Why Some Religions Use Books (Ingenium and Uccisore)


I won’t live long enough to concern myself with ‘conclusively’, we’re talking about several-thousand year old history here, not geometry after all. We just have to accept that whatever we believe on this issue, there’s going to be zillions of intelligent people who disagree with us, that’s just the nature of the subject matter. However, I am curious about this:

How would one go about doing this, if one were going to try? How would one know they had succeeded?  Suppose somebody out there [i]had[/i] proven that God was involved in historical events, or at least outlined a factual basis for such belief. How would we know they had done so? 

That would be a rather elementary mistake for me to make. :slight_smile: Sure, there’s other explanations for why the Church exists. All I’ve been trying to say so far is that the existence of the Church is evidence that God exists (The Church and God have that special relationship with each other that makes one evidence for the other, however you describe that relationship), and that that evidence is stronger than the evidence provided by philosophical theistic arguments. I think I went out of my way to say that the evidence wasn’t conclusive. That’s a small concession for me to make, since empirical evidence never is conclusive. For any body of empirical evidence, there is an infinite number of states of affairs that satisfies is, so we’d never reach a point where there aren’t ‘other explanations’, I know this. Keep in mind, I’m not defending theism in this argument so much as I’m defending the theists’ reliance on books, against the claim that adequate knowledge of God is ‘all around us’.

I don’t mean to assert anything like that.

Are you saying that people of the modern day are much less likely to by into mystical nonsense than people of the past?

I really don’t see how the violence of religious groups through the ages relates to what we’ve been talking about, perhaps that’s a soapbox for yet another thread? I don’t know that I’d join you in that one, though.

Well, the most important bits, the Gospels and Paul's letters were written extremely close to the events in question- most likely within the lifetimes of eye witnesses, according to the best conclusions of the Historical Jesus thread.  If that doesn't sound 'extremely close' to you, compare it to other works of ancient history.  The contradictions, errors, and controversies you say exist in the New Testament are at all extraordinary compared to other rare occaisions when we get multiple sources talking about the same event from that long ago, either.  
 You can criticize the New Testament on the grounds that it's not perfect enough to consider divine, if you want, but if you criticize against the standard set by other historical works of the time, I think the Christians would be happier with the results than the skeptics. 

I think that’s a good place to stop for now on the whole ‘history’ thing.

OK. How did Dawkins calculate this probability? Was it around .000001, or something less than that? Or is there no number, and this is really just an expression of the feeling Dawkins gets when he reflects on theism? I think there’s a lot of feelings being tossed around here, and still I’m no closer to an answer:

If I did prove God existed, how would I know I had done so? After all, I already believe in Him.


Why is it that I often end up responding to theists by starting with their last sentences?

The ‘belief’ business is what I’m addressing with you in the first place. I mean, there’s not much point in having an exchange if you’re stuck there right at the onset. I end up with an unwanted advantage because, statistically speaking, I’m already ahead by neither believing nor disbelieving. Have you never, ever, wondered what that would be like? You have what I (and Sam Harris) believe to be the unenviable position: “To believe that God exists is to believe that I stand in some relation to his existence such that his existence is itself the reason for my belief.” (his emphasis)

As a believer of a particular idea, you’ve made the error up front of making up, or buying into, a story before the available evidence led you to a conclusion. So you are where you are, and reluctant to leave it. Therefore, the chances of you proving what really ‘is’ are infinitesimal (although I’m an optimist, so will leave you wiggle room, lol). But let’s say it’s like the monkey sitting at the keyboard long enough to come up with some Beethoven. You strike gold and, lo and behold, you’ve identified what “is”. The tragedy is that you’d likely look right over it – as the monkey would be unable to distinguish between his key banging and the Beethoven – because of your delusional state.

The point is that ‘believers’ err by making up stories without corroborating evidence. So they back themselves into the corner of having to prove that what they’ve made up is true, rather than the logical way of starting with the available evidence. And they still go through each day in this suffering world, holding onto these stories handed down over all these millennia…and I can only wonder why in the world it doesn’t occur to more of them, “Hey, maybe it’s that I keep holding onto STORIES that’s the problem here!”

And non-believers aren’t off the hook. They assume that there must be something to disbelieve so, while at least they have potential to take a fork in the road, they’re still making a fundamental error. And, by doing this, they only reinforce this stuff for those who want to hold onto it.

Dawkins gives proper credit to Darwin when it comes to the improbability thing. It’s not expressed in a percentage; instead it’s a questioning of the probability of something that is irreducibly complex. Darwin said if such a thing could be found, then that would blow his whole theory. Dawkins merely notes that no such thing has been found. Theists reside in a safety zone that’s the gap between what we know now and what we’ll know in the future that proves or disproves God. But that gap is getting smaller and smaller, faster and faster. Anxiety producing for some, no doubt.

