Can philosophy help science and theology?

I’ve talked a lot about the perceived conflict between science and theology before. I say perceived because, as David Bentley Hart put it, the conflict is not because of empirical discoveries but because of cultural presuppositions. And it’s philosophy that can help us see if we’re asking the right questions or making valid arguments. 

Robert Lawrence Kuhn, host of the PBS program “Closer to Truth,” interviewed several philosophers and asked the question, “Can Philosophy Clarify Science vs. Theology?” The interviews are very good and it’s well worth watching if you’re interested in this subject.

Robert Audi, Professor of Philosophy at Notre Dame, has expertise in philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, and theology. He sees the role of philosophy as a meta-discipline that looks at the nature of other disciplines, the kind of questions they ask, the standards of evidence they use, the hypotheses they plan to test, and the view of the world they offer. Here’s what he says about it:

“The way I see it, science is not at all metaphysical. I don’t believe, for example, that the existence of God is a scientific issue… Theologians may want to make claims about the empirical world…but I don’t see that religion is intrinsically committed to making scientific claims, as opposed to making claims about everyday life, like moral claims about how we are to conduct ourselves. So, as I see it, there is compatibility between the two disciplines…”

Bas Van Fraassen, Professor of Philosophy at San Francisco State University, says that philosophy can help both science and theology by removing unnecessary obstacles.

“In the case of both religion and science, we see many, many bad arguments that are hindrances to both. In the case of science, we have the science skeptics and the climate deniers, and they are convinced by bad arguments. Now, on the other side, too, the New Atheists, for example, have arguments against the very possibility of a rational person believing [in God]. Again, a philosopher can step in and confront these arguments.”

What I’ve seen in this regard is that the most heated conflict usually comes from the extremes of religious fundamentalists on one side who try to turn the Bible into a science book and atheist fundamentalists on the other who embrace scientism.

Stephen Barr, author, and professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Delaware says it’s not science against religion but materialism (the ultimate reality is matter) or physicalism (everything is explained by physics) versus religion. The notion that science is replacing God is only an argument against a “god of the gaps” misconception of theology. It doesn’t address the question of God at all.

“There’s a misconception that’s actually at the root of the science-religion tension. Many people think that nature and God are in competition, that if something has a natural explanation that God had nothing to do with it. And, if God did something, it’s supernatural, so it’s an either-or. And, so the more science can explain naturally the less there is for God to explain. But that’s a complete misconception because God is the author of nature.”

“God is not a cause within nature, He is the cause of nature.”

Atheist, Michael Ruse, Professor, and Director of the History and Philosophy of Science Program at Florida State University, says that there can be common ground when we understand the difference between methodological naturalism that science deals with and ontological naturalism which is a legitimate realm for religion and theology.

Francisco Alaya is an evolutionary biologist and philosopher at the University of California, Irvine. He says when doing science he does not need religion….but at a personal level, the issue is completely different because being a human being raises questions like what’s the meaning of the world, what’s after death, all of which go beyond scientific methodology.

David Bentley Hart says that science and theology tend to run afoul of one another, not where the research does, but because of cultural assumptions.

In the video interview below, Hart says we need to understand that the conflict between science and matters of theology really started in the 17th century when they were separated for methodological reasons.

“From the beginning of this shift the mental and the spiritual was placed in a separate category creating this ungainly dualism that for short form we call Cartesianism now, whereas nature is a real mechanism and then mind inhabits it like a “ghost in the machine” [Gilbert Ryle]. But reason abhors a dualism and it’s inevitable that what started as a method would become a metaphysics; that is, the mechanical picture of nature ceased to be just a way of approaching nature for limited local finite investigations and supposedly became a picture of reality as a whole.

Nevertheless, when it becomes the metaphysical picture of reality, mechanism then has to account for the things that originally it was content just to put in a different sphere, like mind. That means that a model of reality that was devised specifically by banishing from it everything reminiscent of mind now has to be used to explain a mind. Mind must be seen as an emergent phenomenon from physical nature.”

Hart summarizes what he sees is needed for helpful dialogue between science and theology.

“The implications of that for the science and theology…is to free the dialogue from the cultural assumptions; that is, the culture the sciences have taken. Let’s be honest, the mechanical picture of nature doesn’t hold anymore for many. I mean, it certainly doesn’t help us in the realm of quantum mechanics and, more and more, there are people in molecular biology who question it as a proper way of understanding organic systems. Nonetheless, that’s the prejudice, the sort of underlying premise that holds in the culture of the sciences in the modern world, that the mechanistic picture is true, and there you really do have an inevitable conflict between the cultures of science and theology. At the level of what’s actually discovered on the ground—real empirical discoveries—there’s no conflict, just different sorts of questions being asked. But, culturally, the mechanical model is a profound presupposition.”

Here’s the whole interview with Hart.

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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 38 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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191 Responses to Can philosophy help science and theology?

  1. John Branyan says:

    Every scientist employs philosophy when answering the question, “Should I do science?”

    • Mel Wild says:

      This is why there’s a field called the philosophy of science so scientists don’t pursue an invalid or fallacious line of questions. It also keeps them from saying dumb things like there’s no evidence for God because they would know that would be a category error. Science can neither prove or disprove the existence of God or anything that might exist outside of the natural world. The philosophy-deniers apparently don’t know this and continue on with their absurdities and incoherence.

  2. tildeb says:

    “And it’s philosophy that can help us see if we’re asking the right questions or making valid arguments.”

    Nope. It’s reality that demonstrates if we’re on the right track with our questions and arguments about it. Galileo ripped away the facade that natural philosophy tried oh so carefully to nurture as a substitute and an equivalent arbiter and it continues to fool people to this day. (Ahem…) It’s not. And that’s the brute fact. If you want to find out anything about reality, you have to allow reality to the arbiter. If you don’t allow for that arbitration for claims made about it, but substitute philosophy and/or religion and/or metaphysical windbaggery, then there’s simply no common ground because reality no longer plays the key role. That’s why philosophy and religion and metaphysics combined have managed to produce zero knowledge about reality. Again, an uncomfortable but true brute fact.

    • John Branyan says:

      “That’s why philosophy and religion and metaphysics combined have managed to produce zero knowledge about reality. Again, an uncomfortable but true brute fact.”
      …and also a thoroughly philosophical statement.

    • Mel Wild says:

      That’s why philosophy and religion and metaphysics combined have managed to produce zero knowledge about reality. Again, an uncomfortable but true brute fact.

      LOL! Got to love your dogmatic certitudes, Tildeb. And your extreme fundamentalist anti-theist and anti-philosophy position is a perfect example of scientism. You have given no “brute facts” only opinion. But philosophy confronts your certitudes to see if they are valid arguments and not fallacious. In fact, all science uses philosophy to test the validity of its own questions.

      For instance, for a true scientist to try to test for natural evidence of God would be a fallacious category error. Science can neither prove or disprove the existence of God for methodological reasons.

      And I question your implied assertion that only science can give us a true picture of reality (definitive scientism, btw). That’s a self-refuting statement because science cannot test anything outside of its natural limitations. As Hart said, the modern scientific method is a purely inductive model of research, which is something that can never be fully realized. Because of the power of this inductive model, and because it’s really undecidable logically whether this model itself is a picture of reality or a filter that allows us to get to certain physical truths that we wouldn’t be able to otherwise remains open. So, science cannot prove that we have a complete picture of reality.

      Furthermore, I would say to you that science has given us zero knowledge of first causes, formal causes, and purposes, and it never can for methodological reasons. These things go beyond science and into the metaphysical where different sorts of questions must be asked.

