Thursday, September 12, 2013

Covenant Apologetics: A Review



K. Scott Oliphint, Covenant Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith. Crossway, Wheaton, IL, 2013. K. Scott Oliphint is professor of apologetics and systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.

I'd like to thank Crossway for providing a copy of the book for review.


In the introduction and Chapter 1, Oliphint begins by stating that his approach is Van Tillian, and that he wishes to remove the confusing nomenclature of presuppositionalism and replace it with covenant language to describe the apologetic. He also wants readers to know that this book is meant to be a translation of Van Til, even though there are minor differences, that makes the methodology accessible to non-professional philosophers and layman. 

He argues that Christians should not give up their starting ground, which is God's revelation, to assume a starting ground that automatically precludes Christianity. Hence, he argues that the starting point for the Christian, who has come to know God through the truth, is that Christianity is true, and therefore, whatever opposes it, whether we even understand the opposing system well or not, is false. Hence, the starting point needs to be the picture of reality that Scripture gives to us concerning God's existence and man's identity both as God's image and as rebelliously seeking autonomy in thought and practice.

He, therefore, argues that man remains in covenant with God even after the fall. He still owes God, as His Creator, his full allegiance and obedience in mind, heart, and soul. He is still obligated to worship God rather than himself, but, in the fall, his heart is not like it was before. As it was once posse non peccare for the man before the fall, after the fall, it is non posse non peccare. His thoughts are continually evil from his youth. Hence, he constructs a reality that is contrary to what is true reality. Reality becomes fantasy and fantasy, reality—all in the name of self worship. Hence, even while assuming a knowledge of God, which Oliphint believes from Romans 1 to be given to every human in creation and conscience, he suppresses that knowledge. Hence, he becomes irrational. Oliphint states:

But since the fall, given the above, we became, in the truest sense of the word, irrational. That is, we sinfully and deceptively convince ourselves that what is actually true about the world is not true. We create a world of our own making, where we are all gods. What we now seek to do and how we seek to live and think are set in polar opposition to the world as it actually is. Our actions are in opposition to what they were originally intended to do . . . Trying to make ourselves out to be gods, we distort both who we are and who God is. We are at war with our true identity. Always and everywhere in covenant relationship with God our Creator, we seek the utterly impossible and unobtainable; we seek autonomy (45).

This is bad news for man, since he is not God. In fact, Oliphint argues from the WCF that God is holy other. He is not like us or anything else in the world. There is a distance, a vast chasm, between God’s knowledge and character and our own (39-40). What this means is that we are completely reliant upon God graciously revealing reality to us. Hence, God must condescend in order to communicate needed information. Hence, one must begin with respect to who we are and what we can know in light of this understanding (40-41).

What this means is that man is incapable of knowing like God, but wants to pretend that he is God and can know like Him. Despite the nature of reality, the sinner, “as far as he is tr5ue to his own sinful principle [i.e., seeking autonomy], seek to suppress the actual situation ans set forth the (literally) make-believe world that he is working so hard to build” (46).
Hence, Oliphint remarks, 

It will not do, then, for the apologist simply to start on the Yellow Brick Road with his unbelieving friend and assume that it will lead to Kansas. Once one begins on a make-believe road, it can only lead to more of the same; one cannot leave the land of Oz by taking a road that is, in its entirety, within Oz. The only way back to the real world of Kansas is to get off the road altogether and change the mind-set that trusted in the Yellow Brick Road in the first place (Ibid.).

 This is what the covenantal approach seeks to accomplish. It believes the Scriptural assessment of our situation and attempts to show that this imaginary world, fabricated by the fallen sinner, since it does not truly exist, is irrational. It therefore challenges the unbeliever to make sense of his world within itself. Instead, it will likely steal the transcendental foundations rooted in the triune God who has revealed Himself to man, all the while seeking to suppress the necessity of that foundation to justify his own worldview. “So,” as Oliphint concludes, “the unbelieving position both has its own presumed foundations and needs Christian foundations in order even to oppose the latter” (46). Hence, the approach attempts to expose both the presuppositions of the illusory world the unbeliever is attempting to justify and the covenantal presuppositions that he has assumed in order to make his case.

