Putting Faith in its Place

89 comments:

Chuck O'Connor said...

Excellent. This is a keeper. Thanks.

gustavolk-swagen said...

This is one of my favorite videos of all time. QualiaSoup's take on being open-minded is also quite a treat. (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T69TOuqaqXI)

Corvus Imbrifer said...

But... but... Jeremy Brett IS the definitive Sherlock Holmes!

I want a transcript. And what is the Latin tag at the end?

Thanks!

Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg said...

Latin tag = Everything unknown (is taken) as grand / magnificent

Peace out

Theological Discourse said...

Yes, let's forget about all of the historical documentary and anecdotal evidence! the failures of empiricism and strong rationalism are revealed here. How stupid, stating there is no logic or evidence, how funny that this ridiculous video can be used against atheists as well.

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

The problem as I see it with the video is not the logic but rather the premise. While the box is a nice attempt at showing how futile proved transcendence is, the Christian God never claims this position about Himself in isolation. Rather, God of the Bible is simultaneously transcendent and immanent. Meaning that we cannot know anything about what is in the box, unless the thing in the box steps outside and reveals is characteristics, which is does is Jesus Christ. This is the powerful claim argument for divinity of Jesus Christ. His claim to divinity is thus a self revelation, or transcendent revelation, available to test and observe empirically. Henceforth any reading of the gospel accounts of the life of Jesus will show a divine being present walking and self proclaiming. Consequently one is left with ONLY the disbelief in the scriptures, not the logical trap Crag seemingly falls into.

Regards, Rev. Phil.

UNRR said...

This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 9/18/2009, at The Unreligious Right

busterggi said...

Rev. Brown, your gospels & such are just part of the cube and your Jesus is no more valid than any other guess as to what's inside.

Rachel said...

And so the author of this video creates a perfect belief system for himself that is completely unfalsifiable. Essentially he says that even if we were to experience something that would "seem" to be from God, e.g. stars spelling words, yet we couldn't really be sure that it is "God" as opposed to just some life forms with higher intelligence/technology/power than us.

IOW, the author shows himself to be impossible to convince of God's existence, even if provided with evidence from the 5 senses (which he claims is necessary). I know atheists often think that Christians make their views unfalsifiable, and I agree that some Christians are that way. However, some (many?) atheists are the same, and would refuse any evidence as actually pointing toward the existence of God, including the author of this video, apparently.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Rachel,

Watch the video again. You obviously didn't understand it.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Rev. Brown,
Then its possible that Vishnu and Krishna exist then right?

Here's my defense of His existence. You might recognize it....;-)

Rather, God of the Vedas is simultaneously transcendent and immanent. Meaning that we cannot know anything about what is in the box, unless the thing in the box steps outside and reveals is characteristics, which is does is Lord Krishna. This is the powerful claim argument for divinity of Lord Krishna. His claim to divinity is thus a self revelation, or transcendent revelation, available to test and observe empirically. Henceforth any reading of the Gita accounts of the life of Lord Krishna will show a divine being present walking and self proclaiming.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Rachel,
defining the scope and definition removes uncertainty about an entity. If you want to call any super being that decides to show itself "God", more power to you.

I have to say that I might too, but first, its got to show itself, otherwise its just pure speculation.

In any case, i'd call it whatever it wants to be called. ;-)

I am quite open to having a beer with any super being having the means, motive and opportunity to have a relationship with me.

And please don't go redefining relationship to make it fit your speculation.

Lee Randolph said...

I love this video. I think it is succinct and elegant.

John, we can close up shop now. Just leave this posted!
;-)

John W. Loftus said...

Lee, maybe I'll just redate this post and use it every so often instead. I liked it too as you'd guess.

George said...

The video certainly makes the case for agnosticism as the only intellectually honest position. The atheist who claims the box is empty needs as much evidence as the theist. About all you can do is discount many of the specific (logically inconsistent) gods theists imagine to be in the box. Thus it is quite possible to simultaneously be an agnostic and an atheist.

Eric said...

Whoever made this video missed what is perhaps the most obvious point of all: I can know what's in a box I cannot access if someone else who can access it tells me what's in it. And, after all, isn't that the essence of the Christian story?

Also, by making the move from some nebulous 'what's in the box' to 'god,' the atheist forgets that if there's, say, a wooden spoon in the box, we'd have no reason to expect to know it; however, when we're speaking about a personal god, it's clearly the case that if he exists, we would expect to know it. In other words, the belief that god exists has, if true, an intrinsic warrant that the wooden spoon (et al) obviously lacks.

There were other problems with the video (e.g. the misuse of basic terms such as 'valid,' or the patently false claim that there's no possible world with both an all loving, omnipotent god and an eternal hell), but I'll stick for now with the first two problems I raised.

On another note: John, I think I've worked out (very roughly -- I haven't put anything on paper yet) a problem with your Outsider Test (premised on Plantinga's de jure/de facto distinction). Would you like me to post it here, or would you prefer I go to an earlier thread that dealt explicitly with the Outsider Test? (Or, of course, would you rather not discuss it at all? After all, it is your birthday -- *Happy Birthday*! -- and your blog ;) ).

Piero said...

That video was brilliant, and it very successfully explains something I've been at pains to illustrate even to atheists: that there is no difference at all between a god that "exists" outside of space and time and a non-existent god. In fact, using the verb "to exist" or "to be" of such a construct is self-refuting. Hence it is not true to say that the only defensible position that stems from the video is agnosticism: on the contrary, denying the existence of an "entity" outside of space and time is the only rational conclusion.

Rachel said...

Hi Lee,

Long time no talk. Hope you're doing well.

I agree that any claim to "God" requires definition, with more than just negative assertions (e.g. God is NOT this or that).

However, my comment remains true. The author of this video set up his belief system to be completely unfalsifiable. There doesn't seem to be any set of circumstances that would cause him to believe in the existence of God.

And, if you agree with him, I would say the same thing about you - your beliefs are unfalsifiable. Or are they? You say you're waiting for "God" or any superior being to take you for a beer, or write a message in your shaving cream, or whatever. What criteria would you use to determine that any of these events were being caused by "God"? What event(s) would cause you to believe that there is a God?

And if you can't answer that, then your beliefs are in fact unfalsifiable. And you gotta admit, that would tend to make any discussion with you regarding the existence of God rather pointless...

John W. Loftus said...

Yes Eric, I agree there are some problems with this video. But it hits the target too.

Go ahead and post your criticisms of the OTF anywhere you see fit. Thanks for thinking so long about it.

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

Hey Lee,

Haven't we been over this. The difference between the hindu religion and the Bible is that there has been almost no reliable historical collaboration done for Hindu's God's as opposed to the Bible. The government is confident that the Hindu's God's are not real and furthermore most reliable historians on the Hindu's God affirm they are based on cult figures, which have been extrapolated into God's. This is opposed to Jesus Christ in which no reputable scholar of history IN THE WORLD disputes as real or as a reliable text. The difference is chalk and Cheese.

Phil.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Rev,
that's easy to say isn't it?

But what about those Hindu's personal experiences with their God? Should they let the government, scholars and scientists change their mind on their god?

Would you?

And you are oversimplifying quite a bit if not being purposefully deceptive.

There are lots of evidence for Hindu gods and their works as I pointed out to you in the Indian governments defense of not allowing the destruction of a land bridge because it is believed to be built by Lord Rama's Army of Monkeys.

Would you like to see a video of the discovery of the sunken portion of Dwarka, sunken just as the Hindu scriptures say it was? Lord Krishnas house was in there. a few are in YouTube, including a BBC documentary on Jesus life in India. Jesus recorded life is missing 18 years you know. How did Jesus get so smart? Why was his teaching such a break with traditional Judaism? Could it be some outside, persian influence? Like maybe a trip to India, or playing with Hindu Kids, or working with Hindu laborers? Did you know Guru can be translated as Teacher?

