THE ODDS OF WHAT?

Most find the chapters in the Book of Genesis that provide a record of Creation and Noah’s Flood somewhat disconcerting. These chapters cover lots of times with very few words. Moreover, they were written to people now long dead. So while these chapters may have answered the concerns of the Hebrews, they still leave us puzzled.

Why puzzled? We have SCIENCE!

Science is a good thing, but it has its limits. When God performs miracles, it is useless. We can only use science to study what God has created, not God.

What got me started on this? The recycling of the stubborn is one of ColorStorm’s many rejoinders to the atheistic sort. Here in a response to 17 thoughts on “What are the odds against a Life Permitting Universe” ColorStorm argues the absurdity of the Theory of Evolution.

In my mind ColorStorm is not wrong, but he is missing a great opportunity to pull the rug out from under the SCIENCE believers. Consider this quote from 17 thoughts on “What are the odds against a Life Permitting Universe”.

Then, life: what is it? This question defines the areas across the distribution that are considered significant. I simplified the models I presented by reducing it to life as we would recognise it: LU. But there is the consideration of other life (LO) out there in conceptual space that would ask the same questions if it came to be; that life is equally significant to the question.

That look like gibberish? Well, the author apparently has some skills as a statistician, but he admits to frustration by all the unknowns. We cannot even define life. Think about that. Yet in a later comment he leaps to this conclusion.

The entire argument is bogus, of course. When the argument was first posited, we knew very little about the universe. For example, we thought all of the visible stars were all that there were. About 100 years ago we discovered that there are more galaxies in the universe than stars in our galaxy. How does this affect the argument’s premise “It is not chance because the odds are so low.” Consider what happens to the odds of winning any horse race if you bet on one race, versus betting upon millions of races. The odds go from unlikely to almost certainty.

So even though we don’t have the capacity to define life and have never even visited the star closest to us, we know it is almost certain life would just randomly be? We know this for certain when we don’t even know how anything came to be?

Science is about modeling cause and effect. It begins by defining the boundaries of the system we propose to model. Then we try to gather data on that system and try to mathematically model the relationship between the causes and effects within that system. That can be much more easily said than done.

When we start applying science to what are still essentially metaphysical problems, at best we are just engaging in fanciful speculation. At that point we probably need to reconsider what we are trying to do with science.

Can the Bible be believed? The best answer is to read and decide for yourself.

51 thoughts on “THE ODDS OF WHAT?

  1. Tom, and everyone who commented on this post.

    After reading all the comments, all the epistemology, presumptions, opinions, math suppositions, etc. I believe this following statement is applicable to the conundrum of Creation.

    “If one does not make human knowledge wholly dependent upon the original self-knowledge and consequent revelation of God to man, then man will have to seek knowledge within himself as the final reference point. Then he will have to seek an exhaustive understanding of reality. Then he will have to hold that if he cannot attain to such an exhaustive understanding of reality, he has no true knowledge of anything at all. Either man must then know everything or he knows nothing. This is the dilemma that confronts every form of non-Christian epistemology.36 “

    Source
    https://rudymartinka.com/2018/09/24/king-solomon-proverbial-promises-vs/

    Regards and good will blogging.

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          1. Please specify what you know for certain about Creation.

            Is it certain knowlege or certain probablilties?
            Seems I keep specifing the subject of Creation and you keep avoiding answering what you are specifying, in my opinion,,

            You are confusing me. How do you expect me to answer your question if you are asking a vaughe question without a subject?

            Regards and good will blogging.

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          2. @Allallt

            You stated, “Right, well that tells me everything I need to know about you.
            Not engaging. Bye.”

            Sorry if a exasperated you. Frankly, I believe it to be foolish to answer any question lacking a subject being included in the question.

            We humans basically don’t know anything for certain anyway. For example, look in the mirror, what do you really know about what you see. Are you a human or a reincarnated spirit standing in a yet unknown dimension traveling thorough time and space in an ever expanding universe with different time and space dimensions.

            If this question cannot be answered for certain, it is a testament that we humans really without having all the answers about the reality of the universe, know nothing for certain.

            All we can do is give opinions, some based on repeatable scientific theories which many often keep changing when we find another repeatable scientific revelation or discovery about someone or something we cannot duplicate or prove but know must have higher powers than us mere mortals.

            That is unless we believe life is just a random occurance that somehow was perfectly created by an occurrence caused by planets banging about and disappearing into mysterious black holes being discovered that we cannot see whats on the other side.

            Regards and good will blogging.

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          3. Okay, so you are confusing certainty with knowledge.
            Which means you’re probably setting up for presuppositional apologetics.
            So we might as well cut to the chase: why do you trust there is a trustworthy ‘sustainer of truth’ who makes things more understandable to you then if it weren’t there?

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          4. @scatterwisdom and Allallt

            Because we are finite creatures with limited knowledge — because we don’t know we don’t know — we don’t have certainty. That’s where faith comes in. To act we must have faith in what we do know. Generally, we apply the word faith to our religious beliefs, but we also have to have faith to step onto a bridge that crosses a deep and wide chasm.

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          5. I don’t think there is a definition of faith that bridges those two examples.
            Confidence based on reason is not the same as certainty based on whatever religious faith is based on.

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          6. @Allallt

            “Confidence” and “faith” do have somewhat different meanings. However, in this context the words virtually mean the same things.

            Different religions have very different beliefs about God, including Agnosticism and Atheism. Most tend to some sort of exclusivity. I am Christian. So I defend that belief system. My observation is that the tenets of Christianity do satisfy logic and reason.

            It difficult to develop faith in anything we never try. Consider how the effort to try something changes our perspective. If we don’t believe automobiles (think the car is an environmental problem machine), we won’t develop much faith in our ability to drive. We will be walking, biking, or taking the bus or train; not driving. If we don’t believe in God, we won’t have any faith in Him. At best, we will make only a halfhearted attempt to understand the Bible. We will never attempt to depend upon Him.

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  2. Perfect King Solomon choice to apply to this topic.

    However, I doubt doubters will read it andif they do either undrstand it or belive it because they know “the odds” better, so they think

    Regards and good will blogging

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am the author of the post in question, and the first quote. I am not, however, not the author of the second quote — a comment left by a reader.

    This post suggests both have the same author. That is false.

    I also implore all readers to apply basic reading comprehension to assess whether Tom had accurately captured the meaning of the second quote.

    And when it comes to my post using graphs and the weird conversation that has started since about maths, I don’t use any maths in my post. The whole point is that we can’t derive any of the values required to make the teleological argument work.

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    1. @AllAllt

      Thank you for visitiing, commenting, and the correction. I cited you incorrectly and for that I apologize.

      Here is where I got the second quote.
      https://allallt.wordpress.com/2018/09/12/what-are-the-odds-against-a-life-permitting-universe/#comment-15115

      Admittedly, I got a bit mixed up about the author of the second comment. It appears that someone else read your post and drew what seems to be an obvious conclusion, that we know it is almost certain that life just randomly had to be. If you do not agree with that conclusion, why didn’t you tell the author of that comment? If you did, please point to it. I am interested in reading it.