Oliphint then gives ten tenets that he wants his readers to keep in mind throughout the entire book in order to provide context for what is being said therein. They are basically a summary of what has already been discussed:


1.       The faith that we are defending must begin with, and necessarily include, the triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—who, as God, condescends to create and to redeem.


2.       God’s covenantal revelation is authoritative by virtue of what it is, and any covenantal, Christian apologetic will necessarily stand on and utilize that authority in order to defend Christianity.


3.       It is the truth of God’s revelation, together with the work of the Holy Spirit, that brings about a covenantal change from one who is in Adam to one who is in Christ.


4.       Man (male and female) as image of God is in covenant with the triune God for eternity.

5.       All people know the true God, and that knowledge entails covenant obligations.


6.       Those who are and remain in Adam suppress the truth that they know. Those who are in Christ see that truth for what it is.


7.       There is an absolute, covenantal antithesis between Christian theism and any other, opposing position. Thus, Christianity is true and anything opposing it is false.


8.       Suppression of the truth, like the depravity of sin, is total but not absolute. Thus, every unbelieving position will necessarily have within it ideas, concepts, notions, and the like that it has taken and wrenched from their true, Christian context.


9.       The true, covenantal knowledge of God in man, together with God’s universal mercy, allows for persuasion in apologetics.


10.   Every fact and experience is what it is by virtue of the covenantal, all-controlling plan and purpose of God.

Oliphint explains all of these in much more solid terms that they first appear, as these are the conclusions of arguments he lays out, not the arguments themselves.

In Chapter 2, Oliphint argues that the real problem is an authority problem. It fails to reckon with Christ as Lord. He critiques Kant’s concept of pure reason, where Kant divides knowledge and faith, and states that he must deny knowledge in order to make room for faith, by stating that Kant never considered the Christian God he was attempting to rebut. We experience the God of the Bible every day. In Him we move and have our being. He has given us revelation in the creation of the cosmos, consciousness, and specifically in Scripture. Kant is merely assuming that we have not experienced God because he refuses to believe. Oliphint argues that he is right in that we cannot move from the finite to the infinite, but that Kant never considers the infinite moving to the finite. It’s always an argument with man at the center of existence.

But God has condescended to us, and without Him doing so, there could be no knowledge of Him. In that sense, Oliphint is in agreement with Kant, if Kant’s fabricated world existed, but it doesn’t. We live in the world where God is experienced in everything, where knowledge of God is assumed in everything, because revelation has been granted to us. It is our desire to make ourselves the central authorities in life and thought that gets in the way of that information.
Oliphint then argues that an unbelieving system that does not consider Christ as its authority will self destruct (i.e., it will be self-defeating).

He begins by giving an example of moral reasoning with an episode that occurred between Richard Dawkins and some of his supporters, where the two were arguing about a moral issue (Dawkins grading evil on a scale and his supporters believing in some universal idea of morality that should not grade moral actions in such a way). Oliphint argues that a commitment of life that is limited to the rational and evidential begins to sink in what he calls the “Quicksand Quotient” when one discovers that they hold commitments that go beyond the evidential and rational. He uses this example only to show that there are commitments that are assumed by everyone that cannot be decided by the evidential and rational. Atheism provides no real way of dealing with these. Christianity, however, provides a “universally applicable way to navigate how the rational and evidential  to ‘human beings, life, and behavior’” (77).

He then gives an example of where an atheist tries to sink Christianity by showing the same thing within the Christian’s system. In order to do so, he is not assuming a Christian worldview, but his own, in order to make the case. Oliphint argues that he must remove the Christian God from His revelatory context in order to make the case and construct a god that is not revealed in order to supposedly dismiss that god; but this is, at all times, assuming his own worldview and not Christianity’s. Thus, it cannot make the fallacy stick.

Chapter 3 is essentially a longer discussion of what God has done in covenant with us. He has condescended to us that we might know Him. Thus, Oliphint states:

We know God not because we have reasoned our way to him, or have worked through the necessary scientific procedures, or have inferred his existence from other things that we know; rather we know him by way of his revelation. We know what God is like “because God has shown it “ to us (101).

This knowledge of God is not something we have learned, but something engrained in us, inborn, and a part of our being. As such, Oliphint argues that this is a type of knowledge that all other types of knowledge presuppose, and might be better understood as a psychology than an epistemology (103).