      • tildeb says:

        No brute facts, says the guy typing away on a keyboard and sending it electronically to a cloud memory! Let’s pray on the ‘First Causes’, shall we, and dip once again into metaphysical windbaggery to figure out why your actions produce such results. Let’s see how this ‘insight’ alters how reality operates and let’s see how new applications, therapies, and technologies pour forth! Oops, right; no one can use reality to arbitrate your religious and philosophical and metaphysical claims about it when you know perfectly well it only supports what you call ‘scientism’. And it’s only from this source we get applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time, based on what you describe as “extreme fundamentalist anti-theist and anti-philosophy position”. Methinks your wild-eyed and rant-filled response is because reality can’t do the job for you and back up the claims you make. That’s a clue about the truth merit of your thesis here, by the way… lacking support from reality. There’s the brute fact you’re searching for.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Speaking of windbaggery and wild-eyed rant-filled response! You are clearly the master, Tildeb. Yours is just the scientistic (as opposed to scientific) variety.

          So, tell me, how does science address first causes or even why there are physical laws to observe in the first place, using the scientific method? I suppose you will say it just is. LOL!

        • tildeb says:

          I don’t know. But that lack of knowledge does not give me license to just make shit up and claim it to be another kind of knowledge because it’s logical or perhaps supernatural. Those ‘answers’ are equivalent in every way to “I don’t know.” But only one of us is being honest here.

        • Mel Wild says:

          But you do make “shit” up, Tildeb. You don’t just say “I don’t know,” you make dogmatic assertions that metaphysics or philosophy or religion has provided zero knowledge of reality. That assertion cannot be proven. It’s just an opinion based on your myopic naturalist worldview. You are not being honest when you say these things.

        • tildeb says:

          Oh rubbish: my claim is entirely demonstrable; go ahead and name the knowledge about reality produced by theology, philosophy, or metaphysics that all of us can use to create applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time. Just one. That’s all it would take to show that my claim is factually incorrect.

        • Mel Wild says:

          That is fallacious argument. You are committing a category error. Science can ONLY give us knowledge of the PHYSICAL world, which is where technology is relevant. But that does not address anything beyond the natural world nor can it produce “evidence” of something that is not part of the material world. So, if you weren’t so dismissive of philosophy you would understand that your assertion is bogus.

        • tildeb says:

          Rubbish again.

          You are importing a made-up ‘realm’ you call the ‘supernatural’ as compared to reality that contains (as far as we know) only the ‘natural’ and then using an argument dependent on this introduced false dichotomy to claim science can only investigate one of these, the physical ie. the natural world, and then triumphantly proclaim that this makes science unsuitable to investigate your made-up realm, so therefore your made-up realm is a part of reality that you can know something about through revelation but that science by your imported definition cannot.

          And then you claim I point just how dishonest your argument is, how dependent on fallacy and poor thinking it actually and demonstrably is, because of “dogmatic certitudes!” Again, this claim you make based on this linguistic substitution for ‘honesty’ with ‘dogmatic certitude’ (isn’t it ironic how you try to use what you demonstrate as if a smear against me?) is not synonymous, Mel, but a complete fabrication on your part.

          But rather than deal straight up with your own weasel-like rationalizations and substitutions and imports to try to make the incompatible compatible (religion v science), you then claim that it’s not you but “philosophy (that) confronts (my) certitudes to see if they are valid arguments and not fallacious.” Oh my. What a terrible job philosophy is doing revealing where the fallacious arguments are coming from.

        • Mel Wild says:

          LOL! Your assertion is complete rubbish.
          So, again, if the material world is all there is, how would science prove that? And, again, why is there a natural world? Sorry, your anti-theistic diatribe is fallacious.

        • tildeb says:

          And there it is: the apologetic and dismissive hand wave because being honest and explaining why is now synonymous with an “anti-theistic diatribe.”

          I’m beginning to think the only thing you bring to back up your dishonest apologetics is the apologetic dictionary where you can make shit up and then blame others for not knowing the ‘right’ meaning of your doppelganger language.

        • Mel Wild says:

          And I can say, there it is, your dismissive hand-waving of anything that disagrees with your materialistic paradigm. This is why you need philosophy, Tildeb. So you can question your own assumptions to see if they’re valid.

        • tildeb says:

          Oh, I’ve studied a lot of philosophy, Mel. I understand its use, but I know very well its shortcomings. And when it comes to figuring out how reality works and by what mechanisms, science is without doubt the best method for doing so. In this matter, philosophy, religion, and metaphysics don’t work to produce knowledge about reality. Using them in place of science is a flag waving admission you’ve got nothing.

        • Mel Wild says:

          The scientific method is the best method for studying things in nature. We agree.

        • tildeb says:

          But creationism is a naturalistic claim, Mel… so too is theistic evolution. Both are dead wrong in that there is zero evidence in its favour and a mountain of evidence against both propositions. This reduces the likelihood to as near zero as any honest scientist would agree if the same conditions were applied to some other hypothesis. These creationist claims – central to almost every religion – stand incompatible with scientific revelation and those who continue to suggest agnosticism are not doing so for any other reason than osculating the rump of the religious.

  3. jim- says:

    Deductive reasoning is only sound when the premises are true. Philosophers follow deductive lines of reasoning to see where it will lead, but also recognize that premises that they lean on to get there need to be verified for the reasoning to be meaningful. So as long as your honest and admit that your philosophy is belief based, that’s fine.

    • Mel Wild says:

      True, but how you verify something that might not be in the natural realm? You certainly could not use the scientific method.

      Keep in mind, to say there’s only the natural world and nothing beyond is a belief system, too.

  4. Interesting post, Mel! Recently I was discussing the definition of “natural.” It used to mean related to nature, material, the physical, biological world. Today “natural” means “normal” and “unnatural” means “abnormal.” You see this on product labels all the time. Nobody sells Cheetohs as an “unnatural food product.” We should perhaps, but if we just put “natural” on the label, it makes people feel healthy, safe, normal, rationally eating their imitation puff, their powdered cheese food product.

    Because unnatural now means “abnormal,” supernatural now means really weird, extra abnormal,and way out there. It’s also coming to mean imitation, false, not real. But belief in God is also very natural, even from a secular position. If we’ve evolved with a God gene, then our pursuit of faith would be “natural” to us. So supernatural does not mean the abnormal pursuit of what isn’t real, it really means extra natural, even more “natural” and more “real.”

    • tildeb says:

      Ah, more clear thinking from IB22: the supernatural is really quite natural, yet no inkling that there might be a linguistic trick going on here. So much for religious philosophy guiding the ‘right’ questions.

      Good grief.

      • Mel Wild says:

        Nice knee-jerk reaction. I don’t think you understood the point, Tildeb. IB is using two legitimate definitions of “natural” to make a point about how people perceive the supernatural in our rationalistic culture.

        According to the dictionary, it can be either “existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind” or “of or in agreement with the character or makeup of, or circumstances surrounding, someone or something.”

        So, the supernatural can both be not part of the natural, biological world (nature) but also be part of the natural makeup of God’s creation. And, as she points out, it’s not unnatural to believe in the supernatural. Of course, science cannot even address that question, which gets to the point of the post.

        • tildeb says:

          Oh, it can, can it? And you can know about it how? Oh right; by metaphysical musings that make you feel good! Yes, I’m almost sure that’s how we figured out how to utilize electromagnitism to produce the internet! Why, it’s right there in First Causes, ready to be deduced in logical form amply supplied by philosophical insights!

          Again, good grief. And all this apologetic nonsense to avoid granting reality the right to arbitrate claims made about it.

        • Mel Wild says:

          We certainly can grant science the right to arbitrate our material or natural world. I have no problem with that. That is not the question.

          The question is, how would you prove that that the material world is all there is, Tildeb? We can start there to help us avoid falling into your scientistic nonsense.

