Dan and I are friends. We live in the same city. He is a former professor at John Brown University who used my book, "Why I Became an Atheist" in one of his classes. He is also on record as saying "Christians should be reading John Loftus's Books." Still he thinks his faith is strengthened by reading them. Okay, I guess. Recently on Facebook he objected to a link I provided where I made fun of the fact that Christianity made no discoveries in 2013. Here is our exchange about it on Facebook. I think it is instructive. Enjoy.
- Dan Lambert You have to know I'm right about this, John. If you want to become one of the most influential atheists who helps put an end to Christianity (a goal you have written about), then you must stop these type of emotionally charged and poorly thought out posts and focus more on actual intellectual arguments. The purpose of religion is not to make new discoveries, nor is that the purpose of theologians. It's like your list of scientists who became creationists after examining evidence. You need to research this a lot more or you'll lose credibility. Start with Dr. Francis Collins, whose scientific education rivals anyone's, and was head of the Human Genome Project. You have enough strong points to make without lowering yourself to the poor quality of your last two posts. I know no one hits a home run every time, but these are pretty bad.
- John W. Loftus Dan, I think faith is an unreliable way to know the truth about the nature and working of universe. The contrast is between faith and science. You say faith isn't supposed to discover anything about the universe, okay. Is faith supposed to determine what happened in the past? Is faith supposed to determine the origin of the universe? Is faith supposed to determine the origins of life, or consciousness, or whether we have free will?
- Dan Lambert You're dodging my point, but the answer to your questions, in my opinion, is no, faith is not "supposed to determine" any of those things. Faith provides for some a way to explain, in part, that everything that exists has its origin with a creator. Faith does not "determine" that or prove that any more than any philosophy does. I am sure that you are not positing that since no school of philosophy made new discoveries in 2013 that all philosophies must be false.
- John W. Loftus Dan, what scientific discovery would you accept that would show your faith in Christianity is wrongheaded? As far as I can tell Christian theists merely move the goal posts. They draw a line in the sand then when science walks passed it they draw a new one. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat. Rinse.--- Wow, what a bunch of mixed metaphors I am!
- Dan Lambert LOL, well, I can mix metaphors with the best (worst?) of them! The scientific method has nothing to say, by it's very definition, about the existence the supernatural. Look up the word science or the term scientific method in any respected dictionary or encyclopedia and you see that it speaks about nature and observable phenomena. I simply choose to believe that something exists beyond what humans can observe. Science cannot prove the supernatural does not exist. If, by repeatable observations, the branches of science could ever irrefutably support the hypothesis (because science never "proves" anything, it only supports or fails to support hypotheses) that nothing supernatural exists, then I would abandon my faith. Scientists can state that their theories or discoveries eliminates the "need" for a creator, which may well be true, but that does not mean a creator does not exist. It appears, for example, that the multiple universe theory is gaining steam (thus moving the goalposts of "big bang" enthusiasts, by the way). That still does not disprove a creator.
- John W. Loftus I agree that science cannot technically disprove the god-hypothesis. But it has rendered theistic explanations as irrelevant. Take for instance the belief that elves cause sickness. As modern medicine helped heal people of their illnesses the elf hypothesis was unnecessary. That's what science does repeatedly. It makes theistic explanations superfluous and unnecessary. What best explains that Dan?
- Dan Lambert John, you and other atheists have asked for the same type of irrefutable proof in order to believe in a creator god. If a god exists, he/she/it is required to communicate existence in such a way that is obvious and undeniable to all. That doesn't sound like mere probability to me. Why the double standard? Plus, when you invoke statistical probability, you are attempting to place an establish scientific standard on the supernatural, which is oxymoronic. Is the probability that a creator-god exists greater or less than the probability that one does not? Doesn't it depend entirely on the factors one is willing to accept as part of the equation?
- John W. Loftus Dan, as a former Christian, when I began thinking in terms of probabilities the god/hypothesis failed on so many levels I couldn't believe anymore. I deny that I have changed since rejecting faith. I still think in terms of probabilities. Please don't project your own need for irrefutable proof on me.