reasonable.


Okay, but he believed before he created the philosophy. I don't have a problem with that but I'm far more interested his experience than his evidence. Visceral experiences that change people's ways of seeing, even though difficult to articulate, give far more insight into the nature of our lives than any intellectual argument can.

I think the idea behind showing the inconsistencies, is to show that ultimately the foundation of the atheistic worldview, is actually non-existent. It's self-contradictory. At that point, you don't need to then jump into faith in God, but the atheist needs to recognise that his worldview, does not provide him with the best explanations for our reality, nor does it provide him with purpose or ultimate meaning. The issue is that atheists of course live with purposes and meaning, and so I think we can start to demonstrate that there is a much more fulfilling way to live, without sacrificing your intelligence or rationality.


Well, the foundation of the atheistic world view isn't non-existent. It's how a great many people experience the world. A philosophy can be as clever and as persuasive as you like but if it doesn't gell with your experience you won't accept it (unless you have secondary social reasons for doing so). People process the information life throws at them in different ways. Christopher Hitchens believes there are some people who just can't accept the idea of God, and he's one of them. And I'd say that Hitchens is a very morally driven man.

Incidentally I thought the Craig/Hitchens debate was the most interesting because it was such a mismatch and neither of the debaters seemed to have the faintest idea what the other was talking about.

Now at that point I simply had no idea who this person was, but the PM essentially thanked me for everything I had said to him, that he was going through a really tough time in life, and I was a 'consummate gentlemen' (first time someone has called me that). After some clarification I realised who he was and that he had become a Christian. So regardless of what people think, and how they may act initially, I just remember that. Because ultimately you really cannot tell how these things play out, and (on my worldview) I just trust in God.


Yes, it's one of those aspects of life that fascinates me, how one individual finds another - at first glance an encounter can seem quite random but if you pay attention you begin to detect connections and purpose not apparent on the surface.

I would completely agree with her words. But the atheistic and Christian views speak to all of those things, and so when I talk about God, and am immediately shunned or rejected or mocked about that belief, without even the time to consider it or hear my reasons, then I think her words lose some of their power. I do my best to inject that sense of respect, and certainly I have more than one discussion going with quite friendly and well-mannered atheists at present who do likewise. I wish there were more, I really do.


Fair enough, but this forum can be quite a prickly place too (on both sides). I think patience and curiosity are the keys to discussion.

On you post about the WLC meeting, I read the opening chapter of "On Guard" on the website where this anecdote is related. I'd echo some of fredonly's concerns and would need more info before I could comment on its significance. I would though be interested to hear accounts of or from people who were swayed by the debates or WLC's books.

12

Fred

  • ****
  • 6456 Posts
    • View Profile
Can Philosophy Count as Evidence?
« Reply #57 on: April 30, 2011, 12:26:39 pm »
Posted by digitalos
Originally Posted by fredonly
Quote:
I am always suspicious of statistics.  How many of the 7778 were truly agnostic/atheist?
That sounds a bit like the 'no true Scottsman' fallacy to me.
Good point, that's the way it is worded.  This really ties to my later comments: are they merely people who do not affirm God, and simply needed a nudge, or are they the sort who are interested in doing to work to seek the truth.    But it's true, that the entire spectrum of agnostics fit the label.  My point is: the statistics are meaningless without more information.

Originally Posted by fredonly
Quote:
What  question was actually asked on the ballot? Was it worded as stated by  Strobel, or was it worded more like "who won the debate?"
I  don't think they asked who won the debate, I don't know for sure, but  Strohbel says they were asked which side did they feel had the most  compelling arguments.

I looked in the book and it doesn't say what the question was.  All we have is the Strohbel's description.  My point is that Strohble, himself not an especially deep thinker from what I've read of his (my purely subjective evaluation), is being a cheerleader of Craig's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fredonly
Quote:
That  being said, I agree wholeheartedly that Craig gives a compelling  argument and he is a master debater.  He wins most of his debates.  Still, anyone who converted on the sole basis of listening to a single  debate, without exploring his arguments for themselves, seems like  someone who is either gullible or lazy (lazy in that they would let  Craig's opponent do their thinking for them).
I  think in many respects the debates are good to show that the arguments  are strong and sound, what people take from the debates is likely very  varied depending on the person.  I know that WLC has mentioned his  arguments often resonate most deeply with people who are in logical  fields, such as engineers for example.  I myself fall into that category  as I'm a programmer.  I really like that there is a logical streak to  these lines of inquiry, however I know for instance my parents don't  follow WLC at all, they are far more interested in the historical  background and the emotional side, which is just much more suited to  their personality.

