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June 05, 2014

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So he had a split personality - that's not something you should criticize him for. It's pretty common even today for people to shut down their skeptical, inquiring minds on Sunday mornings when they go to church, and then shift back out of their submissive, credulous mindset on Monday when they get back to their laboratories.

John Moore,

You decidedly suffer from a disconnect between the ideals of science and theology. Each are sources of obvious truths (gravity and compassion). But you dare not have the divine foot in the door. That leads to your erroneous concept of the "split personality," as if a scientist cannot study the universe as a wondrous creation of an omniscient God.

A clue to your confusion is revealed in that phrase you used: "skeptical, inquiring minds." As if to have one you need the other. To have an inquiring mind does not necessitate skepticism. The "aLincolnist" website shows the folly of an unbridled skepticism. However, skepticism is an appropriate scientific tool. If not for that, we would have blind acceptance of any proposed theory. It is sad that we have no "global warming skeptics." These must be deniers, not people conducting legitimate science.

But that is the issue you must raise: science simply cannot touch on God, neither positively nor negatively. It only studies the natural phenomenon for present causation, but must surmise the origins. The scientific method is precise in its procedures. Hypothesis. Experimentation. Review. Construction of theory. Review. Acceptance as scientific law. This procedure will not allow for the disproof of God.

Consider: It would be easy to express the hypothesis. God does not exist. But what experiment would resolve this issue? Climb to the top of a television tower, scream blasphemies at the top of your voice, daring God to strike you dead, then assume His non-existence when you return to the ground quite alive? Assume this is the experiment. The phase of review and re-experimentation would be restrained. Some will discount the whole experiment on the factor of God's compassion, not wishing to harm one so lost in his own confusion. Others would credit this experiment derived from a person with a theological axe to grind and not worth reduplicating. Even those who would conduct this daft experiment would wish safeguards to perform the experiment safely, thus negating the point of the experiment.

As bizarre as this analogy would be, this is how I view those who feel that science is the domain of the atheistic worldview. It is not science, but an abuse of science, it is co-opting science to advance agenda, not legitimate science. Understand this, and you begin to understand Thomson and all the other scientists which Melinda has been featuring.

I have been enjoying this series of quotes from prominent scientists expressing their belief in God. Keep up the good work!

To DGFischer, excellent response.

Agree.

Nice post DGF.

Of course, there's an obvious answer to the atheist who says "If God exists, let Him strike me dead!"

He already has.

"He is buried at Westminster Abbey near John Newton"

Isaac Newton? I dont think John Newton is interred in Westminster Abbey. I could walk down the road and have a look......

"Of course, there's an obvious answer to the atheist who says "If God exists, let Him strike me dead!""

WL - can you explain this to me - I dont understand?

Good catch, TGS! Correction made.

TGS-

Are you dying? I am. Life is a sexually transmitted terminal disease.

God has striken us all dead with these words:

By the sweat of your face
You will eat bread,
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return.
Since this thread is about Lord Kelvin, it is appropriate to note that God has also declared the death penalty on all the universe. Kelvin expressed this sentence as follows:
It is impossible, by means of inanimate material agency, to derive mechanical effect from any portion of matter by cooling it below the temperature of the coldest of the surrounding objects.
Which is a statement of the second law of thermodynamics...the universal wages of Sin.

So the answer to the atheist is that God does exist and has striken him dead, even before he prayed that it should be done.

TGS-

Maybe you were wondering why I made the original comment?

It was in response to this from DGF's post:

It would be easy to express the hypothesis. God does not exist. But what experiment would resolve this issue? Climb to the top of a television tower, scream blasphemies at the top of your voice, daring God to strike you dead, then assume His non-existence when you return to the ground quite alive?

"We examined whether atheists exhibit evidence of emotional arousal when they dare God to cause harm to themselves and their intimates"....

"The atheists did not think the God statements were as unpleasant as the religious participants did in their verbal reports."

However, the skin conductance level showed that asking God to do awful things was equally stressful to atheists as it was to religious people and that atheists were more affected by God statements....."

"The results imply that atheists' attitudes toward God are ambivalent in that their explicit beliefs conflict with their affective response."

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/.UoZk3WQ4VgI

Why would asking someone you don't believe exists have any stressful response?

Perhaps they should have a control question and have them call elmo the puppet to strike them down.

It seems the link failed when I tested it, here's another try. You can also copy and paste an excerpt from one of the paragraphs into a search engine and view the experiment.


http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10508619.2013.771991

I know it would take a great deal of blind faith to be an atheist.

Wisdom Lover

Thanks for that - I get what you mean.

dave

Its takes no faith to be an atheist. Thats the point. Im unconvinced by any of the arguments for God's existence so I lack the belief in God that apparently you have. That's it.

Re:The Great Suprendo.

Unless you know all that there is to know, perfectly, you cannot deny God's existence. To do so requires blind faith (not to be confused with biblical faith).

