Friday, September 2, 2011

Why I do this

Commentor RickK:

Egnor cares not for reality or honesty - he just wants to piss people off so they'll notice him.

Commentor heleen:

Why does Egnor defend Coulter? To get the fun of shouting matches with atheists? Not likely for a serious person. Why should Egnor pose as anti-evolution given that Egnor considers evolutionary biology is good science. What is the purpose of this post?

Why do I do this? Good question. I've wondered myself. It's not like I don't have enough other stuff to do.

Perhaps it's for religious reasons-- to advance Christ's work on earth. Not that I'm a particularly good emissary, but somebody needs to stand up and speak out about atheism, and I have some minimal aptitude for that. I was an atheist myself years ago, and I know the intellectual darkness, and I'm grateful others spoke up and helped me.

Of course, perhaps it's ego. I try not the think this way, but I'm human.

I think the main reason, probably, is that I hate bullies. Atheists have tried so hard to destroy the careers of good scientists, like Sternberg, Behe, Dembski, Luskin, Gonzalez, Marks, Crocker, Gaskell. Each of these folks has been put through a gauntlet of hateful personal spite and professional destruction. I admire them for their courage. They stood up to the atheist infestation in science. They told the truth. Nature is saturated with evidence of intelligent agency, and is in fact unintelligible without at least tacit recognition of this basic fact.

Fortunately, I'm in a academic position in which I'm safe. Atheists can't do much to me, although they've tried. If I were younger, or less established, or untenured, I'd have a lot more to worry about.

Dealing with atheists is like walking past a mean dog each day. The dog lunges, but he's chained . Nasty, but harmless. Just stay beyond the reach of his chain. Sometimes it's irresistable to taunt him a bit.

Atheism is so stupid that taunting them is safe.  They're all bluster, and sneer, and spit. They will try to destroy you professionally if they can. I am fortunate to be in a position where they can't. Otherwise they have nothing. They have no logic. Their 'science' is banal. Their ideology is gibberish. They have no weapons but fear.

Atheists are like the dog.

Atheism is like the chain.

119 comments:

  1. Atheism is evil.

    Look at the new militant atheists, they want to abolish all religions, they preach that man can decide what is moral or not and they wreck havoc in our society.

    How many youths (and others not so young) commit suicide because they believed atheism is true and then they despair and see no point in living.

    Dawkins says one can be an intellectually fulfilled atheist: this is like saying one can have a healthy generalized cancer.

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  2. Egnor is like a stuck record. He has a limited repertoire. Take this:

    Atheists have tried so hard to destroy the careers of good scientists, like Sternberg, Behe, Dembski, Luskin, Gonzalez, Marks, Crocker, Gaskell.

    He has already tried this silliness once.

    Anyone familiar with the matter knows that Sternberg did not lose any job over the Meyer paper.

    Gonzalez has only himself to blame for "destroying" his own career. Why would a sane person write popular books and textbooks instead of getting grants, carrying out research, and publishing scientific papers?

    Dembski was demoted from his position by his colleagues at Baylor. None of whom is an atheist. It's a conservative Christian college, for God's sake!

    Behe has stopped publishing science and switched to writing popular books. That was his own free choice.

    Marks is as safe as ever at Baylor. His "Evolutionary Informatics Lab" was, and still is, a glorified web site, not a lab in any meaningful sense of the word.

    How can atheists destroy Casey Luskin's career? By complaining to Steven Meyer? :)

    And who wants to defend Crocker's teaching of creationism in college? Raise your hand.

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  3. I wholeheartedly support Michael Egnor's academic freedom to write silly things on his blog. I have it on good authority that every time he posts here, Casey Luskin is having a *facepalm* moment and Stephen Meyer is yelling at Anika Smith for no apparent reason.

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  4. Here is what I see Atheism as 'good for'.

    A moral lesson.
    I would phrase it something like this:
    Imagine a universe with no purpose, no meaning, no point at all. No God that cared.
    Imagine a life driven by desires and violence. Imagine YOU are in that universe and still trying to do good.
    A futile pursuit you CANNOT resist despite it's futility. Would your soul be driven to evil? Would you eventually cave into selfish desire, or even end your life to silence the chaos? Or would you fight on for something better. CAN you imagine such a universe? To be so totally ALONE and worthless.
    Now imagine a man in our universe who sees OUR life and universe this way. How would you show him he is wrong?

    THAT is the purpose behind atheism. It is a lesson to be learned, a test to be passed. We all face doubt and a lapse(s) of faith. We all have Atheistic moments. But MOST of us grow beyond them.
    Atheism is a signpost on the path to faith, and an indicator of that growth/development. The questions it asks should be answered. The answers SHOULD be heard.
    But that is all down to free choice really, isn't it?

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  5. Egnor: "I think the main reason, probably, is that I hate bullies."

    Interestingly, this is the same reason I spend time defending science from creationist lies and atheism from poisonous slanders (like crusadeRex's vile suggestion that atheists live "a life driven by desires and violence").

    Of course, neither your motives nor mine are relevant to the facts. And the facts, alas, Mr. Egnor, are not on your side.

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  6. Sharry,
    "Vile", what does that mean? Do you mean libels?
    I fail to see the Libel in what I have written. Are you suggesting there is PURPOSE to NS and RM? There IS objective morality? That life has an ULTIMATE MEANING?
    Or are you just upset I have called it like it is?

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  7. @sharry:

    [I spend time defending science from creationist lies and atheism from poisonous slanders (like crusadeRex's vile suggestion that atheists live "a life driven by desires and violence").]

    I think that crusadeRex was describing the lot of mankind without God. I think that 'driven by desires and violence' is a pretty accurate description. The history of atheism in power supports his view.

    [... the facts, alas, Mr. Egnor, are not on your side]

    That's what we're trying to sort out here. I'm not impressed with my atheist interlocutors. 'shit happened', 'stuff changes and survivors survive', 'there is no objective moral law', 'we have no free will', 'the mind is meat' don't hold up well under even the most cursory scrutiny.

    I've long believed that the one thing atheism could not survive is the need to explain itself.

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  8. We're not impressed with your misrepresentations, either. 'shit happened', 'stuff changes and survivors survive', 'there is no objective moral law', 'we have no free will', 'the mind is meat' are straw men of your own making.

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  9. Dr Egnor wrote:
    "I think that crusadeRex was describing the lot of mankind without God."
    Exactly. Which would indeed be 'vile'.

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  10. Oleg,
    You are the master of the canard, and the Valedictorian of sneer - and YOU suggest these are straw-men? LMAO-ROFL.
    You are really too much.
    Is it cocktail hour in your homeland? Cheers!
    So go on then. Explain to us all how and WHY the 'shit happened'? Or perhaps argue about the survivors who did NOT survive? Maybe you could explain where OBJECTIVE morality (or ANY thought) originates materially.Or, maybe how determinism and free will are compatible.

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  11. Oh and Oleg who is the 'we' in 'We're'? Is their multiple Olegs? A legion of Olegs? :P

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  12. mregnor wrote
    "Well said."
    Thanks, Mike. Didn't notice your response before.
    I am just 'saying it like I see it'.

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  13. Chastising atheists for believing "there is no objective moral law," to take one example from Mr. Egnor's list of straw men, is not only untrue -- it relies on a supernatural and self-contradictory definition of "objective," for one thing -- but it also presumes a moral superiority on the part of religious belief that is entirely unearned.

    At least an atheist isn't obliged to try to make moral sense of, for instance, the Biblical story of Abraham and Isaac -- which combines brutal celestial bullying with abject human servility and parental cruelty, and holds it all up as somehow admirable!