      If your refutation of the teleological does not suggest there is an mathematical certainty that life would be created by random processes, don’t you think that would be worth explaining? Again, I would be interested.

      You did not use math? I think you are trying to say we don’t have sufficient data derive mathematical formulas and make specific calculations. I most certainly did not mean to suggest you did.

      You did, however, use mathematical theory, and you did so with the intent of using mathematical theory to reach certain logical conclusions. Hopefully, we don’t need to nitpick over that.

      The math boils down to this. Is there a zero probability that life would exist in this universe (Who knows if there are other universes?) without direct action by God? If there is any probability that life could be created randomly, then in what seems to be an infinite universe, life would exist.

      So what is your opinion? What is the probability that life could be randomly created? Is it greater than zero? What conclusion should we draw from your post?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The point of the post is that we don’t have any of the data points to decide whether any ‘other’ (hypothetical) universe could give rise to life (as we would recognise it or otherwise).
        The whole point of the teleological argument (as Craig presents it) is that no other fundamental values of the universe could have given rise to life. My point is that no one seems to have the data to honestly make that claim.

        I do even attempt to decide the chances of life arising in this universe. (Although, according to Bayesian analysis and probability theory — based on the fact that life did already arise in the universe — the probability is 1. Whether God had a have in that remains a question, although a question it is phenomenal difficult to give support for a positive answer to.)

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        1. @Allallit

          Okay. I see why you took that tact. However, if the Teleological argument is going to work, it is silly to assign any probability that life arose on its own.

          I think the point of the argument is that life is not possible without a Creator. 1 in 10**123 may be dinky, but it is still a possibility. I also agree. We don’t have sufficient data to calculate the odds. Our intuition, if and when we see a design for anything is that the odds are zero, that the design happened without a designer. So why propose any number other than zero?

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          1. @Allallit

            Interesting question. If you want it, I guess I owe you an answer.

            The Design argument is not one of my favorite arguments. When does intuition become logic? Darned if I know.

            I have heard it the Design argument described this way. What if you were shipwrecked and landed on a small island. When you step on the beach, you discover some stones arranged to spell these words: “HELLO ALLALLT. WE HAVE BEEN EXPECTING YOU”. Would you assume an accidental arrangement? Isn’t an accident mathematically possible? Would you like to calculate the odds?

            Since Darwin proposed his theory, many talented souls have tried to prove life arose by accident and evolved to its present state. It has gotten to the point that many now just assume the theory is true. There is, supposedly, a preponderance of the evidence, but that’s not proof. It is just treating an unproven theory as axiomatic. That kind of logic makes it reasonable to believe that those stones were arranged by chance.

            How did God create life and everything else? I don’t know. Who does?

            The Bible does not go into detail. Evolution may even have a role. I concede there times I feel like an accident waiting to happen, but I have a difficult time seeing other people as mere accidents.

            I don’t think we have proven some of the scientific theories we like to think are true. I also think some Christians assume the Bible says more than it does. “I don’t know” may not uplift our egos, but it is better than claiming to know what we don’t.

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          2. Okay, well… Eulittoral morphology (shapes in beaches) doesn’t have any sort of selective pressure. It has a sorting pressure, differentiating between large and small based on tidal and wave strength — but nothing selective over generations. Even without progressive generations, it still holds information (you can make informed estimates about wave strength and recent storms).

            From a philosophical point of view, how am I reading this message? In the ‘God designed everything’ model of the universe, the part I identify as a message is no less ordered or placed with intent than every other rock on the beach.

            The analogy relies on a background ‘natural’ beach and a message that someone had ordered. I’m not convinced it’s fully explanatory, but that contrast is key in your analogy.

            It also depends how clearly written the message is. If it’s clear, that’s much more interesting than if it’s fuzzy and distorted. The less clear the message is, the more I could be superimposing the message.

            Science doesn’t ‘prove’ anything. ‘Proof’ is reserved for formalised logic with set axioms: deductions, maths, etc.

            I’m happy to discuss evolution, but not before we draw the other conversation to a close. My experience is that trying to run parallel conversations just becomes confused and eventually descends into just copying slogans.

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          3. @AllAllt

            Thanks for a thoughtful reply.

            When people say our DNA holds information, a sign of intelligence, they are forgetting the difference between a record and a message. A paw print in the mud is a record.

            A message requires design, but a design does not have to be a message. Hence we may have trouble discerning the intelligence behind a design, even one that contains a message, if we don’t also perceive a message. I suppose that is why the Bible says something about the heavens declaring the glory of God.

            As it is, we have trouble perceiving the Design. So we have scientists driven by curiosity, the need to know.

            Scientific proof? I suppose that is why it is called a method.

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          4. @AllAllt

            I think you are equating information with data. Is not data, however, just a type information, or information seen from the perspective of someone looking for patterns.

            Because we live in an orderly universe, we can perceive patterns from data. For example, we can create databases for paw prints or even finger prints.Thus we debate whether the beauty and order we find in nature indicates design and a designer.

            A design conveys another type of information. Generally, the purpose of a design is to impose order over and above what we have come to expect from the natural world. Yet there is some ambiguity which goes beyond our present discussion. Do birds design their nests?

            A message is information “designed” to communicate “something” from one party to another. What might that message be? Who might be the parties sending and receiving a message? Single celled creatures? Ants? Space aliens? God through divine revelation?

            Can all forms of information be treated as data? Yes. That can be a problem. When we perceive a design or a message as just data, we will not be as informed by that information as we could be. On the other hand, treating mere data as a design or a message can also mislead us.I expect you can think of times you thought you heard someone and you did not, or you did not hear someone because you lost their call in the background noise.

            Anyway, there people who make their living off this subject, and there is more to it than I know.

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          5. When I say information, I am talking about information theory and the conservation of information.
            Processes on a beach have a pressure that causes certain types of sorting (based on tidal and wave energy and direction). That means you can use information on the prevailing winds and tidal forces to predict future sorting of sediment on the beach.
            But, within information theory, the reverse is also true: seeing only the sorting of sediment on the beach you can make predictions about recent historical prevailing winds and tidal forces.

            And so it is with anatomy. Given certain selective pressures, you can predict what will change in the anatomy of a population over generations. This happened in the E. coli experiments where E. coli was put in successive generations of depleted glucose supply and — as anyone with an understanding of evolutionary theory would predict — the populations developed increasingly efficient glucose metabolisms. (Some other amazing stuff happened, too — like gradual changes over time, accompanied by a large jump; gradualism and punctuated equilibrium.)

            But, then, you can also do this backwards in time. Given the laryngeal nerve’s structure, you can predict the type of body plan modern mammals descended from (similar to modern fish). Given the fusing of two chromosomes in the human genome that are structurally similar to separate chromosomes in modern chimpanzees, we can predict historical common ancestors.

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          6. @AllAllt

            Hello again. From a scientific perspective I think what you are calling information is data. We glean information from data by modeling — defining the processes — that produced the patterns we see in the data.

