Saturday, 16 June 2012

Believing Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

In a recent blog, Francis Collins - The Language Of God Delusion I showed how Francis Collins needed to use double standards to maintain the compartmentalised thinking it takes to be both a devout Christian and a scientist, and how he uses the very same straw man fallacy he accuses others of using, albeit possibly subconsciously.

Another example of this can be found in his book "The Language Of God"

The major and inescapable flaw of Dawkins's claim that science demands atheism is that it goes beyond the evidence. If God is outside of nature, then science can neither prove nor disprove His existence. Atheism itself must therefore be considered a form of blind faith, in that it adopts a belief system that cannot be defended on the basis of pure reason.

What Collins ignores in this arguments is that, if God is outside of nature and so beyond the reach of science, this can only be because it cannot interact with nature in any way. If it can interact, then this interaction would be detectable by science and God would be part of nature, and so open to examination by scientific methods.

"There's no use in trying", said Alice: "One can't believe impossible things."

"I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”


Lewis Carroll, Through a Looking Glass

Collins appears to hold to two mutually contradictory beliefs simultaneously:
  1. God can interact with and influence nature and we can interact with and influence God.
  2. God cannot interact with nature and we cannot interact with God.
This ability to hold opposite views simultaneously, and often with equal conviction, is a characteristic of delusional doublethink and compartmentalised thinking. It is a psychological strategy to enables religious people to cope with cognitive dissonance and behave like perfectly normal, rational adults, and yet still believe in the magic invisible friends their parents told them about when they were gullible and susceptible to indoctrination.





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21 comments :

  1. "this can only be because it cannot interact with nature in any way"

    This is not the first time you've made such a bold claim, but you've still not backed it up with any reason as to why God cannot interact with nature in any way.

    The second claim you attribute to Collins - "God cannot interact with nature and we cannot interact with God" - is not his claim at all, but yours.


    Let me remind you of another claim you make on this blog.

    "Whilst you are entitled to your opinion, you are not entitled to have it regarded as established fact needing no supporting evidence or justification. Don't be surprised if you are called on an unsubstantiated claim."

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  2. God cannot interact with nature because God doesn't exist. Until you prove existence, any and all claims about what God can do are bogus.

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    1. You assert that God doesn't exist as though it is fact. Do you have proof for that?

      Anyway, you are in danger of creating a circular argument:

      "God doesn't exist" - > "All claims about God are bogus" -> "All claims about God are bogus" -> "God doesn't exist"

      I may be wrong, but I suspect that you are too quick to dismiss any claim about God on the basis of your preconception that he definitely doesn't exist.

      Finally, Rosa's claim about whether or not God could interact with nature has previously been made in the abstract - "a supernatural God cannot by definition interact with the natural." Whether or not God actually exists is not the point - the claim still needs substantiating.

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    2. JP

      Interesting that you've resorted to demanding people prove a negative.

      Is this cowardly abdication of responsibility for your claims something you been practising?

      >God doesn't exist" - > "All claims about God are bogus"<

      Indeed.

      So, do you have any evidence that your god exists or should rational people treat that claim with the same disdain with which you treat claims about fairies, goblins and other gods?

      BTW, you still haven't said how we can detect your allegedly detectable got yet. Was that just a lie intended to mislead?

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    3. It's not so much as demanding proof of a negative as it is asking for proof that something is indeed factual. To say "I don't believe God exists" is one thing, to imply that it is fact that God does not exist is another.

      Asking for proof that something is factual is actually asking for proof of a positive statement, not a negative one. The negative equivalent would be to ask for proof that God's non-existence is not factual (which, to be clear, is not the same as saying that God's existence is factual).

      I have explained several times before why I think God can be detected, with reasons ranging from experience of answered prayer to historical evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ.

      The fact that you have chosen to ignore this is not my problem. It does, however, suggest that you may have fallen prey to the circular argument I outlined above. I am not the first to point out that you appear to be quite closed-minded and whereas you are perfectly entitled to stick with your preconceptions that all claims about God are bogus you shouldn't kid yourself that you are engaging rationally with the debate.

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    4. >It's not so much as demanding proof of a negative as it is asking for proof that something is indeed factual. <

      Er... no. It's asking for proof of a negative. The clue is in the words >You assert that God doesn't exist as though it is fact. Do you have proof for that?<

      Are we to have another long, drawn-out series of quibbles rather than an honest answer to my question?

      >I have explained several times before why I think God can be detected<

      No. You claimed several time that it can be, but merely responded to requested to provide details of how exactly this may be done with more evasions but never any such details.

      I don't suppose many people will have any difficulty working out why you made that claim and why you can't provide the requested details.

      If they do, reading Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion" should explain it.

      Delete
  3. Perhaps I wasn't clear the first time.

    When someone asserts that something (anything) is a fact, they are making a positive assertion, for which it is perfectly reasonable to ask for proof. You're right that the clue is in the words - i.e. it *is* a fact. The fact that the "it" in this case contains a negative is irrelavent.

    Did you follow any of the links that I provided about the historical evidence for Jesus? Did you pay attention to what I said about prayer? Did you try praying for yourself? No? Well, then, any evasion in is on your part, not mine.