Oliphint makes an important point at this juncture. He states that, since God has revealed Himself in what He has created, the world is accessible to us. We know God by knowing the world as created and we know the world because God has made Himself known through it. Hence, knowledge of the world presupposes a knowledge of God, and this makes knowledge of the world accessible to us.

At this point, Oliphint turns to discuss types of proofs: empirical and non-empirical, with the non-empirical relying upon the empirical. He discusses things like verifiable facts with our senses and those that need to rely upon certain authorities as legitimate, such as the statement,“Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 44 BC.” There are empirical and non-empirical arguments of variegated complexity. His whole point here is to flesh out the idea of what constitutes “proof,” as well as to say that proof cannot be predicated on that for which one can give a rational justification (as an example, he mentions Plantinga’s argument that philosophers have been unsuccessful in arguing for the existence of other minds, yet most still believe that there are). 

He then asks whether the statement, “God exists” is something provable. By quoting the first definition of proof found in Webster’s Dictionary (one that many skeptics assume), he states that a definition of proof that works on the assumption that anything proven must be based upon a cogency of evidence that compels acceptance of the mind of a truth or fact, would exclude the statement as something provable in the strictest sense.

Hence, he argues that he is after more than mere proof, as he is after a sound argument, not just a valid one, and he looks to the Holy Spirit to compel others of the truth, not the self authentication of human autonomy. So, he concludes, the issue of what constitutes proof is far more complex than many make it out to be.

In fact, his point here is to show that the idea of proof is really only a subset of a larger group of assumptions that surround various premises. These take us beyond the syllogisms to epistemological questions that ask how we know these premises are true (i.e., how exactly we have acquired this information).

The arguments, therefore, cannot be based upon some naïve notion that one can argue from evidence and rationality in neutrality. There is no neutral ground from which we argue.

At this point, Oliphint critiques the evidentialist approach of Thomas Aquinas and those approaches which follow his as that which assumes a neutral ground, where everyone will read the evidence the same way.  At this point, Oliphint remarks, the Christian has already lost the argument because he has assumed a non-Christian epistemology. Hence, the unbeliever can now drive him eventually to the destination he desires, i.e., to disbelief in the God of the Bible. 

In Chapter 4, he lays out his argument that apologetics should be more persuasive than proof-oriented. He discusses Aristotelian persuasion within the context of a biblical and theological framework. This is where Oliphint essentially lays out what is wrong, in his opinion, with the Thomistic approach that basis itself on evidences and rationalization. His argument is not that evidentiary and rational arguments are opposed to the covenant apologetics model, but that they ought to work upon its foundation rather than acquiring some other foundation that one supposes to be neutral ground.

In Chapter 5, he lays out the negative and positive aspects of an apologetic argument by showing how we can demonstrate that false systems fall under their own weight (i.e., how their own assumptions make the system incoherent and irrational), as well as showing that Christianity provides a much more reasonable view of reality given its assumptions.

In Chapters 6 and 7, he lays out in hypothetical dialogues what this might look like when one encounters an atheist or Muslim. Here is the meat of the book, and therein lies the demonstration of the method for which Oliphint has been preparing his readers throughout the book.



My Assessment:

I thought it was rather interesting that I read this book after I have been discussing these very things with certain atheists of the Objectivist variety. Oliphint points out that the reason why atheists are continually seeking to put Christians on their starting ground is because they (1) don't often realize the assumptions they're making, and assume their starting point to be neutral, and (2) because it's the only way they're going to be successful in persuading one to conclude what they have.

If one looks at the debates I've been having over the past few days, he will see the constant and unrelenting attempt to pull me into an epistemology that assumes the very world it is claiming to prove. For instance, I was chided for not being able to "confirm" information needed from my metaphysic, and this is precisely the objection with which I charged the atheist. Yet, my epistemology is not self defeating as theirs is, as I don't need to "confirm" such undetectable information. That's the atheist's system collapsing upon itself. My epistemology is that I believe the authority of God and the Bible and reason and evaluate evidence from there. That's my ground. One may not believe it, but that's where I start, and it is not self defeating as the atheist's starting place is. Yet, this idea was completely foreign and seen as absurd by the atheists, precisely, because they are judging what is absurd and what is rational according to whether it assumes their worldview (which they are completely unaware that they are assuming).