No, I’m saying they ought to be ashamed of buying into it, considering that so many more of them (at least in developed countries) could avail themselves of what’s been learned through science and reason now than in the fifteenth century. And I’m not discounting that there’s a human need to find meaning in existence, something in our natures that causes us to seek answers. I just don’t get how there’s such a willingness to designate what are simply unproven ideas and myth as ‘sacred’ and therefore somehow immune from logical or scientific inquiry.

Or, rather than focusing on the subjects of disagreement, we could focus on the reason for the disagreement in the first place.

Well, with all due respect, I describe the relationship as you characterized it in this quote as a presumptive fallacy of logic, a perfectly self-contained (or should I say “constrained”) little circle.

Perhaps, but I’d keep an eye out for bias. :wink:

Darwin, last time I checked, was providing a theory to account for the origins of living, finite things - the sort of thing we encounter everyday on planet Earth. Darwin was not laying down some sort of theory that applies to everything, including God (if He exists) - indeed, the theory of evolution had nothing to do with Darwin losing his faith (it was more the problem of evil - he lost it after his daughter died).

I don’t see any need to apply evolutionary theory to God himself. Why must I find something “irreducibly complex” in order to prove that God exists. I have no idea how complex God is, if He exists - this point seems quite superfluous.

I’ve a copy of The God Delusion here, can you point me to the page you’re working from, so we can clear up what Dawkins is saying. And then, perhaps, we can discuss whether or not it is true.


I do that a lot do when I respond to folks in general, I think because it’s freshest in my mind.

Yes, you’re right, and a little later on I’m going to tell you that there’s certain things I won’t discuss with you. The truth of theism is not one of them, though. Where I’m stuck is in a slightly different spot.

That you consider skepticism and lack of firm belief one way or the other an advantage is a product of what I consider to be a flawed (but extremely popular) approach to espistemology. Basically, I consider skepticism to be a defect that philosophy aims to cure.  But we get off track. Still, a general sense on your part that my epistemology is not like what you'd expect will help us. 

Wondered what it would be like to doubt the existence of God? To have no certain position one way or the other whether He exists or not? I don’t have to wonder, I know what it’s like.

Perhaps. But I was four years old when I came to this belief, after all.  What do expect of a toddler?  I've re-examined by beliefs plenty of times since then, and 99% of atheistic arguments are horrible, just horrible.  They consist primarily of the Problem of Evil, which completely ignores all theology which is itself an answer to this question (which is not the atheists fault, most theists completely ignore theology when doing apologetics), and various evidential demands which amount to little more than "If you can't convince me, you aren't allowed to believe it either".  

All that, and still, you didn’t answer my question; If I successfully proved that God exists, how would I know I had done so? It’s a very important question.
You do realize that I actually believe the tenets of Christianity, and as such, most of this here and what follows this here could be considered extremely insulting, yes? I don’t know if you’re used to talking to atheists only, and so taking this tone about theism is second nature to you, or if you’re used to talking to non-philosophical theists who are overwhelmed by your arguments, but I’m neither one of those. You aren’t striking the right tone for this to be a productive conversation.
Case in point: I’m not delusional, or in any way a monkey typing at a keyboard. As you may come to discover, I’m actually pretty smart. If you stood the average person up in front of me, I could probably embarrass them by knowing more about their favorite subject than they do, and defeat them in a debate with no advanced preparation or foreknowledge of the position I’ll be defending (admittedly, my speling needs a little work, though). I don’t say this to brag, but to make you aware of something- assuming that I am some delusional fool who ought to be embarrased by what he believes is baggage that you have brought to this conversation, because you have that misconception. It’s a very simple misconception to cure about we theists, and since you still cling to it, it makes me wonder if it’s due to some level of willful ignorance like what you imply I’m subject to. I can’t know such a thing about you, of course, and it would be reckless of me to make claims about the mental workings of a stranger I’ve barely talked to, on the internet no less.
Speculation aside, you’ve now been exposed to someone who should shatter those apparent misconceptions, and you’ll either have to procede like the catechism teacher who reads a Dawkins dust-jacket and blanks it out with a Hail Mary, or you can procede like a philosopher and accept this new data and adjust. However you procede, you will most likely have to do it with someone else, because:

As people advance in philosophy or any field, their area of focus must narrow. There are many evolutionary biologists who would have no interest, I assume, in explaining to the creationist why fish fossils on a mountain top aren’t evidence of The Great Flood. Likewise, while I am interested in defending theism, I am not interested in defending the claim that I should be ashamed of myself for believing it, or that it is trivially false. That’s the sort of position that concerned me when I was 17 years old or so. I’ve since solved that to my satisfaction, and people who are still concerned with those questions probably have little to say that would interest me, or I them.