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  14. We're not impressed with your misrepresentations, either. 'shit happened', 'stuff changes and survivors survive', 'there is no objective moral law', 'we have no free will', 'the mind is meat' are straw men of your own making.

    Not at all. To the extent that one can get an atheist to intelligently and calmly discuss any of these topics, this is what it ultimately comes down to. For example, I seem to recall one of Egnor's intellectual betters recently telling Dr. Egnor that Egnor's job is repairing meat robots and that Egnore should just accept that.

    I've had many discussions with atheists who simply will not make the simple assertion that free will exists, and I find it odd that one would protest vehemently when someone points out such an easily verifiable fact as the unwillingness by atheists to make such an affirmation.

    Meanwhile the atheists I've encountered will point to anything whatsoever except the objectivity of moral law (and will generally mock and ridicule the idea of a Law Giver). And yet they turn around and assert "straw man" when their arguments are taken at face value.

    The more Egnor rhetorically buries the asinine atheist worldview, the more he gets accused of being ignorant, stupid, or insane (or wicked, but I'm sure all of the Dawkins acolytes would rather not consider that). Which is just what I would expect from the denizens of Plato's Cave.

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  15. @matteo: "I've had many discussions with atheists who simply will not make the simple assertion that free will exists."

    Perhaps because, whatever their opinion, they don't regard it as a religious question? The perceived experience of "free will" surely exists. Its precise nature and whether it is to some degree illusory are hotly debated topics. As an argument for the existence of God it has no relevance, except perhaps as a distraction.

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  16. My theory that Michael's rants are just due to the Geschwind syndrome appears to be getting stronger ...

    Michael, stop misconstruing what scientists actually say. 'Survivors survive' is not an accurate summary of natural selection. Natural selection is the differential survival of individuals to breeding age. 'The mind is meat' is not a true picture of what the mind is. It's a product of the brain, which is not composed of meat, nothing more and nothing less.

    As Sharry has noted, your 'book' is riddled with atrocities, most of them sanctioned by your god as being 'good'. Most of the commandments proscribed by God in the Bible, and which Jesus was reported to have said that he had come to change not at all, you cheerfully ignore, because the ethical standards of the world today have changed, and humans have OBJECTIVELY decided for themselves what laws are necessary for a prosperous society.

    Unless, of course, you think that death is a suitable punishment for such 'crimes' as working on the Sabbath ...

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  17. @sharry:

    [Chastising atheists for believing "there is no objective moral law," to take one example from Mr. Egnor's list of straw men, is not only untrue -]

    Very few atheists believe in objective moral law. How could they, if there is no Lawgiver? If man is the lawgiver, then moral law is subjective.

    [- it relies on a supernatural and self-contradictory definition of "objective," for one thing --]

    You know what 'objective' means in this context. It means that moral law does not depend for its existence on men's opinions. It means that something could be morally wrong, even of all men thought it right.

    [but it also presumes a moral superiority on the part of religious belief that is entirely unearned.]

    That's a separate discussion. The discussion now is about whether morality has existence apart from human opinion.

    [At least an atheist isn't obliged to try to make moral sense of, for instance, the Biblical story of Abraham and Isaac -- which combines brutal celestial bullying with abject human servility and parental cruelty, and holds it all up as somehow admirable!]

    If moral law has no existence independent of man, to what do you appeal in your criticism of the Bible? Your own opinion, as opposed to mine? If you are to assert that your moral stand is better than mine, to what do you appeal?

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  18. @matteo: "Meanwhile the atheists I've encountered will point to anything whatsoever except the objectivity of moral law (and will generally mock and ridicule the idea of a Law Giver)."

    Suppose your Law Giver exists. Do you know its will in every detail? Are your moral judgments therefore infallible? And if not, doesn't that leave you in the same boat as atheists, pantheists, Buddhists, and the guy down the street who can't quote scripture or Aquinas but nevertheless saves a kid from a burning building?

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  19. @egnor: "If moral law has no existence independent of man, to what do you appeal in your criticism of the Bible? Your own opinion, as opposed to mine?"

    On what do you base your opinion, Mr. Egnor? Your superior insight into the mind of God? Some other human being's theological assertions? Your subjective interpretation of scripture?

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  20. Egnor: If moral law has no existence independent of man, to what do you appeal in your criticism of the Bible? Your own opinion, as opposed to mine? If you are to assert that your moral stand is better than mine, to what do you appeal?

    Was this guy born yesterday? No, it's not one personal opinion versus another. Ethics and morality reflect a consensus of a large number of people. It's pretty well grounded.

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  21. @bachfiend:

    [My theory that Michael's rants are just due to the Geschwind syndrome appears to be getting stronger ...]

    Didn't the Soviets diagnose dissidents with psychiatric/neurological disorders to silence them?

    [Michael, stop misconstruing what scientists actually say. 'Survivors survive' is not an accurate summary of natural selection. Natural selection is the differential survival of individuals to breeding age.]

    "Differential survival to breeding age" is what animal breeders. Are you saying that natural selection is just as consistent with intelligent agency (design) as it is with unintelligent change?

    ['The mind is meat' is not a true picture of what the mind is. It's a product of the brain, which is not composed of meat, nothing more and nothing less.]

    The brain is organic matter, which is what I mean by "meat". If the mind is not organic matter, what is it? Careful not to stray into dualism.

    [As Sharry has noted, your 'book' is riddled with atrocities, most of them sanctioned by your god as being 'good'. Most of the commandments proscribed by God in the Bible, and which Jesus was reported to have said that he had come to change not at all, you cheerfully ignore, because the ethical standards of the world today have changed, and humans have OBJECTIVELY decided for themselves what laws are necessary for a prosperous society.]

    Christian apologetics is another matter. Not on the table now. I'm merely talking about logic.

    Unless, of course, you think that death is a suitable punishment for such 'crimes' as working on the Sabbath ...

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  22. Sharry,
    My post had nothing to do with chastising. YOU did that by describing my post as 'vile' and demanding rapprochement.
    Get over yourself.
    Also, the list is Oleg's and the straw men are Atheist (IE GNU , Monist Materialists) constructions. Hence the banality of the arguments themselves.
    The reductionist names given to those comically reductionist arguments could perhaps be credited to Dr Egnor, but I think some of them (IE 'Shit Happens') are self evident. They are quite well worn, actually. Literally worn, in fact; I had a T-shirt with that on it in the 80's when I was a teenage boy.

    "Chastising atheists for believing "there is no objective moral law," to take one example from Mr. Egnor's list of straw men, is not only untrue -- it relies on a supernatural and self-contradictory definition of "objective," for one thing.."
    Okay, put your Meme where your Mouth is: Prove the supernatural untrue. PROVE there is no forces beyond the percievable and nothing exists outside of our idea of nature. Go for it.
    In fact, you could even try to prove truth WITHOUT invoking the supernatural. NOT FACT, but rather TRUTH. That is only midly impossible.
    So maybe you mean Dr Egnor's ideas are against 'established dogma' or 'defies consensus'? But 'untrue'...who on EARTH are you to judge THAT?
    Now if you really wanted to get to the point, what you SHOULD be writing is that 'Dr Egnor's argument is a metaphysical and philosophical one'.
    But....This observation works JUST as well on YOU and your position. So What?
    While Dr Egnor is claiming your philosophy is bad and leads to bad science. You, on the other hand, are claiming to hold the ONLY scientific position, and (I predict) deny the position is philosophical, but will INSIST you have some sort of empirical proof of that. You will NOT admit it is based on assumptions and FAITH. You will do so to avoid the obvious question.
    Your empirical proof? Banal observations bent to fit a philosophical and TOTALLY metaphysical position: Monistic Materialism.
    Finch beaks, gravitrons/boson particles, lizard heads etc. ZZZzzZZZzz

    You go on:
    "... -- but it also presumes a moral superiority on the part of religious belief that is entirely unearned."
    Unearned? Superiority? SUPREMACY is the word you are looking for. Religion holds an elite position in the civilizations that cultivate it properly. It is central and powerful.
    Unearned? that what you call 6k+ years of historical record? Thousands of years of philosophy and and it's resultant sciences, criminal and civil laws, 'rights' and constitutions to protect them, etc etc.... UNEARNED? Please. Religious belief is a constant, and it earned it's place at the table of civilized thought. Any semi-literate student of history understands that.