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    1. >Perhaps I wasn't clear the first time. <

      You were perfectly clear. You gave away the fact that you know you have no evidence for your claimed god and that you need to try dishonesty, for example, by demanding people try to prove a negative and hoping people fall for the implicit false dichotomy and, through parochial ignorance, conclude that the locally popular god must be real if it can't be proven otherwise.

      Thank you show so clearly showing the dishonesty of the god delusion.

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    2. Ah, more false cries of "dishonesty." When you've finished, perhaps you would like to answer my question - did you or did you not read the links I suggested in an earlier thread?

      You may not agree with them, of course, but at least then we will have a platform for reasoned debate.

      I had hoped that my explanation for why I was not "demanding proof of a negative" would suffice. If you didn't follow it, or disagree with the line I was taking then please do say (and if you disagree, please explain why). Again, we then might have a platform for reasoned discussion.

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    3. I'm afraid if you don't want your dishonesty pointed out you'll need to stop being dishonest and start being honest.

      I appreciate that won't trick people into falling for your superstition but it's hard to imagine you could do any worse than at present.

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    4. Experiential evidence is only good to the one experiencing it, prayer whenever tested has shown to have no effect and I fail to see how X person existing validates any and all supernatural claims attributed to them and go from that to therefore god. Lame.

      Delete
  4. Just jumping in to elucidate something that is actually written in the article but that the theist has missed.

    The reason why it is logically true to say that if "God is outside of nature" then God cannot interact with natural things is because interacting with natural things would bring the effects of God into the natural world. If God's effect is observable in the natural world then by extension God is detectable as part of the natural world.

    You can't have it both ways, he's either in or out.

    Also for all of those "God is outside of nature" people. Was Jesus God? I'll bet your answer is yes. In what sense is the biblical Jesus not very much a feature of the natural world. If nails can interact with God then there's a lot science can say about him.

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    1. Absolutely. It's a perfect example of believing two mutually exclusive things simultaneously - something that is only possible with intellectual dishonesty and compartmentalised thinking.

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    2. Hello darqmann. "The theist" does have a name, you know.

      We've been over this in an earlier thread, but I don't think the definitions of "natural" and "supernatural" insist on exclusivity. Hence without further reasoning to back it up, I refute your statement that "[I] can't have it both ways, he's either in or out."

      Feel free to prove me wrong...

      Delete
    3. I expect you could prove to yourself that black and white are the same thing too, if you needed to.

      The ability to hold two mutually exclusive views simultaneously must be a real boon when you desperately want to believe something you know isn't true.

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    4. >Feel free to prove me wrong<

      There's that dishonest and cowardly demand to prove a negative again.

      Delete
    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  5. JP...21 June 2012 21:46

    Not at all, Rosa. The cowardice is on your part at the moment, for deciding not to offer an explanation for your point of view.

    A positive assertion was made that "[I] can't have it both ways, he's either in or out" - i.e. that anything which is in the natural realm must exist there exclusively and cannot simultaneously exist in the supernatural realm, and vice versa.

    In asking for that to be substantiated, I am merely sticking to the guidelines you set out here - "Whilst you are entitled to your opinion, you are not entitled to have it regarded as established fact needing no supporting evidence or justification. Don't be surprised if you are called on an unsubstantiated claim."

    My understanding - from the definitions of both "supernatural" and "natural" I have seen, and which have been referenced in an earlier post - is that something in the natural realm does not have to be exclusively so, and therefore this claim is wrong.

    When I say "feel free to prove me wrong" I am demonstrating what you fail to show, namely open-mindedness. What I am actually asking for proof of, is a positive, namely that something in the natural realm (or indeed in the supernatural realm) *is* exclusively so. Convince me that your argument is correct and, as a rational being, I shall have no choice but to accept it.

    Past experience suggests that I am wasting my time and that you will just ignore me amidst claims of dishonesty and delusion. But again, feel free to prove me wrong.

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    1. >The cowardice is on your part at the moment, for deciding not to offer an explanation for your point of view.<

      Apart from referring you to a dictionary where you will find definitions of the words of which you are desperately trying to change the meaning of course, having been caught again making an assertion which you could not sustain. In this case that you have a detectable god which can't be detected and a god which is simultaneously inside and outside nature and simultaneously able to interact at will with the natural world but not able to do so in any detectable way. In other words, a god which is both supernatural and natural.

      Would it not be easier for you to try arguing that black is white?

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    2. BTW, as was abundantly clear from my comment, is was your cowardly attempt to shift the burden of proof with another demand to prove a negative to which I was referring.

      Will you be dealing with that in an honest way or merely trying to put up another smokescreen to try to hide your cowardice behind again?

      Delete
  6. I DO mean to sound almost like a fifth grader here, because I feel it's the only way JP will understand the point of this exercise.

    JP cannot prove that he isn't swarming in a huge pile of ghost turds.
    Ghost turds can't be seen or measured by science in any way.

    To quote JP's own words,
    "When I say "feel free to prove me wrong" I am demonstrating what you fail to show, namely open-mindedness. What I am actually asking for proof of, is a positive, namely that something in the natural realm (or indeed in the supernatural realm) *is* exclusively so. Convince me that your argument is correct and, as a rational being, I shall have no choice but to accept it."

    Prove it to the world, JP, that you are not swarming in a huge pile of ghost turds.
    Because I believe, from my heart, that you are.

    ReplyDelete

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A claim made without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. Remember: your opinion is not an established fact unless corroborated.

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