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July 09, 2013


It's unfortunate, however, that Lewis had no problem regarding Genesis, Job, and Jonah as myth. Which are myth and which are not? How fortunate to have an intellect like Lewis to show us the way. :-|

"The literary form is detailed in a way legend is not. For example, John 21 mentions 153 fish caught."

So when, centuries earlier, another Eastern Mediterranean guru also made a miraculous prediction regarding a catch a fish, and it turns out to be the exact same number of fish, we should likewise conclude that this was not a legend, no how, no way but rather cameras-rolling journalism documenting the life of Pythagoras?

"Jack" makes a great point (as he is wont to do). I would expect nothing less than such typical brilliance from someone who took the highest honours in classical studies and held positions as Fellow at Oxford and Chair at Cambridge. I hope his detractors would at least meet him at that level of intellectual honesty and not descend into mere sarcasm, but then again perhaps I expect too much...

It's not a matter of intellectual honesty - which I'm certain he maintained at all times - but of lack of faith, and unbelief. Both Jesus and Paul treated Genesis as history. I suppose if they'd had Lewis's academic training, they would have realized their error?

Legends are written down long after events they allegedly recount
Not necessarily. Birthers. Truthers.
Events like Jesus feeding thousands would have been contradicted by eyewitnesses still living.
And who says they weren't?
The Gospels include counter-productive details
Maybe they weren't counter-productive (embarrassing) at the time or to the person who added them - his purpose wasn't your purpose. Maybe he goofed.
The literary form is detailed in a way legend is not.
So, all we need to do to a legend to make it true is add details. I see.

What's wrong with Genesis as history? Beats abiogenesis, evolution by purely random mutation, and the non-rational origin of the underlying genetic programming language needed to encode the assembly of highly sophisticated biological systems.

If Jesus took Genesis as history, I'll stick with him on this one.

Staircasegohst - Can you provide me a reference to the english translation of Porphyry's aretalogy of Pythagoras. The one I have by Ken Guthrie in 1920 says:

"While at the Olympic games, he was discoursing with his friends about auguries, omens, and divine signs, and how men of true piety do receive messages from the Gods. Flying over his head was an eagle, who stopped, and came down to Pythagoras. After stroking her awhile, he released her. Meeting with some fishermen who were drawing in their nets heavily laden with fishes from the deep, he predicted the exact number of fish they had caught. The fishermen said that if his estimate was accurate they would do whatever he commanded. They counted them accurately, and found the number correct. He then bade them return the fish alive into the sea; and, what is more wonderful, not one of them died, although they had been out of the water a considerable time. He paid them and left."

As you can see there is no mention of the exact number. Could it be that this appears in some version and not in others?

I think your point may be that simply including a number in an account does not make it an eyewitness account. However, I think you make too much of this one fact. The case is a cumulative one. Not one that stands or falls on 1 leg.


"What's wrong with Genesis as history?"

The fact that it doesn't match the evidence we have at our disposal.

"evolution by purely random mutation" that's only a small part of the theory; the word 'random' has a specific meaning here, there are other factors at play and selection provides a non-random element.

"non-rational origin of the underlying genetic programming language"

What do you mean by 'non-rational'?


The fact that it doesn't match the evidence we have at our disposal.

Please interpret the evidence we have at our disposal, Mike. If you could please elaborate on how you interpret the evidence regarding our existence vs. nonexistence.

We could clear this up quick.

By "non-rational" I mean that, according to atheists, there is no mind (creator) behind the universe and therefore behind the genetic programming language that makes us. This point is only true for atheists.

As for the evidence at our disposal, all evidence is subject to interpretation and to the peril of consensus science and groupthink (as Galileo and other scientists quickly found out).


The account in Genesis in no way matches the current models proposed in Cosmology regarding the origins of the Universe. If you want to get into a discussion about 'naturalistic lenses' I suggest you read my comments on the inoculation thread about the philosophical basis for science. If you want to take genesis literally then that's up to you, but in doing so you contradict physics.


It appears you want science to include some supernatural element where it acknowledges the role of your alleged creator. How is it supposed to do that? In looking at biology, there is no sign of a creator, unless you philosophically want to impose one. But then of course, you've stopped doing science.

Which way do you want it?



I don't know if you understood my question, so I’ll ask again.

Please interpret the evidence we have at our disposal, and how you interpret that evidence regarding our existence vs. nonexistence.


I dont think this is the place to be discussing all the evidence surrounding the current views on Cosmology.

So no, I don't understand your question.

Why do you think the Genesis account is accurate and the current views of Cosmology are wrong?



You tell me why you don’t think answering my question is appropriate. Then you tell me you don’t understand my question. Odd. So let me clarify.