Oliphint does a great job at pointing this out, although there could have been more argumentation and demonstration of this fact. In fact, I found it interesting that he concluded much the same that I did in one of my conversations: namely, that an atheist wants to presuppose that what is rational and what is absurd is whatever accords with an epistemology based upon his assumed metaphysic in the first place. In essence, the atheist begs the question and then goes on to view everything that does not accord with it as "absurd." What is truly absurd and irrational is to argue in such a circle, but then claim that one is just using logic and reason to get to this position without any such presuppositions.

Oliphint points all of this out of course, but, as I said, he could have done more to make this more explicit and given more examples in the process.

However, that said, his purpose is really to introduce the Christian to this form of apologetics. The book is not meant to be a defense of Christianity written to atheists. It is simply taking observations and arguments that have been made in more philosophically advanced forms and bringing out an application of those truths in how one goes about persuading, rather than proving via evidentialism, that Christianity is true. 

I highly recommend the book for an Introduction to Apologetics course. In fact, I would definitely use it in such a course and then move on to other, more advanced, works that this book is attempting to translate and apply. 

Overall, this is a great contribution to the subject of apologetics, and that explains the widespread praise it is receiving in Reformed Circles.










139 comments:

  1. How is this "covenant" apologetics being accepted within non-calvinistic circles? I'm just wondering how much of this apologetic method is based off the assumptions that TULIP is correct. In a debate/discussion (Unbelievable?) with Mr. Oliphint and a non-calvinist a few months ago there seemed to be a problem centered around the doctrine of Total Depravity. If I remember correctly, Covenant Apologetics seemed to balance precariously on TD as defined in Reformed Circles.

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  2. It is specifically a reformed apologetic. Oliphint makes that clear in the book, but he tries to draw out a lot of what Paul argues on Mars Hill to display the apologetic in action.
    There is an assumption of neutrality in other apologetics that either assume a Pelagian/Semi-Pelagian or Roman Catholic/Wesleyian/Prevenient Grace idea that man still retains somewhere within him a neutral stance toward God and can choose to reason toward or against Him.
    So you're probably right to see the difference in terms of TD. He does, however, believe that the Holy Spirit, works to persuade the person through the Word, precisely, because, although TD means that sin has affected the man in every one of his faculties, it does not mean that he is as bad as he could be, and therefore, still retains knowledge of God even in his own arguments against God.

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    1. What's truly horrid is this idea that there's no possible neutrality. It assumes way too much. Not just that there's some god, but a particular god, which, I'm sure, we will find to be imagined in so many ways as to cause division among believers any way, but no, let's call it "God" even if we imagine a different one. Otherwise the apologetics stating with "no neutrality" won't "work." Oh, and this "God" is the one who sacrificed itself for all of us, but no, no, not for all of us. Only a few of us are "chosen," so hey! I'm chosen! (Hey it says here that the Israelites are the chosen, not you!), easy, we can find that if we go through this line, then cross the street in the 1200's, and because of the cousin of the neighbor, I could easily be a descendant of Abraham! Long etc.

      In the meantime someone already thought of a way for the chosen not to be just Israel people. Oh, no, if we look carefully at the new covenant ...

      Incredible joke over joke over joke. And that's but one of the many imaginary gods taken seriously by people who could know so much better.

      Ups sorry. All if this God business, no neutrality, etc, is true because that's your worldview. I was forgetting. I can't know that I have had no revelations. No sir. if your worldview says I did, I did, even if I didn't. If I say I didn't Im question begging, but not if you say I did. Then it's your worldview. You must feel mighty that you can just make things up, and that I have to accept them when you say "that's my worldview!"

      What a, amazing device to keep you from getting out of this venomous circle BC. All is true if it's your "worldview." I never thought it could be that nonsensical and yet powerful to keeping you under the spell nonetheless.

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    2. It's basically lazy apologetics. That's what it is. It says, "Forget about actually doing the hard work to look for evidence to support our religious beliefs, we'll just presuppose our religion is true as a starting point and deny any and all evidence that happens to contradict it. And we'll try to convince everyone else to think this way too." This is a losing strategy and it shows how weak the case is for Christianity when Christians already concede from the get-go that there is no good evidence backing up their religion. I think we should actually look forward to this kind of apologetics because it's very easy to ignore. What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. If your starting point is the infallability of the bible, I don't even need to take you seriously.