Ah a programmer, like I am - at least at the core.  I did programming for many years, now I'm in IT management.  (Hmm. do you work for an oil company by any chance?  If so, get back to work!)  Like you, I admire Craig's logic.  To the best of my knowledge, he gives the most rational reasons to be a theist of anyone.  If you're looking for a logical reason to believe in God, read Craig.  I do not, however, believe that his argument is as logically compelling as it appears on the surface.  He proves God is possible; he does not prove God is likely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fredonly
Quote:
I  say this irrespective of whether Craig is correct. It's just that there  are good counters to all the superficial arguments one can hear in his  debates. I know from reading Craig that he indeed goes considerably  deeper, and can counter the counters*, but you absolutely don't get that  to that level of intellectual exploration in a 2 hour debate - you can  only scratch the surface.

* and Craig's counters can be countered...and so on....the philosophical arguments are complex.

Yeah  pretty much, I actually wish a lot of the debates would take the format  of a brief opener and rebuttal, and then a Q&A period where the  debaters get to cross-examine each other, as that to me has always been  the most interesting moments in the few debates I've seen where this  happens.  The audience Q&A could almost fall away entirely, because  it's always the same silly questions imho.



I wholeheartedly agree. This occurs briefly during some of the debates, and they are always the best part.  But the very best approach is the detailed type that can only be done in books.  The only book of Craig's that I've read is his debate with Quentin Smith. It's outstanding.  I believe he has others of this format.
Fred

13

Ian Smithers

  • **
  • 509 Posts
    • View Profile
Can Philosophy Count as Evidence?
« Reply #58 on: April 30, 2011, 11:45:10 pm »

fredonly wrote: Good point, that's the way it is worded.  This really ties to my later comments: are they merely people who do not affirm God, and simply needed a nudge, or are they the sort who are interested in doing to work to seek the truth.    But it's true, that the entire spectrum of agnostics fit the label.  My point is: the statistics are meaningless without more information.
Well I think it's a big jump to say they are meaningless.  I mean if we take one sample, and say that every single one was an agnostic, who was seeking the truth - then... what?  I mean, that doesn't mean anything more to me, than if every single one of them was an atheist who was also seeking the trueh.  So I don't personally think the statistics were meaningless, I think we could get more meaning from them with more information but I've not found it thus far (not that I've looked either, so it may be out there).


fredonly wrote: I looked in the book and it doesn't say what the question was.  All we have is the Strohbel's description.  My point is that Strohble, himself not an especially deep thinker from what I've read of his (my purely subjective evaluation), is being a cheerleader of Craig's.
I don't know how you get to that conclusion.  A cheerleader is typically someone who doesn't care for the quality or success of the team, just that they like the team.  I don't think that description fits Strobel, as he has to write the forward to the book and I'm not sure how he is going to do that without being enthusiastic and endorsing WLC, this however doesn't mean he is a cheerleader.

fredonly wrote: Ah a programmer, like I am - at least at the core.  I did programming for many years, now I'm in IT management.  (Hmm. do you work for an oil company by any chance?  If so, get back to work!)  Like you, I admire Craig's logic.  To the best of my knowledge, he gives the most rational reasons to be a theist of anyone.  If you're looking for a logical reason to believe in God, read Craig.  I do not, however, believe that his argument is as logically compelling as it appears on the surface.  He proves God is possible; he does not prove God is likely.
Heh no I'm an indie-game developer, I'll leave running oil companies to BP since they do such an awesome job.

From my side I think WLC proves that God is the most likely explanation, I think of course God being possible is central to that as the entire foundation would collapse if God wasn't logically possible.  I actually think the 'most likley explanation' is pretty much his central argument, you don't think it's sound though?

fredonly wrote: I wholeheartedly agree. This occurs briefly during some of the debates, and they are always the best part.  But the very best approach is the detailed type that can only be done in books.  The only book of Craig's that I've read is his debate with Quentin Smith. It's outstanding.  I believe he has others of this format.
Oh I've not seen that one, I have so little time at the moment that I mostly just stream video debates whilst working, or occasionally watch some at lunch.  I need more hours in the day.

14

Ian Smithers

  • **
  • 509 Posts
    • View Profile
Can Philosophy Count as Evidence?
« Reply #59 on: May 01, 2011, 12:12:32 am »

Excellent, I just mis-pressed some keys, and lost my reply.  So, I will do it again, but it may be briefer.