All evidential arguments are guilty of logical fallacy, the fallacy of induction to be specific. Demanding evidence, then accusing the presented evidence of fallacy is one of the common mistakes that make skeptical arguments so poor. Actually, a confusion of deduction and induction lies at the heart of the Problem of Evil, as well. I’ll have to think on that, maybe skepticism stems in large part from an inability to distinguish the two. Food for thought. Thank you!

Where is that?

This is just a guess, but I think this statement reflects a knowledge of philosophy and theology that is grounded in Western thinking. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just limited to part of the planet.

How do you know what I’d expect? :slight_smile:

No, to ask questions that have nothing to do with whether or not there is one.

First of all, who’s talking about ‘allowing’ a belief? No one can control what someone chooses to believe. Really, only expressions of belief can be controlled to some extent. Fortunately, we’re not there on the Net (yet).

Second, I don’t support an atheistic view, either. It’s still a view and still dualistic. To claim there is no God presupposes that it’s a ‘yes-no’ sort of deal. That’s not how the question arose for me (albeit at a slighly older age than 4), or at least not how the path has been walked…so I don’t identify with ‘seeking’ in that context. Which is also why you and I might be subject to more misunderstandings than if you were discussing this with either another theist or an atheist.

I answered it, but you saw the word “monkey” and went astray by assuming that I was likening its mental faculties to your own. What I wrote was that just as the monkey missed that what he played by chance was Beethoven’s 5th, you could miss if and when you by chance prove God’s existence. Unless, of course, God exists exactly in reality just as you believe God to be. Wonder what the chances of that might be…unless his ‘existence’ is merely the concept held onto in your mind. In that case, then you’ve already proven him to the fullest extent possible although, unfortunately, what you’ve proven isn’t ‘real’. It’s a belief.

But you’ll note that I didn’t venture any opinion as to whether or not the monkey was perfectly content with the sound he made. (And no, I’m still not likening you to the monkey…sigh) I figure he may very well like his unrecognizable banging sounds better than he does the sounds of the first five bars of what humans call the 5th Symphony. So can he be left content and whole, monkey-wise? Sure, but there the analogy flounders, because it’s us humans who know it’s Beethoven and know that he’s just a monkey banging on a keyboard. And I’m not saying that the monkey’s happiness is insignificant compared to ours, but we do have a different consciousness which, of course, includes the knowledge that we’re going to die. So when I apply it to us, my sense is that it’s not good for humans to walk around in dream states (which, yes, is what I call abiding by ‘faith’) if they’re capable of waking up. But then there’s also an argument to be made for letting sleeping dogs lie.

Well, I would hope you wouldn’t take insult by what I write. It’s not intended to be insulting, although I recognize that I have no control over how you react. I’ve addressed the monkey thing and will add that you seem to have misunderstood my use of the word “delusion”, as well. It has nothing to do with intelligence or sanity (not in the sense of being mentally ill). It describes a lack of awareness of the true nature of things, and includes an illusory view of ‘self’.

Anyway, if I’d wanted to insult you, I wouldn’t have needed to put nearly as much time into writing that post as I did.

Okay, defend away, if you wish. And my statement in terms of the shame of accepting 15th century beliefs in the 21st century wasn’t intended for you specifically, but I can see how you took offense. I don’t think “shame” is a very useful emotion, anyway, so please disregard that statement. But what does ‘trivially’ false mean? Would you have preferred if I’d written that it was ‘profoundly’ false? In fact, I didn’t use the term “false” at all, because that’s not how I characterize belief. I view belief as the mind’s ability to create an illusory reality, which is not exactly the same as a ‘false’ reality. It’s about consciousness, not about ‘true’ and ‘false’.

Well, there’s always the tendency for confirmational bias when interpreting information, but the point is to both acknowledge and avoid that tendency when thinking critically, no?

If I have to accomodate the fact that you’re determined to stick by your belief, it’s limiting. Perhaps a better question is to ask if you’d explain to me this quandary of the Problem of Evil. Is this about the C.G. (the Christian God, which I assume is the one you believe in, versus the various other ones that others believe in) encompassing both good and evil and using them as teaching tools for humans to learn to reign in their free will?


And you STILL haven't answered the question, on a second attempt! I didn't ask you "What are some of the reasons I might be unable to prove the existence of God" or "Have I proven the existence of God to the best of my ability." What I asked you was, "If I did prove the existence of God, how would I know I had done so?"  Or, take me out of it if you want. If some guy in The Netherlands proved the existence of God, how would we know? In general, if God's existence had been 'proven', how would things be different than they are? The reason why I'm asking is because I'm highly suspicious that 'prove it' just means 'convince me' and it's a psychological, rather than philosophical enterprise. 