    Why do Atheist HATE the past and worship the future so? Promissory materialism, perhaps? Maybe it's more of a 'year zero' type idea...

    Finally,

    "At least an atheist isn't obliged to try to make moral sense of, for instance, the Biblical story of Abraham and Isaac.... holds it all up as somehow admirable!"

    I'd love to hear your mature take on the themes in Homer, Sharry.
    LOL

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  23. As always the atheist dupes here don't get it.

    Normal for them.
    Their minds are on hold.
    They are immune to logic, reason, evidence and common sense.

    So what do they do? They comment here to prove Mike right, all while telling him he's wrong!

    Just freakin amazing.

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  24. How about some humor?

    Q: What do you get when you cross a Mormon and an Atheist?

    A: Someone who rings your doorbell for no reason

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  25. @crusadeREX: Asking someone to prove that the categorically imperceptible "doesn't exist" is absurd. I would settle for your admission that the categorically imperceptible is...well, imperceptible. To both of us.

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  26. Or how bout this:

    An atheist was seated next to a little girl on an airplane and he turned to her and said, "Do you want to talk? Flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger."

    The little girl, who had just started to read her book, replied to the total stranger, "What would you want to talk about?"

    "Oh, I don't know," said the atheist. "How about why there is no God,or no Heaven or Hell, or no life after death?" as he smiled smugly.

    "OK," she said. "Those could be interesting topics but let me ask you a question first. A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same stuff—grass. Yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, but a horse produces clumps. Why do you suppose that is?"

    The atheist, visibly surprised by the little girl's intelligence, thinks about it and says, "Hmmm, I have no idea."

    To which the little girl replies, "Do you really feel qualified to discuss why there
    is no God, or no Heaven or Hell, or no life after death, when you don't know crap?"

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  27. @sharry:

    The argument for the supernatural is logical, not empirical.

    The question is this: does nature, even in theory, contain an explanation for its own existence? If not, the explanation must be supernatural.

    If you argue that no explanation for nature is needed-- it just is-- then you argue that explanations are not necessary for all things. But then you deny the need for logic and science. Why invoke natural selection, if species can just exist, with no explanation needed.

    The supernatural is logically demonstrable, unless one denies logic.

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  28. Sharry said...

    "@crusadeREX: Asking someone to prove that the categorically imperceptible "doesn't exist" is absurd. I would settle for your admission that the categorically imperceptible is...well, imperceptible. To both of us."

    Q: How do you know the being we call God is "categorically imperceptible"?

    Q: Is love "categorically imperceptible"? Or do you have evidence that it can be empirically tested under methodological naturalism?

    Q: Is humor "categorically imperceptible"? Same thing.

    Q: Is logic "categorically imperceptible"?

    Sorry, you'll have to do better than that Sharry.

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  29. Michael,

    Yes, the Soviets did diagnose dissidents as psychotics in order to lock them up. I didn't suggest that you were psychotic, I merely suggested on the normal human continuum of religious beliefs, you're towards the extreme end.

    The mind is a product of the brain in the same way that the circulation of blood is a product of the heart. No beating heart, no circulation of blood. There's nothing physically lacking, the blood and blood vessels are still there, but there's no movement of blood. No functioning brain, no mind. Again, there's nothing physical missing. The brain's still there, but if it's permanently damaged, then the mind will be affected. If the brain is dead, then the mind is also dead.

    Where do you get your moral laws from? It's apparently not from the Bible because you seem happy to pick the ones that you think are right and reject the rest. So why can't you or anyone else decide for yourself what is ethical? Do you think working on the Sabbath deserves death? You didn't say.

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  30. @egnor: "The question is this: does nature, even in theory, contain an explanation for its own existence? If not, the explanation must be supernatural."

    If by "nature" you mean "the universe," then the appropriate answer would be: I don't know. I don't know whether the question is coherent as phrased or what might constitute an "explanation" on these terms. And neither do you.

    Your leap to a "supernatural" explanation, whatever that means, is logically unfounded and incoherent.

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  31. @Gary: "Q: How do you know the being we call God is 'categorically imperceptible'?"

    It was CrusadRex who said "PROVE there is no forces beyond the percievable." That was my answer.

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  33. bach

    So the mind is a product of the brain?

    And your proof of this is?

    Your own mind is the product of your brain huh?

    This necessarily means that everything YOU think isn't reason. It's just electrochemical activity in 2 pounds of meat. i.e. right, wrong, good, bad, true, false, do not apply.

    And you're fine with that huh?

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  34. Sharry

    thats not much of an answer - evasive maneuvers?

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  35. @bachfiend:

    [The mind is a product of the brain in the same way that the circulation of blood is a product of the heart. No beating heart, no circulation of blood.]

    The heart analogy is a good one to show the incoherence of materialism.

    If you are arguing that the mind is what the brain does, then you are a dualist, because what something does is ontologically different from what it is. Welcome to dualism. We reserved you a spot.

    The only way you can avoid dualism is to argue that the is only one thing in the mind-brain question. You must argue that the mind is the brain. But if you do that, then it is not true that the mind is what the brain does. It is only true that the mind is the brain. Stop.

    The only coherent materialist theory of the mind that avoids dualism is eliminative materialism, which is the opinion that the mind doesn't really exist. We are merely deceived, and the only real thing is the brain.

    The problem with eliminative materialism is that it denies the reality of opinions, etc (all just chemistry, you see). How can you have an opinion that there are no opinions?

    [Where do you get your moral laws from? It's apparently not from the Bible because you seem happy to pick the ones that you think are right and reject the rest. So why can't you or anyone else decide for yourself what is ethical? Do you think working on the Sabbath deserves death? You didn't say.]

    I get my moral laws from God, just like you do. They're written in our hearts.

    I get my own moral opinions from many sources, some good, some not, just like you do.

    The difference between you and I on this matter is our fidelity to logic.

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  36. @sharry:

    [If by "nature" you mean "the universe," then the appropriate answer would be: I don't know. I don't know whether the question is coherent as phrased or what might constitute an "explanation" on these terms.]

    It must be coherent, to the extent that you understand it well enough to evade it.

    [Your leap to a "supernatural" explanation, whatever that means, is logically unfounded and incoherent.]

    That's the issue here, really. Here's my argument:

    1) Everything that does not contain the explanation for its own existence must have an explanation for its existence in another.

    2) Nature does not contain the explanation for its own existence.

    3) Nature must have its explanation in another.

    Coherent enough for you, sharry?

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  37. Egnor: The problem with eliminative materialism is that it denies the reality of opinions, etc (all just chemistry, you see). How can you have an opinion that there are no opinions?

    This is seriously stupid. I have previously quoted Phil Anderson's famous essay More Is Different in this thread.