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  3. BC,

    The last part of your comment here shows, yet again, that you are so obsessed with what you think my worldview is, that you can't distinguish your mental pictures from anything we said.

    «If one looks at the debates I've been having over the past few days, he will see the constant and unrelenting attempt to pull me into an epistemology that assumes the very world it is claiming to prove.»

    Not once did I talk about proving any epistemology. Not once did I try to pull you into any epistemology. All I did was show you that your question(s) did not lead anywhere, that they assumed problems we don't have. For example, you assumed that we would need to find a "way out" from something we would never "get in" in the first place. Namely, that imagining some untestable scenario should be a reason for us to worry about such scenario.

    «For instance, I was chided for not being able to "confirm" information needed from my metaphysic, and this is precisely the objection with which I charged the atheist.»

    But that's because your "metaphysics" (what a joke to call your imaginary realms "metaphysics") is based on imagining that an imaginary character is there to help you out. That's easily a logically challengeable starting point. On the other hand, I never said that my metaphysics requires confirmation. You think it does because you haven't got the slightest understanding of my starting point. You truly think that I work from a challengeable "presupposition" as you do, but I'm far from that.

    «Yet, my epistemology is not self defeating as theirs is, as I don't need to "confirm" such undetectable information.»

    Then you have no right to demand atheists to confirm anything. Not only that, you have no basis whatsoever to claim that your worldview is better than anything else. To be consistent you should accept any worldview that claims not to need confirmations for their foundations whether the foundations could be logically challenged or not. You are saying that logic and reason should stop there. Therefore you renounce logic and reason.

    «That's the atheist's system collapsing upon itself.»

    Nope. That's your imaginary atheist system collapsing into itself. That's you, judging an imaginary atheist worldview from the starting point of your nonsensical "metaphysics."

    «My epistemology is that I believe the authority of God and the Bible and reason and evaluate evidence from there. That's my ground. One may not believe it, but that's where I start, and it is not self defeating as the atheist's starting place is.»

    Of course it is not "self-defeating" if all you do is no-matter-how-illogical-contradictory-and-circular you will accept it because that's your worldview. But then you can't judge any other worldview as self-defeating because, after all, logic and reason are not important within your own. So, if you think that there's an inconsistency within some atheistic worldview, whichever and however cartoonized by you, it should not matter. An atheist can just say "I start here, and it does not matter. That's where I start and it's not self-defeating." Presto, no problem.

    ...

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  4. ...

    «Yet, this idea was completely foreign and seen as absurd by the atheists, precisely, because they are judging what is absurd and what is rational according to whether it assumes their worldview»

    Not according to whether they assume our worldview, but to whether they are rational.

    «(which they are completely unaware that they are assuming).»

    Since you have not attempted to understand my worldview, you have no way of knowing if I assume it. But that does not matter. You just explained how your worldview rejects logic and reason. Therefore it is, by definition, absurd. Therefore you have no right to judge any other worldviews, let alone those you don't even try and understand.

    Also, you need to work on your special pleading. if I can't make fun of your nonsensical worldview, because it is "self-consistent" by avoiding logic and reason (when you find it convenient), what makes you think that I should accept your demands, like that of worrying about imaginary scenarios, when my worldview clearly shows no reason to worry about those things?

    And now let us prepare for another of your answers that answer nothing, misunderstands 90% of what I said, and assumes that I hold to a worldview that I don't hold to. All the while you will insist that you trust "God" and that this being you can't distinguish from something you might merely be imagining helps you distinguish the real from the imaginary (What a joke! And you don't see the circles there for sure! Nah, not self-defeating of course! Why not? Because you assume that it's not self-defeating! Nice!).

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  5. Yeah, you're not begging the question at all by calling God imaginary and what we believe as imaginary. That's just self evident. LOL.

    Nowhere in this incoherent rant did you make any attempt to understand what I've said to you.

    You don't have to "claim" anything. It's what is necessary to your system in order for it to be true. You just don't get that, and thus, you don't get my arguments.