I can’t, you haven’t put forward an attack to defend from yet, aside from asking me to take the position that theism is a delusion for the sake of argument, which I’m not going to do, and to tell me that theists should be ashamed of themselves, which I take as trivally false. Do you have some actual reason why a person ought not believe in God that I can look at beyond these things? I will read on.

Nono, that's all fine. "trivally false" would mean false to a degree, and to such extent that it doesn't need to be examined to be shown false, that anyone should see that it's false, and that the falseness of it isn't worth pointing out because of that. Anyways, I can't defend from an attack, the content of which is "theism is false".   I mean, I can, but the only answer I need give is "No, it isn't." 

It goes deeper than that. Evidential arguments are actually fallacious, not by virtue of bias, but by virtue of the fact that they are illogical:

1.) I have seen 1 billion black crows.
2.) I have seen no non-black crows.
3) The next crow I see will be black.

It’s a logically unsound, fallacious argument. That’s what I’m saying. So, to say that there’s some fallacy in the connection between the Church and the existence of God is true, but what I’d call ‘trivially true’- all evidence has a fallacious connection to it’s conclusion.

There’s two versions of the Problem of Evil. The first one is deductive, and fails for lack of connection of it’s premises, the second one is inductive, like the above, and I don’t think the evidence is compelling- that is to say, it may defeat a vague deism that doesn’t have any particular religious claims on it’s side, but any actual religion has the Problem of Evil accounted for in the body of it’s dogmas, and someone posing the problem is ignoring those dogmas, and assuming the theist will do the same (Which they usually do).


Excuse me for butting in, but isn’t your question a bit specious? Any metaphysical “proof” is experiential, and while I might experience your experiencing, there is no way I can experience your experience. What you choose experientially as “proof” of anything is yours and yours alone.

Your statement that proof

is correct, but you of course realize that it is true for yourself as well. What Ingenium calls belief is what you consider experiential proof. Two perspectives, both convinced, and both well outside “philosophical enterprise”.

Well, that’s my point, tentative. If proof is this specious thing that’s up to the individual, and can’t be guaranteed to translate from one person to the next, then I’d would like very much if skeptics would stop demanding it from me.

And you’re STILL missing my point, I think because you aren’t able to do other than assume that God exists in the way you believe him to exist. And no, it’s neither mental illness nor foolishness, it’s because you abide by belief. This causes you to automatically assume that if God gets ‘proved’, then he’ll turn out to be what you already believed he was. How could it be otherwise for a believer?

I didn’t respond to your question starting from that assumption. I read it starting from the assumption that if God gets proved, then who knows? It cannot be answered by language, which depends upon concepts. Proved means that something is now known, is no longer unknown or illusory, but is a direct experience of reality. The illusion part of who “God” was for you, meaning that idea of God which arose in your thought and imagination, dissolves. When this illusion dissolves, then everything that every God-believing human has ever thought about him/her/it/whatever is blown out of the water. Not right, not wrong. Just gone, like the snuffing out of a candle. There’s knowing instead of belief.

Your reaction makes sense to me, because your basis for morality depends upon whatever you’ve decided upon as “Uccisore’s Belief”. Take it away and what would you have? Where would “you” be? Who would “you” be? (just rhetorical, btw, nobody can take anything away because there’s nothing to take away…)

So my response had nothing to do with your ability to PROVE anything. It had to do with your ability to KNOW what you’d proved. Different emphasis, and what’s given is that you already believe God is a Something. If the guy in The Netherlands proved that God exists and it makes the front page of the New York Times tomorrow, it’ll make no difference to you. You won’t believe him because you’ve already bought into living by a particular, exclusive idea of what ‘is’. Or is your mindset more open, meaning you’ll accept evidence that God exists in a way you hadn’t conceived of before or been told about before…? If this is so, then on what basis will you accept the evidence and on what basis will you reject it?

Okay, explain those two to me as you understand them and we’ll go from there.

I agree that each religion accounts for it, but think that questioning the fundamental basis of that religion doesn’t mean ‘ignoring it’. Perhaps most don’t approach it that way because they see the potential for circularity. Regardless of how the Problem of Evil is handled, you can’t sustain the argument as, “This way is right because the doctrine says so. And the doctrine’s correct because this way is right.” Well, unless you come up with an all-powerful being who cannot be doubted, that is.

Experience is just experience. If you want to address it in that context, then what I call a ‘belief’ is an interpretation of experience that’s made to justify the existence of inherently independent self. But that inherently independent self is an illusion. This is the case because no thing has ‘own-being’, meaning no thing has an independent, permanent self identity, no essential nature. So no thing exists independently of other things and no thing has an identity distinct from its components.