    "The ability to reduce everything to simple fundamental laws does not imply the ability to start from those laws and reconstruct the universe..The constructionist hypothesis breaks down when confronted with the twin difficulties of scale and complexity. At each level of complexity entirely new properties appear. Psychology is not applied biology, nor is biology applied chemistry. We can now see that the whole becomes not merely more, but very different from the sum of its parts."

    What did Michael do? He Egnored it. :)

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  38. @Gary: "thats not much of an answer - evasive maneuvers?"

    Really, must we? Oh well --

    "Q: How do you know the being we call God is 'categorically imperceptible'?"

    I know no such thing; I was responding to CrusadeRex's challenge to ""PROVE there is no forces beyond the percievable."

    "Q: Is love 'categorically imperceptible' Or do you have evidence that it can be empirically tested under methodological naturalism?"

    I think you need to look up the definition of "imperceptible." Love is self-evidently a perceptible emotion. CrusadeRex was asserting the presence of an "imperceptible force" in the universe, presumably emanating from or representing God. I merely pointed out that, if it was truly imperceptible, I couldn't perceive it, and neither could he.

    If love and humor somehow demonstrate the existence of God, is the same true of hatred and contempt?

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  39. @egnor:
    "1) Everything that does not contain the explanation for its own existence must have an explanation for its existence in another."

    How do you know this, especially when we're talking about the totality of existence? Your premise is unsupported.

    "2) Nature does not contain the explanation for its own existence."

    How do you know this?

    "3) Nature must have its explanation in another."

    See above.

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  40. @oleg:

    ["The ability to reduce everything to simple fundamental laws does not imply the ability to start from those laws and reconstruct the universe..The constructionist hypothesis breaks down when confronted with the twin difficulties of scale and complexity. At each level of complexity entirely new properties appear. Psychology is not applied biology, nor is biology applied chemistry. We can now see that the whole becomes not merely more, but very different from the sum of its parts."]

    You're referring to emergence, which is one of my favorite tropes. Three problems with emergence:

    1) It does no conceptual work. To say that 'properties emerge on a higher level of complexity' is just to say 'stuff happens when stuff gets complex that I can't explain". Which is true, but does no lifting.

    2) 'Emergence' is not a physical concept. It's a psychological concept. It means that stuff happens in complex things that you wouldn't have predicted from simple things. That's a psychological assertion, which presumes a mind. Therefore you can't use emergence to explain mind.

    3) If emergence is a genuine reality independent of mind, then ascending levels of complexity entail the acquisition of essences not inherent to lower levels of complexity. Essence is an Aristotelian concept, and is integral to hylemorphism. Welcome to the hylemorphic camp, oleg. You'll need to do a lot of reading to catch up.

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  41. Sharry,
    I will concede that much of supernature is beyond the veils of perception. For both of us, most of the time. That said, some of the above comments (gary, matteo, mike) all show quite neatly how such perceptions CAN be sensed, but NOT measured in a beaker.
    Such truths are philosophical, and you cannot label the opposing FAITH as 'untrue'. Will you concede that calling the Theist position 'untrue' is not scientific?
    Will you concede that your position is based on BELIEF in something you cannot prove or disprove?
    I have philosophical proofs, metaphysical arguments, history, experience, and the miracle of LIFE on my side.
    All you have is Bacon's method, and it does not apply to 'truth' at all.
    You're trying to weld with a screwdriver, Sharry.
    You need new tools.

    Here's what I will concede:
    This little exercise was a logical trap, and you are in it Sharry. The way out? Expand your universe to include purpose,non material causes, morality, and the MIND. Such a universe is big enough for both of us, God, and even comrade Oleg.

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  42. @sharry:

    You appear to be asserting that the universe exists

    1) without cause. Which renders pointless all science and logic, because one could assert that any natural process needed no explanation.

    or

    2) with natural cause, but you haven't the faintest idea what it is. The logical contradiction of something being its own cause seems to escape you.

    or

    3) is caused outside of nature. This denial of this, in defiance of logic, is the point of your whole enterprise.

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  43. @crusadeREX: "I will concede that much of supernature is beyond the veils of perception. For both of us, most of the time."

    Most of the time? So the supernatural is occasionally perceptible, but impossible to measure or objectively demonstrate? My elderly aunt used to say the same thing, except she was talking about ghosts and table-rapping.

    "Will you concede that calling the Theist position 'untrue' is not scientific?"

    Did I use the word untrue? "Unsupported by evidence" and "self-contradictory" are good enough for me. I don't have access to absolute truth. And neither, I repeat, do you.

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  44. @egnor:

    You appear to be asserting that:

    1)The totality of existence does not contain an explanation for its own existence; therefore

    2) There must be something beyond the totality of existence which would provide an explanation for the existence of the totality of existence.

    If you fail to see the logical contradiction in that, much less the unsupported premise, I'm not sure how I can help you.

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  45. Egnor: You're referring to emergence, which is one of my favorite tropes. Three problems with emergence:

    (*Blah, blah, and blah.*)

    Michael, you are out of your league here (surprise!). You do not understand what emergence means, hence you think it's a "trope." It says more about you than about emergence.

    Superconductivity is an example of an emergent phenomenon. It does not exist at the level of a single atom or molecule. Thus it cannot be explained by atomic physics. Superconductivity is a collective property of a large number of atoms. There was a time in physics when there was only a phenomenological theory of superconductivity developed by the London brothers (1930) and later Landau and Ginzburg (1950). A more microscopic explanation was offered by Bardeen, Cooper, and Schrieffer only later (1957). And even that explanation was not reductionist in the sense "solid state physics is just atomic physics." Which is the main point of Anderson's essay.

    So don't say stupid things like "brain is all just chemistry." This is a straw man of your own making.

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  46. @sharry:

    [You appear to be asserting that:

    1)The totality of existence does not contain an explanation for its own existence; therefore

    2) There must be something beyond the totality of existence which would provide an explanation for the existence of the totality of existence.

    If you fail to see the logical contradiction in that, much less the unsupported premise, I'm not sure how I can help you.]

    You're in no position to 'help' me.

    My argument is simple, and you have such trouble with it:

    Nature (the natural universe) requires an explanation, unless you deny the need for explanations for natural things. If you deny that need, you deny the need for science and logic.

    Nature does not provide an explanation for itself.

    An explanation for nature that is outside of nature is necessary.

    It's a simple clear argument.

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  47. oleg:

    [Superconductivity is an example of an emergent phenomenon.]

    Superconductivity is not normally included in discussions of emergent properties.

    Nothing you said bears on my critiques of emergence as a concept.

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  48. @oleg:

    [So don't say stupid things like "brain is all just chemistry." This is a straw man of your own making.]

    Is the mind material? If not, they you're a dualist.

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  49. @egnor: "Nature does not provide an explanation for itself. An explanation for nature that is outside of nature is necessary."

    Maybe we can address this from another angle that would help you understand. Obviously, nature does not "supply explanations" at all. Explanations are produced by human beings in an attempt to understand natural phenomena. You're basically asserting that the universe is inexplicable -- though I still wish you'd tell me how you know this -- and that a genuine explanation would require us to invoke some thing or substance outside of the totality of existence. But an invisible and unmeasurable realm which does not (in the sense of your premise) "exist" is not in fact an explanation. It explains nothing. It's simply "I don't know," dressed up in the Emperor's new clothes.

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  50. Egnor: Superconductivity is not normally included in discussions of emergent properties.

    This just goes to show how limited your knowledge is. Read Anderson's essay. Superconductivity is right there, as one of the examples.

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  51. @sharry:

    [But an invisible and unmeasurable realm which does not (in the sense of your premise) "exist" is not in fact an explanation. It explains nothing. It's simply "I don't know," dressed up in the Emperor's new clothes.]