Or, since Jesus didn't write anything down, how do we know it really originated with him?

Why haven't you challenged me on my Krishna article? If you like you can wait for the next one. I'm just cross-checking some facts before I post it.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Eric,
you are arguing in a circle.

I can know what's in a box I cannot access if someone else who can access it tells me what's in it.

- Who knows whats in the box?
- How do you know you can trust the information if you can't verify it?

obvious your conclusion depends on your premise.
God.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Rachel,
As I pointed out to you, if the author chooses not to call a being that qualfies as God "God", then thats up to him. That doesn't say anything about the rest of us.
Its a language thing obviously, how he chooses to apply the term God.

Now if there were scope and definition to God, like say across the world, then he could be falsified whether he felt falsified or not.
Like flat-earthers.
but like I said, you have to produce a consistent model of God to compare any super beings that may or may not be out there.

You've got a lot of work to do before you can say he's established an unfalsifiable belief system. You have to establish a means to falsify it to test your claim.

What event(s) would cause you to believe that there is a God?
I'm easy,
Did you ever see the movie called "oh, God" with John Denver and George burns?
That would do it.
Did you ever see "all mighty bruce" with Jim Carrey?
That would do it,
and as T-Rex said at the end of the Song "bang a Gong",
"Meanwhile, I'm still waiting"

Whats that? I hear the goal post sliding, its moved to the "you are not paying attention" marker....
I've got my "relationship" weapon locked and loaded....
;-)

Lee Randolph said...

Hi all,
I'll let you have the last word, I want to get another article out before the end of Sept. and I have limited time resources available.

If you want to talk, see you in my next article.

so, TTFN.

Lee Randolph said...

one more thing before I go,
if I did get some ambiguous communication and I had you and a hindu advising me, who should I believe?

Why should I believe? The only reason I didn't convert to hinduism when I was eleven was my parents.

Aaron said...

This is possible one of the best youtube atheist videos I have ever seen. Classic stuff.

Eric said...

Hi Lee

My general point could be made quite easily without reference to god. The point is this: If someone else has access to knowledge I can never attain, then, if I trust him as an authority, I can be said to know what he knows. Of course, I would have to provide good grounds for trusting him, but if I could, then my belief could be counted as knowledge. If you think about it for a moment, nearly all of what you would uncontroversially claim to know is known in this very way, and it's not 'circular' in any way whatsoever. It may not be the strongest form of argument, but it's not circular.

For example, I'm quite certain that you are not capable of doing the sorts of mathematics necessary to understand quantum theory; neither am I, nor, indeed, are the vast majority of people alive today. In other words, it's not just that we haven't checked the mathematics ourselves, but that we could *never* check the mathematics, since most of us simply lack the *capacity* to understand it, however hard we worked at it. Hence, we rely on authorities who do have that capacity. They tell us what's in the quantum box, and we believe them (for the most part), even though most of us *by far* could never develop the ability to check it ourselves (i.e. understand the necessary mathematics). And our reliance on them isn't in any way circular, since we can provide good grounds for trusting them.

So, if we have good grounds for trusting the claims of those who have access to boxes we could never access ourselves, we can be said to know what's in those boxes.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Eric,
Stephen Hawking tells me whats in his box, and then his peers tell me he's right, and then experimentation lets us get a glimpse inside, just a glimpse.

it can be cross-checked.

How knows whats in your box? Who is your expert?

Eric said...

Lee, here's the point I initially made:

"I can know what's in a box I cannot access if someone else who can access it tells me what's in it."

First, you said it was circular, but after my QM illustration, you wrote:

"Stephen Hawking tells me whats in is box, and then his peers tell me he's right, and then experimentation lets us get a glimpse inside, just a glimpse."

It sounds to me as if you agree with me now. We can't access Hawking's box -- and by 'we' I mean well over 90% of us, and by 'can't' I mean can never, however hard we try -- but a very small minority of other people can, and they've told us what's in the box. And we, for the most part, believe them, and in an entirely non-circular manner.

"How knows whats in your box? Who is your expert?"

I think this is another issue altogether. My point concerns the false premise (which you now seem to agree is false) on which the argument that the video makes rests. All I need is one counterexample to show that the premise is false, and I think I've provided one. Of course, I did add in my initial post that the Christian supposes that we can know what's in a box we can't access if someone else who can access it tells us what's in it, but that was only to point out that if the video's premise is false, its argument doesn't touch Christianity. (I'm ignoring, arguendo, personal religious experiences, which may give us access to the box ourselves, in order to focus on the video's argument. But this latter point is yet another problem with the video, but it's one that I won't address here.)

Piper said...

Wow. Thank you! THANK YOU!!!

Rachel said...

Lee,

Thanks for the last word, I'll take it. :-)

Sorry, I've never seen either of those movies, so I still don't know what would cause you to believe there is a God.

However, the author of this video does indeed have an unfalsifiable belief regarding God, that is, that no matter what he were to see or experience, he would not believe there is a "God". He might believe there is a higher form of intelligence (which we humans of course could eventually evolve into as well), or a race of beings with greater technology (which we humans of course could eventually obtain) or whatever, but none of that could really ever be described as "God". I don't think anyone would define "God" as simply a higher form of intelligence, especially not one we could eventually get to, or one that simply evolved. Now you're the one "moving the goalposts".

My point is this: many (not all) atheists, including the author of this video, say they don't believe in God because there's no evidence. Yet, there doesn't seem to be ANY evidence that would actually convince them that there is a God. All evidence given them, even theoretical evidence, they simply come up with another possibility that they would believe BEFORE believing there is a God. I even had one atheist (not on here, that I know of) tell me that even if God Himself stood in front of him, he would first think he was dreaming, or hallucinating, or some other such thing. Unfortunately, from what I've read, it seems to me that most atheists agree with this, whether they say it this clearly or not.

So the call for "evidence" rings rather hollow when not a single piece of evidence would ever be accepted.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Eric,
Please don't think for me. I don't agree. Stephen Hawking is a real person, independently verifiable. You missed that obvious fact.

He tells me whats in his box and the source of the information can be verified, so can the information itself.

How you know whats in your box cannot be verified.

How do you know whats in your box?
you haven't answered, i suspect its because God only knows.

There's no way to verify the origin of how you know whats in your box because
we don't that a god exists.
and if it does,
we don't know which god it is.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Rachel,
you should see the "oh god" movie with john denver and george burns.
When it first came out, a lot of believers loved it. I still think its a great movie.

What would convince me?
something like this.
Little surprises like, For god to write "i" in the shaving creme on my left cheek, and "am" in the shaving creme on my right so that I can see it in the mirror one morning.

Surely you know how heart warming little surprises from the one you love are.

At least it could tell me what name it goes by.

Eric said...

Lee, please read my initial point again:

"I can know what's in a box I cannot access if someone else who can access it tells me what's in it."

You agree that Hawking's box is something you cannot access, right (i.e. you aren't one of the very few people capable of doing and checking the mathematics yourself)? And you agree that you can only know what's in his box because he has told you what's in it, right? Well, then it follows rather clearly that you agree with me *as far as my initial point goes*, viz. the fundamental premise of the video is false. This has nothing to do with god at this point. I'm questioning the truth of the premise, not developing some argument from its falsity for some aspect of Christianity. Isn't this simple distinction obvious? Now, can you deal with my argument without mentioning god? (And I hope that it's obvious that whether you can access Hawking is irrelevant; what is relevant is that you cannot access what's in his box.)

Greg Mills said...

Here's the problem with evidence of a god, at least for me.

I can't think of any secondary, physical evidence that can only credited to a god-being. We have no measure for transcendent perfection, so how do we know what we're looking at is only pretty good instead of transcendently perfect? Like Arthur C. Clarke said: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic".