    I mean, really, the very fact that you think that a human is left to himself to obtain a knowledge of reality already begs your fabricated worldview where God does not exist. I don't care what your theoretical beliefs are. I don't care what you "claim" to be arguing. I'm looking at what you argue, and what I said is precisely what you were doing.

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    1. Hey BC,

      Nope. I'm no begging the question. That your god is imaginary you admit every time you say that you "assume God." It's therefore implicit. All your apologetic consist on is stating that everybody starts with declaring that some part of what they imagine is the real deal, they "assume" it. Therefore your apologetic is one where imaginary realms compete. Then you declare that yours is not self defeating and it's therefore true. You are unable to notice that all you did is declare that some imaginary scenario is the real deal because you're incapable of finding that it's nonsense.

      I do try and understand what you say. Only I do take it to it's conclusions, while you don't. I do care about how and in which way you see your worldview. It sickens me, but if I talk to you I find it proper to listen to what you say.

      As per your conclusions, you have gone so astray from what I say that I doubt you can know what I was doing. You put your own preconceptions before anything I say. I have no fabricated worldview. I have the worldview that reality provides. It's not a choice. It's not an assumption. I could play make-believe as you do. After all, it seems that it has given you a most excellent living. But I would know that I am playing make-believe, and I prefer to figure out reality over making things up.

      Since, as you declare, you're not interested in reality, but rather prefer to think that I think the way you assume that I think, I say good-bye and keep having a nice life.

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  6. This kind of presuppositional apologetic can be easily cast aside by a nonbeliever. What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. If your starting point is the infallability of the bible, I don't even need to take you seriously.

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  7. What you fail to understand, and I have tried to simply point out until I am blue in the face, is that your belief system is built upon an assertion without evidence. All belief systems must start with those assertions and draw out logical implications from there. The point of this apologetic is that when you draw out the atheist's assertions to their logical conclusion, they collapse upon themselves and end up being self defeating. Christianity is consistent and does not collapse upon itself because it does not assert autonomous omnipotent knowledge that is rooted in the finite individual. If you don't need to take something seriously, then, I suggest you start laughing a lot at atheism.

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  8. What you fail to understand, is that atheism is not the assertion of "autonomous omnipotent knowledge" it is simply just the disbelief in any god(s) because the case for god given is insufficiently supported. No atheist need to lay claim to infallible knowledge. So if an apologist approaches me trying to spread the gospel, as has happened from time to time, if they cannot give me any good evidence to support their beliefs, and if they cannot handle evidence against it (perhaps by assuming a priori that it must be false) then they've given me no good reason to accept their religion. It's that simple.

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  9. "because the case for god given is insufficiently supported."

    By what? Evidence interpreted and selected according to a criteria based upon a naturalistic worldview that assumes atheism in the first place. And how is that naturalistic worldview assumed? By assuming knowledge that is impossible for it to have. Yet, it claims to be based upon that knowledge and reject anything not based upon evidence. Well, neither is your worldview. Hence, it's self-defeating. There's your evidence that your argument for atheism is false.

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  10. I don't have to assume a naturalistic worldview to reject theism, or to reject Christianity. Evidentialists do not need to presuppose your unsubstantiated epistemology, they actually try to support their beliefs with evidence, something you're incapable of doing. Again, naturalism isn't assumed, it's concluded. You're conflating atheism with logical positivism as if they're the same thing. They're not. An atheist could be a positivist, but no atheists need adopt such a restrictive epistemology. I don't reject theism merely on the basis that it is not verifiable. There's good positive empirical and logical evidence against Christianity and theism. What am I supposed to do, ignore that evidence? And suffer from cognitive dissonance? Sorry, I care about facts too much and consistency. The only thing you're offering me is faith based on subjective experiences and a book. The fundamentalist Christian like you even has to deny science in order to make his worldview work and he therefore has to deny his own senses. Any worldview that has to deny well attested scientific facts is self-defeating. That would be yours.