            What science is not equipped to deal with is intelligent design. I am sure you have heard of the Rosetta Stone. Sometimes it takes an entirely different approach to make sense of the data.

            As I indicated before, I believe the Bible, but I don’t know how God did what He did. The Bible may in some respects be a Rosetta Stone for Creation, but it is not a scientific text book. At best it suggests that we ought to have the humility to regard our scientific theories about what happened thousands, millions, and billions of years ago as interesting speculation.

            The examples you just gave are certainly worthy of consideration, but it is a stretch to extrapolate what we know from such research and assume the Theory of Evolution and the Big Bang Theory are proven facts. Yet that is what many people do, and so I have to wonder why. What is the point?

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          7. The only think I know about the Rosetta Stone (without Googling it) is that it is an inscription of some law in three languages. It is then used to translate between the languages we do know and the languages we don’t; it gives us a sufficient vocabulary in an unknown language to start building up the knowledge of that language.
            That is not what the Bible offers, it is? It hasn’t got something written down in a known language, and then copies it out in genetic code and we use that to translate DNA in human bodies and discover it says “God woz here”. There’s no diagram of radiometric dating with a description in English. There’s no equations of quantum field theory with a list of the implications on the side. But that’s the sort of thing an analogy to the Rosetta stone would need.
            It doesn’t even list the order of creation events in the order we think it happened or even that makes sense: what came first, the sun or days?

            Why is it that hypotheses that are extrapolation of physical processes, which are then confirmed by other observations, which built a coherent picture of what happened should be considered no more than “interesting speculation”, where the claim in a Book that an invisible force with a conscious mind made it all — a claim that can’t be hypothesised by extrapolating known processes, hasn’t been confirmed by other observations and doesn’t make a coherent account of the past — should be taken at least as seriously, of not more so?

            (I think you should try to get out of the habit of saying “proven”. I’ve already told you I reject that as an appropriate term in science.)

            People accept evolution for a number of reasons. For one, basically all the scientists that study the field accept it. For two, basically all the scientists in the national academy (regardless of disciple) accept it. For three, a lot of the evidence is available to review and is comprehensible to most people. For four, if you take biology further you learn more and more concepts (like the metric of genetic similarity and an experimental proxy for measuring it) that makes even more of the available evidence comprehensible. For five, it makes a coherent account of what happened.

            When it comes to the Big Bang… well, I don’t like that term. The model is called ‘The expansion from a singularity’. And it’s not the only model of what happened immediately before inflation began. Inflation, the rapid expansion from a much denser state, is about as confirmed as anything can be and all of its observation predictions have been seen. Whether that dense state was ever a singularity is up for discussion. So, if people tell you that The Big Bang is a proven fact, you can legitimately ask them what they mean by “Big Bang” and why they are using the term “proven” in science.

            But the real point is deeper, still. Even if you are completely sceptical of evolution and cosmogonic models and theories, that’s not an intellectual vacuum that will just suck in any old claim, regardless of how well defined or supported it is. Intellectually, the most stable claim is “I don’t know”, and you need to apply evidence to decay “I don’t know” into some other claim; if all you do it doubt the best supported and widely accepted model, you simply decay it (in your head) to ‘I don’t know’.

            But, well done. You’ve gotten us off the topic of making claims about probabilities relevant to the teleological argument and into conversation about evolution and cosmology. I have to wonder why. What is the point?

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          8. @AllAllt

            I used the Rosetta Stone as an analogy. All analogies are imperfect. However, think about your own words.

            t
            It is then used to translate between the languages we do know and the languages we don’t; it gives us a sufficient vocabulary in an unknown language to start building up the knowledge of that language.

            The Rosetta Stone did not provide a complete solution. It just got people started.

            With respect to the teleological argument, the Bible says it all did not just happen. God created everything by design. How? The “odds” are we would not understand the explanation. ☺

            It is kind funny. We seem to have two alternative gods of Creation, the God of the Bible and the god of chance. Since the god of chance seems to lend himself to modern scientific study, many scientists have an understandable prejudice for this god. Creation by chance allows us to propose and partially validate scientific models. There is, however, a certain irony in this. Science only makes sense because the world is orderly. We can count upon everything having a cause. Yet if Creation just happened, nothing caused it. Except by the wildest of chances, there is no reason for us to expect the order we find.

            So why should the Bible be taken seriously? There is no scientific argument for it. People believe it for many different reasons, and I don’t know what reason would work for you.

            I started studying the Bible over a decade ago. Finally got it through my head that if I wanted to understand Western Civilization I needed to understand the Bible. So I read it, and I was surprised to find I believed what it says about itself. It is the Word of God.

            Was my reaction the reaction of everyone who reads the Bible? No. Each of us has our own ideas about what it means to prove something.

            You think I should try to get out of the habit of saying “proven”, but I use that word for a reason. Few people actually believe something just because they want to believe that something. We put our faith in what we believe “proven”. Our biases affect what we consider proof. Our biases reflect who and what we trust.

            Because we are human, being a scientist just means we have a different set of biases. These biases may be disciplined by the scientific method, but even a bias towards what we define as science is a problem. For example, why would someone apply the scientific method to a problem that is not actually suitable for scientific study?

            Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living. It is only as I have grown old that I have begun to understand that. It is amazing how many houses we build upon sand.

            Anyway, I appreciate the fact you are willing to engage in thoughtful and serious discussion. It is a rarity.

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          9. Thanks for your kind words. I also appreciate being able to discuss things civilly.

            There’s a sort of ‘gish gallop’ about the reply, though. You don’t really address the level of problem of how poor the Rosetta Stone analogy is, you side step it.

            The Bible does say it just happen — because of a being that just exists. Science is not looking for a model of ‘it just happened’: it is looking for an actual explanation; physical processes or mathematical equations that account for the data.

            The ‘two Gods’ comment I’m just going to ignore. If the idea of a ‘God’ is so poorly defined that ‘chance’ can be a God, then the word isn’t worth talking about.

            This comment is, by the way, the word of God.

            There might not be any reason to assume order, but order is observed. We have no reason to assume disorder — and short of a reason to assume, a priori, that disorder should prevail, order is not falsification of naturalism.

            When it comes to taking the Bible seriously, I’m confused about what that means. I mean, Jordan Peterson takes the Bible seriously, but that only means he thinks the stories are poignant with no comment on their ontological truth; Dawkins takes the Bible seriously when it makes ludicrous claims about people turning to salt and iron chariots stopping God. I kind of take it seriously in that I think its claims are to be taken literally (except when that is completely untenable, and then it’s a self-evident allegory — but people don’t see the intellectual problem there).

            There are biases in scientists, yes. But, the community has to let research through ‘peer review’ — a balance of biases and humility. It’s imperfect, I know.