        • tildeb says:

          I’m not saying that’s all there is, Mel. I’m saying as far as our knowledge about reality is concerned, we have to allow reality to arbitrate our claims about it. And if we don’t have any knowledge about something we claim is part of reality, then the only honest answer to questions about what lies beyond reality is not to make up shit that involve supernatural musings but to clearly admit, “I. Don’t. Know.” This honesty is not conducive to theology, of course, so you’re job as an apologist is to try to vilify this honesty in order to admit our equal status in not knowing. You must continue to pretend you have some magical means – some revelation – to know stuff you know neither know anything about nor have any means to know anything about.

        • Mel Wild says:

          But if you’re not saying that the natural world is all there is, then you would have to admit that science is the wrong field to even discuss that possible reality. Or, at least, you won’t find a direct correlation that way. You must ask different questions and look for different kinds of evidence. This is why you can’t just dismiss metaphysics or say that the only legitimate reality is what science can give us.

        • tildeb says:

          I’m not saying that, Mel. Good grief. I’m saying that we have to allow any claims we make about reality be arbitrated by reality. If you want to talk about extra-reality whatever, then I know and you know that neither of us knows anything about this hypothetical extra-reality whatever at all, so the honest and correct answers to any questions raised about this hypothetical supernatural realm is, “I don’t know.” But as soon as you try to import whatever from the hypothetical extra-reality whatever to explain any component of reality, you’re making a mistake. You don’t know any such thing. Philosophy doesn’t know any such thing. Theism doesn’t know any such thing. Metaphysics doesn’t know any such thing. Only reality can arbitrate our beliefs about it, can arbitrate the kinds of claims YOU make about this extra-reality thing. And in every case, reality rules against you but you continue to proclaim that you respect the ruling but reject it anyhow, that religion and science are compatible methods to finding stuff out about reality in spite of no evidence to support your claims and massive evidence (like evolution v creationism) against them. And that’s why the incompatibility is demonstrable but ignored by apologists, faitheists, accommodationists, and other dishonest compatibilists, all of whom pretend the claims do not overlap but simply ignore strong evidence that they do. Hence, the charge of dishonesty.

        • Mel Wild says:

          What do you mean by “reality?” You seem to be making a naturalistic assumption.

        • John Branyan says:

          Reality is whatever Tildeb says it is.
          Just nod and say thank you. He’ll go away.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Apparently so. But he does make a great case in point for the point of this post. All people have to do is look at his comments. Talk about dismissive hand-waving. LOL!

    • Mel Wild says:

      Good points, IB. As Hart said, we’ve all inherited a 17th-century rationalism that thinks all of reality can be put in a mechanistic box. But who’s to say this is a valid conclusion? Based on what premises? If there is a supernatural reality then naturalism or materialism is completely irrational. This is where philosophy helps us clarify the boundaries between physics and metaphysics. It also helps us not try to apply science to something science cannot address.

  5. john zande says:

    I think you (or Ruse) got ontological naturalism mixed up. It’s just another term for metaphysical naturalism, the opposite of religious naturalism… which I think you (or Ruse) meant.

    We can explore Audi’s point a little. He says: but I don’t see that religion is intrinsically committed to making scientific claims

    But it does, through its Creationist assertions. You yourself, for example, reject the fundamental base of Evolutionary theory, claiming instead that your god, Yhwh, tinkers in evolutionary processes, tweaking the genome, tossing the odd asteroid at earth to deliberately kill off most life, encouraging one strain of life while punishing another. That is a hypothesis, and it can be tested to see if it holds merit.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Audi’s point is that theology does not address how the natural world works. We do make ontological claims, which science cannot address for methodological reasons.

      I don’t believe you have proven your version of evolutionary theory. It’s an inductive conclusion, not a deductive one. That doesn’t mean I’m against evolution.

      • john zande says:

        No, Audi says but I don’t see that religion is intrinsically committed to making scientific claims, and this is wrong. Religion is intrinsically committed to making scientific claims—Creationism, for example—which can be tested.

        We can test your anti-evolution claims, starting with a few simple questions:

        1. Are human beings the “intended” (desired) final product of your designer, Yhwh?

        2. Have humans stopped evolving?

        3. If Yhwh is competent, how do you account for 80% of all mutations being harmful to an organisms fitness?

        • Mel Wild says:

          None of those questions address creation or God. They are questions of method which aren’t answered by theology.

        • john zande says:

          Yes, they do. In fact, they strike to very heart of your anti-evolution, Creationist claims.

          To remind you, I asked you once: Are human beings an entirely unintended product of an entirely unguided process, where mutations (and the environment in general) are random, meaning they are not adaptively directed, not goal-oriented?

          You rejected this outright, arguing humans were intended, and the processes of evolution are NOT random. You believe the Middle Eastern god of the Pentateuch, Yhwh, guides (or perhaps even controls entirely) evolutionary processes, interfering in the biosphere, in mutations, and in selection.

          So, we can test your anti-evolution hypothesis, starting with a few simple questions:

          1. Are human beings the “intended” (desired) final product of your designer, Yhwh?

          2. Have humans stopped evolving?

          3. If Yhwh is competent, how do you account for 80% of all mutations being harmful to an organisms fitness?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Okay, here’s my reply.

          1. Yes.

          2. No.

          3. Have no idea. Not a theological question.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Btw, on #2. That’s my personal opinion. Like question #3, it’s not a theological question.

        • john zande says:

          1 contradicts 2… and it begs the question, WHY evolution in the first place?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Believing in intention does not contradict that things evolve. Evolution could be part of God’s intention when He created the world. It only explains HOW creation works. And you cannot prove that there’s no intention.

        • john zande says:

          If there’s intent, then I’m afraid your thesis of a mindful, competent, caring, loving designer collapses in a rather ugly heap.

        • john zande says:

          Mel, can you rationally explain how 80% of all mutations being harmful indicates mindful design/guidance, and not randomness?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Again, it’s not a theological question. Can you explain why there are species to begin with?

        • john zande says:

          I didn’t say it dealt with theology. It does, however, deal directly with your claim of intelligent design.

          So, can you rationally explain how 80% of all mutations being harmful indicates mindful design/guidance, and not randomness?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Theology is the study of God. You said your questions address them. They don’t. They only address how nature might work. You cannot disprove my belief in God with evolutionary theory or science in general.

        • john zande says:

          Theology is the study of God. You said your questions address them.

          No, as clearly presented in the first comment, I’m addressing Audi’s assertion: but I don’t see that religion is intrinsically committed to making scientific claims. This is wrong. Religion is intrinsically committed to making scientific claims, as exampled in Creationism, and these claims can be tested.

          You cannot disprove my belief in God with evolutionary theory or science in general.

          Nonsense. I can test your specific claims (your Creationist/Intelligent Design hypothesis) against reality, and then determine its merit. For example, I assume you believe Yhwh to be a competent designer. OK, does the fact that 80% of all mutations being harmful to an organism’s fitness speak to competence? Any rational person would conclude, No; it indicates randomness, not competent navigation. Another example: you believe Yhwh to be competent AND caring. OK, does ‘competent’ and ‘caring’ translate to the Great Oxygen Catastrophe 2.5 billion years ago which killed off virtually all life on earth, but created an oxygen-rich atmosphere which enabled multicellular life to take root? Any rational person would conclude, No; having to kill off virtually all life because you stupidly got the atmosphere wrong does not indicate competence and mindfulness. And another example: you believe Yhwh to be competent, caring, AND compassionate. OK, could a designer of extraordinary compassion and unlimited means oversee a world where the very mechanisms necessary to physically experience something beginning to resemble ‘happiness’ (enkephalin and opioid receptors) would not even exist in the world before some 3.5 billion years of terrestrial evolution had passed and untold billions of generations of living things had suffered enormously without as much as the hope of corporeal relief? Any rational person would conclude, No.

          See?