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  11. You're a broken record. You don't even know how to address what I'm saying because you're too used to repeating your mantra that you just look at "evidence." All atheism is not self-defeating, but yours is. If you just want to say that you believe in your unwarranted, completely speculative assertions first and then reason out from there, you'd still have problems, but it may not be as bad. But claiming to base your worldview on evidence when you need to select and interpret data as evidence with a worldview in the first place is just complete nonsense. But I'm not going to sit here and go round and round with you when you clearly don't get it. I just have to assume that this is like Algebra and one day it's just going to click and you'll suddenly understand what I've been saying and why it HAS to be that way. Hopefully, for your sake, it won't be a day too late.

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  12. Oh I get it. According to you I have to assume your particular Calvinistic Christian worldview in order to some how see its "truth." In other words, I have to adopt a view - a priori - that demons haunt this world and are messing with our senses, and misleading us away from Christianity, with absolutely no evidence to support that view whatsoever. If that is all you are offering me, yes I can easily dismiss this absurd and laughable superstitious mindset. You can't even offer me any evidence that could persuade me. If this is the future of Christian apologetics, bring it on. I actually want you to use pursue this method, as it is the easiest to destroy. Go ahead, seal your own religion's fate. You'll be doing me a favor.

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  13. Nope, you don't get it. You have to assume your worldview a priori in order to get that there is no evidence for mine. If it's so easy to destroy, I'm not sure why you haven't done it yet. I keep hearing that you cannot disprove it and then you turn around and say that you can. Well, which is it? Let's hear your refutation that doesn't assume a worldview that a priori rules mine out.

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  14. What is the evidence that your religion is true?

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  15. I don't have your epistemology, so everything is evidence that Christianity is true, as everything is interpreted in light of the belief that it is true. Just as everything is interpreted as evidence for your worldview, since everything is interpreted in light of your believing that it is true. Evidence is established by the measuring stick of what you already believe as true. I didn't ask you how you think you can disprove my evidence for a positive case. I asked you how you prove that Christian theism is not true without assuming a worldview that a priori rules it out (but I could ask the same question concerning your attempt to disprove my positive case). The real question is whether you can sustain the assertion that you support your worldview with evidence without presupposing your worldview without evidence. In short, you're stuck in the chicken/egg dilemma.

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  16. In other words, you have no evidence, and so you'll just take the lazy approach and presuppose your religion is true and dismiss anything that contradicts it a priori. If you think that's a winning strategy, best of luck to you.

    You're the apologist, I'm the skeptic. The onus is on your to prove the truth of Christianity, or to at least give evidence for it. Evidence is not always established by what you already believe. There have been many times in which I was forced to discard my beliefs because of the evidence. Even flat-earthers will occasionally become persuaded by the evidence or a spherical earth. In a world in which we only believe what we want and do not respond to any evidence, there would be no such thing as rationality. There would be no such reason for a criminal justice system. This seems to be the kind of world you want to promote.

    And if "everything is evidence that Christianity is true" tell me how the fact that there's no evidence Adam and Eve ever lived, and that all the evidence points towards slow gradual evolution of human beings, where it's impossible that there could have been just two people, how that helps the case for Christianity?

    In case you're unfamiliar with some of the science: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dK3O6KYPmEw

    How do you interpret that "in light of the belief that" Christianity is true without watering it down and taking the liberal approach?

    If you watch the video all the way, the speaker, who is Christian, offers the only two ways you can interpret the evidence. I'd like to know how you respond.

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  17. This is the same conversation we always have. You just don't get it. I'm the skeptic of your skepticism. Give me proof that your skepticism is of a greater validity than mine without presupposing your own worldview in order to do it. You can't because everything you interpret as evidence for your worldview can be interpreted as evidence for mine. That's what you don't get. If anyone is being lazy, it's the guy who uncritically thinks he just looks at evidence without doing the hard work of understanding how much his presuppositions determine his conclusions.

    When you discuss a belief that can change, you are not discussing an ultimate belief, as is one's metaphysic and epistemology. You are discussing secondary beliefs that fall within those ultimate beliefs. The only way to change an ultimate belief is to believe differently, not by way of evidence that must be interpreted with ultimate beliefs.

    There is no evidence that Adam and Eve did not exist. There is only a particular interpretation of Adam and Eve (interpreting Adam and Eve as representatives of humanity in other ways than biologically is not "liberal") or a particular interpretation of the human genome data that conflict (ever heard of gene drift?).