You said that the cosmological argument for the existence of God has been “thoroughly debunked”. This would be news to many. You went on to list all the arguments that you could think of that have been "debunked" and then you topped it off with “have I missed any?”

Well, you’re still stuck at #1 as far as I can tell. I’m just asking for some clarification about this so-called “debunking”. More specifically existence vs. nonexistence. Let's have it.

You also wrote:

I make no claims about what science can discover. Equally I make no claims about "the possibility of the supernatural"! If I were to do so, I would be doing philosophy.

Ah, yes. The avoidance of “doing philosophy” is always tricky isn’t it? So we can conclude that these arguments for God, (or let’s just narrow it to ‘creation’ by a creator) specifically the cosmological argument, is refuted based on what? Your scientific evidence of His nonexistence? What does this evidence look like that also tells us the reason(s) or cause(s) for our existence vs. our nonexistence?

I got my hopes up thinking you were going to break major news on the str website. I would hate for you to dip into philosophy to do so though.


The KCA.........ok

Read this: http://www.paul-almond.com/DoubleStandardsCauses.pdf

But I'll paraphrase:

Premise 1 - "Everything that begins to exist has a cause"
Name one thing that began to exist. If you refer to yourself or some other object, you fail. You and every other object in the observable universe is merely a rearrangement of other stuff - creation ex materia. So premise 1 is not true before I've even got to the issue of causality, which given an understanding of quantum physics and quantum electrodynamics demonstrates that actually, they are some things and events which are uncaused.
Premise 2 - "The universe began to exist" - the simple answer to this is - errr, that's not really our understanding. WLC constantly refers to the Big bang as the creation event but the physics doesnt say that - the big bang is actually a rapid expansion of space time from a singularity. Then there are also problems with what one means by Universe - its thought that our local universe expanded from the singularity. So premise 2 fails also.

I dont need to go any further than that. The premises cannot be demonstrated to be true and logically I just need to show that they may not be true for the argument to fall apart. ACtually physics drives a truck through them, but WLC doesnt care much for that.

So no, I'm not stuck at #1.

As for not doing philosophy - I dont need to do any to do science. Philosophy is useful as far as ethics goes perhaps. Avoiding doing Philosophy is very easy - I just dont generally do it. However, you are forcing me into an exception.

Science provides no evidence for a creator because it cant - it doesnt have the tools. Arguments for God involving science cannot work. If you claim that God can interfere in the workings of the universe then you step on the toes of science - and science can in principle detect your God. If you think that is the case, great, but then you have to explain a patch whereby science works despite the arbitrary and random nature of God's intervention and his ability to disguise this astonishingly well. Because let's be clear - millenia of claims of natural events as the intervention of gods (so called 'Acts of God' are the most commonly cited) when investigated actually turn out to be entirely natural.

There isnt major news to break because the above is entirely uncontroversial. It just seems not to have reached Christian Fundamentalists, particularly in the United States and Africa. Or islamists. Meanwhile the Church of England has no such issues. *shrugs*

As far as reasons for our existence - who knows? Why does there have to be one? Just because you and few others think there has to be dont make it so.

Just to be clear - God could well exist in some sense that I cannot conceive of - in the same way that its difficult to conceive for e.g. of how photons are both particles and waves (I find that amazing every time I think of it). Im an atheist because no evidence for God has been presented thus far. Science isnt going to say anything on the matter, so stop looking there. Bashing evolution and picking over cosmology isnt going to help you - it hasnt thus far. So stick to philosophy/theology - disciplines that deal with reality.

Does that answer your question?


There’s a lot that needs addressing here. I’ll start with the initial singularity.

Name one thing that began to exist.

This initial singularity simply existed, correct? It just existed and brought forth the universe with space and time – totally uncaused. If you want to say the singularity is the cause, what law governed it? As far as I can tell, there wasn’t one. So there’s that. You’ve taken God (a cause) off the table from the start. The origin of the singularity – that’s the question. It’s the existence vs. nonexistence question that I’ve asked a couple of times already.

Just to be clear - God could well exist in some sense that I cannot conceive of

No doubt. Obviously, you think your view is more plausible than the theistic explanation of a Creator or you wouldn’t hold it. I find that view untenable given the problems above, but we know it’s obviously not an uncommon view. I appreciate when atheists come out say, “Yes, the universe (singularity) came from absolutely nothing”. It’s rare that you get such an upfront admission, however. Not without a little blushing at least.

There isnt major news to break because the above is entirely uncontroversial.

I had to smile at that. And just to note, please do not accuse me of “bashing evolution” when I’ve done no such thing. Maybe you wish I had.


"This initial singularity simply existed, correct?"

We don't know. You are tinkering around the edges when you get to this stage - the 1st premise has already been shown to be incorrect.