I’ve never heard a rational argument supporting an independent self, or that any thing has inherent self nature. And I’ve heard an awful lot of arguments. :slight_smile:

BTW, this would also apply to God if he/she/it/whatever was ‘proven’. Because it’s the only way God could get ‘proven’ absent an earthly visit from his Son Born of Virgin, or absent a meet-up at the pearly gates. But this proof still wouldn’t satisfy those who need God to be first cause, omnipotent and omniscient. That’s the thing, humans need God to be this way and apparently not any other way, because it’s pretty much consistent for all the God-based religions, despite their doctrinal differences. So who’s creating whom?

Agreed, and likely something I could agree upon with a Christian (and why I’m not an atheist). My perspective is that the discussion must necessarily occur according to what I call a ‘two truths’ doctrine. These may be referred to as "conventional/ultimate"or “empirical/spiritual” or ‘lower/higher’. Whatever. The point is that ultimately there’s only one level of truth (reality), but it’s not available to philosophical description. It can only be pointed to. So…as we’re in fact here discussing this, the discussion remains at the ‘lower’ level, which points by using concepts and language. But, again, there really aren’t two levels. Think of it as when you write the word “being”, you must then cross it out. At this level, you can only assert and deny transcendence at the same time.


 Right, and that already skips my question. What I'm asking you is, what does "God gets proved" mean?  If God is such a stickler for you, let's just use something else. What does "The holocaust gets proven" mean? What does "X gets proven" mean? That I'm a theist has nothing at all to do with my question. You stated that the claims of the theist haven't been proven.  Other than "Ingenium hasn't been convinced", I have no idea what you meant by that statement, that's what I've been trying to get out of you.  If there's something keeping you from answering this, we can just move on. 
Sure, and only individuals can have direct experiences. So, "the claims of theism have not been proven" amounts to "Ingenium has not been convinced of the claims of theism"- since obviously the claims of theism have been proven to everybody who believes theism, and not to everybody who doesn't.  But "theism hasn't been proven to people skeptical towards theism" is just a tautology, and thus not interesting. 

So, God hasn’t been proven, and proving the existence of God means by definition to discover things that that no theist believes, and to discover that all God-believers beliefs on God are wrong. This illusion/delusion speech is a huge stumbling block for you- it’s got you arguing in circles now. Theist can aquire proven beliefs by abaondoning their illusions, and you know their beliefs are illusionary because they haven’t been proven. How can I argue with that?
Now, how could the Christian prove that Christianity isn’t correct? Why aren’t they correct? Other than basically saying all Christians are stupid and crazy (and then immediately saying that’s not what you’re saying, and saying it again anyway), you haven’t advanced an argument in this direction at all. All you’ve said is that it hasn’t been proven, which I think we’ve come to the conclusion is a red herring.

Ah, ok. It gets confusing when instead of answering the question I asked, you answer a question you made up and didn’t tell me about.

No, ignoring it counts as ignoring it. Theists ignore religious dogmas when they form the Problem of Evil purely around God’s abstract concepts, such as Omnibenevolence and Omnipotence, and ignore doctrines such as the Fall of Man, the existence of Satan, and so on. Theists ignore dogmas when they fall into that trap and attempt to solve the Problem of Evil only through reference to the abstract concepts the skeptic considers admissable. Even without reference to dogma, though, the deductive Problem of Evil has been solved. I don’t remember why I’m getting into this, it seems like a side track.

God is no more a stickler for me than Mickey Mouse. It’s just that there are relatively few people walking around claiming that Mickey Mouse created me.

The Holocaust proven means that it’s historical fact, documented by first-person accounts and authenticated records. Of the event. Now I guess someone could write a book that explains how Satan caused it and asserts Satan’s creed to the world. It’s easy to see how such a modern book would be ridiculous, but not so easy to see as ridiculous a book written a long time ago that includes both events of that time and assertions as to a supernatural cause of them. Would the book on Satan, which would be considered nonsense in 2007, be more credible in 3007? The historical record of an event is just the historical record, regardless of how long ago the event occurred, as long as it’s documented with scientific rationality. And I’ve already noted the existence of numerous and gaping factual holes in the Bible, which is at least equally, if not more, credible evidence that it was invention from the word “בְּרֵאשִׁית”

My statement presumed that you have some knowledge of the classical proofs of theists, since you’ve mentioned the Problem of Evil several times. But perhaps that’s not the case. If not, then here’s a sampling, some right off Wikipedia:

  1. Universal cause, or The Creator. Dawkins’ version is “something had to make the first move.”
  2. Order and complexity, or the Great (and Intelligent) Designer. Darwin took care of that one. At least, one would think he did.
  3. Everything that is in the universe is God, or The All
    3.1. A subset of this is “The Standard for Perfection”
  4. The ontological God, or The Conceived (this is my personal favorite)
  5. Various and sundry historical stuff, including Christological God, meaning that Jesus existed and made the claim to be the Son of God and was neither mistaken, lying nor delusional.