A higher intelligence might very well appear divine. Hell, people confuse ordinary people with the divine.

We would only have to be shown something that is beyond our current grasp of reality. (I don't think we'll ever have a full and direct knowledge of the universe)

And that we can conceive now (conceptually if not practically) of a method of building objects atom by atom, giving us the tools of creation. Whether or not we can actually get it done is another point, but we can conceive of a method of creation that would appear divine to someone who lived, say, 200 years ago.

There's also the problem of humans being animals. For us to communicate with the divine we would have to have some way of interfacing with the divine in such a way that the divine would appear as unambiguously divine. (That's a lot of divines)

We experience the world largely as physical beings through our senses. We are also conceptual beings and we share concepts only within our species (I'm not going to get into apes using sign language). Our conceptual life is of course dependent on our physical being, through the appreciation of qualia.

The god-being would have to relate to us through qualia (for that is more reliable that the voice inside the head. In fact, neurologists can cause a sense of the transcendent and the presence of the divine by literally flipping a switch: you can accomplish it with electric stimulation of the limbic system), and we know that our senses aren't calibrated for accuracy. We also know our brains have a tendency to make stuff up and get stuff wrong. So, we have to posit a human talent for observing the divine, we'll call it a soul, a talent that is accurately calibrated for experience that which can't be experienced directly unambiguously by the other senses. It is also a sensation that somehow isn't universal, but is calibrated more or less exactly the same in the folks that are lucky enough to possess it. Odd.

So, I think it's entirely possible to remain skeptical even in the presence of a giant dude with a white beard on a golden throne yelling "I AM GOD!!!" and it's the RESPONSIBLE thing to be skeptical when some else relates their experience of the divine.

Let me put it this way: I cannot conceive of evidence that would ground the inconceivable. There necessarily would be properties of the divine that would not be nameable by humans, but the the properties of the divine we could experience would be named because they are analogs for the properties of the concrete. They would have to unique to the divine YET observable. So in other words the facing nature of the divine would merely be a personality, and a personality that doesn't have the advantage of a representation in the world. There would be no expression of divine that didn't look like something that could experienced as concrete and analogous to the world's ordinary state of affairs.

I suppose the divine can do anything, but I can't think of any incidence of nature NOT obeying it's own laws, beyond references in some ambiguous texts that share a lot of qualities with folklore and other non-reliable literary forms.

Then again, I haven't met god. I'll let you know when I do.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Eric,
okay then, lets cross god off as a potential means of knowing whats in the box.

you said
"I can know what's in a box I cannot access if someone else who can access it tells me what's in it."

You've oversimplified a common problem in human communication.

But I'll agree to a degree to a less simplified version of this scenario. One that I deal with practically every day.

If someone tells me whats in the box, then I only know my interpretation of what they say is in the box.

Typical scenario where I work,
Someone tells me
"Region x is off line"
my self talk is
"Really? Offline? Wow that's hard to believe because so much has to go wrong for that to be true. It really has to border on catastrophic."

So I look at some indications about it for myself, and ask for some clarification.

Region x is not offline, it is only at reduced capability and some service needs to be restored.

Usually whats in that "region x" box is not exactly what I was told it was, not out of incompetence or malice but just because thats how humans communicate. They oversimplify as a quick and easy way to communicate an idea as quickly as possible.

So if you find out whats in your box, it matters who tells you, it matters if you understand what they mean, and it matters if you can cross check it.

You don't really know whats in the box,
you only what someone has told you is in the box.

Until you match it to real world states yourself, you don't really know, and even then, you may be deceived by your perception, (especially if you don't bring your magnifying glass, I'm an engineer).

Eric said...

"You don't really know whats in the box,
you only what someone has told you is in the box....If someone tells me whats in the box, then I only know my interpretation of what they say is in the box."

Hi Lee

I wouldn't have a problem with this as long as you are willing to apply it consistently. And what would a consistent application of this principle entail? It would require you to concede that with respect to every box you haven't checked yourself, you don't have knowledge, but only your interpretation of what others have told you. Take evolution, for example. I'm an evolutionists, but I've never done the experiments, verified the authenticity of the fossils I've seen in books and museums, verified the geological strata in which they were found, studied and tested the common genomes of various animals and their nearest relatives, etc. and, I think it's safe to say, neither have you. I have what you most likely have: the well reasoned arguments of experts. I can look at the arguments, but I can't check all their evidence (and I certainly can't check the sundry experimentally derived conclusions that serve as assumptions in evolutionary theory, or in any scientific theory, as one discovery serves as the bedrock of another, and so on). So, the upshot is this: with respect to evolution, you don't have knowledge, but only an interpretation of what others have said. Does this strike you as reasonable? It certainly doesn't seem reasonable at all to me, but it's where the logic of your argument inevitably pulls you.

John W. Loftus said...

The only person(s) who know what is in a box would be the ones who have actually seen it or made it in the first place.

While this is a separate question as you say Eric, I do not think this question can satisfactorily be answered in the case before us.

Yes, we believe many things based upon authority. But we must have independent reasons to trust that authority. We have no good reason to think God exists or that he has ever spoken to us. When we examine the evidence for God and of his purported revelation, the alternative natural explanations are much more adequate than your trinitarian incarnational atoning resurrecting ascending and returning to a flat earth God-in-Christ. How can I trust your God in the same manner that I can trust a human being who placed something in a box when I might not even be able to trust that human being depending on the circumstances? I don't even know such a God exists in the first place.

I'm sure you understand the problem.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Eric,
Johns right, and we could close with that, but I squeal with excitement whenever I get a chance to discuss epistemology.

I wouldn't have a problem with this as long as you are willing to apply it consistently.
what makes you think I don't apply it consistently?

It would require you to concede that with respect to every box you haven't checked yourself, you don't have knowledge, but only your interpretation of what others have told you.
You say that as if its a bad thing.

So, the upshot is this: with respect to evolution, you don't have knowledge, but only an interpretation of what others have said. Does this strike you as reasonable? It certainly doesn't seem reasonable at all to me, but it's where the logic of your argument inevitably pulls you.
there you go oversimplifying things again.

I have a DEGREE of knowledge about that, just like I have a DEGREE of knowledge that my dogs are still in my yard.

There is a concept of reliablity applied to knowledge, and you find it discussed in Epistemology, and in information science. Part of the concept revolves around reliablity, and I don't need to know that evolution is true with any certainty, or personal experience but I am safe in committing to the idea and making decisions about it because the information is reliable. It can be 'triangulated' it can be cross-checked, it has technology built on it.

If I were to commit to cold fusion in the same way, then I'd have to rethink my position in light of the fact that the information has not turned out to be reliable.

Is that clear?

Chuck O'Connor said...

Lee and John,

What I don't get with Eric is that he seems to think that anyone believes Hawking because they faithfully worship him. The practice of testing his theories helps us better corroborate his "box assertions". The same goes for other scientific theories. It is impossible to apply the same standard to matters of Christian faith when, "the inner witness of the Holy Spirit" seems to be the litmus. The supposed "inner witness" could be rephrased as "wishful thinking combined with emotional acceptance attached to a commonplace cultural heuristic."

Eric said...

Hi John,

I do understand the problem, which you've laid out nicely. But before I continue in any detail, I want to see if I understand you: Do you agree with my central claim, viz. that the premise the video's argument rests on is false since we can know what's in boxes we cannot access (and, again, I mean could never access) if others who can access them tell us what's in them?

"But we must have independent reasons to trust that authority. We have no good reason to think God exists or that he has ever spoken to us."