"I appreciate when atheists come out say, “Yes, the universe (singularity) came from absolutely nothing”" - Any atheists that do that are talking overly simplistically. No-one knows where the singularity came from. The physics only reaches back to the point just after the Planck time and the singularity is a construct.

So at least you agree - albeit implictly - that the KCA doesnt hold.

If the origin of the singularity is the issue for you and you want to invoke God, then ok. Of course you then assign God a property to grant him a status outside of premise 1 and that is special pleading. Why invoke a God in the first place then? Its better to just say "We dont know" what the origin of the singularity was, if it even had one.

Im glad you havent been bashing evolution. But this site has and Francesco did - I wasnt referring to you but to the naive religious in general.

And what I stated isnt controversial in the slightest.


We don't know.

But something is either caused or uncaused. You don’t see any evidence for a cause, so you’re left with the initial singularity from nothing. Then again, you don't see any evidence that the initial singularity is uncaused (from nothing). You say you have an absence of evidence so I could charge you with (the reverse of what you charged theists with earlier) atheism of the gaps (I assume you’re an atheist. My apologies if you’re not).

I don’t want to go around in circles with you - I don’t see anything left to explore.

I just wish you had used more judgment about the comments you threw around in this thread and the previous one. Using terminology like “thoroughly debunked” or “dogma” or “this stuff is uncontroversial” (as if it hasn’t been the subject of debates for great minds for ages!) or the silliness of demanding scientific evidence be submitted for supernatural events, etc. This is especially the case when the end of the road for you is an “I don’t know”. Some of us just choose to go another way based on the evidence we have access to (on multiple fronts).

Finally you write:

So at least you agree - albeit implictly - that the KCA doesnt hold.

Now I question your ability to read critically. I did not agree to anything of the sort.


The singularity is a construct based on General relativity. However, there's is no reason whatsoever to believe in General Relativity in that regime because it conflicts with Quantum mechanics. And we think Quantum mechanics applies.

So therefore there is a conflict. We do not know what happened prior to the planck time - and even the hypotheses proposed after that are hotly contested (pardon the pun)

So therefore you are arguing about the causation or not of something we dont know actually exists.

So therefore asserting that "the universe began to exist" is stuffed full of problems as is "everything that begins tom exist has a cause"

The difficulty with your allegation of "atheism of the gaps" is amusing. You know how this works - you are asserting that God exists, so you need to provide the arguments.

"silliness of demanding scientific evidence be submitted for supernatural events" - when did I do this? If you are asserting that something supernatural is having an effect in observational reality, that something effectively ceases to be supernatural; it's subject to examination by science. That's the problem with asserting an interventionist deity(ies). And the track record of claiming that event X was down to a god(s) in history is not good, as I noted. I note all the miracle healing claims - and that there arent many cases of limbs growing back after amputation.

I asked this before. An event Y happens. How can you ever tell if the cause of that event is 'supernatural' or not?

The answer is - you cant. Lets assume God exsists. It appears he likes the universe to be orderly - we have discovered 'laws' which are our descriptions of Gods rules for how the universe seems to run. We think these laws are good but we cant ever know if they are congruous - or even related to - Gods Rules. God does intervene in the universe but does so in such a way that we wont ever detect - its too subtle or hidden in some way we cant conceive of - god works in mysterious ways. He makes it all just look, well, natural. So, as it seems, we cant ever detect Gods intervention, whats the point of ever asserting one? Thus science cracks on and doesnt comment of the existence of god.

"Now I question your ability to read critically"

This is ironic. You are guilty of the crime you are trying to foist on me - this is precisely why I wrote the words (which you quote) 'albeit implicitly'

So the KCA has been thoroughly debunked - the premises are clearly false. This sort of thing isnt up to a public vote. The facts are clear and Craig is wrong. If it was clear that he was right we'd all be deists by now (which is as far as the KCA can logically stretch even if it were correct)

I like Sean Carroll's response to the KCA premise that "Everything that began to exist had a cause."

"Maybe it didn't!" :)

The KCA is an attempt by theists to construct an argument for creation that excludes a first cause for a god because god, by definition, never had a beginning. Well, that's nonsensical because (A) there is no evidence that god even exists and (B) even if he does, there is no reason to believe he never had a beginning. Maybe there's a bigger god that made him. Or maybe the universe just always existed in some form we don't yet understand. One thing is certain, the universe exists and can be detected by our own senses. God cannot.

e.g. of how photons are both particles and waves (I find that amazing every time I think of it).

Not quite true. Photons are light-waves manifesting themselves as particles. Light is not a particle; it is an electromagentic wave. It often behaves like a particle, but it is absolutely a wave. It's still bizarre that a wave can behave like a particle under certain conditions, but it't not as bizarre as saying that light is both a particle and a wave.

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