We know that mostly responses to these will rely upon infinite regress which only God, which is apparently the only thing spared from such regress, can end. However, I think we can agree that God is hardly an impartial party in the proof of God’s own existence. Anyway, this circular pattern of religious belief is to me proof of one thing: human suffering and our corresponding tendency to cling to ideas for the relief of it.

A link to other proofs to add a lighter note to this discussion:

You keep alluding to Problem of Evil as part of this overall dilemma, but state that it’s been improperly addressed by both theologians and critics of religion. I understand the P of E in what I think is the usual way: it’s a problem because a good and all-benevolent God who controls everything shouldn’t be allowing bad things. Dawkins offering of the solution is to posit one or more of the following:

  1. a plain old ‘nasty’ God,
  2. a separate and distinct evil entity (could you call it, say, “Sa-TAN”?) to engage in an ongoing battle of epic proportions,
  3. a CEO God who doesn’t micro-manage, or
  4. a parent God who knows massive hurricane destruction and HIV and starving children are just terrible, but either he needs us to know that he gave us free will (is that your “Fall of Man” argument?) but we must understand along with this bad choices and their consequences, OR he wants us to accept that we can never know the purpose for such awful things, but that the big picture is really something we’d appreciate if only we were capable of understanding it at his level. Trust in him to know what’s best, despite the suffering of the children.

So you’re invited to offer up the solution that the world has awaited for centuries. If it is the solution, then you should probably copyright it now, because it’ll make you rich, rich, rich (are you married, btw, no particular reason, just wondering…) :laughing:

You seem determined to take insult, which doesn’t serve you well, IMO.

It’s not possible to ‘acquire proven beliefs’, unless you mean this as posing a hypothesis and then proving it in the standard way. There’s no such thing as a non-illusory belief, because belief is always conditioned.

OK then, this is something to work with. So you're distinguishing 'proven' from 'proven toi here, I take it? If there were all these documents and so on for the holocaust, the holocaust would remain unproven [i]to[/i] someone who hadn't read them, right? Such a person might easily claim that no such documents exist, depending on what they had been taught. 
Again, any time you want to compare the Bible to other records of the period that we consider 'factual', feel free and let me know what you discover. 

As to the arguments for the existence of God:
I happen to agree with you that none of the arguments for the existence of God conclusively prove that God exists. Some of the arguments ‘work’, some don’t, most have so many variations or possibilities that it’s impossible to say if they work or not. However, a successful argument for the existence of God is not the same as saying that “The existence of God has been proven”. When you say the existence of God hasn’t been proven, that could easily mean that you haven’t read or are misunderstanding one of the arguments. Some version of one of the arguments you listed may well be flawless- if it was, not everybody would have been exposed to it, and not all of those who here exposed to it would understand it correctly. That’s why statements like “The existence of God hasn’t been proven” don’t reall convey much. What it would come down to is, whether or not just I can show just you some argument, or vica versa, and whether or not one of us convinces the other. Regardless of how that turned out, there would still be believers and skeptics in the world at large, and so the statement “The existence of God hasn’t been proven” would remain unaffected. To that extent, “The Holocaust has/has not been proven” doesn’t mean much either.


Case in point. Apparently the idea that the Problem of Evil has been defeated is earth shattering news for you, such that you think that if I’m claiming a solution, I must have come up with it, and I must be very proud. In fact, as far as I can tell the deductive problem of evil has been defeated for some time now, (about 20 years) and people in the know don’t take it seriously anymore. Consider:

  1. God is all-good and all powerful.
    2.) There is evil in the world.

    The solution is simply that there’s no logical connection between those two statements. There might be an intuitive connection, but there’s no logical fallacy entailed by taking them both as true. You need a bridge premise to generate the fallacy, and by all accounts there probably isn’t one. People tried, for a while, various premises about what a Good God would want to do, or what a Powerful God should be able to do, but none of them work because of the potential for theodicy- that is, some particular explanation for why God (as a willful Being) would choose to do this or that. The free will defense is an example- but even if the free will defense doesn’t work, the mere fact that there could be an explanation shows us we’re not dealing with a deductive argument here, if there was a logical fallacy to rely on, then theodicy would be self-evidentially impossible.
    These days, when the pros want to toss around the Problem of Evil, they have a inductive version the rely on- that it should seem intuitively unlikely that God and evil could both exist, or that it is to some degree improbably that God and evil both exist. Obviously that’s a much weaker argument.