        • John Branyan says:

          Oh no!
          A competent creator wouldn’t create the Great Oxygen Deprivation 2.5 billion years ago.
          It’s over, Mel!
          Zande just proved God doesn’t exist!
          Drop the charade, close your blog and spend the rest of your life bitching about the powerful religious leaders who duped you into believing their mythology.

        • Mel Wild says:

          LOL! Got to love Zande’s pretentiousness.

        • John Branyan says:

          You’re just hand-waving.
          How typical.

          If conjecture about an alleged event 2.5 billion years ago won’t convince you – you’re beyond help. Enjoy your pantomime.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Right. I just make “shit” up. Everybody knows there’s reason for our existence. How foolish of me.

        • john zande says:

          Translation: you can’t make sense of the staggering inconsistencies standing between your Creationist claims and reality.

  6. jim- says:

    Zande has a valid point, and that’s just one. “but I don’t see that religion is intrinsically committed to making scientific claims” maybe not intrinsic, but it does happen on a large scale where scientific things are postulated by religion. Creationism is a great example, and I would throw in some behavioral diagnoses as well. Demonic possession was misdiagnosed for millennia as well as visions clearly being linked to epilepsy. Plate tectonics and volcanism have also replaced religious claims with equal veracity as well as flooding and lightning. All easily explained today by science. Creation is taking a bit longer to finish up, but we’ll get there. The “word” won’t ve the last word there either.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Of course, Audi is not saying that some creationists don’t make scientific claims. His point is that it’s not intrinsic to theology. In fact, that’s one of the hindrances or obstacles to having discussions between science and theology, which is the point Van Fraassen made.

      The rest of your point is just arguing against a “god of the gaps,” not actual theology. Even if science explained every single phenomenon in nature, it still hasn’t addressed the question of God at all. God is not a thing of nature, we believe He’s the God of all we know as well as what we don’t yet know. And science cannot address the spiritual world at all, if there is one, so that point is not relevant.

      • jim- says:

        So to date Christianity has produced nothing, no answers, no advances, and when everyone understands it the way you would like, what then? Van Fraassens comment giving credit to god for all we know is a premise in immorality. Drip fed advances while people continue to suffer? What on earth could be the reason for that. The guidebook he provided has nothing to offer us in that way. It’s like your on a race to be first or stay ahead of a flattening curve, but when it is all explained by science there will be no reason to call it god.

        • Mel Wild says:

          So to date Christianity has produced nothing, no answers, no advances, and when everyone understands it the way you would like, what then?

          No answers, no advances? No answers or advances to what? And when you say, “but when it’s all explained by science…” what can the scientific method explain that is not natural or material? The answer is nothing. Science cannot even explain why science.

        • Mel Wild says:

          And, again, you are arguing against a “god of the gaps,” which eliminates mythological gods but doesn’t address theology at all.

        • jim- says:

          Because you start with a premise in mind you cannot fathom what appears to be supernatural will ever be explained. It’s already been happening. When everything attributed to god has a testable explanation, from visions to creation, there will be no need to call it god. What then? Will you still deny you’re going backwards? It’s a little like the Christ story. I’ve heard preachers say that even if the entire thing was a hoax, they’d still believe in jesus. Is that what you’re dealing?

        • Mel Wild says:

          When everything attributed to god has a testable explanation, from visions to creation, there will be no need to call it god.

          This is still god of the gaps, Jim. You are not even addressing God with this assertion. You are addressing our explanation for phenomenon in nature. If everything in nature is explained by science changes nothing at all about the question of God. Why don’t you get this? And I would ask you, if science cannot address anything outside of nature, would you be open to other ways to address it?

        • jim- says:

          Because, Sir, if there is anything outside of nature, you wouldn’t know it. Why would anyone assume there is a god if there is a valid explanation? That appears to be the reason people like god, is it’s a catch-all to explain hard questions. Faith only thrives due to lack of evidence, not the other way around. “God did it” has accounted for numerous things over the years when a viable explanation is presented, the faithful switch topics, clinging to a mind trick or something like that, rarely confronting the obvious. After they do confront it, they start atheism blogs.

        • John Branyan says:

          “Because, Sir, if there is anything outside of nature, you wouldn’t know it. ”
          What do you mean by ‘nature’?

        • jim- says:

          The physical world and universe as we are able, with our keen senses and technologies can observe and test. I would also add that, if the 75 billion light years of universe we can see in the deep space photos was created by an asietic being, it would be artificial nature, or outside of what would naturally happen in that time frame. In your case, what extras god is allowing you to see, but not me.

        • John Branyan says:

          You believe in the existence of many things that aren’t physical.

        • jim- says:

          Is that a statement or a question? Get to the point if you have something to say.

        • John Branyan says:

          It is a statement. There are many things that are real but not physical.

        • jim- says:

          Go ahead Miss Cleo. Tell me what I believe.

        • John Branyan says:

          Science discovers truth.
          Memories are reliable.
          Thoughts exist.
          Arithmetic is useful.
          Emotions are real.
          Logic, reason, and friendship are nonphysical too.
          I’m not psychic. Do you believe any of those statements?

        • jim- says:

          I don’t have to believe them for they happen and are observable, obvious things that require no outside explanation (other than consciousness itself) and that’s probably another post in itself unless you can sum it up. Math takes some tutelage but the others certainly don’t require us to invent a dogma over. What is your point?

        • John Branyan says:

          My point is, as I said, these things are not physical.

        • jim- says:

          Nor are they real, tangible, or dependable. Except math. Very easy to be duped by emotions. So what?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Again, what do you mean by “real?” You are only describing a “reality” within the methodological framework of science. You are not addressing anything else that may or may not be true. And it’s very easy to be duped by an incoherent ontology. So what?

        • John Branyan says:

          When you say those things are not dependable, are you including your own memories and thoughts?

        • jim- says:

          I would have to. I make every effort to be balanced after being duped for so many years, but memories are not too trustworthy in any setting. Studies are pretty clear about that. I would be weary of aligning myself with an unsolved riddle of 2000+ years. Here, you two are back at the beginning again trying to make sense of what no one in history has done. Still no answers. I have better things to do with my life.

        • John Branyan says:

          You think you have better things to do but your thoughts are not dependable. So I guess it doesn’t matter what we think.

        • jim- says:

          It does matter when what you think constantly infringes on the rights of others. That’s how we overcome suffrage, Jim Crow, and other injustices nurtured by biblical teachings. Unfettered religion is a nasty affair.

        • John Branyan says:

          You think unfettered religion is a nasty affair. You think we overcame sufferage. But your thoughts and memories are not dependable. So you can’t know if you’re speaking truth.

        • jim- says:

          You think this up all by yourself? Maybe you should get some sleep.

        • John Branyan says:

          Um. I got it from you.
          Your memory really isn’t reliable. You weren’t kidding.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Because you start with a premise in mind you cannot fathom what appears to be supernatural will ever be explained.

          Everyone starts with a premise in mind, Jim. You start with the premise that science will eventually answer every question about reality. But that’s a fallacious category error (another reason for philosophy). If there is a supernatural reality, science will never even begin to address it, by definition. Yours is a self-refuting argument because science cannot address anything outside of the natural world for methodological reasons.

        • jim- says:

          And yours can? I’ve been watching you switch from this to that, spinning and juking for a year now trying to make sense of your own religion. I don’t really start with a premise in mind, I am however following the progresses that intrigue me. I do suppose some of it as that is unavoidable. If science can never address it, neither can you, except inductive philosophy that doesn’t come to fruition…ever. Or two thousand years.

        • Mel Wild says:

          If science can never address it, neither can you, except inductive philosophy that doesn’t come to fruition…ever. Or two thousand years.