I certainly agree with the first proposition. (I wrote in an earlier post in this thread: "The point is this: If someone else has access to knowledge I can never attain, then, if I trust him as an authority, I can be said to know what he knows. Of course, *I would have to provide good grounds for trusting him, but if I could, then my belief could be counted as knowledge*.") However, as you know, the entire debate between us (and I mean in its broadest sense, i.e. between our competing worldviews), or at least a substantial part of it, is in a sense summed up in the latter proposition, so it is here we would disagree.

Hi Lee

I share your passion for epistemology, and I enjoy discussing the problems the subject raises with you (even if we almost always disagree!).

"There is a concept of reliability applied to knowledge, and you find it discussed in Epistemology, and in information science. Part of the concept revolves around reliability, and I don't need to know that evolution is true with any certainty, or personal experience but I am safe in committing to the idea and making decisions about it because the information is reliable. It can be 'triangulated' it can be cross-checked, it has technology built on it."

Lee, I don't think that this is consistent with the premise I'm attacking (though as the quote above stands simpliciter, I have no problem with it that's worth mentioning in the context of this discussion). You *can't* access the box we're discussing, right? That means that *you* can't cross check it, that *you* can't determine if technology is indeed built upon it, etc. However, others can access it, and it is their simplified explanations of what's in their boxes that you're relying upon, however you characterize the degree of your knowledge (which I would contrast with 'certainty,' which is a psychological state: you can be certain and wrong, i.e. without knowledge). A degree of knowledge of what's in a box you can't access is still knowledge. So, again, I can't see how you're disagreeing with me.

Eric said...

"What I don't get with Eric is that he seems to think that anyone believes Hawking because they faithfully worship him."

Chuck, that's a strawman, and I think you know it. All I said is that no matter how hard you (or most of us) work at it, we'll never get to access Hawking's (or whomever's) box because most of us by far lack the capacity (not the ability, but the capacity) to do the necessary mathematics. And this must be understood in context: My only point is that we can know what's in boxes we can't access if others who can can access them tell us what's in them. (Whether this obtains in any particular case, e.g. with respect to Christianity, is another issue; however, by moving the debate from the video's false premise onto this new ground -- which I don't intend to cover here -- I think it's safe to say some advance has been made.) And, as I quoted above (in this post) in my response above to John, I made it clear that we have to have good reasons for trusting them as authorities. So, clearly, your remark above targets a strawman.

"The practice of testing his theories helps us better corroborate his "box assertions"."

Chuck, *you* can't test his theories because (as I said above)you can't understand the theories!

Chuck O'Connor said...

Eric,

There is a reason I didn't address my post to you. I wanted to speak to grown ups. It's obvious by your transparent impersonation of William Lane Craig (e.g. "arguendo";"simpliciter") you are a young Christian who is beginning the narcissistic enjoyment of intellectural apologetics. I commend your tenacity but find your arrogance (and long-winded responses) tiresome.

Here's the deal son, you don't know what theories I can and can't understand and your premise relies on a false analogy. The metaphor in the film describes an inscrutable reality only availabe by presuppostional and blind faith which of course Hawking's theories aren't dependent upon (as evidenced by corroboration of them and also the sales figures of both "A Brief History of Time" and "The Universe in a Nutshell"). His work provides observable representation of reality and there is nothing inscrutable or unknowable about them.

And please explain to me why I can't grasp his theories.

Did the Holy Spirit tell you that?

Thanks.

Gandolf said...

Hi Eric you said...."Take evolution, for example. I'm an evolutionists, but I've never done the experiments, verified the authenticity of the fossils I've seen in books and museums, verified the geological strata in which they were found, studied and tested the common genomes of various animals and their nearest relatives, etc. and, I think it's safe to say, neither have you. I have what you most likely have: the well reasoned arguments of experts. I can look at the arguments, but I can't check all their evidence (and I certainly can't check the sundry experimentally derived conclusions that serve as assumptions in evolutionary theory, or in any scientific theory, as one discovery serves as the bedrock of another, and so on). So, the upshot is this: with respect to evolution, you don't have knowledge, but only an interpretation of what others have said"

I might be very wrong!im no expert,but personally i would have thought maybe most of us actually do have some/much more of a chance to look into the box of evolution than we do the box of god/s.

For instance if i have enough money i can go and see a Zorse or a Zetland for myself http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zorse

Even with my lack of expertize in the subject of evolution, i feel in my life even i have personally experienced parts of evolution in the process of making change.

For just one instance i do personally know couples one being dark skinned the other being light skinned who then sometimes have children that might turn out a little different in colour themselves than either parents are.

Was just thinking maybe? we do have much more chances to actually personally experience whats likely to be within the evolution box than we ever do with the box of god/s.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Eric,
This is the problem of second hand information. Trusting the source and the accuracy of the source. Its a common IDQ problem that companies wrestle with all the time with people collecting and inputting data in databases. Not to mention my restoration of services example above.

Lets say you tell me what's in the box and I record in my memories what you said about whats in the box.

I don't have any memories of any personal experience of whats in the box.

I have memories of what you said is in the box. If i trust you, then I have committed to your story of whats in the box.

Therefore I know what you think is in the box.
What I know depends on what you know. So you would know whats in the box, and I would know what you tell me is in the box.

So the only thing I really have knowledge of is what you think is the box, of which I would commit to or not.

My example of "region x" aptly demonstrates the problem of second hand information in real life. My second hand information affects hundreds of subscribers every week, and "cleaning databases" is a big expensive business so if you don't get it, I'm sorry, but that's just the way it is and I'm afraid we are going to have to agree to disagree and I'm going to focus on my "Krishna type Folklore in the new testament" article (working title).

So in summary If I don't have access to the box, and you do, and you tell me, I only know what you tell me about the box and I am free to use that information somehow.

I'm sure you'll run into this problem in your daily life sometime this week, so keep your eye out for it and maybe you'll realize what I'm talking about.

Lee Randolph said...

And eric,
if we are using technologies that are derived from principles that we don't have access too, that doesn't make them erroneous. Like sunscreen for example. It just works.

Unless you want to delve into the world of conspiracy theories, you might want to give up that angle, because you are going to be hard pressed to come up with any real life examples.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Lee,

Well said but, I have a feeling that Eric's worldview will not allow for pragmatism.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Chuck,
yours was a good rebuttal too.

I don't even know what "simpliciter" means and haven't bothered to look it up because I'm sure I can get by in life without it, and people I talk to would probably appreciate the fact that they can understand me.

I just guessed that it meant "simplified".

I just looked it up, and it turned up as a term from the field of law.

Eric,
speak to your audience please. Most of us aren't lawyers. One of the fundamental principles of winning debate is to know your audience, gain their trust, confidence, get them to identify with you.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Well said again Lee.

I work as a communications strategist and effective communications operates on the basis of "listener train of thought". John's problem of miscommunication implicitly addresses this reality. It would be cool sometime if you had time to post an article on the necessity of all world-views having to travel through William James' "hallway of pragmatism". Eric seems to be living in the comfortable (and enviable) world of academia where problems of the mind don't need to be held to an implementation test. Your work and mine demand that the models we conceive work to be useful to others.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Chuck,
I'll look that up,
but I have so much unfinished material in my googldocs that in the interest of "FOCUSING" I should really wrap them up. They are part of a (hopefully) decisive rebuttal to Rom. 5 that I've been working on for over a year. My Krishna folklore articles are part of it.

You are free to do an article and submit it to DC if you like. Johns like the Editor so he has final say on anything that gets posted.

John W. Loftus said...

Eric, without re-reading everything here, yes, to answer your question, I agree with your central claim when you wrote: "the premise the video's argument rests on is false since we can know what's in boxes we cannot access (and, again, I mean could never access) if others who can access them tell us what's in them?"