Sorry to interrupt, but this is a great discussion!

I think there is a key distinction between the example above and religious belief. A person could claim no documentation exists for the holocaust, but how easy would it be to take them to a library? If they’ve never been presented the proof, at least we know exactly where to locate the proof to persuade them.

There is a big difference between “unproven” and “unprovable” based on what we’ve defined in our world as proof, which is something that is detectable, recordable, repeatable, or tangible in some way, shape or form.


People are converted into/out of religions all the time, people are convinced that the Holocaust did/did not happen all the time. My point is that yes, it should be rather simple to prove to someone who wants to learn that the Holocaust happened, no disagreement there. [i]But[/i] if you convince that guy, there's still going to be denyers out there, so there's still going to be people who can say "It hasn't been proven", and they are just as right as they ever were, despite what you did for that one guy.  That's the problem with making "it has been proven" a global, rather than personal statement.  In the only sense in which it is meaningful, the existence of God is proven to people every day, and His non-existence is as well. 
 What you'd need to argue is that there is something about the nature of theistic claims such that it would be  [i] impossible by definition[/i] to prove them. That has it's own problems, if you want to go down that road- the first among them is that if you take this route, it's really not fair to demand that theists provide proof.

My disagreement is with your comparison. When a person is converted to a religion that has faith-based beliefs, it is because they choose to believe that religion without any possible proof or evidence: hence, hale-bopp comet. Hence suicide cults. Hence suicide bombers, and Christians, and Muslims, and Hinduism.

When a person is convinced of the holocaust, it is from video, documentation. The evidence is bountiful and woven into the history of mankind. It’s really not a valid comparison.

When you say they are as “right” as they ever were, what do you mean? Although they certainly might still believe whatever they wish, that doesn’t make them correct. In their own minds, they might think they are correct, just as somebody might think they are “right” in saying they are invincible and cannot be killed, but how does this map out to our reality that we experience? Are they correct? Are there experiments we could try to determine if they are correct? Of course, we could shoot them. Or we could stick them underwater for a few hours without oxygen. We could try to burn them alive.

So they might perceive that they are right, but there is obviously a difference between what a person believes and what is true.

I’m still not understanding you. While there will remain people who find “proof” that God exists, and people who still are unconvinced until proof is brought forth, both sides cannot obviously be correct. What is this proof that God exists for these people? Is it just a knowing feeling? Is it because they prayed for something and it happened? Is it because of the beauty they see in the world? None of these are evidence of God’s existence, although they mislead one to an incorrect conclusion, just as a cold can be believed to be caused by cold weather when a majority of the time one gets sick in the winter. Although the explanation makes sense, it simply isn’t true.

Shouldn’t any outrageous claim demand proof? How exactly is it not fair? If somebody told me they were God, I would demand proof. If somebody said they cured cancer, I would demand proof. If somebody claimed they could fly, I would demand proof. The question is, why should theists be exempt from providing such proof for their claims?


Thanks for the response.

I have a couple disagreements with this.  First, I don't think people choose to believe things as directly as that. If I offered you a million dollars to believe that Jesus rose from the dead, to believe it right now, you couldn't in good conscience accept the money. So, when people join religions, I don't think choosing to believe something is the reason they get started- admittedly, they might describe it that way though.  I also disagree with your  'without any possible proof or evidence'.  Proof, yes. No religion is likely to be proven, that's what we're talking about here. But evidence is a whole other thing. Every major religion in the world has some positive degree of evidence that it's true. Christianity, for example, has a 2000 year old Church that has been claiming the same things the whole time. 

The events of Christianity are too long ago for video, but other than that, everything you say above applies to the validity of the Church as well.

Yes, I should clarify that. When I say they are right, I mean they are right that the Holocaust hasn’t been proven, not that the holocaust hasn’t happened. Suppose you and I have this big discussion about theism, I somehow convince you that God exists and that Christianity is true (I prove it to you), you start going to church, so on and so forth. Next week, some other guy is going to come along and say the exact same things that you’ve said, up to and including “The existence of God hasn’t been proven”. See what I mean? The fact that I did prove it to you doesn’t make him wrong when he says it hasn’t been proven. Just like the guy I convinced before you came along wasn’t wrong when he was an atheist saying it hasn’t been proven, and so on. So what good is his statement to me in the first place? Apparently, there’s nothing I can do about it. Obviously, when it comes to the fact of the matter of whether God exists or not, we can’t both be right, no disagreement there.