          Your reasoning is incoherent. There is no “if.” Science cannot address anything metaphysical. This is why you continue to make fallacious statements. That’s what metaphysics is for. It is the scientific method that uses an inductive methodology which means you never arrive at a conclusion, only an inference to the best explanation. Philosophy allows us to use deductive reasoning. What makes science so effective is its limitations. It’s very good at addressing material phenomenon within nature. But it cannot address ontological things. Science cannot explain why we exist. It can describe how things work but it explains nothing.

        • jim- says:

          Everything that doesn’t grasp the supernatural “belief” is incoherent. You use that word a lot! The fact is we are here, and you have a guess based on feelings based on chemical reactions in your brain. I have a friend that saw the other side into the supernatural realm by taking lsd to enhance his religious belief. It’s all very real to him, but he’s manipulating neurons through pharmacology and mimicking the spiritual experience. It’s all very real to him, and it’s been his life quest to explain the spark of life. In times of stress and elation our brains do funny things. It’s all neurons and consciousness, but that’s another story.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I say “incoherent” a lot because you keep saying incoherent things. When you can address your existence coherently, I will stop saying it.

        • jim- says:

          That’s pretty egotistical Mel. One does not have to be an expert in ontology, psychology, metaphysics’s, religious degrees, and philosophy to smell a scam.

  7. “One does not have to be an expert in ontology, psychology, metaphysics’s, religious degrees, and philosophy to smell a scam.”

    I’m always fascinated by the accusations of trickery, the man behind the curtain, a hoax, a scam? In order to have a scam, we must have a betrayal. To be betrayed indicates there is some kind standard, some kind of hope or expectation stolen. Betrayal is painful stuff.

    Also, all of these thing, betrayal, disappointment, fear of being tricked, belong in the realm of, “not physical, not material.” Science cannot explain them, define them, nor heal them. They are matters of the heart, spiritual issues, and they are quite real, natural even, but they are completely outside the scope of science.

    “Why do you believe God is a trick, a heartbreaking deception,” is a philosophical question or a psychological one. It cannot be addressed by science.

    • jim- says:

      Imaginations are hard to pin down IB. And that is all it is.

      • Not really. People can be incredibly transparent. For example, your own imagination has convinced you that God is a trick, a betrayal, a deception. And you’re angry about it. That is very real, natural even, and science cannot measure it or fix it.

        • jim- says:

          I not angry about anything. It’s actually fairly amusing how easily duped people are. Especially the young. There are better explanations than god, who you all say is outside of scientific ability to measure, but youcan. Thats pretty funny. A neat absurdity. It’s immeasurable and incomprehensible but you all here can describe it? As far as measuring and describing the trick, betrayal, and anger, EEG’s and neuroscience can identify much of that quite to my liking, including the conversion process which would fit into your grouping there. It’s quite clear all those things come from within the human brain, and that part of it is not complicated. All reproducible, testable, and explainable. The neat thing about conversion is it can be done by simply lying to the subject.

        • Mel Wild says:

          There are better explanations than god, who you all say is outside of scientific ability to measure, but you can.

          But science doesn’t explain anything. It can only test things in nature and tell us what it does. Laws of nature explain nothing. And you have no explanation for why any of those things exist. It seems to me that you are the one who is willfully duped. You have no explanation for your own continuing existence, let alone explanations for these things.

          It’s quite clear all those things come from within the human brain, and that part of it is not complicated. All reproducible, testable, and explainable.

          Quite clear? Hardly! Yes, we can pick up brain responses but it’s not clear at all that it comes from the brain. I think you are confusing first-person consciousness and intentional experience with cognitive science, which are two different issues. Cognitive science is about the correlations between brain events and experience or states of mind. All materialistic answers have failed in this regard and now some are resorting to extreme views on the subject of first-person subjective experience, but they are no closer to explaining this than when they started.

        • john zande says:

          You have no explanation for your own continuing existence

          OK, we can test that claim, and here’s the experiment:

          Mel, stop breathing, eating and drinking water… then get back to me with your results, OK.

        • jim- says:

          But Mel, you don’t have any explanation either that makes any sense unless you want it to make sense.. this is by far the biggest, willful contradiction on earth. I don’t see how you, with a straight face, can claim science (a massive group of intellectual researchers, many who are Christian) and a person such as yourself cannot see the same things when applying the same questions? We do see what you see. Can you see any contradictions? That’s where we part ways because the king has no clothes.

        • Mel Wild says:

          But Mel, you don’t have any explanation either that makes any sense unless you want it to make sense.. this is by far the biggest, willful contradiction on earth.

          That’s nonsense. Of course, we have robust and well-articulated explanations. That’s what things like theology, ontology, epistemology are for. These help us makes sense of things like why we exist, our purpose in life, what gives it meaning, how we know things, and also to logically tell us that the world didn’t just make itself. But the point is, science cannot explain any of these things for us. That’s not what science is for.

          I don’t see how you, with a straight face, can claim science (a massive group of intellectual researchers, many who are Christian) and a person such as yourself cannot see the same things when applying the same questions?

          I’m not making any such claim. I have no problem with what science can tell us. And, yes, of course, we all see the same observable things in nature because we’re all able to use our five senses in the material world. But that doesn’t explain why these things should be. This is what I mean by science not being able to explain anything.

          Philosophically speaking, it is your emperor who has no clothes. I will say it again because it’s true. Your ontology is incoherent. What I mean is, you cannot explain your “essentially ordered,” continuing existence in the “here and now” without an infinite regress, which makes it an impossibility.

        • tildeb says:

          Nonsense?

          “Of course, we (meaning the Mel Special version of Christianity, let’s not forget, and significantly different from thousands and thousands of other and significantly different as well as incompatible religious versions all claiming the same justification you use) have robust and well-articulated explanations.”

          Of course you do… identical in every way with “I don’t know but I’m going to pretend these are true even though I have no way of knowing if they are”… epistemologically speaking, which makes your ontology not just schizophrenic but immune from any reasonable and rational testing by reality. And yet you STILL make incompatible claims about our shared reality and think your ‘explanations’ support them! It’s the other way around, Mel: only your faith grants any truth value to these ‘explanations’ and this is done by your assumption only.

          And that’s the brute fact Jim is pointing out, that science does have a method that is entirely dependent on testing by the reality we share and really does produce knowledge that when applied in applications, therapies, and technologies really does work for everyone everywhere all the time. Including you and all the other people who pretend thier religious beliefs describe the reality we share. The point here, Mel, is that when the two methods produce incompatible claims about the reality we both inhabit (incompatible claims like the belief in some version of divine creationism while doubting evolution properly understood, a biological mechanism that is unguided by any other agency and produces changes to life over time mainly by natural selection), only one ‘explanation’ works. And that’s not your religious ‘explanation’… an ‘explanation’ that in fact and deed explains absolutely nothing about anything that can be tested for its truth merit or produce any knowledge whatsoever about reality it purports to describe but a Just So story pregnant with superstitious nonsense.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Again, thanks for NOT getting the point, Tildeb. I will use your salient comment to make my point.

          The point here, Mel, is that when the two methods produce incompatible claims about the reality we both inhabit (incompatible claims like the belief in some version of divine creationism while doubting evolution properly understood, a biological mechanism that is unguided by any other agency and produces changes to life over time mainly by natural selection), only one ‘explanation’ works.

          No, we have two methods that seek to answer two entirely different questions. One method helps us understand how the natural world we live in works and the other helps us to understand why we live in this world, and the source of its own continuing existence. Your hand-waving, calling it “superstitious nonsense” only demonstrates your complete ignorance of theology and philosophy that isn’t just my “special version” but goes back thousands of years and has nothing to do with any silly superstitions.

          When you can show that you have something intelligent to say about it, we can continue, but I’m pretty sure I’m wasting my time talking any more about it with you.