            Science is there to hold up support or criticism to any claim where there is a difference in reality between the claim being true and not. For example, if evolution is true we should expect to see genetic similarity at a degree in line with relatedness, and we do see this. If you claim there is an intelligent force guiding the process, then nothing looks different. But — then the question comes up — how do you come to the conclusion of the extraneous detail (intelligent guiding force) given that it’s existence is invisible? Science might not be able to tell the difference, but I don’t know what discipline can (other than presuppositionalism).

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          10. @Allallt

            “Gish gallop”? I will have to remember that expression. I also hope I can be excused from Gish gallop.

            Who understands God? Since we have a difficult time defining what God is or establishing that He does indeed exist, much of our discussion is like grasping at straws, gish gallop almost by definition. Where do we start? Note that I am also trying to avoid sounding too preachy.

            Let’s consider something you said.

            The Bible does say it just happen — because of a being that just exists. Science is not looking for a model of ‘it just happened’: it is looking for an actual explanation; physical processes or mathematical equations that account for the data.

            A scientific explanation for the beginning of everything? An equation that describes that? I marvel at the people who contrive such things. I would not know where to start.

            The Bible says that God, a Being from outside our universe, created it. God is eternal, but our universe had a beginning, a point of causation. I suppose the proposition sounds astounding, but excellent philosophers have made logical arguments that God is necessary as a cause.

            Does science say the universe just happened? Perhaps not. Perhaps science says the universe just is. However, since science is just an investigative process, I suppose science does not actually say anything. What we have are scientific investigators proposing various hypotheses about events thousands, millions and billions of years in the past.

            What does the Bible offer? Is the Rosetta Stone analogy a good one? I think that depends upon our perspective. The Creation story is a very small part of the Bible. The Bible is the story about how Jesus redeemed us, not how God created everything. When Moses wrote Genesis, the Creation account apparently satisfied the “scientific curiosity” of the Hebrews, but it leaves modern scientists quite puzzled and unsatisfied. However, I think the problem is with modern scientists. Like the rest of us, scientists tend to view God from too narrow a point-of-view. Instead of looking at what the Bible tells us about God, we get frustrated because the Bible does not tell us what we want it to tell us the way we want it to tell us.

            Here are some of the questions the Bible answers.

            There are four big questions in life.
            –Why am I here?
            –What is right and wrong?
            –What brings me meaning
            –What happens to a human being when I die?
            — List from Ravi Zacharias (an expert in Christian apologetics) who says there are Four Questions To Answer In Life.(=>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hfb5-7mtC-8)

            Given that God inspired the Bible to satisfy His agenda, not ours, perhaps we ought to be satisfied with the answers the Bible does provide.

            Of course, that leaves us with this question. Is the Bible worth taking seriously? Is the story about a man who died on a cross and rose from the dead credible? Well, when people are willing suffer persecution and die for their beliefs, that may not be scientific proof, but it is certainly a serious affirmation of truth.

            The Bible is itself a miracle.

            Consider these “proofs”.
            1. Without the inspiration of God, men would not have written the Bible. No other book is like it. The Bible doesn’t flatter us; the Bible holds up a mirror and shows us as we are. The Bible also gives us hope; it explains how God redeemed us from sin. There are about 40 authors, and these tell a coherent story in a book whose writings span 1500 hundred years. Moreover, in spite of the violence and travails of human history, believers have preserved the Bible virtually unchanged for thousands of years. Again I ask, what other book is like that?
            2. Without the God of Israel, the history of the Jews makes no sense. After all that has been done to destroy them, after all they have suffered, the Jews still exist as a nation. No other people has a story so strange and remarkable, not even close.
            3. Without Christ Jesus — without the man who was also the Son of God — the formation of Christianity makes no sense. After His crucifixion, hundreds saw Him — alive. Rather than deny Christ, many accepted death. That includes all but one of His apostles. Only John died of old age. Why? What for? These people had nothing material to gain. In court doesn’t the testimony of a dying man hold great weight? What is the testimony of a Christian martyr? Is it not the testimony of someone who knows his death lies just before him?
            4. Following Jesus has made a huge difference in our civilization. Consider the posts in this series =>
            https://citizentom.com/2017/03/30/who-is-this-man-by-john-ortberg-part-7/.
            5. As a way of life, loving God and ones neighbors cannot be beat. That’s why 2000 years after the birth of Christ men and women still speak of being born again. Each Christian knows that when they were born again, that birth was real and substantial, not a delusion.

            Many scientists tend to forget that what we call science is only a subset of knowledge, a subset of Philosophy. To understand God as best we can, we have to use tools and ideas scientists often disregard as not being part of their chosen discipline. To know God, we must do something like what Socrates did. Socrates asked questions, knowing how little he knew. He asked questions as a child full of curiosity, not a scientist, a lawyer, a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker.

            Socrates’ curiosity and questions did not always reveal the truth, but they did protect him from believing he knew more than he did.

            Socrates questions also riled his people. Ironically, we all know why Socrates questions riled his people, and we all admire Socrates for angering his people with questions. Still, because we refuse to be like little children, we are all guilty of being riled by questions.

            Liked by 1 person

          11. And so it begins: the almost insurmountable spreading of content and claims that becomes cumbersome and ridiculous to address. (That’s what a Gish Gallop is.) For this conversation to continue, we’re going to have to pick a topic and talk about that. We can’t hop around disciplines and topics and expect a coherent conversation. The initial conversation was one of cosmology. You seem driven to change that topic. But, unless you simply aren’t interested in the conversation, you need to settle on one.
            Your comment, which I intend to dissect in the rest of this comment, touches on questions of value, history, politics, causation and as far as I can see, makes errors through out.

            Who understands God?

            Not me. But I assume, as you appear to be claiming that at least one God exists, that you do have some understanding of God.

            Let’s consider something you said.

            A scientific explanation for the beginning of everything? An equation that describes that? I marvel at the people who contrive such things. I would not know where to start.
            I wouldn’t know where to start with building a house. Or an iPhone. Or writing a review of classic literature. I’m not sure I understand what your point is.
            I don’t actually know how to derive Newton’s Laws of Gravitation. Does that makes the laws implausible?

            The Bible says that God, a Being from outside our universe, created it. God is eternal, but our universe had a beginning, a point of causation…

            You can’t really make “a beginning” the same as “a point of causation”. We don’t understand creation ex nihilo (creation from nothing) well enough to confidently assert that there is any causation. We don’t actually understand how a cause could lie in a causal relationship with nothing at all, and still create an effect.
            You might want to get a ‘pantheist’ or ‘panentheist’ and assume that God had to use some of Itself up to create the universe, as that makes sense in a causative manner. But suddenly you are deviating from the Bible.
            But, you also seem to be massively underestimating how big a leap it is to go from ‘the universe began’ to ‘this must because there still exists an intelligent, personal agency that exists outside it’.
            We haven’t even bothered to discuss what we mean by “universe”, why we assume there was “nothing” before it, why we’ve rejected a thermodynamic (entropy) beginning or any of the other questions that currently surround the question.

            … I suppose the proposition sounds astounding, but excellent philosophers have made logical arguments that God is necessary as a cause.