This is true but ONLY if we can know that (a) the one telling us what's in the box exists, that (b) he/she/it has told us what's in the box, and that (c) we have ways of confirming both (a) and (b) to such a degree that we can then claim to know what's in the box with confidence. And we can only have confidence to know such a thing based upon the degree of probability of (a) and (b).

Your insurmountable problem is that the God who supposedly tells you what's in the box is himself in the box! You're in big trouble with that one. I know you have your answers but they just don't cut it. He must communicate from within the box itself. Mysticism, telepathy and/or out of body experiences cannot and should not convince us that the mystic knows what's in the box or entered it in an out of body experience. And we shouldn't!

Lee Randolph said...

To piggy back on what John said....
or you could consider that the various priests of the world tell you about the "god in the box" and now you have to decide what criteria you use to decide who you trust.
Jew?
Muslim?
Hindu?
Buddhist?
Christian?
Do you trust the people most like you?
Probably.
You can't help it unless you work at it. Its a documented cognitive bias.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Lee,

No pressure on the suggestion. I love all you write and find your perspective edifying and your voice entertaining. You keep writing whatever tickles you and I am sure I will enjoy it.

I might write something and submit to John but, I respect John's standard that the contributors here be published authors and, as such, I'm not.

I really appreciate the work that you and John do. Keep it up please.

John W. Loftus said...

Chuck, just submit something to me.

Chuck O'Connor said...

John,

Will do.

Thanks.

It will be a nice challenge.

John W. Loftus said...

Actually Eric, there are other criteria as well, like (d) we have reasons to trust what that person says is in the box, but that's been mentioned here before.

Jim said...

Which all raises another interesting question:

How would GOD even know he/she/it is God?

How could GOD be certain that he/she/it was not simply being allowed to bring the universe into being and monitor people's personal lives by YET ANOTHER higher god with even more power and capacity. This higher god could give the Christian God an "imagined" sense of omniscience, etc.

How would God truly KNOW that he was "all-powerful?"

This video makes the agnosticism part of my atheist/agnostic position a little more robust.

Even if God took me around and we violated the laws of nature by shrinking to the size of the quantum and traveling faster than the speed of light--all that really tells me is that there is some being with the technology to do these things. Even witnessing God raise someone from the dead just tells me the same thing.

It makes me wonder what it would take to convince me that there is a God . . .

Great video!

Eric said...

Chuck, can you do the mathematics necessary to understand QM? I doubt it; few of us can. And, as I said before, I don't simply mean that we can't do it now, I mean that we could never do it: we lack the capacity, not merely the ability. If I was wrong, and if you are indeed one of the top mathematicians in the world, then I apologize. Somehow, I doubt I'm wrong there. Your access to Hawking's box is almost certainly the same as mine: through highly popularized explanations. And, if this is the case, then it supports my point.

Hi Gandolf

I only made the move from the QM box, which most of us could never access, to the evolution box after Lee began to speak about interpretations. Your points certainly apply to evolution -- I could in principle check a lot of the data myself -- but they don't apply to QM. However, as I said, the discussion of evolution was tangential, and motivated by some remarks Lee made in the course of our discussion. My point was that I can be said to know things about evolutionary theory that I haven't verified myself.

Hi Lee

You seem to be saying that we can only count as knowledge (to whatever degree) that which we can verify ourselves ("So the only thing I really have knowledge of is what you think is the box, of which I would commit to or not).
Is this accurate?


With respect to my use of terms like 'simpliciter' -- which is not merely a 'legal' term: it's used all the time in philosophy, which is perhaps the primary subject matter of the blog -- the explanation is simple. First, as I said, this is a blog that deals primarily with philosophy, so I feel comfortable using a little bit of jargon (anyone who has read any technical philosophy knows I'm restraining myself quite a bit here). Should I criticize you for using terms like 'epistemology,' which most people have never heard of? Second, it's easier to write something like 'arguendo' than it is to write 'for the sake of argument.' Third, I actually enjoy learning new words, so I guess I don't understand the problem. Finally, I'm not trying to 'win' a debate here ("One of the fundamental principles of winning debate is to know your audience"; watch out -- Chuck will accuse you of acting like William Lane Craig), I'm trying to have a discussion about important topics with smart people who generally disagree with me.

Hi John

I agree with your points (a) to (d). As I said in an earlier post, that's where the debate between us (in essence) lies. My only point in this thread has been a narrow one, to wit to attack the video's premise, which I found to be patently false (without any reference to theism). Once we move the debate away from the video's false premise to a discussion of (say) your four criteria, it seems to me that a legitimate advance has been made.

Eric said...

"Your insurmountable problem is that the God who supposedly tells you what's in the box is himself in the box! You're in big trouble with that one."

Would you agree that it's not as big a problem if an externalist conception of knowledge can be defended? And if you agree but reject knowledge externalism, how do you avoid the skeptical problems that knowledge internalism inevitably raises?

Andre said...

Hi Eric,

You said, "I can know what's in a box I cannot access if someone else who can access it tells me what's in it."

I personally don't see from the point the video is trying to make that it was the case where you could ask someone what was in the box. The premise was simply that you had to try and guess yourself, since you are starting from an agnostic position. Unless I missed something or am missing something, the video is putting "faith in its place".

Eric said...

Hi Andre

The video begins by positing a box you don't have access to, and goes on to say that before you can reach any conclusion regarding what's in the box, you need "evidence from the cube [box] itself." But this clearly isn't true. Even if I could never access the box, and thus could never provide "evidence from the box itself," I could come to know what's in it if, as I said, someone else who knows what's in it tells me (provided, as I said, I have good grounds for trusting him). Note the universal nature of the video's claim: You can never know what's in a box you don't have access to unless you have evidence *from the box itself*. Universal claims are falsified with a single counterexample, which is what I'm arguing I've provided.

But it gets even worse for the video, which goes on to identify 'evidence' with 'measurable, verifiable evidence.' Hence, we can modify the video's claim: You can never know what's in a box you don't have access to unless you have measurable, verifiable evidence from the box itself. Now, testimony concerning the contents of a box I can't access certainly isn't 'measurable, verifiable evidence,' but it's just as certainly a perfectly justifiable way by which I can come to know what's in the box. (Incidentally, one wonders how much 'measurable, verifiable evidence' there is for, say, the existence in ancient Greece of Alcibiades, or for the kings of the Roman regal period. But this is yet another problem with the video that I won't expand upon.I also won't dilate upon the fact that it claims that you can know arguments for god's existence are 'fallacious' given the video's premise; again, this is a misuse of a basic term: you could only show, if we accept the premise, that such arguments are not sound. But again, the errors of this video are many).

Now, if you take the video to be saying that we can never know what's in a box *no one* has ever accessed without evidence from inside the box itself, then sure, I agree. But it's hardly a profound insight to claim that,

(c) If no person knows that P, then some person S doesn't know that P.

And, I will add -- though it should be clear -- it in no way follows from (c) alone that arguments for god's existence that lack measurable, verifiable evidence must be fallacious (which would be the chain of reasoning if we take the understanding of the video's premise you suggest)!

Chuck O'Connor said...

Eric you said,

"I can know what's in a box I cannot access if someone else who can access it tells me what's in it. And, after all, isn't that the essence of the Christian story?"

And then you pursue a false analogy equating the validity of the evidence for the Christian story with the observable and testable theories of Stephen Hawking.

You then defend your argument by making personal assumptions that I can't do the math necessary to understand Hawking's theories (which I can't but that is beside the point, others can independent of Hawking or even a personal agreement with Hawking - something not to be said for Christianity). Now, if you can produce the same level of objective, verifiable, testable, repeatable evidence for Christianity then I will say your analogy is something other than false.

But as it stands your conclusion is unsatisfying because your analogy is false. Or, in philosophic terms you are engaging in a fruit bowl fallacy comparing your apples with your oranges.

Scott said...