You have to choose to believe there is no God just as some choose to believe there is a God.

dave

"Unless you know all that there is to know, perfectly, you cannot deny God's existence"

How do you work that out? I'm unconvinced by the arguments put forward for the existence of deity(ies). That's it. The existence of deity(ies) is not axiomatic.

"You have to choose to believe there is no God just as some choose to believe there is a God"

But thats the point. I dont positively believe there is no god. That is an indefensible position to hold. How could I justify such a claim? No - instead, I lack the belief you have.

Mine is NOT a faith based position. I lack belief in Gods - Gods dont feature among the things I believe exist. Your extraordinary resistance to accept this view of 'atheism' is merely an attempt to foist a faith based position on me. Probably you recognise the weakness of a faith based position so feel it better to argue that than to face up to the burden of proof that you give yourself when you insist others should believe as you do.

Because its funny isnt it - without evidence from Gods themselves, its only the claims of human beings that insist I take the existence of God seriously.

Re: The Great Suprendo,

It works like this. I too would not want to believe God exists unless I had faith.

I would ponder the world around me and the universe, and I would shudder to think it was merely an effect of a far greater cause, especially if it was an intelligent cause that I might have to answer to.

I would take great strides to absolve myself of this fear and to make the effect the cause of its self, as atheists are prone to do.

Always amusing to see the fairytale believers quoting old scientists in a desperate attempt to lend their delusions credibility.

Lord Kelvin actually demonstrates his own departure from the scientific method when he states "We only know God in His works, but we are forced by science to admit and to believe with absolute confidence in a Directive Power – in an influence other than physical, or dynamical, or electrical forces".

We are forced by science?? Upon what proven hypothesis? Upon what empirical evidence does he base his argument of a directive power?

The undeniable historic fact is that in 2000+ years no evidenciary proof of the existance of any God (defined here as an independent intelligent directive force which created the universe and which continues to act supernaturally upon and within it) has been produced by anyone, scientist or not.

Writings by ancient Jews (or more accurately Romans), don't count as evidence any more than L. Ron Hubbard's writings do.

Hallucinations of individuals don't count as I can get those by taking drugs or overheating my brain (a practice of Native Americans).

So I'm afraid the mental delusions of Lord Kelvin don't lend any more scientific credibility to your fairy tales than the argument that science can't prove a supernatural negative (funny that).

Re: Shawn_1370,

How can you say Lord Kelvin had mental delusions? Are you a psychiatrist? Were you there to check him out personally? Of course not. You choose to believe he was crazy just as some choose to believe God created and governs the universe. It's all in how you interpret or ignore the evidence.

TGS (and indirectly Shawn, who makes the same point),

>> Because its funny isnt it - without evidence from Gods themselves, its only the claims of human beings that insist I take the existence of God seriously.

They're called theophanies. All religious systems that promote revealed truth postulate such. Science cannot touch on matters of history, and cannot begin to offer a systematic approach to discounting them, other than they are anomalies. Granted some should be dismissed; that mention of Europa's kidnapping demonstrates a god in human-resemblance, and only explains the naming of a continent. But each and every theophany must be individually examined and dismissed. And this isn't the province of science, but of philosophy. If you're not given to acts of divine epiphanies, they aren't accepted. But such can't be made on scientific grounds. You could write off anyone who experiences a theophany as a mite dingy, but one true theophany (and one only)destroys such prejudices.

The problem, TGS, is that such occurrences happen to other people, and some have problems with this. It reminds me of a brief story drafted by one of my favorite writers of children's literature, Betsy Byars. She imagines a situation where an old man invents a flying machine which you strap on the back. He walks to the nearest air base to explain his invention. The general there dismisses him by showing him some massive flying machines, jets and helicopters. The old man thanks him for his patience, and activates his machine and flies off. The general and his staff scream in vain for him to return, for they now realize there was a true sense of flight, and the old man had it all along.

We wrap ourselves with our evidences and patterns of thought to isolate ourselves to what could be the most real of all. Theophanies directly oppose your chief objection, and declaring that science allows us to do away with God reduces the scientific disciplines to some foolish game of Clue (Wilhelm Roentgen, in the conservatory, with a Bunsen burner). Chesterton had said the matter is whether we wish to use science as tool or toy. If tool, it shall accomplish plenty. If toy, it will too soon be wrecked and tossed.

"Science cannot touch on matters of history"

Yes it can. It does the whole time.

"Science cannot touch on matters of history"

Yes it can. It does the whole time.

How?

For example: The Battle of Waterloo. Randomly selected historical event.

I am asking out of curiosity, so please do not interpret this post as rude. And I thank you for your response.

@DGFischer even though I didn't post the statement about science and history, I'll reply to your question in the same spirit it was raised.

Your statement appears to postulate history and theophanies as essentially the same condition/experience.

I propose that history (meaning to me, physical events that occurred at any time prior to the present) is a much wider (but I agree, less than purely objective or 'scientific') description of everything and anything occurring in the universe, whether any individual witnesses or accepts it as occurring or not. Whereas a theophany is a very specific event (so specific that they occur once every 2000 years or so) generally witnessed or experienced by a single individual or very small group (of followers).