        • tildeb says:

          Your “two different questions” is synonymous with ‘two different and incompatible answers’ to the SAME question as I have insisted is the ongoing problem with my example of creationism in its various forms and evolution. The SAME question is, “Did living organisms originate from specific acts of divine creation, as in the biblical account, rather than by natural processes such as evolution?” The problem is that there’s not a hidden ‘why’ question here (to which you’re just making stuff up to ‘answer’ as if this offered real insight into the workings of reality when the lack of knowledge produced by such ‘answers’ is zero and the proper conclusion from that brute fact is that the ‘answer’ you pretend religious beliefs offers us is patently false) but two incompatible explanations to the SAME question. That’s the problem, Mel; you won’t even be honest and forthright enough to admit that it is you crossing the boundary between the claimed non overlapping magesteria of science and religion. You just insert some philosophy and metaphysics to obfuscate the deception you’re trying to pull here and then blame everyone for nefarious motives than respecting what’s the case who dares to point it out to you.

        • Mel Wild says:

          The SAME question is, “Did living organisms originate from specific acts of divine creation, as in the biblical account, rather than by natural processes such as evolution?”

          But your question is incoherent, Tildeb. How can evolution originate from evolution? A process cannot originate a process. And it still leaves the question open, why are there natural processes in the first place? My point here is, science cannot answer these kinds of questions for methodological reasons. It can only identify what the processes are. To try to make science answer questions of origination is ontologically self-refuting. Conversely, the Bible doesn’t concern itself with evolution or processes. It concerns itself with theological, ontological, and existential questions.

        • tildeb says:

          ” My point here is, science cannot answer these kinds of questions for methodological reasons.”

          No, with Jim you claimed it was because of ontological reasons. Now you saying it’s for epistemological reasons. Get your story straight and stay consistent, Mel. The point here is that if you’re going to apply the methodological restriction for science, then you have to admit the same for religion; you have no clue HOW life originated. In other words, if science can’t produce an ‘explanation’ than religion CERTAINLY cannot. Apples with apples.

          As an aside, we have compelling evidence how inorganic molecules can combine to produce self replicating molecules, the necessary precursor to life itself to begin the evolutionary process. So, yes, in effect a process can come about without any external agency or guided influence. Local units obeying local rules, which we see all the time in nature. In comparison, religion simply produces a POOF! ‘explanation’ that explains nothing. To ask a ‘why’ question here is simply incoherent because you have absolutely nothing to work with to inform any ‘answer’. That’s why I keep saying – because it’s patently true – you’re just making shit up.

        • john zande says:

          To be fair, there *is* an external agent: that giant yellow thing in the sky delivering 438,000 watt-hours of free energy per square foot to the earth every year.

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, with Jim you claimed it was because of ontological reasons.

          Yes, of course, because both of you are making incoherent arguments. Yours’s here is saying that matter came from matter. I will use philosophical terms here to explain why this is incoherent. No matter how far down the essentially ordered chain in a series you go, if the member in the chain is changing states, you’re still left with a distal member of the chain, and if they are not fully actualized, they cannot be the source. That is a logical impossibility because you cannot have a chain that leads to infinite regress (no fully actualized source) in an “essentially ordered” chain, because if you do, the whole chain immediately collapsed in on itself, and nothing exists at all.

          What’s ironic to me about this is that your argument is a “Just So” argument because you have not explained at all why anything continues to exist. You’re just saying POOF! We just exist. THAT is incoherent.

          As an aside, we have compelling evidence how inorganic molecules can combine to produce self replicating molecules, the necessary precursor to life itself to begin the evolutionary process.

          I have no problem with this evidence of a combination of molecules. Again, I have no problem with science. But it still does not address my point about existence at all. If there is a process at all, if the molecules are changing states, then there must be something more fundamental to itself that is putting them in motion (potential to actual). In other words, molecules cannot actualize themselves. And we must continue down the causal chain until we reach the fully actualized source, otherwise we end up with infinite regress.

          That’s why I keep saying – because it’s patently true – you’re just making shit up.

          And this is why you need philosophy and logic, then you could avoid saying such ignorant things. There is a LOT about the world we cannot measure, and probably will never be able to measure. The scientific method cannot help us there. This is why we use mathematics, logic, and philosophy to show their existence. It’s incoherent to say that the molecules that you are saying are combining have no motive force for them to combine in the first place. We come to our conclusions by well-reasoned arguments. To say we just make “shit” up is ignorant hand-waving.

        • Nan says:

          because you have not explained at all why anything continues to exist. Neither have you.

          This is why we use mathematics, logic, and philosophy to show their existence. True enough … but contrary to what you seem to claim, “philosophy” does not equal supernatural processes.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Neither have you.

          That’s absolutely false, Nan. I have explained our position, over and over again. We have 2,500 years of well-articulated deductive reasoning for what would be called “Subsistent Existence Itself,” and I have explained, logically, why material things cannot be the source of existence. You are just dismissing it. On the other hand, I have not heard any rational explanation from anti-theists that doesn’t lead to ontological incoherence.

          True enough … but contrary to what you seem to claim, “philosophy” does not equal supernatural processes.

          Of course, it doesn’t equal supernatural processes. I’m not making that claim. And mathematical theorems and laws of physics don’t equal the macro world, or the quantum world, or multiverses either. It’s simply an abstract way to understand something that we may not be able to observe or test. It’s the only way we can talk about the possibility of something that goes beyond empirical science. And, to be clear, I am only arguing for the “god” of philosophy at this point, not any particular God of religion. My only point here is, it’s incoherent to say that we just exist but there’s no non-contingent motive force at the bottom of it as its source. You simply cannot have such a condition and continue to exist. So pointing to material processes doesn’t answer the question at all. And this is where theology starts.

          The bottom line is, to try to address these things with scientific methodology is a fallacious category mistake because we are not talking about material things in nature. This is why it’s just willful ignorance to say we don’t need philosophy.

        • Nan says:

          You are just dismissing it. That’s absolutely false, Mel. You simply haven’t said anything in all your many explanations that has convinced me. Remember, I was once a believer so it isn’t as if I don’t understand where you’re coming from. But what you have offered thus far is simply unpersuasive.

          The bottom line is (as I’ve said several times before) we simply don’t know. Non-believers feel science (NOT “scientisim”!) provides a stronger rationale. Believers such as yourself feel philosophy provides a more fundamental explanation. But neither side can unconditionally say they have all the answers.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Remember, I was once a believer so it isn’t as if I don’t understand where you’re coming from. But what you have offered thus far is simply unpersuasive.

          I understand you were an evangelical Christian of some form at one time (I did read your book, remember). That doesn’t mean you understand the argument I’m making. I also know from talking to you that you’ve decided not to be persuaded by any argument. But that also has nothing to do with what I’m saying here. I am saying you are dismissing the argument itself. And incoherence is incoherence, regardless of what side we are on in an argument.

          Non-believers feel science (NOT “scientisim”!) provides a stronger rationale.

          A stronger rationale for what? You are giving me your feelings, not a rationale. For example, it doesn’t matter how I feel about 2 + 2 = 4, it’s irrational and illogical for me to dismiss the math and say no one can really know if 2 + 2 = 4. And if you’re saying that you feel that science can only tell us about reality, that IS definitive scientism! That is a worldview, not science. So, you are contradicting yourself here. Of course, I do understand that you don’t want to accept it. And I know I can’t make you accept it, no matter how airtight the argument. I can only give you the logical reasoning behind it. But that’s an emotional decision you’re making, not a logical one.

        • Nan says:

          But that’s an emotional decision you’re making, not a logical one.

          Perhaps. Even so, the many, many arguments you have put forth are very often also tinged with emotion as well. I’m sure you believe you are presenting facts, but your “logic” is often undercut by some rather derogatory remarks about your opponents.