    Explanations are concepts, which are inherently invisible (they reflect no light) and inherently unmeasurable (they have no extension in space).

    But concepts, and explanations, do exist.

    So such a "realm" of invisible and unmeasurable entities is quite real. Some would call it spiritual.

    You are caught on the fork of a dilemma, which is a catastrophe for your ideology.

    Either the universe needs a supernatural explanation, or nothing in the universe needs an explanation.

    Either the supernatural exists, or science and logic are without foundation.

    This is an argument Christians have been making for 2000 years. Welcome to it.

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  52. Egnor: Nothing you said bears on my critiques of emergence as a concept.

    LOL. You don't even understand the concept of emergence.

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  53. @oleg:

    I'll have to read Anderson, when I can.

    Explain the mind for me, oleg. Avoid dualism, if you can.

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  54. @egnor: "Explanations are concepts, which are inherently invisible (they reflect no light) and inherently unmeasurable (they have no extension in space)."

    But they have location (they exist as ideas in human brains) and they have information content (which is measurable in theory if not in practice). And they certainly don't exist "outside of the universe" in the sense that your putative supernatural explanatory force is claimed to.

    You're reduced to metaphor and bare assertion. Wouldn't it be simpler just to say there are some things that neither you nor I can explain, without pronouncing them intrinsically inexplicable?

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  55. @egnor: "This is an argument Christians have been making for 2000 years. Welcome to it."

    No dig intended, but this reminds of the banner some well-meaning locals put up when a contingent of Marines first arrived at their temporary barracks in Baghdad: "If this is your first visit to Iraq, you're welcome to it."

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  56. @sharry:

    "there are some things that neither you nor I can explain"

    I observe that the universe can't explain itself, not that it can be explained within itself but we just haven't yet found the explanation.

    The explanation for nature is necessarily outside of nature.

    If you deny the need for explanation of the universe, you deny the relevance of science or logic. It if all needs no explanation, how do you assert that any part of it needs explanation?

    "Shit happens". Atheism is nothing more than this.

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  57. @egnor: "I observe that the universe can't explain itself, not that it can be explained within itself but we just haven't yet found the explanation."

    I find this incoherent. Who obliged the universe to "explain itself?" To whom? How would it do such a thing? What, in fact, are you talking about?

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  58. Egnor: I observe that the universe can't explain itself.

    What is this? A stand-up routine? A superconductor can't explain itself, either. So what?

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  59. Sharry

    "If love and humor somehow demonstrate the existence of God, is the same true of hatred and contempt?"

    Absolutely.

    You cannot have any concept of evil unless you have assumed the transcendent existence of moral right.

    If evil truly exists then God exists and there are forces willfully engaged in rebellion against his moral law and authority as legislator.

    There cannot be evil unless there is ultimate good. You cannot define evil without its opposite. If no absolute good exists, there is no evil and there is no good.

    So by the inverse, yes hatred, if such truly exists (it can't under atheism), is also an evidence for God.

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  60. @Gary: "If evil truly exists then God exists and there are forces willfully engaged in rebellion against his moral law and authority as legislator."

    I had been under the impression that the Christian God was omnipotent and that Christianity is a monotheism. Wrong on both counts, apparently.

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  61. @sharry and oleg:

    "I observe that the universe can't explain itself..."

    sharry: [I find this incoherent. Who obliged the universe to "explain itself?" To whom? How would it do such a thing? What, in fact, are you talking about?]

    oleg: [What is this? A stand-up routine? A superconductor can't explain itself, either. So what?What is this? A stand-up routine? A superconductor can't explain itself, either. So what?]

    So it's metaphors, not merely logic, that leave you baffled?

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  62. Oleg ...

    "What is this? A stand-up routine? A superconductor can't explain itself, either. So what?"

    Oleg you've clearly yet unknowingly set aside this place to humiliate yourself publicly.

    As usual you display not only contempt for reason itself but your own witless stand-up routine.

    Why am I not surprised by your perpetual failure to grasp the arguments being presented you?

    Hint:
    Get your mind off hold and allow yourself to really think and be taught.

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  63. sharry:

    [@Gary: "If evil truly exists then God exists and there are forces willfully engaged in rebellion against his moral law and authority as legislator."

    I had been under the impression that the Christian God was omnipotent and that Christianity is a monotheism. Wrong on both counts, apparently.]

    How is this inconsistent with monotheism?

    As for God's omnipotence, God permits free will. Moral law is meaningless unless moral actors are free.

    But you don't believe in free will, so...

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  64. @egnor: "So it's metaphors, not merely logic, that leave you baffled?"

    You're the one who drew a distinction between the universe "explaining itself" as opposed to "being explained within itself." Wish you would explain that -- perhaps this time actually using logic rather than just wearing it as a badge. (That's a metaphor.)

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  65. Egnor: So it's metaphors, not merely logic, that leave you baffled?

    Perhaps that's a sign that you can't express yourself well.

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  66. @egnor: "How is this inconsistent with monotheism?"

    I assumed that Gary's "forces willfully engaged in rebellion against [God's] moral law and authority as legislator" were supernatural entities. If he just meant people acting badly, perhaps he should have said so.

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  67. Sharry

    "I had been under the impression that the Christian God was omnipotent and that Christianity is a monotheism. Wrong on both counts, apparently."

    Wrong indeed. Its your concept of omnipotence that is wrong.

    So is your concept of the Christian God in general.
    Worse, so is your logic.

    You're committing a category error here.

    You equate omnipotence, as per sheer power, with moral control.
    i.e. you're conflating "power to ..." with morality.

    Omnipotence relates to power, energy; while morality is a question of free agency and moral law. Two seperate domains.

    You have basically equated moral law with physical law. Hardly surprising, but still erroneous.

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  68. @Gary: "Omnipotence relates to power, energy; while morality is a question of free agency and moral law. Two seperate domains."

    God has unlimited power in the sense of energy, then, but is morally restrained from acting against those forces (whatever they are) engaged in rebellion against him (whatever that means)?

    How do you know this?

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  69. Sharry

    I assumed that Gary's ...If he just meant people acting badly, perhaps he should have said so.

    Isn't it obvious enough?

    I meant as I said - any one in rebellion against the moral law.

    How does "supernatural entities" vs natural entities change anything?

    It doesn't. Free will exists, (if not what are you doing here?), and where it exists is irrelevant.

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  70. @Gary: "How does 'supernatural entities' vs natural entities change anything?"

    In the matter of monotheism, it changes a great deal. I imagined you were talking about supernatural forces in rebellion against God, which would obviously multiply the number of deities. In other words, I thought I detected a whiff of brimstone about those "forces in rebellion." I'm pleased to learn that I was wrong.

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  71. Sharry said...

    God has unlimited power in the sense of energy, then, but is morally restrained from acting against those forces (whatever they are) engaged in rebellion against him (whatever that means)?


    So you ought to look up the word rebellion huh.

    How do you know this?

    1. Your "this" is not my "this".

    You stated, "...but is morally restrained"?

    Well that's wrong.

    There's a huge difference between restraining oneself for specific reasons - in this case, freedom - and being "morally restrained" (whatever you mean by that).

    If you would at least attempt to understand simple English it would help.

    Iow, you don't want to understand because your erroneous opinions are set in brick, mortar and steel and "open mind" no longer applies to your current abilities, right?

    Whatever morals atheists may live by, they have no objective grounds for, and so must borrow their moral values from other sources - religion & philosophy.
    This of course means that atheists are nothing but moral parasites.