            False. Philosophers have made fundamentally flawed arguments about the universe having a cause, and then assigning theological traits and significance to it. If you think I’m wrong, and there is one that isn’t fundamentally flawed, then I invite you to share it and we can discuss it.
            A priori, I’m very open to the idea that universe has a cause. But claims of this cause having agency and intelligent and preferences doesn’t just come along for the ride.

            Does science say the universe just happened? Perhaps not… What we have are scientific investigators proposing various hypotheses about events thousands, millions and billions of years in the past.

            This is another one of those times where I wonder how the inconsistency of your scepticism really holds up. Scientists make claims based on evidence and validated models about how events can happen. You may lose some confidence because of the extrapolation that has to take place, fine. But, the alternative model you are presenting is that a really old book just says an invisible God did it.
            Equal scepticism definitely cuts out the religious claim, if it cuts out the scientific one, here.

            Instead of looking at what the Bible tells us about God, we get frustrated because the Bible does not tell us what we want it to tell us the way we want it to tell us.
            Here are some of the questions the Bible answers.
            There are four big questions in life.
            –Why am I here?

            If you take this question to be different from “how am I here”, then you are assuming an ordained purpose. That’s question begging. Alternatively, if you don’t think the “how” and “why” versions of this question are necessarily different, then a physical account of embryology and a long discussion with one’s parents should satisfy the question.

            –What is right and wrong?

            Ooh, please give me a list! This question suggests an argument that is different from “the concept of right and wrong has a standard in God, regardless of whether we know what it actually is”; it, instead, suggests that there is some actual principle or list we can actually find in the Bible. I’d love to see what that is.
            There are plenty of secular ways of answering this question. But, religious ones have big problems in their treatment of women, foreigners and slaves.

            –What brings me meaning

            This is a completely internal question. It is different from how the question is normally phrased 一 what gives life meaning 一 and that difference really stunts a religious answer.

            –What happens to a human being when I die?

            So many questions. I’ll ignore the obvious: nothing happens to some general human being when you die.
            When you say “human being” are you referring to the body? Because there is significant evidence that the body decays and the materials are recycled. If, by “human” you mean “person, with personal interests and a persona” then I object to how the question is phrased, because it is misleading. However, to that question, we have very good reason to believe that all the “personal” attributes of a “person” are emergent phenomena from the material brain. The mechanism is not well understood, but the fact is well documented in psychology and brain injury patients and analysis of brain formation.

            Given that God inspired the Bible to satisfy His agenda, not ours, perhaps we ought to be satisfied with the answers the Bible does provide.

            Why? How does that follow? The communist manifesto was written to satisfy a specific agenda 一 and that is taken as a reason to reject it, not accept it. The fact it is laden with agenda makes it a piece of propaganda, not a reliable document.
            I don’t say that to start a conversation about communism. Just to show that we don’t accept things by knowing they are written to someone’s agenda.

            Consider these “proofs” [that the Bible is a miracle].
            1. Without the inspiration of God, men would not have written the Bible.

            How do you know this? We’ve written other religious books. We’ve written up laws and human rights.

            No other book is like it.

            What special knowledge or wisdom does the Bible contain that was not known or written elsewhere at the time? What confirmed qualities does it have that no other book has?

            The Bible doesn’t flatter us; the Bible holds up a mirror and shows us as we are. The Bible also gives us hope; it explains how God redeemed us from sin.

            I would be quite sickened if I believed my salvation was contingent on the torture of the only innocent person ever to have lived. And I would be mentally tortured by the idea that the person who I need salvation from 一 the person who set up the impossibly high standard that I was destined to fail to meet 一 is the same person offering that salvation. It’s like being told the only refuge from North Korea is Kim Jong Un’s Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.

            There are about 40 authors, and these tell a coherent story in a book whose writings span 1500 hundred years.

            The 4 authors of the Gospels can’t even agree how the crucifixion happened.

            Moreover, in spite of the violence and travails of human history, believers have preserved the Bible virtually unchanged for thousands of years. Again I ask, what other book is like that?

            What does this mean? Do you mean there is an actually 2,000 year old copy of the Bible? Or do you mean that the story hasn’t changed much? How have you confirmed that? The Canon was established and agreed in the 5th Century. There are non-Canon and excluded books. That is heavy alteration.

            2. Without the God of Israel, the history of the Jews makes no sense. After all that has been done to destroy them, after all they have suffered, the Jews still exist as a nation. No other people has a story so strange and remarkable, not even close.

            Which proves what? That the UN is God? The Jews don’t “still exist as a nation”, they currently exist as a nation 一 one that was established by the UN in 1948. And that had to happen because, before that, the Jews didn’t exist as a nation.

            3. Without Christ Jesus — without the man who was also the Son of God — the formation of Christianity makes no sense. After His crucifixion, hundreds saw Him — alive. Rather than deny Christ, many accepted death. That includes all but one of His apostles. Only John died of old age. Why? What for? These people had nothing material to gain. In court doesn’t the testimony of a dying man hold great weight? What is the testimony of a Christian martyr? Is it not the testimony of someone who knows his death lies just before him?

            Who was at the first sight of the empty tomb? The Bible can’t really tell you who, as each Gospel records a different group. But, you are willing to agree that the rest of the testimonies are true? That seems like a really weak intellectual stretch.
            But, is everything anyone has ever died for suddenly true? People die for Islam and Buddhism. So, are all their claims true, too? Or, does dying for a claim not make that claim reliable…

            4. Following Jesus has made a huge difference in our civilization. Consider the posts in this series =>
            https://citizentom.com/2017/03/30/who-is-this-man-by-john-ortberg-part-7/.

            Completely irrelevant.

            5. As a way of life, loving God and ones neighbors cannot be beat. That’s why 2000 years after the birth of Christ men and women still speak of being born again. Each Christian knows that when they were born again, that birth was real and substantial, not a delusion.

            Every delusional person “knows” their delusions are “real”.
            Inspiring a lifestyle isn’t evidence that the claim is true. I spent a weekend in a hippy commune, and everyone there really enjoyed their way of life. It was a pagan-esque was of life, which predates Christian ways of life. Does that Paganism true?

            [Science is a subset of knowledge. Something about Socrates]

            Are you writing this in the assumption that, somehow, it leads one to God. No one is claiming that only science can lead to knowledge. This conversation started with cosmogony, which is a science question. It has since made historical claims, which is part-science (when you get into archaeology and dating etc), part politics.
            But, the real irony here is that I am doing what Socrates did. Perhaps not as well. But I am challenging your positions.
            It’s an important part of epistemology is the recognition of this simple claim: I don’t have to have an answer to a question to doubt your answer to the question. This is the default position.

            Like

          12. @Allallt

            “Gish gallop”? Again? Not a great fan of long and lengthy comments. So I will skip responding to the sarcasm.

            A scientific explanation for the beginning of everything?

            What validating, proving, substantiating — whatever the word is — a hypothesis involves is a reproducible experiment. If you want to show how the universe was created, to prove your hypothesis the most convincing proof would be to create another universe just like this one. Don’t you think that would be a bit more difficult than building a house?