Sandspirit wrote: I think the single most important factor in assessing moral progress is our record in respecting life. When times get tough or we feel threatened (as nations or social groups) we kill in large numbers without so much as a second thought. The 20th century is a century dominated by wars and mass extermination, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, "ethnic cleansing" in the Balkans ... it was a truly horrific hundred years even while we were providing a car for everyone, air travel around the globe and consequently seemingly destroying our fragile environment. This may sound harsh but I think it's what a visitor from outer space would see first.
My reply to this was that I wasn't only talking of moral progress, as the enlightenment speaks to our scientific progress as well, but sure I don't disagree with you here.

Sandspirit wrote: I don't know how open you are to new ideas or information. Certainly you have some beliefs that will not be easily dislodged, this though is hardly confined to Christians. About ten years ago I spent some time talking to a couple of Mormon women. They were very open and curious despite having an almost immovable core belief - so the two things, flexibility and certainty, can coexist. I have to add that as far as mormons go those two women seem to be the exception (in my experience).
Well I do try to live my life by the Bible as I feel it's a guidebook to relationships, both with God and other people.  My favourite verse, or close to one of them is 1 Thessalonians 5:21 "Test everything. Hold on to the good." as it suggests to me that God wishes us to reason, use our minds to discover the world He has made for us, but to only retain those things which are just and good.

Sandspirit wrote: Okay, but he believed before he created the philosophy. I don't have a problem with that but I'm far more interested his experience than his evidence. Visceral experiences that change people's ways of seeing, even though difficult to articulate, give far more insight into the nature of our lives than any intellectual argument can.
Ah right, well I mean you can try and e-mail him if you want and ask, I think perhaps in that respect you may be barking up the wrong tree, as often whilst personal experience is rational, it often cannot be conveyed as evidential claims, unless well supported, and much of relationships, whether between man and God, or man and man, cannot be well evidenced.  I think there were some podcasts on the site about his early years, which he does sometimes talk about in his debates and lectures.

Sandspirit wrote: Well, the foundation of the atheistic world view isn't non-existent. It's how a great many people experience the world. A philosophy can be as clever and as persuasive as you like but if it doesn't gell with your experience you won't accept it (unless you have secondary social reasons for doing so). People process the information life throws at them in different ways. Christopher Hitchens believes there are some people who just can't accept the idea of God, and he's one of them. And I'd say that Hitchens is a very morally driven man.
I think you are confusing two things.  I said the foundation is non-existent, nothing else.  So people can of course claim unbelief, and live morally good lives and so forth, but, there is no foundation for them to do so.  When you examine it and get right down to the details of why people act the way they do, what makes that right or wrong, or what governs their beliefs, I feel the atheist view is a tangled web of contradictions and double-standards.  It's the foundation that is what WLC attacks, not whether these people like Hitchens are morally good people, or live good lives.  It's that they are doing so and claiming so on a view that doesn't support their actions or claims.

Sandspirit wrote: Fair enough, but this forum can be quite a prickly place too (on both sides). I think patience and curiosity are the keys to discussion.
Sure I don't disagree, but it's unfortunate the loudest are the ones most often heard, in my experience.

Sandspirit wrote: On you post about the WLC meeting, I read the opening chapter of "On Guard" on the website where this anecdote is related. I'd echo some of fredonly's concerns and would need more info before I could comment on its significance. I would though be interested to hear accounts of or from people who were swayed by the debates or WLC's books.
I would be interested as well.  Although the pattern I notice is that if any atheist is swayed, they are immediately discredited.  In fact, I visit some atheist forums which allow theists to post in specific places, and in one I visited, there was an atheist who was pro-life, he was busy discussing with some others, but I really felt that they were attacking him.  In fact they had changed his forum account so that he could only post in the theist area (which had a name like Make Believe Land) and when I posted on this thread some points about the abortion issue which he agreed with, there was no reply from the atheists other than, "The person you are agreeing with is one of them in case you didn't notice.".  Which really blew me away, firstly on how quickly they turned against one of their own, in that regard, and secondly how my opinion and view was just immediately discredited due to my foundation for those views.  So certainly I would be interested to read/hear more on the statistics from that and more debates, as I believe it's not a rare practice to cast ballots.  I just am wary of falling into the no true Scottsman fallacy, from either side, ie "No true Christian would become and atheist." and likewise.

Excellent, made it to the end without wiping my post again.