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  72. @Gary: "Iow, you don't want to understand because your erroneous opinions are set in brick, mortar and steel and 'open mind' no longer applies to your current abilities, right?"

    In other words, you have no coherent argument to make -- right?

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  73. Sharry said...

    In the matter of monotheism, it changes a great deal.

    No it doesn't.

    "I imagined you were talking about supernatural forces in rebellion against God, which would obviously multiply the number of deities."

    How does supernatural forces equate to other deities?

    "In other words, I thought I detected a whiff of brimstone about those "forces in rebellion." I'm pleased to learn that I was wrong."

    Well you're wrong all the way through here. Oh and you yourself are a "force in rebellion".

    As for brimstone and your implication of the devil or the devils being deities, well you got that wrong as well.

    Where do you get these strange ideas from? You apparently really know nothing of Christianity.

    There can only be one omnipresent, only one omnipotent and only one omniscient.

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  74. @Gary: "How does supernatural forces equate to other deities?"

    Well, let me admit that I don't know enough about the immaterial realms to parse the nature of supernatural entities and rank them according to their appropriate powers and principalities. Nor, of course, do you.

    @Gary: "Oh and you yourself are a 'force in rebellion."

    Yay me! Rally round, all you slaves and prisoners! We'll storm the gates of heaven yet! (Wistful smile.)

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  75. @Sharry and oleg:

    We are all in rebellion. Some of us have laid down our weapons and are trying (feebly) to walk it back. We get a lot of help from the Boss.

    This is the central question:

    In Christianity, we recognize two ways of knowing truth: reason and revelation.

    Things like God's existence, the objective moral law, we can know with connfidence by reason.

    Christ's atonement, angels, supernatural rebellion, are known to us by revelation. We trust the revelation for all sorts of reasons, in much the same way a scientist trusts the opinions of others in different fields with which he has no personal experience.

    My question for you is this: if the universe exists without cause or reason, why do you ask us to present to you our reasons for believing in Christianity? You have already asserted that everything in nature needs no ultimate explanation. So why should Christians have to explain themselves?

    So, in the atheist framework, how do we resolve this difference of opinion? The answer: by who wins. By force if necessary. That is the ultimate atheist solution. When you remove reason and cause from the universe, power is what remains.

    Atheism is wrong on logic and facts, and is ultimately a deadly ideology. Look at Communism, if you want an example of human civilization under the yoke of atheism.

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  76. Egnor: In Christianity, we recognize two ways of knowing truth: reason and revelation.

    That's too bad. Consider adding science to the mix.

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  77. @oleg:

    [That's too bad. Consider adding science to the mix.]

    A part of "reason" (inductive logic about nature).

    Metaphor, oleg, metpahor.

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  78. Egnor: So, in the atheist framework, how do we resolve this difference of opinion? The answer: by who wins. By force if necessary. That is the ultimate atheist solution. When you remove reason and cause from the universe, power is what remains.

    Maybe an eight grader could write something like this. But when it is written by a tenured professor, I can only shake my head. WTF do you think that reason is foreign to atheists? You meet atheists every day of your life. They are normal people. I can't believe you are for real.

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  79. Science is not pure reason. Philosophy is.

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  80. Gee Wiz!

    This morning, I was the first to write a comment about this post.

    When I come back after my day's work, there are 80+ comments, most of them from atheists desperately trying to prove to the world that they are RIGHT and that they are the only one in possession of the TRUTH!

    These guys are like cockroaches. If you tease one out then they ALL come out!

    Just have a look at pharyngula if you don’t believe me. That site is full of these bestioles!

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  81. @oleg:

    [WTF do you think that reason is foreign to atheists? You meet atheists every day of your life. They are normal people. I can't believe you are for real.]

    Of course atheists are normal people. I used to be an atheist, and I made the same arguments you do.

    The problem is that atheists don't even believe atheism, in its fully thought-out form.

    Atheism 'isn't even wrong'. It isn't even a coherent mistake. It's self-refuting. If there is no cause for the universe, there is no reason to invoke reason or science to explain anything. Stuff is just uncaused. Whatever.

    If there is no free will, you have no reason to strive for anything, because the outcome is determined by physics and history, not by your libertarian choice.

    If there is no objective moral law, then nothing is really good bad, just thinking makes it so.

    Athesim is such a stupid mess of gibberish that even atheists don't really believe it, so they are normal people.

    Atheism isn't really an ideology. It's a conceptual error, and even atheists don't really believe it.

    That's why atheists are generally normal decent people.

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  82. @Mike Egnor
    If there is no cause for the universe, there is no reason to invoke reason or science to explain anything. Stuff is just uncaused. Whatever.

    If there is no free will, you have no reason to strive for anything, because the outcome is determined by physics and history, not by your libertarian choice.

    If there is no objective moral law, then nothing is really good bad, just thinking makes it so.


    Atheism is to the human mind what a BSOD is to a computer.

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  83. Of course atheism is ridiculous. They can't explain where the Universe comes from. Therefore it was created by a supernatural beings who hates gays and will torture you forever if you don't believe he sacrificed his son.

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  84. @oleg:

    [Maybe an eight grader could write something like this. But when it is written by a tenured professor, I can only shake my head.]

    You've got it exactly backwards, oleg. It could only be written by a tenured professor. Untenured academics risk a lot by speaking out against atheism and its dogmas.

    Telling the cold hard truth about atheism and its myths is a luxury only the tenured can enjoy in safety. Do you think that Mike Behe would still be employed at Lehigh if he were untenured?

    A lot of atheists (not you, oleg) are thugs.

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  85. @anon:

    [Of course atheism is ridiculous. They can't explain where the Universe comes from. Therefore it was created by a supernatural beings who hates gays and will torture you forever if you don't believe he sacrificed his son.]

    Logically, you have to acknowledge an intelligent Cause of the universe to get an entrance ticket into the logic club.

    If you think that shit just happened, you aren't in the conversation. Heck, if shit just happened, why is your metaphysics any better than mine. We can each proclaim "my shit happened!". You can't appeal to reason, because you believe that the whole universe has no reason. So why the hell should you have any reasons for your argument?

    My argument here isn't that Christianity is true. You and I aren't to that stage yet.

    My argument is that your atheism is bullshit. You have no place at the discussion table until you acknowledge that there is a reasonable cause at the foundation of the universe. When we get to that, we can discuss various viewpoints as to the nature of the Cause.

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  86. Egnored: Telling the cold hard truth about atheism and its myths is a luxury only the tenured can enjoy in safety. Do you think that Mike Behe would still be employed at Lehigh if he were untenured?

    At the rate he publishes these days, he wouldn't. Same story as Gonzalez.

    A lot of atheists (not you, oleg) are thugs.

    Is that a half-assed retraction? Too little, too late, and still quite derogatory.

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  87. @anon:

    By the way, He doesn't hate gays. He created each of us, and loves each of us. He loves sinners.

    And he won't torture us forever because of our disbelief. If we reject him, he will not force us, and our torture will be our own.

    He Himself endured torture to save us from that.

    He will do anything to bring you to joy, except force you.

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  88. @oleg:

    [At the rate [Behe] publishes these days, he wouldn't. Same story as Gonzalez.]

    Ever pubmed Myers, or Dawkins?

    [Is that a half-assed retraction? Too little, too late, and still quite derogatory.]

    Just being gentle with a very fragile ego.

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  89. Alright, let's assume an "intelligent cause" created the Universe.

    Now explain to me why it would mean that this intelligent cause want us to "believe" in it or would care at all about what's happening on a little planet.

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  90. Michael,

    When you state that 'eliminative materialism' is the only way of avoiding mind-brain dualism, then you're right, although I don't like you using complex phrases to describe quite simple concepts.