Eric,

Should you say someone else has knowledge about the box's contents, you're making claims about that person's ability beyond what they might have learned or what skills they might have acquired.

In the case of quantum theory, we'd have to decide if human beings have the capacity to give a reasonable approximation as to "what is inside the box" of quantum theory. Are humans of the class of beings that can understand the class of theoretical mathematics required for quantum theory? Do people publish peer reviewed papers on quantum theory?

Most importantly, we see tangible benefits from quantum theory. Current applications include common items, such as transistors and flash memory in USB thumb drives, to complex medical equipment, such as MRI system. We're in the beginning stages of using quantum mechanics in cryptography and quantum computing. This lends significant credence to the idea that human beings, as a species, are capable of understanding quantum theory.

But here you're suggesting that the being which knows what's in the box and the thing in the box are the same thing. We do not know if this being has the ability to tell us what's in the box. We can't compare this being with other abilities he supposedly has as, again, he's also the being in the box.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Eric,
no that's not what I am saying.
as usual you are oversimplifying and picking at the edges of the problem rather than dealing with how you can be comfortable committing to second hand information
or choosing your "priest".

actually you're mincing words, and picking at the edges of everyones comments to you.

Most of us are not philosophers either
and "epistemology" is in a laymans dictionary, bucko, a layman could look it up with a dictionary they have on the desk. Try it yourself. Go get a cheap dictionary and look them both up. Its not even in my SCRABBLE dictionary, so I couldn't even use it to win points! ;-)

If this is how you have to promote your faith by playing on peoples ignorance and perpetuating the mystery by being evasive, unclear or confusing ("obfuscation" from my laymans dictionary), you are evil incarnate!
sorry, couldn't resist that typical apologist "slippery slope", "poisoning the well", ad hominem moral attack.
;-)

I'm outa here, going to work on my article.

Eric said...

Lee, you're setting things up so it's either 'you win' or 'I lose.' First, you praise clarity, but when I try to reduce your meandering comments to a coherent principle we can discuss, you accuse me of oversimplifying! Then, to top it all off, you claim I'm being evasive and obfuscatory! Which is it: am I oversimplifying, or am I being obfuscatory? (If I'm doing both, I must be damn good...)

As far as my 'picking at the edges,' I'm sorry, but this is simply laughable. *I'm attacking the central premise of the video*. If this raises issues that are not immediately apparent, it doesn't follow that tackling them is 'picking at the edges.' You said you enjoy epistemology, but anyone who has studied the subject at even the most basic level will tell you that you'll encounter a host of problems that 1) you've never thought of for a moment, i.e. are not at all obvious problems, and that 2) if you had thought of them before beginning formally to study epistemology, you'd most likely have dismissed them as material for mental masturbation. In other words, I'm having a hard time understanding just what you mean when you claim to enjoy epistemology, because much of what you say is similar to what I hear from those who despise philosophy as such.

I also have to say that I take offense at the baseless charge that I'm 'playing on people's ignorance.' Would you please either defend this claim, apologize for having made it, or reformulate it?

Finally, Um, Lee, if you're reading my comments on this blog, you have access to the internet. If you have access to the internet, then who in the world cares what's in your little desk dictionary? Open up a new tab, type in any unfamiliar word, and presto, there's the definition! After that, just use it in a sentence three or four times and it'll be yours for the rest of your life!

John W. Loftus said...

Eric, I think you've made your point but as I and others argue yours is a pyrrhic victory, a technicality that has no force to it at all--a mere possibility. We're looking at probabilities. My claim is that the more often you must resort to the "possible" defense of your faith (rather than what's probable) then the less likely your faith is true. Here you are at it again.

And if an internalist epistemology is the case then we all ought to be agnostics, but if an externalism is the case then you ought to abandon YOUR faith.

As we've both said though, this is a separate matter.

I enjoy reading your *ahem* pathetic attempts to defend what you were raised to believe by a Christian culture because it's very interesting to see you resolve your cognitive dissonance.

David Eller, in a chapter for my edited book, The Christian Delusion, argues that it is very difficult to argue Christians out of their faith because they were never argued into it in the first place.

John W. Loftus said...

Eric, the only way to verify a truth claim about matters of fact (Hume's language) is to experience it through the five senses.

All claims that there is a sixth sense (a religious sense) must be verified (for lack of a better term) by the known five senses. Sixth sense claims are a dime a dozen, well, actually, a penny a thousand. As such, there is no reason to trust sixth sense claims even by the person making them.

There are way too many cases of people deluding themselves into thinking they've had a veridical religious experience for those experiences to be trustworthy, there are better alternative explanations for them (think wish fulfillment), and there are a myriad of examples of people defending what they were raised to believe with ad hoc explanations such as what Plantinga and Craig use for you to think a sixth sense can be anything remotely reliable when compared to what the five senses tell us. And the five senses are what we use when we do science.

John W. Loftus said...

Eric, with regard to your comments to Lee go, I suppose Alvin Plantinga could make you look ignorant with regard to epistemology, correct?

So please tell me if there is a correlation between how deeply one studies epistemology and how correct that person is about a truth claim? Given the fact that Plantinga and you are wrong I see no correlation at all. You start from what you were raised to believe, that's all. And you were raised to believe wrong, just like I was. So you defend what you were raised to believe, as I did. And it is very hard to argue you out of what you were raised to believe because you were never argued into it in the first place.

Lee has had the fortitude to self-correct his beliefs in light of the arguments and the evidence, just as we all did with regard to Santa Claus and the tooth fairly (not completely analogous, I know). I appreciate you doing the same thing here, but sophisticated arguments on behald of your faith are just that sophisticated (Think Mormon and Muslim apologists). They still don't deal with the probabilities. They only reinforce prejudices by means of possibilites.

Cheers.

I know you've read my book. Think if you will how often you must argue that the basis of your faith is a possibility. Way too many times for you to continue believing.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Eric,
sorry I offended you.

as you go traveling around the world as I hope you do one day, here is a word of warning. You better look in the box before you make your investment.

You might decide that you want to get a good deal on an mp3 player lets say.
You go into the electronics store, (which is not anything like a "best buy" for example) and
- the salesperson shows you the mp3 player,
- you decide the deal is too good to pass up
- you decided to buy it
- and he reaches under the counter and gives you a shrink wrapped box.

Whats in the box?
Your mp3 player?

You get home or away from the store, open it only to find a box of rocks.

So eric, its more complicated than you make it out to be. There is the concept of investment, and how do you know who you can trust.

I've worked in a warehouse. Before I sign for accepting 10,000.00 worth of equipment, I'm going to look in the box, and compare it to the shipping document.

in game theory this like a non-iterative version of the prisoners dilemma. Its in the salespersons best interest to defect. Its a game of imperfect information. He has all the information.

of course, if you lived next door to him he wouldn't do it. He'd choose the equilibrium, or dominant strategy for an iterative game of perfect information.

So yes, all "classical epistemological terminology" aside about what constitutes knowledge and belief, I don't know whats in the box until I look.

and anyone that is willing to make that commitment and that investment on second hand information is welcome to do so, but don't ask me to do it.

The problem of second hand information is not trivial and you would do well to figure out how to handle it in the future.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Eric,
and about my love for epistemology,
I love philosophy, but I recognize that sometimes it doesn't match reality.

One thing philosophers seem to do is fall for the fallacy of the excluded middle. They don't seem to be happy with something that gets you there most of the way, they toss it out and start over.
That's dumb.

You see it all the time when some idea gets revived cause somebody realized something that could be tacked onto it to make it more complete or fit more scenarios.

As an engineer and a polymath, I learn what they say in the class room and then do the 'THEORY TO PRACTICE'.
What fits I keep, what doesn't I discard.

I keep bayesian epistemology close to my heart even though pollock to my horror seems to have amply demonstrated its limitations, but hey
Newtons laws work well enough in a certain context, so do other things.