            You can’t really make “a beginning” the same as “a point of causation”.

            Is that not what the Teleological Argument proposes? When people decided to believe Genesis, they chose to believe God created everything.

            The real problem with the Teleological Argument is that proving it is outside the realm of science. Other than looking for evidence of design, how do we get God to demonstrate how He designed His Creation?

            The Intelligent Design does not have much validity as a scientific theory, but it does cause someone to wonder how we validate any of the so-called scientific theories of our origins. It is all the same kind of evidence.

            False. Philosophers have made fundamentally flawed arguments about the universe having a cause, and then assigning theological traits and significance to it.

            I suppose I ought to look up one of my old posts and update it. Be interested in seeing your comments. Will let you know when I post it.

            Scientists make claims based on evidence and validated models about how events can happen.

            Validated? As you said the extrapolation is rather large. Preposterously large, maybe? We are using forensic evidence. If someone uses such evidence in court, the evidence is accepted because we can reproduce the conditions that led us to a conclusion. If we say a body is so many days old or a footprint in the mud matches a certain shoe…. Nobody can replicate changes that occur over thousands, millions, or billions of years.

            There are four big questions in life.

            When we look at those questions, we have to consider the fact that we are creations. As creations we are here for our Creator’s purpose. That’s where humility starts, recognizing that our own purposes don’t much matter.

            The fact it is laden with agenda makes it a piece of propaganda, not a reliable document.

            I suppose some think the Hebrew and Jewish priests wrote the Bible to satisfy their agenda. Any serious reading of the Bible makes it quite obvious that the Old Testament does not flatter the priests or the various kings of Israel. Communist propaganda does not look like it. Joe Stalin’s propagandists disappeared when they told the truth about him.

            What about the New Testament? Think about what happened during the Protestant Reformation. With the invention of the printing press the spread of “propaganda” nearly pulled the Catholic Church apart at the seams.

            Consider these “proofs” [that the Bible is a miracle].

            I won’t try to refute every criticism of my “proofs”. A little work with Google will resolve most of your protests. Here is an example. Bart Erhman is one of those experts who says the Gospel accounts don’t agree.
            https://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=124572693
            Hank Hanegraaff differs.
            https://www.christianity.com/blogs/hank-hanegraaff/why-are-the-crucifixion-accounts-so-different-in-mark-and-luke.html

            Instead, I will address the points where I think some clarification might help.

            I would be quite sickened if I believed my salvation was contingent on the torture of the only innocent person ever to have lived. And I would be mentally tortured by the idea that the person who I need salvation from 一 the person who set up the impossibly high standard that I was destined to fail to meet 一 is the same person offering that salvation. It’s like being told the only refuge from North Korea is Kim Jong Un’s Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.

            Sin is bad. If you were God, who is holy, infinitely holy, how would you like to put up with an unrepentant sinner for eternity? Even if your patience were infinite, why test it?

            You and I cannot meet God’s standard of holiness. It does not matter how that thought mentally tortures us. That is just the way it is. So our Creator paid the price for our sinfulness. In addition, He provided a way for us to become like His Son, Jesus.

            So we have a choice. All that matters is whether the choice is real. Is the Bible true? Did Jesus pay the price of our redemption?

            Do we have to like this choice? No. Can we can truly understand it? No. We can, however, gratefully accept the gift of our redemption, or we can be too proud and reject it. It is sickening to realize we are sinners, but it is more important to know we can repent and be healed of our sins.

            What does this mean? Do you mean there is an actually 2,000 year old copy of the Bible? Or do you mean that the story hasn’t changed much? How have you confirmed that?

            We have the Dead Sea scrolls as an example of how well scribes copied the Bible. However, for the most part the scribes did not preserve the Bible in time capsules.

            What happened is that people who believed the Bible have copied each book carefully over the centuries. First the Jewish scribes and latter Christian scribes copied the text. Copies were made of copies and those copies proliferated across Christendom. What modern scholars have done is campare the various versions that survive over time. Surprisingly, the differences don’t seem to matter much. There seems to be more debates on how to translate some passages.

            There wasn’t much debate over which books the Bible should include.
            https://www.gotquestions.org/canon-Bible.html
            https://www.biblica.com/resources/bible-faqs/how-were-the-books-of-the-bible-chosen/

            The Catholic Church includes the Apocrypha in their version. That is a source of some friction.
            https://www.catholic.com/qa/why-did-the-council-of-trent-accept-some-apocryphal-books-of-the-bible-but-not-others

            Which proves what? That the UN is God? The Jews don’t “still exist as a nation”, they currently exist as a nation 一 one that was established by the UN in 1948.

            In 70 AD, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. They killed many of the Jews, and enslaved or scattered the rest. After the Holocaust, Jews began returning to Israel. Did the United Nations have anything to do with that?
            🙄

            And this is not the first time the Jews have returned.

            Completely irrelevant.

            What we believe makes a difference. We can see that might makes right, and we know in our hearts that is unjust. Yet that knowledge alone does not cause us to fight injustice. It the love of God that demands that we each love our neighbor. It is the love of God that causes men to believe that right makes might.

            I don’t have to have an answer to a question to doubt your answer to the question. This is the default position.

            That’s true. There is the problem. True or not, it is difficult to make someone believe what they don’t want to believe. It is even difficult to make ourselves believe something we don’t want to believe. Still, we do too often try to force our own beliefs upon each other. Jesus clearly was against that.

            In the search for knowledge, we have to careful about what we put our faith in. A bad assumption is difficult to overcome. A bad assumption requires us to admit we have a bit of sand upon which we have built the structure of our beliefs. There can be much emotional truma in doing that.

            So we should not try to force anyone to believe anything. We should believe what we have tested as well as we can. We should teach our children what we have learned, show them the importance of examining their beliefs, and set a good example for them by practicing what we preach.

            Like

          13. Hi Tom,

            The reason I accused you of a Gish Gallop is because the question at hand was the beginning of the universe. There was a singular and defined topic. And now we’re spread out into this. I’ve done this too many times to continue with an ever spreading remit, so this will be my last comment.

            I disagree with your characterisation of science. Do you know believe we know the temperature or composition of the sun? The orbit of Pluto around the sun? The composition of the centre of the Earth?

            None of these things have direct observation. What they have is repeated observations from which a reliable model has been built. For example, it is (partly) from missing wave lengths in light from the sun than we inferred the high presence of hydrogen. It is from mathematical models that we extrapolate the temperature of the nuclear reaction happening. It is from refraction of seismic waves that we calculate the composition of the centre of the Earth.
            This is despite not sticking a thermometer in or taking a biopsy of any of these, or even of knowing about Pluto for as long as one full orbit.
            It is confirmed observations of red shift and the microwave background and a number of other things (all of which are Googlable) that build up the model of early expansion of the universe.
            It is an understanding of quantum mechanics and high density physics that gives us mathematical models of the very early universe.