    The fact is is that the mind is an illusion created by the brain. The brain does many things most of which we are completely unaware. Decisions aren't made by the mind. The brain makes all our decisions subconsciously resulting from separate parts of the brain pulling the decision in different directions till a consensus is formed which is then presented to the mind. And the mind then rationalizes a reason for the decision already made.

    This is demonstrated in fMRI scans with subjects being asked to make choices and neuroscientists can follow the sequence of increased activity in the various parts of the brain concerned with future planning, emotion, fear, reward, etc, before the person states a choice.

    If you think that your moral laws are embedded in your heart, where's your proof. My heart is about 350 grams of cardiac muscle, and it doesn't have any memory. Have you got a different heart to me?

    And atheism is just the position that there is no evidence for the existence of a god or gods. There are a lot of things that could exist, Douglas Adam's mutant stargoat for example, but don't. It's up to those who insist on the existence of invisible entities to provide the evidence.

    And philosophy with its deductive logic doesn't succeed. Deductive reasoning starts with an initial premise leading to a conclusion through a series of logical steps to reach a conclusion. If the initial premise is wrong, then no matter how valid the logical steps, then the conclusion is unjustified.

    Not many if any cosmologists would agree with your assertion that the Universe came from nothing.

    Even if you're right, and the Universe is such a mystery that a god (or gods or perhaps alien intelligences in another part of the Multiverse creating a vacuum fluctuation to spawn our Universe), how do you know that it's your God who did it? The only evidence you have is a collection of separate mutually contradictory often morally repugnant books.

    The accounts of Jesus' life don't even agree in the gospels.

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  91. Myers has made a decision to be a full-time teacher. He does not pretend to be a researcher.

    As to Dawkins's record, I recall that Dembski questioned it at some point. Then, after my intervention, he had to issue a retraction. For a while, this could be found at UD (no more):

    "One colleague recently claimed that Dawkins’s record of peer-reviewed publications leaves something to be desired. The confusion in this case was due to Dawkins early in his career using his first name “Clinton.” In fact, Dawkins has a respectable publication record. –WmAD"

    If you mean to say that Dawkins's most recent publication record lacks research articles, that is by design. He was appointed as the Simonyi Professorship Chair for the Public Understanding of Science. Here is the job description.

    You just can't win, Mike. You are a n00b, with near zero knowledge about evolution, and even ID.

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  92. Spam filter acting up. Apparently, it is afraid of links to Oxford. LOL

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  93. @oleg:

    Dawkins' record as a researcher is respectable, although pedestrian (I looked him up under "Clinton" a while back).

    He stopped research back in the 80's as I recall, to devote himself to bad popular science, incompetent philosophy, and photo-ops.

    Ironic that such a narcissistic boob would be a professor of 'the public understanding' of anything.

    The man is a passable writer, and a remarkably shallow intellect.

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  94. Michael,

    Why do you bring up the publication record of Richard Dawkins? His last academic post was professor in the public understanding of science set up deliberately as a personal chair by one of the Microsoft executives. He's now retired.

    Getting tenure at a university is a difficult process and very competitive. There are a lot of PhD graduates in science each year and only a very small percentage will manage to achieve tenure. It might be unfair, the untenured graduate might be a brilliant teacher or might be on the verge of making an astounding discovery 10 years down the track, but to gain tenure you have to have a publication record, the ability to gain grants and to supervise graduates towards their PhDs.

    The atheist astrophysicist Sean Carroll was also denied tenure at his university and his academic resume was much more impressive than Gonzalez. Did Sean Carroll complain that his faculty had made a mistake, that he was being persecuted for his atheism? No, he picked himself up and went elsewhere for a job.

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  95. I, too, am not sure why we are comparing Behe with Myers and Dawkins. Behe is supposedly one of the leading lights of ID. So compare his record of publications to that of, I dunno, Richard Lenski. Or Eugene Koonin.

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  96. @oleg
    You just can't win, Mike. You are a n00b, with near zero knowledge about evolution, and even ID.

    Oh, Great OLEG, please enlighten us with your infinite knowledge, we implore you SAH!

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  97. I dunno, Pépé. I tried to share my knowledge with you, but your brain appears to have reached capacity.

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  98. @oleg
    ...I tried to share my knowledge with you...

    No thanks. My brain has a spam filter, thank God!

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  99. Then Pépé, I am not sure why you are asking me to enlighten you. Can't teach an old dog new tricks.

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  100. @oleg
    Here is a question for your superior intellect.

    Does a person full of himself weigh double is body weight? If so, better get on a diet oleg!

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  101. @oleg:

    Ironic that you would bring up Lenski and Koonin;

    Lenski has that little problem with hiding his data from Andrew Schafly. Most unseemly.

    Koonin of course is a superb theoretical biologist who published "The Biological Big Bang model for the major transitions in evolution" a few years back. Caused quite a few Darwinian heads to explode.

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  102. Mike, again you don't have a foggiest idea about the incident.

    Lenski had no problem sharing the material with qualified scientists. Schlafly isn't one of them, which is why he ended up looking like a dork. Even his own Conservapedia minions criticized Schlafly for handling that episode poorly.

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  103. And no, Koonin did not cause "Darwinian heads to explode." Creationists (Paul Nelson in particular) were salivating, but that was it.

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  104. @bachfiend:

    [When you state that 'eliminative materialism' is the only way of avoiding mind-brain dualism, then you're right, although I don't like you using complex phrases to describe quite simple concepts.]

    I didn't make up the terminology.

    [The fact is is that the mind is an illusion created by the brain. The brain does many things most of which we are completely unaware. Decisions aren't made by the mind.]

    That's a topic for a great blog post, when I can.

    What you're describing is epiphenominalism, which is the theory that the brain creates the mind but the mind has no agency. Only the brain has agency.

    It's a form of dualism. Welcome to the dualist club. Membership card is in the mail.

    Epipenominalism goes back a few centuries, was quite popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. T.H. Huxley was a proponent, by the way, which may be positive or negative.

    Ben Libet's experiments have been used to support epiphenominalism, but Libet himself disagreed, and in fact observed that his experiments were inconsistent with epiphenominalism because the mind was shown to have agency independent of the brain.

    The logical problem with epiphenominalism, and the reason for its eclipse (aside from Libet) is that by asserting that the brain creates the mind but the mind has no power to act on the brain makes it difficult to see how one could truthfully express an opinion. If your mind can't make the brain do anything, it is possible for your mind to be screaming "Mike Egnor is completely right about everything" while your brain was making your fingers type the stuff your fingers type.

    Epiphenominalism reduces to absurdity. The mind obviously acts on the brain, and vice versa.

    I believe that the best approach to the mind-body problem is to start with obvious stuff. The mind exists and acts on the brain. The brain exists and acts on the mind. Any theory of the mind has to account for both. That's obvious.

    That's dualism, of one flavor or another. Cartesian dualism has a lot of problems. Property dualism lacks an explanation for mental agency. Epiphenominalism is self-refuting. Thomistic dualism makes a lot of sense.

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  105. @oleg:

    [Lenski had no problem sharing the material with qualified scientists. Schlafly isn't one of them, which is why he ended up looking like a dork. Even his own Conservapedia minions criticized Schlafly for handling that episode poorly.]

    Right. Scientist makes sensational claim (E.coli spontaneously evolve ability to eat citrate). No one outside of his circle has actually seen the data.

    When asked to produce the data, scientist refuses. Repeatedly.

    No reason for suspicion there, eh?

    Hey, have you heard about my human cloning experiments?