 I would have used the opposite example, where you convince me that God doesn't exist, and then a new theist comes along and says that atheism hasn't been proven, but I didn't want to get sidetracked into a big 'you can't prove a negative' thing. I hope you get my point though, that this goes both ways. 

My assertion is that proof is nothing more than when evidence achieves sufficiency. So, the person who becomes convinced that God exists has a series of evidence- people they trust tell them so, they have experiences for which God is a good explanation, they find the existence and traditions of the Church compelling, they witness a miracle…any or all of those things. None of those are proof, they are all evidence. They become proof for someone when they are sufficient to convince someone. So, proof is completely subjective. Evidence is not- we can even objectively say that there is more or less evidence for comparative beliefs, I suppose. But proof is tied to the experience of being convinced, I think.

Ah, no. These things you list are all evidence, you just don’t find them suffiecient. That’s the point. How is the beauty in the world not evidence for the existence of God? Many people make the connection from one to the other- let me eliminate one likely answer before you say it. Don’t say that beauty and religious experience aren’t evidence for God because there are other explanations that don’t require God. The reason why this isn’t a good answer is that when talking about evidential arguments, ALL evidence has multiple explanations, no matter what.

Yes and no. A person should demand evidence, but what I’m saying is that demanding proof is unfair, because it is demanding the other person to convince you, which may or may not be in their powers, and may or may not have much to do with the truth of what they are claiming.

Well, I could accept the money, as you’d really have no way of knowing whether or not I actually believe it. :stuck_out_tongue:

There is a drastic difference between paying somebody to believe something rather than a person searching for truth, and seemingly finding it in a religious belief.

I think the reason they start believing has a lot of factors, mainly psychological…it IS comforting to believe you’ll live forever in paradise-like conditions, whatever that may be for the individual…there is a benefit in believing you’ll one day be reunited with loved ones…there is plenty of leverage to believe things, regardless of whether or not they are true, and they are worth far more to an individual than a million dollars.

They offer freedom of fear for many, freedom from uncomfortable facts of life.

It doesn’t seem so. Early Christianity claimed the early way to deal with homosexuals, adulterers, thieves, blasphemers, etc. was through stoning, torture, or other brutal acts. The Church today doesn’t claim the same.

Even if it Christianity were more congruent than it is…what would that be evidence of? An unchanging belief? Is evidence of an unchanging belief relevant to the truth of the belief? I personally don’t see a link.

This is why there must be a standard for “proof” in place, which science provides. We cannot have subjective proof and be able to come up with truths in our world. Proof that God exists for me could be the fact I was born. For you, it could be that a coincidence happened after you prayed. For somebody else, it could be the Qu’ran. That’s why we need a standardized system for proof, which in is empirical, tangible, testable, and re-producable evidence for most people in most areas of live…but for some reason, religion gets a free pass. Why?

Again, proof and evidence must have a standard; otherwise, evidence that I personally am God, for me, would be that I can eat glass. Just because I subjectively accept that as sufficient evidence, there are inquiring minds that have decided it is best to have a system of proof and evidence for our beliefs, and they must meet certain requirements. If this weren’t the case, we’d be able to believe all kinds of crazy things based on our own systems of evidence, which is exactly what happens in religion.

Subjectively, again, they might be evidence. But if we don’t have a standard for evidence, then anything goes for whatever the individual decides…this is a very unproductive way to uncover truth.

The conclusion doesn’t follow from the premise. I don’t know a lot about logic, but consider:

The world is beautiful: therefore, God exists.

Do you find this logical? Is this sufficient evidence? Under what circumstance would it be reasonable to conclude such?

I agree with most of this, actually, right up until the last clause. Since I see Christianity as true, it IS the facts of life, and not providing me any freedom from others. Incidentally, you could say the same thing about atheism- being an atheist frees one from certain uncomfortable facts as well, such as the threat of hell, and certain moral demands.  What, you don't see hell and this morality as factual? Now you see [i]my[/i] point. 

Dorky, don’t miss my point on purpose, please. What I’m talking about are the religious dogmas here that we’re actually examining the evidence for. Ressurection of Jesus, miracles, so on and so forth. I’d be pretty ignorant if I tried to claim that the Church never changed it’s mind about anything, wouldn’t I?

Evidential arguments aren’t logical. I address that a few posts ago, but here it is again:

1.) Every crow everybody has ever seen has been black.
2.) The next crow I see will be black.

The conclusion doesn’t follow logically from the premise there, either. But that’s science. Apples and oranges to logic.


I apologize, I don’t get much time to get through ILP and I missed your earlier post to me. Here’s my response.

It’s not an argument as to why God exists; it’s an argument as to why he almost certainly does not.

It’s not just a page, it’s the essence of Chapter 4. But you can start with p. 114-119.