Using your example of the 'scientific' evidence for the Battle of Waterloo; we have
i) the event is alleged to have involved directly over 100,000 soldiers. Add their families, neighbours, non-fighting superiors and friends and you get more than a million.
ii) the event does not posit nor require acceptance of any supernatural cause or effect.
iii) to my knowledge the event has never been denied by any significant person or group.
iv) whilst I don't know personally, it is entirely probable that the decendents of participants in the battle have an unbroken oral and/or documentary record.
v) again, not knowing personally, but the results of the battle itself on the subsequent geopolitical timeline provide very convincing evidence of it having occurred (i.e. they don't speak French in England).

Is it possible that it never occurred? To the same level of evidenciary proof that it is also possible for the Americans not to have landed on the moon in 1969, yes.

Now let's look at a theophany;
i) the event allegedly witnessed by no more than a few people, usually just one.
ii) the event is entirely dependent on acceptance of supernatural causes.
iii) millions of people, including some of the most intelligent on earth, openly refuse to accept it occurred.
iv) No oral or documented evidence from direct descendants, and usually no evidence of any direct descendants.
v)No subsequent changes in geo-politics from the event itself e.g. no records of a God wiping out 100,000+ Egyptians. However the historical records do evidence growth of subsequent 'organisations' promoting (2nd, 3rd, etc, hand) allegations of the event, resulting in them being assumed as part of the State apparatus for control of the underclass and imperialist expansion across the globe.

Is it possible for a theophany to have occurred? To the same evidenciary extent that an individual will accept that the Greek, Roman and Egyptian gods (and every other God) also exist and their theophanies also occurred, yes.

I hope I have sufficiently illustrated the difference between history and theophanies such that at a minimum you can agree they are vastly different.

Shawn,

Pleasantly surprised at your response. I understand the distinctions you make between history and theophany, and that the theophany could be a given historical event (if the nature of its significance on following generations may still be a point of dispute). It was a well thought out post. It did straddle two different points in the flow of the discussion. I noted the idea of theophany in response to TGS's assertion: Because its funny isnt it - without evidence from Gods themselves, its only the claims of human beings that insist I take the existence of God seriously. The interplay of history and science was the second issue. That was answered in your Battle of Waterloo post.

You may have revealed the key to this disagreement when you raised the thought of "the 'scientific' evidence." The phrasing struck me as odd. Science is all about the methodology of observation and hypothesis, the intelligent guess that prompts research and experimentation. The discipline of the historian is more given to the "evidence," be that evidence the writings of contemporaries of the historical era, archaeological digs, and the development of a philosophy of history. We have full expectations of the "evidence" and the sifting of what is fact and legendary, to arrive at the appreciation of the culture that lacked our present technologies, but thrived in their own fashion. But this pursues historical discipline, not scientific, and the philosophy we accept allows us to push for our own filters. My granting of supernatural possibilities runs afoul of naturalistic determinism, perhaps the naturalistic determinism you embrace.

As to your last point ...

>> Is it possible for a theophany to have occurred? To the same evidenciary extent that an individual will accept that the Greek, Roman and Egyptian gods (and every other God) also exist and their theophanies also occurred, yes.

If this be so, then it would be necessary to consider the distinct between true theophanies from false (imaginary) theophanies. And the degree of importance in the regarding or dismissal of such genuine manifestations. This would be going waaaay beyond the scope of this present post, but would look forward to other opportunities for the feasibility of such discussion. I would be content at this time to close my comments on this line and offer you or TGS a final contribution.

A pleasant day then.

to consider the distinct between true theophanies ...

OOOPS! Make the word "distinction." It's nice to know that my mis-usages are correctly spelled.

Thanks for the reasoned responses.

I'll close with a point which I don't think I emphasised enough previously.

Historical recording or 'accepted history' is somewhat less independent and objective than the scientific method, not least because historical research and/or recording is so dependent on the obvserver's skills rather than a 'cold' reliance on data.

To illustrate, if all historical records consisted only of unedited video/audio recordings of events, I'd argue we would have a much more objective picture of what occurred.

I appreciate your admission that any thiest must be distinguishing between 'true' and 'false' theophanies.

The question indeed is how?

Wow, if Lord Kelvin says it, then it must be true! I wonder what other insightful things he said. Oh, here's one:

"There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now, All that remains is more and more precise measurement."

He must be right about this, too… Oh wait, this was before General Relativity and the Quantum Mechanics revolution, which still shows no sign of abating.

The quote attributed to Lord Kelvin by Buck Hank is in dispute. Lord Kelvin probably never said any such thing.

Albert A. Michaelson did say something similar once in a talk that also included a discussion of Lord Kelvin. That might be the origin of the mis-attribution.

Ironically, Michaelson co-created the famous Michaelson-Morley experiment, which disproved the prevalent ether-theory of light transmission. Along with the Ives-Stilwell and Kennedy-Thordike experiments, it forms the experimental foundation of the special theory of relativity.

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