          BTW, just because I used the word “feel” in my statement related to non-believers was not meant to be taken literally. They believe, consider, regard, deem, judge … that science provides a stronger rationale. And while your “logical argument” seems convincing to you, it obviously isn’t to everyone. 🙂

          One last thing … yes, my book covered many areas in which I feel Christianity falls short and/or has been misleading. But please don’t judge me by saying I’m unwilling to accept a convincing argument otherwise. I just haven’t come across any yet.

          Have a good weekend, Mel.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I’m sure you believe you are presenting facts, but your “logic” is often undercut by some rather derogatory remarks about your opponents.

          You mean like when Tildeb dismisses me as an “apologist” or tells me I’m just “making shit up” without any consideration of the argument I’m making? Not one of these people has demonstrated that they even understand the argument (or want to), so why should I take them seriously?

          Yes, I can get tired of the condescending insults that come my way and may occasionally push back, but calling someone’s ontology incoherent, or pointing out their ignorance of my argument, is not a derogatory remark, it’s a “brute fact” (as Tildeb likes to say). It’s based on the logic and reason they constantly accuse us of not having. They accuse us of superstitious nonsense, yet their ontology is total nonsense. And I don’t say these things just to call people names. I am calling them out for their fallacious argumentation.

        • John Branyan says:

          NAN: “Remember, I was once a believer so it isn’t as if I don’t understand where you’re coming from.”

          And I was once a non-believer. Do you think that qualifies me to comment on where Nan is “coming from”?

        • Mel Wild says:

          If Nan understood the argument being made in this post and what I made in these comments, it wouldn’t matter if she was a believer or a non-believer. It’s irrelevant. Like understanding math doesn’t require being a believer, just a rational mind, this argument is simple logic that anyone can understand if they ever decide to. But you can’t make people think, so here we are.

        • tildeb says:

          “(I)t doesn’t matter how I feel about 2 + 2 = 4, it’s irrational and illogical for me to dismiss the math and say no one can really know if 2 + 2 = 4. And if you’re saying that you feel that science can only tell us about reality, that IS definitive scientism!”

          2+2 can equal 5, Mel. It can equal 106. It can equal 3. The formula is based on an axiomatic system whereby the symbolic representation of the numerals represent a known quantity from the same system. When you add 2 apples with 2 apples, the total quantity is 4 apples. The system is apples. Apples exist in reality and have distinctive properties by which we can know something of them. When you add 2 moles of molecules with 2 moles of other molecules, you as hell don’t get 4 moles of molecules. That’s the system of moles interacting and combining and breaking apart other molecules. Molecules exist in reality and have distinctive properties by which can know something of them.

          Using the Christian metric, when you add 1 Christian god with 1 Christian god and 1 Christian god, you don’t get three gods, do you Mel? You get 1! That’s the system of gods. Do gods exist in our reality? Well, we have no access to any distinctive properties that identifies a god and so using logic and rationality, we recognize that we can know absolutely nothing of them.

          So don’t try to use math as if it represents some supportive bedrock of Christian faith that produces knowing about your god. Au contraire. We know – we can know – absolutely nothing about the god you bring into being only in your own mind because you’ve got nothing – absolutely nothing – from reality to back it up. That’s why you continue to peddle substitutes like philosophy and metaphysics and religion that all possess the identical amount of knowledge about your god that has zero distinctive properties: nothing. There’s the connection, Mel. And you know nothing about this god you claim because reality possesses zero evidence for them/it, a condition of brute fact you like to wave away and then replace with name calling those who point this fact out to you – like “extreme fundamentalist anti-theist and anti-philosophy position” and “dogmatic certitude.” You, Mel, are making claims about reality that you claim in is orchestrated and conducted by your god and THEN claiming those who turn to reality to check out your claims are suffering from ‘Scientism’! That’s just more idiotic name calling, another example of you trying to defend your indefensible position by blaming everyone else for its obvious lack of truth merit.

        • john zande says:

          Where’s the LOVE button?

  8. Science, Budhism, Taoism, and Confuscanism are all philosophies, that is constructs that organize thought. It’s interesting that non of them are religions either and it seems that the concept of a separate Supreme Ego called God is not even a worthy consideration of these systems.
    Religions however assume a Supreme a Ego and go to great efforts in order to accommodate one into a theory of everything. For the most part this assumption always proves retarded!

    • Egoism is “an ethical theory that treats self-interest as the foundation of morality.” Jesus Christ is the precise opposite of ego. His “foundation of morality” was to give up His very life in a sacrifice for others.

      • You don’t understand ego then. Jesus Christ is an ego defined by the boundary of his skin! He is a persona and a physical, being subject to the constraints of reality. Jesus Christ referred to himself and by doing this confirms his ego!

  9. Mel,

    Thanks for reminding me, yet again, why I moderate comments on my blog.

  10. “BTW, just because I used the word “feel” in my statement related to non-believers was not meant to be taken literally. They believe, consider, regard, deem, judge … that science provides a stronger rationale.”

    Above, Nan accidentally and perhaps unintentionally hit on the truth of the matter. Non believers “feel” and then they cloak or rationalize what they “feel” behind a mask of “reason or science.” I’m not saying that to pick on atheists, but rather on Christians. Christians have traditionally done a poor job of addressing the emotional, the spiritual, the intuitive. In some circles “feelings” are actually perceived as sin, whereas reason is seen as Holy. Apparently during the fall it was only our hearts that were afflicted and not our brains? Many Christians do equate the heart with the flesh, meaning sinful. Anyway, our apologetics can often present themselves as arrogant right out of the gate because they are based on logic and we ourselves will claim to be in possession of Absolute Truth,all the while completely ignoring the words we are hearing like “I feel” or “I believe.” Christians often falsely believe that the cure for feelings is simply repression and more logic.

    Not Mel of course, Mel is awesome! I am just saying Nan represents something you see frequently, she equates, “I feel” with “I believe,” and has learned, probably from Christians, that feelings are not a valid way of perceiving the world. Therefore her feelings now just try to present themselves as science, reason, logic.

  11. John Branyan says:

    TILDEB: “2+2 can equal 5, Mel. It can equal 106. It can equal 3. The formula is based on an axiomatic system whereby the symbolic representation of the numerals represent a known quantity from the same system.”
    Brilliant!
    This is fabulous!
    When we leave quantities undefined, numbers can mean anything.
    Definitely a powerful argument for something. Keep up the good work!

    • Mel Wild says:

      MATH TEACHER: “Okay class, if Mel gave Sally two sticks of gum, and then gave little Bobby two sticks of gum, how many sticks of gum did Mel give out?”
      TILDEB: “uh, 5! No wait…106!
      NAN: “Well, no one can really know for sure.”

      Welcome to the world of “anything but God” mathematics! 😜👋

      • John Branyan says:

        In Tildeb’s “reality” nothing is certain except that he is correct.

        The guy suggesting that 2+2=106 is also insisting that philosophy is useless. Nan will validate his position by reminding us that, “Everyone has an opinion.” It must be wonderful to live so free of superstition!

      • tildeb says:

        If you understood that numerals simply represent quantity and you grasped that quantity is only defined by stuff from reality, then you might begin to actually learn something useful, Mel. For example, there’s a really good reality-based reason (and not Oogity Boogity!) why time can be quantified to be relevant to compass direction to be relevant to star positions to be relevant to longitude (but not latitude). The connection (I know you’ll have difficulty grasping this) is not godidit or Praise Jesus, and it’s not ‘The Maths’; it is directly inherited from the Babylonian numbering system using Base 60 (whereas we use base 10, another assumption you use to compare quantities of gum in your very silly example). If you use a different Base like Gorp does from planet Zing (he only has three fingers, you see) then as any Zingian child knows, 2+2 obviously equals 11. Duh. How stupid can Earthlings be?

        So there are all kinds of ways to use numerals and the meaning assigned to them is imported by us just like the meaning you assign to this supernatural character you call ‘god’ is imported only by you.