I advise you to temper your theory with practice. It doesn't mean you hate philosophy, it means you love it enough to make it a lifestyle choice.

Thats why you will see that when people try to label me as a "something-ist" I correct them and by telling them I'm an engineer. Engineers solve problems using whatever works, so if some part of subjectivism and some part of objectivism works to solve a problem, I'm using them both.

Lee Randolph said...

Whats in the box?
tee hee hee....

"Box Of Rocks" Scam Caught On Walmart Security Camera

John W. Loftus said...

Eric, let's say someone claims there is a poltergeist in his house. How would YOU test that claim?

Lee Randolph said...

Eric,
another meandering thought regarding epistemology.

What is the scope of definition of Knowledge? Do I mean the same thing as you when we are talking about knowledge?

What does Knowledge mean? When do you know something? What is the standard for when someone can be said to know something? Is it the same in all cultures?

I suspect that the lack of a strong definition for knowledge is why epistemology is languishing in philosophy but is doing so well in the sciences, where quantification and measurement is all important. We have to make justifiable decisions don't we and how can we do that without knowledge? Information Science, Decision theory, Game Theory, Bayesian Epistemology, Social Psychology, they make heavy use of statistics and probability to make fairly reliable predictions and assessments of whether information is reliable or not. Whether decisions are justifiable or not. Assessments about the Quality of Knowledge. The world is just a complex tapestry of interwoven logical relationships where knowledge is just a context away from disappearing.

Another cornerstone of epistemology, Belief, is in the same boat. Barely definable.

But neuroscience is making advances defining belief. If belief is the point at which you will take some action with regard to knowledge, that action can be predicted using fmri to a large degree, and advances are being made using fmri for detecting lies, which is when you say something you don't believe.

They're whittling away at the philosophy of free will as well discovering more and more biological bases for behavior.

How do you define rational? Is what is rational to me, rational to you? (that's rhetorical, don't bother answering)

Andre said...

Eric,

I understand what you're saying, and from your point of view it is rational just as I think your christian faith is, but then again, I think the Islamic faith is also rational. Possibility leads to any possible perception.

These are the exact words from the author of the video: "Despite there being countless possibilities and impossibilities, without evidence from the box itself, we can only ever make valid justifiable statements about what is not inside the cube, not what is." Now, what I was simply trying to say and what I think the video is trying to say is that, if no one knows what's inside the box, then "without evidence from the box itself", there can be no valid reason for me to believe what anyone tells me since that person has never truly seen what's inside. If what I say is true, then the universal claim still stands.

When you add that you can know if someone you can trust knows and tells you, that is another thing which I don't need to get into, and since others are already dealing with that.

openlyatheist said...

This reminds me of a recent analysis by Dawson Bethrick of a debate involving a presuppositionalist Christian.

The Christian claimed he had a guarantor for the foundations of logic and morality who does not lie.

Upon cross-examination the Christian's opponent asked him how he knew God could not lie.

The Christian's argument boiled down to, "God told him so."

K. said...

"Intellectual knowledge" is just a piece of the pie, my friends. So anyone who is going to claim via an "intellectual argument" that there is no God or that there is no truth out there, based on "Intellectual knowledge" and "scientific proof," is like a fly stuck in the middle of an orange flavored jello mold claiming "to know" everything that exists beyond the jello mold. And this includes claiming "to know" that there is no God.

Sure, I could argue that perhaps you're right if you define "know" intellectually, but I can just as easily argue using intellectual evidence that there is a God, but that's a different post.

BUT you're NOT right b/c you don't really understand the depth and thus the true meaning of the word "know".

In Hebrew, "know" is "to know," which incorporates visible evidence as well as intuition, knowledge that mathematics even has a definition for. i.e. "I just know...I can feel it...I therefore trust (have faith) it's true" and then the person's mirrored experience turns out to prove the validity of this feeling in the form of true (accurate) knowledge.

Linguistics - look it up, learn about it, realize that everything begins here. Take some time to wrap your brain around what I'm getting at. God speaking the world into existence via a big bang - makes sense. Jesus Christ being "The Word who became flesh to dwell with us" makes sense too.

Secular wisdom or secular foolishness? Who is really stuck in the orange flavored jello mold?

Definitions of 'know'

1. (verb) know
the fact of being aware of information that is known to few people
"he is always in the know"

2. (verb) know, cognize, cognise
be cognizant or aware of a fact or a specific piece of information; possess knowledge or information about
"I know that the President lied to the people"; "I want to know who is winning the game!"; "I know it's time"

3. (verb) know
know how to do or perform something
"She knows how to knit"; "Does your husband know how to cook?"

4. (verb) know
be aware of the truth of something; have a belief or faith in something; regard as true beyond any doubt
"I know that I left the key on the table"; "Galileo knew that the earth moves around the sun"

5. (verb) know
be familiar or acquainted with a person or an object
"She doesn't know this composer"; "Do you know my sister?"; "We know this movie"; "I know him under a different name"; "This flower is known as a Peruvian Lily"

6. (verb) know, experience, live
have firsthand knowledge of states, situations, emotions, or sensations
"I know the feeling!"; "have you ever known hunger?"; "I have lived a kind of hell when I was a drug addict"; "The holocaust survivors have lived a nightmare"; "I lived through two divorces"

7. (verb) acknowledge, recognize, recognise, know
accept (someone) to be what is claimed or accept his power and authority
"The Crown Prince was acknowledged as the true heir to the throne"; "We do not recognize your gods"

8. (verb) know
have fixed in the mind
"I know Latin"; "This student knows her irregular verbs"; "Do you know the poem well enough to recite it?"

9. (verb) sleep together, roll in the hay, love, make out, make love, sleep with, get laid, have sex, know, do it, be intimate, have intercourse, lie with, bed, have a go at it, bang, get it on, bonk
have sexual intercourse with

"This student sleeps with everyone in her dorm"; "Adam knew Eve"; "Were you ever intimate with this man?"

10. (verb) know
know the nature or character of
"we all knew her as a big show-off"

11. (verb) know
be able to distinguish, recognize as being different
"The child knows right from wrong"

12. (verb) know
perceive as familiar
"I know this voice!"

Lee Randolph said...

Hi K,
"Linguistics - look it up, learn about it, realize that everything begins here. Take some time to wrap your brain around what I'm getting at. God speaking the world into existence via a big bang - makes sense. "

Vedic hindus from 3000 BCE to about 300 CE would agree with you. They believed that their scriptures words and language had special powers and could only be spoken by the priest class or it was dangerous. Some "denominations" of Hindus think that the world came into existence with the word AUM which stands for "Three Vedas or the Hindu Trimurti or three stages in life ( birth, life and death )." (wikipedia)

So your christian idea of speaking the world into existence was borrowed from the surrounding Near East Environment by the writer of Genesis.

It was a common type of folklore that can be found in other cultures besides Judaism.

And this illustrates the problem with Second Hand Information. You don't know if its correct or if its accurate because you don't have first hand information, or experience.

K. said...

Hi Lee. Thanks. I admit my reply was a bit lazy so I appreciate that you were kind to me and not mean. I could have written what I wrote more kindly.

As for mythology, my theory is that it's anything but myth. It was real people, like you and me, on their own personal existential journey. We all search for God and we always will. If you cut us open, we all look the same. Thus, their is only one God, his name is Yahweh, who manifested himself in Jesus Christ (Yeshua).

Christianity is not a folklore. There is real meat to it in the form of history, archaeological evidence, and the testimony of multiple people, all of whom were willing to die for their faith (and by that I don't mean blowing themselves up).