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  106. I absent myself for a little while and you pick a fight with PZ. Thanks for the heads up Dr. Egnor! (You should show up to one of his talks with me sometime.) Incidentally, you should probably apologize to oleg, even though you issued a qualification this time. Even though I disagree with him on some fundamental points, he is so far removed in quality from the offal of Pharyngula (and other such cesspools) that he deserves our (timely) civility.

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  107. @Robert and oleg:

    I certainly do apologize to oleg. I have no reason to think that he is a thug in any personal sense, and indeed he is far more civil and informed than the 'offal' (good term) at pharyngula.

    That said, membership in the atheist cult does confer some thuggery-guilt-by-association. Perhaps it's best to say that there are two types of thugs-- people who personally do thuggish things (not oleg) and people who adhere to ideologies notorious for thuggery (oleg).

    Furthermore, I find it a little surprising that a participant in this skirmish would take offense at such a small hurt. I've been called horrendous legally slanderous things so often I can't count them. It's a tough place, this internet.

    I have a post coming up on the issue of oleg's taking offense. Oleg probably won't like it.

    But I do not accuse oleg of personal thuggery in any way. I enjoy and respect his contribution to these discussions.

    Part of the way that I show him respect is to engage his ideas with vigor, and not a shred of sentimentality.

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  108. Dr. Egnor,

    I hope you know that I am on your side (in the broad sense -- I am a Christian but not a RC Christian, even though my surname might lead one to reasonably think I am) and there is no excuse for the vituperations that have been hurled at you by PZ's vapid followers, that little weenie Orac, apoplectic Mark Chu-Carroll (with his au courant hyphenated last name and pony tail) and others for making the entirely correct statement that medicine does not depend on evolutionary theory (specifically, common descent). Incidentally, I am ever amused by the pretentious morons who claim that they would not seek treatment from you because you are a Darwin skeptic. The fact of the matter is that if they were in an emergency situation with their life draining from them and you offered your help, they would not refuse it. (Although, if they did, they would surely win a Darwin award, which would be fiting, no?)

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  109. Robert:

    Thank you for your kind note.

    This whole process has been a bit unpleasant, as you might imagine, and I wonder at times why I do it.

    There is some satisfaction in feeling out the fight-- sort of seeing what they've got, and it's taken me a bit of time to become comfortable that they are toothless. Nasty, but not capable of inflicting harm on me. Unfortunately, they inflict enormous harm on others, especially young people, both through their thuggery in academia (not you, oleg!) and their misleading ideology that leads so many people away from the Lord.

    I was one of them (never nasty). I thought that Darwin had shown how man came to be, and that atheism/Darwinism was the only intelligent view an educated person could hold.

    Now I want one thing: to see them defeated. Publicly. I have come to see that the one thing atheism cannot survive is a public airing.

    I do have some qualms occasionally about the sharpness of my rhetorhic. Many of the folks who debate here (oleg, bachfiend) are obviously very intelligent and decent people. I never mean anything personally.

    But this is a big fight we're in, and the outcome matters.

    Thanks for your comment, Robert, and for your supportive words.

    Blessings,

    Mike

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  110. Sharry said...

    @Gary: "How does supernatural forces equate to other deities?"

    ...I don't know enough about the immaterial realms to parse the nature of supernatural entities and rank them according to their appropriate powers and principalities.

    Obviously.

    Nor, of course, do you.

    Really? And can you prove this bare assertion?

    @Gary: "Oh and you yourself are a 'force in rebellion."

    Yay me! Rally round, all you slaves and prisoners! We'll storm the gates of heaven yet!

    Sadly, like all atheists, you have absolutely no idea what you're doing.

    You're like a blind pauper/rebel defying an unimaginably powerful and righteous king; while cheering loudly & spitting in his face.

    You're only to be held in either pity or contempt, or both.

    All who are not under the authority of Christ are already - whether they like it or not, realize it or not - slaves of the dark powers of this world.

    Go ahead, sneer. Laugh all you please poor girl.

    A far more intelligent man than anyone alive today once said to people like you,

    "How much longer will you enjoy being stupid fools? Won't you ever stop sneering and laughing at knowledge?

    I wanted to tell you everything I knew and give you all my knowledge, but you didn't listen to my advice and teaching.
    You completely ignored me and refused to listen; you rejected my advice and paid no attention when I warned you.

    So I will laugh at your troubles and make fun of you when what you fear happens. Disasters will strike you like a storm. Problems will pound you like a strong wind. Trouble and misery will weigh you down.

    You will ask for my help, but I won't listen; you will search, but you won't find me.

    No, you would not learn, and you refused to respect the LORD.

    You rejected my advice and paid no attention when I warned you.
    Now you will eat the fruit of what you have done, until you are stuffed full with your own schemes."
    - King Solomon

    Your own heart will rebuke you.
    Better prepare to meet this God you defy and mock so stupidly.

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  111. Egnor: Right. Scientist makes sensational claim (E.coli spontaneously evolve ability to eat citrate). No one outside of his circle has actually seen the data.

    When asked to produce the data, scientist refuses. Repeatedly.

    No reason for suspicion there, eh?


    Mike, do us a favor and learn what actually happened before spewing nonsense. Here is a good starting point: Lenski affair.

    For one thing, Andrew Schlafly is not, and never has been, a scientist. That alone should ring some alarm bells. Second, he is a well-known crackpot running the silly site Conservapedia. Third, the data are in the paper and in supplementary information accompanying it.

    The paper is available for free (open access). It is not true that "no one outside Lenski's circle has actually seen the data." The referees have seen the data, the readers have, and you can see them, too.

    If data are available, what else does Schlafly want? The actual bacteria from Lenski's experiment? Why yes, that would be possible. Lenski promised to send samples to qualified scientists. Qualifications required were reasonable (see Lenski's second reply). Alas, Schlafly did not meet them as he does not even have a place to store bacteria (you need a freezer at -80 centigrade). And what would he do with the samples, anyway? He can't tell E. coli from an amoeba.

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  112. Mike,

    I don't need your apology, half-assed or full. It's you who should distance yourself from your hyperbolic claims that I am a thug, whether an actual one or by association. You just look silly when you do that.

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  113. If atheism is not a religion, why do they worship Charles Dawkins?

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  114. Sorry for the delay in response. Life etc.
    @Sharry,
    Yes you used the word 'untrue' here:
    "Chastising atheists for believing "there is no objective moral law," to take one example from Mr. Egnor's list of straw men, is not only [b]untrue[/b] -- it relies on a supernatural and self-contradictory definition of "objective," for one thing"
    [my emphasis]
    But, you do make my point brilliantly FOR me. Thank you.
    You also asked:
    "Most of the time? So the supernatural is occasionally perceptible, but impossible to measure or objectively demonstrate? My elderly aunt used to say the same thing, except she was talking about ghosts and table-rapping."
    To be succinct, yes most of the time. Again some excellent common examples have been posited in the above comments. Much mental activity could be described this way. But there are others far less explicable and far more exotic.
    As for your aunt and her ghosts, I have no understanding of who she was or what her experiences lead her to believe, or what type of person she was. The only thing I can tell by what you have written is that she was NOT a materialist. Good for her! Bet she was good cook too.

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  115. "Of course, perhaps it's ego. I try not the think this way, but I'm human."

    Like making your entire sidebar quotes about yourself?

    Ego? You think?

    Hey, but congrats again on getting noticed by Pharyngula. I know it's important to you.

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  116. @RickK:

    [Like making your entire sidebar quotes about yourself?]

    I know. To quote atheist hatred of me is to flatter myself. Good point.

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  117. This comment has been removed by the author.

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