        This message was brought to you by the number 2.

        • Mel Wild says:

          If you understood that the point was never actually about numbers you wouldn’t even be making such inane comments, Tildeb. I’m am SO glad I didn’t waste my time being in this conversation today. But thanks for sharing. It explains a lot why your an anti-theist.

        • tildeb says:

          My point here is that math is not your ally but an argument against your assumptions. True to form, you’ll just wave this inconvenient truth away, too, as if it had to be motivated only by anti-theism rather than what it is, an informed understanding of math that demonstrates why (and don’t you just love the ‘why’ questions, Mel? You say your religion answers these when ‘science’ – like math – fails to do the job you insist it does) you need to reexamine and recalibrate your theistic assumptions. And your philosophical intransigence to do exactly this demonstrates your absolute commitment to the false certainty you maintain that your religious beliefs provide answers when, time after time, they are shown to be in error.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Tildeb, you need to give up this stupid argument. It’s not going well for you. Yes, I know that 2x + 2y = z (which is what you were actually saying, NOT 2 + 2 = 4). Again, THAT was not even the point! The point is that we can know things using math and logic. But you and Zande spent all day on this idiotic argument. You really need to get a life. Your pretentiousness gets annoying.

        • tildeb says:

          No, I’m not saying 2x + 2y = z. Go back and look, Mel. The value for y is x. You can’t even get this right. But this is an excellent example of how you think: you substitute whatever you want in place of what is, and then claim this is what answers the ‘why’ questions, claim this is what the other person is saying, what this god really means. You do it all the time. And that’s why you’re in need of correction.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Haha. How ironic. Look in the mirror when you say that, Tildeb. This is an excellent example of you totally missing the point and substituting your own argument instead. You do THIS all the time. That’s because you don’t want to actually understand what the other person is saying. You just want to ridicule it and mock it. But you did prove the point of my post. So, thanks for that.

          My advice to you is that if you ever want to have credibility with any thinking person, you should probably understand their point before you go off on one of your tangents trying to show how superior you are to everyone else. Again, quite pretentious. The fact that you would actually argue over 2 +2 is just one example of how stupid this is for me even to think you would want an honest conversation. Believe whatever dumb thing you want. You will anyway.

        • John Branyan says:

          “And your philosophical intransigence to do exactly this demonstrates your absolute commitment to the false certainty you maintain that your religious beliefs provide answers when, time after time, they are shown to be in error.”

          Which religious belief was professed with “certainty” and how was it shown to be in error?
          I don’t believe things on blind faith, Dear Leader. You’ll have to prove your statement with evidence.

        • tildeb says:

          Branyan, grow up, grow a pair, and stop lying. You don’t give a rat’s ass about evidence, what’s true, what’s defensible on merit. You just want to be puerile and receive applause for being so because you think it makes you look both witty and funny when it’s shows how immature and intentionally deceitful you are as a person. You’re a piece of disreputable work but make an excellent example of how far down this road of deception and conning your ally Mel is willing to go to avoid having to be held responsible for the truth merit of his own beliefs. There’s your cheering section, the company that keeps you going, and that says something far more damning than anything I can write.

        • John Branyan says:

          I already know how awful I am.
          Just answer my question.

    • Mel Wild says:

      TILDEB: “2+2 can equal 5, Mel. It can equal 106. It can equal 3. The formula is based on an axiomatic system whereby the symbolic representation of the numerals represent a known quantity from the same system.”
      Brilliant!

      And, here, I always thought the answer was 4. My math teacher lied to me. I was indoctrinated! It was all just superstitious nonsense. I’m going to deconvert!

      • tildeb says:

        You could try learning something instead. Perish the dogmatic thought, am I right?

        • John Branyan says:

          If you understood that words simply represent concepts and you grasped that concepts are only defined by stuff from reality, then you might begin to actually learn something useful, Dear Leader.

      • John Branyan says:

        “2 + 2” is undefined, Mel. It’s completely meaningless. Deconversion should open your eyes to this truth.

        • Mel Wild says:

          This whole argument of Tildeb’s and Zande’s is beyond stupid. Actually, I’m dumber for having had to read it. I think I do something more constructive and go stare at a wall for a while. Let’s hope for everyone else’s safety that these clowns don’t work in any area that requires math and logic.

          ““How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?
          How long will mockers delight in mockery
          and fools hate knowledge?” (Prov.1:22)

  12. LOL, just heard a really good sermon about “math” and “facts.” So, “facts.” are not,” truth” As any good detective will tell you,the truth does not lie in the facts and the evidence before you, it lies in how we proceed to interpret and process the facts. You find some guy standing over a body with blood on his hands holding a gun, he MIGHT be the murderer, but he could also just be a concerned neighbor who rushed in to try to help.

    So the moral of the tale was that truth is actually a person, the personhood of Jesus Christ who says, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” And without Him we become fools, seeking the truth in “evidence and facts,” that are going to tell us absolutely nothing about the truth of anything. In fact, often the “facts and evidence” are going to deceive you, and in your hubris you will just send an innocent man to be executed.

    • tildeb says:

      What’s true is entirely subjective, eh? Post modernism writ large. You get to make all of reality fit into whatever beliefs you decide to hold and then award these with not just confidence but certitude. Yes, facts and evidence are of some minor secondary importance to you, which is only right and proper within the framing. How very, very convenient for you.

      • Nope, the truth is objective and lives outside of our own biases and opinions about it.

        “Yes, facts and evidence are of some minor secondary importance to you…”

        You are absolutely right because what we are seeking is actually the truth, not simply the “facts and evidence.” The “facts” will either show a murderer standing over his victim or an innocent man being falsely accused. Which one is truth?

        • tildeb says:

          You present a false dichotomy, as you well know. Facts and evidence lead to the truth when you allow reality to arbitrate their role mitigated by other facts and evidence from reality and not imported as you do with some contra-reality faith-based assumption. That’s why I mentioned confidence and the problem with replacing that sliding scale of confidence with a ridiculous certitude you and other believers hold that are empowered and maintained only by theistic beliefs in contradiction and in spite of compelling evidence and available facts arbitrated by reality to be central to the question at hand. If you were the police officer and waived away the gun and blood and location and said you were certain the suspect wasn’t a suspect at all on the basis you simply believed and were therefore certain he or she wasn’t, then you’re not investigating at all but doing what you do with your religious beliefs: supplanting reality with your beliefs and demanding respect for doing so.

        • John Branyan says:

          Grow a pair, Tildeb.
          I’m always game to do investigating.
          Where is the gun, blood, and location we believers are waving away? Which beliefs are supplanting reality?

        • Mel Wild says:

          IB, don’t confuse Tildeb with the truth. The fact is, he continues to exist but he hand waves away any coherent explanation and keeps mocking what he doesn’t understand. Of course, natural selection will never lead to truth, only survival.

        • John Branyan says:

          Just ask Tildeb for specifics. His criticism is so vague, it could be applied to anyone (except himself).
          An atheist is like a fortune teller. He speaks in generalities hoping you will fill in the details. “Look into the crystal ball…You will meet a new person! You have experienced something recently! You supplant reality with superstition!”

        • Mel Wild says:

          Ask specifics, you mean like asking him to explain his own existence? That is, without resorting to his ontological POOF!isms and dismissive hand-waving. Of course, that’s just my philosophical intransigence. How dare I ask him to actually explain himself cogently… or insist that 2 + 2 = 4, regardless of whether it’s boxes of apples or universes. Who am I to question his superior brilliance. I’m just an ignorant and superstitious Christian stuck in the dark ages.

        • John Branyan says:

          No. I mean ask him to specify which belief you asserted with “certainty” that “has been proven wrong” by “reality”. Don’t write his whiny accusations for him!

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yeah, that specificity would interesting to hear, especially since he asserted it with such certainty, LOL!

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