Finally, the Jewish people protected their scripture with their whole being, thus, their documents are trustworthy. Also, the English translations can always be dug deeper into using the Greek and Hebrew language.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi K,
We all search for God and we always will. If you cut us open, we all look the same. Thus, their is only one God, his name is Yahweh, who manifested himself in Jesus Christ (Yeshua).

no, its Vishnu.
Yahweh was mistaken for Indra way back then. If there are any gods, the Hindu pantheon are the only real gods. They were first, the rest are just misunderstandings of them spread by well meaning but misguided false prophets.

;-)

Look, why do you believe the Jewish story and then the Christian story over the Hindu story?

Its because everyone you know has been christian, plain and simple.

Check this out, the Hindu sanyas ashrama is the final stage in hindu life where they renounce everything and give themselves to the pursuit "right living".

compare the following to John the Baptist, Jesus in Mark when his family was holding him back because he was acting crazy, and the apostles

Think about all the mention of the Magi and the Persians in the Bible. East Asian influence is all over the Bible.

I tell ya, your are falling for millenia old Near Eastern folklore. Go check out what "the Axial Age" entailed (800-200 BCE). Thats the time the major religions defined themselves.

from www.hinduwebsite.com
Sanyasa ashrama
9. Let him wear a single garment,

10. Or cover his body with a skin or with grass that has been nibbled at by a cow.

11. Let him sleep on the bare ground.

12. Let him frequently change his residence,

13. (Dwelling) at the extremity of the village, in a temple, or in an empty house, or at the root of a tree.

14. Let him (constantly) seek in his heart the knowledge (of the universal soul).

15. (An ascetic) who lives constantly in the forest,

16. Shall not wander about within sight of the village-cattle.

17. 'Freedom from future births is certain for him who constantly dwells in the forest, who has subdued his organs of sensation and action, who has renounced all sensual gratification, whose mind is fixed in meditation on the Supreme Spirit, and who is (wholly) indifferent (to pleasure and pain).'

18. (Let him) not (wear) any visible mark (of his order), nor (follow) any visible rule of conduct.

19. Let him, though not mad, appear like one out of his mind.

Lee Randolph said...

and while I'm hooting and hollerin about folklore, I will concede that Jesus was a real person and crucified, and that in order to reconcile that catastrophe, they borrowed ready made folklore stories to explain it.

Chuck O'Connor said...

K you said,

"Christianity is not a folklore. There is real meat to it in the form of history, archaeological evidence, and the testimony of multiple people, all of whom were willing to die for their faith (and by that I don't mean blowing themselves up)."

One could say the same thing about Mormonism and cite historically verifiable examples of the types of evidence you offer but, I doubt you believe in an angel named Moroni.

K. said...

Lee, I appreciate what you're saying and I can see your points. I will also think about those points now and consider them. But I've experienced the Holy Spirit in big, medium and small ways, and each time, the experience has validated for me what is written in Judeo-Christian Scripture. Each time, my faith level goes up a notch. I don't know how else to explain it. I realize there are a lot of emotionally unstable, simpletons in the world, but I don't see how there can be millions of people, around the world, having the same type of experience, if Judeo-Christian Scripture was full of crap. And to me, mythology contains a lot of crap, because what can you do with information when it's not true? You certainly can't develop an accurate worldview let alone build a life on it. If Christianity was full of crap, I can say with 95% confidence, that I wouldn't be 16 years into my relationship with Jesus Christ. But I know, who am I to you? Probably just another Christian typing about Jesus in cyberspace...

K. said...

"One could say the same thing about Mormonism and cite historically verifiable examples of the types of evidence you offer but, I doubt you believe in an angel named Moroni."

You're right Chuck. And again, I'm sorry, because these comments are not being written in such a way that I'm trying to convince you to follow the path I've chosen. Which I of course want you to, because obviously when I say I am a Christian, I am saying that Jesus Christ is the only means of Salvation, thus, Jesus holds your eternal VIP pass in his pocket.

The missing link in these discussions, is the Holy Spirit. This is the part of the conversation where most Christians trail off into the holy sea and drown, and it's really noticeable and for me, a little painful to watch. But I personally can't a) convict your heart of sin, b) show you your need for salvation, c) describe to you what the Holy Spirit is like b/c that's like trying to tell someone what a soft drink tastes like when they've never had one...see where I'm going with this?

Faith is not blind. It's merely making the choice to step forward, and trust that what G-d (Yahweh not Allah) says in Scripture is true. This is when things happen. After you walk through the door. But that doesn't happen on sites like this. Everyone gets together and stares at the door. They yell at it, bang it, laugh at it, mock it, etc.

And you're right, I don't believe in Moroni the Muslim.

K. said...

I meant, Moroni the Mormon. Sorry, I'm used to discussing one more than the other.

Chuck O'Connor said...

K,

I've heard it all before and don't doubt your sincerity but, when I look at the actions taken by true believers in our country and see the affront to equality and liberty the "Holy Spirit" offers I gratefully decline your "VIP" pass.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi K,
about your experience with "the holy spirit"
Hindus do yoga for that
hinduwebsite.com
The term Yoga comes from the root yuj, "to yoke or join." It is used to suggest the union of the individual self (atman) with the Highest Self (Brahman)."

Whatever you say about how you know Christianity and its god or principles are true, can be said about any other religion with passion. Just ask them.

The common denominator is passionate people. Passionate people can convince themselves of a lot of things, from religion to UFO's.

oh and yoga can be used as a physical fitness "exercise" apart from the spirituality. Its not exclusively for trying to join the Brahman.

If you all are having "experiences" then maybe its god, maybe its not. Maybe its just you all getting yourselves all worked up, maybe its another god trying to get past your christian bias, and maybe its a demon trying to win your trust.

My moneys on the guess thats its simply you all getting yourselves all worked up.

If I have a Christian, a hindu, a muslim, a Jew and a buddhist all telling me about their personal experience that I can't verify, then who am I supposed to believe?

If I pray about it, if I pray using a certain religions method, then I've made a choice! And If praying like a muslim gets me off, then that doesn't discredit your experience in your eyes because you are convinced I am self-deluded.

Dude, you're in a logic loop with your experience and the only way to get out of it is with physical evidence that is stronger than the rest.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi K,
here is a video of a guy that tells you how to get in touch with your spirit guides, angels and loved ones.
The first thing he says is meditate.
He says by doing this we can focus our third eye shakra to receive spiritual information. You get feelings, smells, images, and you can "autowrite" down the information.
Connecting to Your Spirit Guides, Angels and Loved Ones
If that aint experience, I don't know what is!
;-)

K. said...

As I said before, "I personally can't a) convict your heart of sin, b) show you your need for salvation, c) describe to you what the Holy Spirit is like b/c that's like trying to tell someone what a soft drink tastes like when they've never had one..."

Good day, gentleman.

Jonathan said...

One could give Christianity a true benefit of the doubt if it had developed across the globe and at the same time. In fact it probable would be very hard to disprove it wrong on the basis that everyone received the same message at the same time.

The problem Christianity didn't start off that way. It at first having its leader killed with without any plans for succession. It had the benefit of a public who believed the Gods could have earthly children. The idea of people rising from the dead wasn't unheard of. It also had a network of finely built roads and access to ships cross the Mediterranean ocean courtesy of the Roman empire. The Christians also had access to a group of Greeks spread out across the empire that embraced the faith. The biggest gift of all was the Roman Emperor Constantine who proclaim Christianity as the state religion.

But cutting to present time it seems odd that God would go through all the trouble to develop Judaism then sacrifice his supposed son only later to have the faith split due to internal strife and conflict. God intended for the reformation? God planned to have Catholics then Protestants, then Mormons? This process of Christianity seems more of an example of evolution that creationism.

In the end the reason the Christian today can be so bold in their complaints of other traditions isn't based on whose religion is Gods religion, but who developed the gun first and ships to travel the ocean upon.

Peace.