            Yes, the teleological argument does try to make “beginning” the same as “point of causation”. I see you didn’t decide to quote the part where I explained why you can’t do that. I invite people to scroll up and read my comment in full to see why that can’t be done.

            Given a perfect God, there are things we can expect from design, and my laryngeal nerve is wasted resources. People die because their air hole shares an opening with their food hole. I have hygiene-sensitive reproductive organs right next to waste disposal units. And standing for long periods of time gives me a headache, because I’ve got a nerve better suited to quadrapeds than bipeds wrapped around my spine.
            From body plans of earlier species, these things make sense within evolution. But they make a nonsense of a perfect omniscient designer.
            As opposed to trying to demonstrate that God created living organisms, why not start with an argument they are designed at all? Why is your question “how do we get God to demonstrate how He designed His Creation?” instead if “is life designed?”?

            “we have to consider the fact that we are creations”
            No, we don’t. If I accepted I was a creation, I’d obviously accept a creator. Demonstrate I am a creation.

            The fact they you’re okay with “holiness” being a protection racket means I’m not really going to take your comments on sin and morality and holiness seriously. What you’re essentially saying is that it is okay for a dictator to commit genocide and spare only those that get “The Dictator is love” tattooed on their face. You’re okay with it — whatever. I’m not. (Luckily, I also don’t think it’s true.)

            It’s interesting that one of your initial claims was that the Jews have existed as a continuous nation, why I said I didn’t believe, and then you accepted wasn’t true — but still haven’t backed down from. How does that work? How do you accept that Jerusalem was destroyed in 90 AD and the Jews were scattered, and Israel established nearly 2000 years later, but somehow they existed as a nation the whole time?

            Are you saying I’ve never stood up for a cause? Or that when I do stand up for a cause that somehow that means I accept God?

            And finally, you think that knowledge is familial? That you test knowledge yourself and pass that on? As far as I know, there is no doctor in my family and no one in my family has ever built an X-ray machine or developed antibiotics, but I’ve benefited from all of these.

            See, when it comes to questions like “how did the universe come into being?” I have good reasons to believe the best answer I can give is “I don’t know” and “some experts have some speculative ideas”; but you seem to think you have perfect reason to say “God did it” and “I know this”.

            So, which of us has the intellectual humility you seem to cherish?

            Like

          14. @AllAllt

            It seems I can’t say anything right. Does “gish gallop” have anything to do with nitpicking?

            When we started discussing your assumptions, the topic became a bit more difficult to define than either of us expected. Undoubtedly, that irked you. If your assumptions are in error, then your argument is doubtful.

            It is amazing how we can tangle ourselves in our own words. Think about what you said when you were explaining the purpose of your post.

            The point of the post is that we don’t have any of the data points to decide whether any ‘other’ (hypothetical) universe could give rise to life (as we would recognise it or otherwise).
            The whole point of the teleological argument (as Craig presents it) is that no other fundamental values of the universe could have given rise to life. My point is that no one seems to have the data to honestly make that claim.

            What do people mean they claim that without intelligent design the odds of the universe containing life are so small God had to design it? They are referring to that mathematical model that describes the Big Bang. To create the conditions that would support life, the variables had to be set to perfection. Unfortunately, I have never studied the math behind the Big Bang Model. Must be a doozy. When people explain the theory, they always skip the math.

            The experts say that Big Bang model is based upon data. Apparently, you just don’t think it sufficient to support evidence of intelligent design, whereas I don’t think science provides us the tools to make emphatic assertions of fact about anything that happened thousands, millions, and billions of years ago.

            Given your argument of what constitutes science, I don’t think you are being impartial.

            I disagree with your characterisation of science. Do you know believe we know the temperature or composition of the sun? The orbit of Pluto around the sun? The composition of the centre of the Earth?

            None of these things have direct observation. What they have is repeated observations from which a reliable model has been built. For example, it is (partly) from missing wave lengths in light from the sun than we inferred the high presence of hydrogen. It is from mathematical models that we extrapolate the temperature of the nuclear reaction happening. It is from refraction of seismic waves that we calculate the composition of the centre of the Earth.

            The Big Bang model has undergone some validation. That being the case then odds we calculate from it depend upon the accuracy of the model. The more we extrapolate beyond the data upon which the model is based the less confidence we should have ……?

            Anyway, I have enjoyed the discussion. It seems, however, I have offended you. Not intentional. I strongly disagree with some of your views, but I respect the fact you care enough to think things through.It is the apathetic who have set themselves completely beyond any help.

            What is a nation? Does a nation require territory? Is a nation about land or something we share in spirit? What was it that brought the Jews back to Israel and unites them as a people? The Promised Land? Or is it something they share in spirit?

            I have faith that God is real, that the Bible is true. I use to say “I don’t know”. Still do about many other things, but I believe in God.

            One of the problems I had believing the Bible is that I believed what some people said about it. Because the book is so controversial, that doesn’t work. To know what the Bible says we each have to read it. We cannot take someone else’s word. Professor Bart Ehrman, for example, says things about the Bible that are just silly, but it does fit what some want to hear.

            Reading the Bible includes some study. We have to put ourselves in the position of the people to whom each book was written. In addition, we must be prepared to respect the honesty and the intellects of the men who wrote each book. If we blow off the Bible as the work of lying and ignorant men, we are giving ourselves too much credit. For generations people have believed the Bible. Why? They would say because it is true.

            Like

  4. Ha! I love “the odds.” When something was extremely unlikely I used to say, “when hell freezes over.” Then we went and had a nasty ice storm. A bit funny, but I decided hell freezing over may not be all that unlikely l after all, so I stopped saying it.

    Colorstorm is great fun. I definitely enjoy reading him.

    This made me chuckle, “Consider what happens to the odds of winning any horse race if you bet on one race, versus betting upon millions of races. The odds go from unlikely to almost certainty.”

    Yep,that’s the mind of a true gambling addict! It’s always a sure bet, an “almost certainty.” Hate to tell those guys, but the house always wins.The casino will get rich long before you do.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. @IB

      Yep,that’s the mind of a true gambling addict!

      When politicians in Virginia decided to set up a lottery, they used funding education as an excuse. Setting up a government-run program designed to tempt their parents to gamble is good for the education of children? What kind of sick jerk believes that? What kind of voters support the politicians who come up with sick ideas like that?

      It seems that the mind of a true gambling addict is just one that is susceptible to perverse rationalizations. Playing the odds then becomes just another excuse for doing what we want to do anyway.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. “The casino will get rich long before you do.”
      That’s the right answer to the question that was not asked. This is not about winning/losing in a bet, this is simply about likelyhood.

      Assume a lottery with a 1 in 10,000 chance to win.
      What are the odds of winning at least once, if you play one time?
      What are the odds of winning at least once, if you play 500 times?
      What are the odds of winning at least once, if you play 8000 times?

      That said, I do not think we know enough,yet, to meaningfully quantify any kind of Drake equation.

      Like

      1. @marmoewp

        I think Allallit would agree about the Drake equation. Pascal’s Wager is what I think IB has in mind, and we have the Bible, Creation, and a certain knowledge in our hearts.

        Like

  5. Good stuff, but I’m not so sure I’m missing the boat. lol. After all, In my title of the post, the ‘recycling’ was mentioned, that is, the same age old arguments. The simple idea of graphs and charts used to support a view using math, when the basic premise is ignored ie, how does a man KNOW two plus two equals four? Philosophy will not do. Guesswork is unacceptable. Relying on Einstein is useless, since arithmetic was in play long before he wore diapers.

    This is why the believers arguments can never be refuted when history, math, and common sense are all called upon. As to evolution, there is no law, accident, or mind numbing excuse that could see the point of a pine tree doing battle with an oak for bragging rights. There are no ‘odds,’ in favour of what I like to call: cosmic serendipity.

    At the end of the day, God rules. After all, we have His word on it, and I know a good word when I see it. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. @ColorStorm

      Well, the name of your post just gives credit where it it is due. When the Atheists recycle old arguments, that is as close as the get to doing science and providing proof with reproducible experiments.

      Is the Theory of Evolution true? I think what is true is that it is politically correct in government-run schools.

      Frankly, I get a bit of laugh out of the whole thing. Atheists are always demanding proof God exists, but they believe in the Theory of Evolution, and they have no idea of how to prove it. They think scientific proof is the same thing as “sophisticated” speculation.

      Genesis says God created everything. Does it give all the details? No. Thank God! Can you imagine that for a required reading assignment? We don’t know how God did/does lots of things. When we need to, we will.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True, Tom, and with all the water deluge in NC, people may want to revisit 40 days and 40 nights or torrential downpour from above and beneath, which makes Flo. look like a water sprinkler, sad as it is for those affected.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. “how does a man KNOW two plus two equals four?”

      That answer is simple. You take a small set of axioms (formal logic is sound, you define what 1 and 0 are supposed to represent, you define addition) and see how far this will take you. After about two weeks of lectures you know enough about the genereal structure of natural numbers that you can start to give specific numbers names, i.e. “two” is defined as the sum of 1 and 1, “four” is defined as the successor of “three”, etc. and then you can prove within this system, that as long as you assume your basic axioms to be true and formal logic to be true, then indeed 2+2=4.

      Oh, and then you realize, that natural numbers are those things that you use when you count on your fingers and you have a sudden realization, of how useful that concept is.

      That’s the beauty of logic, you take a very small set of simple axioms and you can build a large house of conclusions on it. And we have found, that mathematics can be a very useful tool to describe certain aspects of what we consider our surroundings. Some people like to abuse it as a club without knowing how to actually work with it (“That assertion contains numbers, hence it must be true”), others wilfully opt to ignore the tool outright and ridicule it instead. Neither is a good choice, IMO.

      Coming back to your article, I do not know about a gorilla winning a spelling bee, but you have heard of Koko? The gorilla with a 2000 word vocabulary? While the intelligence of gorillas and apes is different than human intelligence (in some areas they even outperform us) they are decidedly not as dumb as you seem to make them out to be. Along your line of reasoning, do you think kiwis and chicken are distant cousins or not? After all, kiwis can not fly. Does that revoke their bird membership card?

      Like

      1. @marmoewp

        Since I expect he will come at your comment from a somewhat different direction, I would like to see ColorStorm reply. Nevertheless, here is something you may find interesting. I wrote a post on this topic some years back, WHAT IS MATHEMATICAL PROOF? DOES 2 + 2 = 4? (=>https://citizentom.com/2008/06/22/what-is-mathematical-proof-does-2-2-4/). Something we tend to forget is that numbers are just symbols. Only in the abstract does 2 + 2 = 4. What we call logic is our effort to simply the real world enough so we can use models and make relatively accurate calculations.

        Our approximations of reality are just that and nothing more. In the end, we are still just mortal men.

        Ecclesiastes 1:12-18 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
        The Futility of Wisdom
        12 I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I set my [a]mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven. It is [b]a grievous task which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with. 14 I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is [c]vanity and striving after wind. 15 What is crooked cannot be straightened and what is lacking cannot be counted.

        16 I [d]said to myself, “Behold, I have magnified and increased wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my [e]mind has observed [f]a wealth of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I set my [g]mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind. 18 Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.

        The more we know the more we know the futility of life under the sun, of life without God.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. The beauty of logic marm? Really?

        So the ‘simple axioms’ were discovered by the people who you say were ‘stone age cavemen………..’ and sooooooooo behind the times in learning and understanding.

        Sorry, but you miss the ‘simple’ point, and you bring ‘recycled stubbornness.’

        Arithmetic is not simply a convenient way, but a way that reveals absolute design, standards, and wisdom above the ages.

        As to apes, I never for one second said they were dumb as rocks so to speaks. They are apes, period, and they are good at what they do, but try teaching one how to tie his shoes, or sew a button, tan a hide, or appear on Jeopardy!

        And as far a math, try considering the seven days of creation, each having 24 hr periods. Numbers. It’s God’s idea, not yours, as you are simply borrowing on another mans genius. You could thank Him instead of not giving Him the courtesy of existing.

        And here’s a bonus as to logic. Try telling a kid that his swingset appeared without a maker, or your kitchen table was the result of a sandstorm which collected toothpicks and arranged a neatly varnished product.

        Logic? Oh yeah. Things made require a Maker. Period. Math proves that Creation is the only truth that adds up.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. So the ‘simple axioms’ were discovered by the people who you say were ‘stone age cavemen………..’ and sooooooooo behind the times in learning and understanding.

          I have never refered to “stone age cavemen”, but as you seem to need to rely on strawmen to push them over, be my guest. The scholars in old civilisations like ancient Egypt, Greece, Mesopotamia, India, China or any other of those old were quite capable. Apart from that, you do not need a thorough understanding of modern math to learn that the result of adding 3 apples to 4 apples is 6 apples (the other one was jummy). Even crows can count to six or so, not sure whether any crow was nominated for a Fields Medal, yet.

          But I disgress. Your original recycled argument is, that gorillas can not be our distant relatives as they can not speak. By the same kind of “reasoning”, kiwis are related to birds, as they can not fly.

          I find the following advise quite helpful, even if it is obviously only meant for silly Catholics like myself, and nobody else:

          “Nothing may be asserted as true that is opposed to the truth of faith, to revealed dogma. But neither is it permissible to take whatever we hold as true and present it as an article of faith. For the truth of our faith becomes a matter of ridicule among the infidels, if any Catholic, not gifted with the necessary scientific learning, presents as dogma what scientific examination shows to be false.”
          Thomas Aquinas

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          1. If you want to say you are a monkey’s uncle, go for it. As for me, I’ll rely on common sense and the word of God, which word by the way is higher than any alleged infallibility of any pope, rabbi, and of course, shuts the mouths of lying scientists.

            Like

          2. As you take to insulting me when running out of arguments, ColorStorm, I’ll try my best to ignore further input of yours. Congrats on lowering the standards of civility at Citizen Tom’s place.

            Like

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