    But my point to you would be to say that if Christianity is true, then this all works out within that framework. You're approaching the issue as though you can have knowledge of such a thing without so much missing information concerning how to put it together and interpret either the Bible and/or the current genome theories.

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  18. His entire argument hinges on his "ifs." It's contingent upon already interpreting the data within the framework of common ancestry. Let me ask you this, How would God be deceptive by fusing two chromosomes together in humans for their specific creation? He acts like God meant us to find this information and be confused by it. We obviously are designed that way for a reason. And I would say that whether God used direct creation or evolution to make us.

    For other interpretations of why we share common genes with animals, see:

    http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2010/05/horizontal-gene-transfer-and-evolution.html

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  19. http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2009/08/bogey-moment-human-chromosome-count.html

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  20. Do you really think that any evidence for my worldview can be interpreted as evidence for yours? I find that hard to believe. This post is about apologetics, you're the apologist. It's not the skeptic's job to disprove the apologist, it's the apologist's job to prove his case to the skeptic first. And you're case is basically that Christianity must be accepted on faith and that any attempt to build evidence for it is futile. Well, since you're not offering me any evidence that I'm forced to reckon with, I can dismiss your case without the need to produce any evidence. And no, I'm not lazy. I've looked at faith as an epistemology and it has a demonstrably unsuccessful track record. It gets virtually every claim that could be verified, wrong, and this is true of all religions.

    Ultimate beliefs can be changed by evidence. People do convert into and out of religions by evidence. But when it comes to religious faith as an epistemology, how can you make the case that it is a reliable methodology worthy of respect? Empiricism and logic need no such justification to be made, we already know they work.

    Now when it comes to Adam and Eve what's your take on them? Were they two literal people who bore all of mankind? Or were they figurative? If they were real, what evidence do you have that they existed? This is important, because if your beliefs are correct, they ought to have greater explanatory power than mine that makes the best sense of the evidence.

    And you ask, "How would God be deceptive by fusing two chromosomes together in humans for their specific creation? "

    If we evolved from other primates, who had 48 chromosomes, since we have 46, we would expect that two disappeared somehow. So if god created us as is, why not just create us with 46 intact chromosomes? Why fuse two together like connector pieces with telomeres in the center where they don't belong that are deactivated, and two centromeres with one of them deactivated, if not to make it look as if we evolved? We would expect to find such a thing if we had evolved. from ancestors with two additional chromosomes. That's why evolution is a predictive science and creationism is faith-based religion. What would be the reason for god to do it this way if he's not the author of confusion? Oh and what's the reason god made all the fossils that look just like transitional species as if we all life had evolved?

    And genetic drift is no problem for evolution. Debating with evidentialists, I'm aware of how many deceptive sites there are online ready made to cater to an audience weary of accepting evolution and who are trying to poke holes in it. And that guys site is filled with fallacious arguments. Genetic drift is simply just another mechanism by which evolution occurs. Explain to me exactly how you think drift or horizontal transfer explains the above paragraph without common decent.

    Here are some credible websites on genetic drift:
    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIID2Genesdrift.shtml
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/genetic-drift.html
    And more on Chromosome 2:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromosome_2_(human)

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    1. Empiricism and logic have no empirically and logically verifiable track record of "working" in proving a particular metaphysic and epistemology. You're simply begging the question, as always, to say that.

      You are the apologist for your position. That's what you don't get. You are exercising faith. That's what I am constantly trying to tell you that you just don't get. You just keep going back to your irrational mantra that you just look at evidence and logic. BO.LOG.NA. Data is selected and interpreted to be evidence for this or that ultimate belief because this or that ultimate belief is assumed and the evidence is seen through that grid. Logic must be grounded in metaphysical assertions that cannot be proven by logic (that's circular). Hence, you're entire mantra is nonsensical and only convincing to you and your ilk because it fits your delusional narrative that you're epistemology is somehow intellectually superior when it comes to identifying and verifying your metaphysic. It has no basis in the reality of what you're actually doing.

      I'm not a scientist, as I've said many times on this blog. I don't discuss the science. As far as I'm concerned, I have not more reason to believe your guys than the one I gave you. I didn't say gene drift was a problem for evolution. I said you can interpret the data in multiple ways, as you can interpret all data in multiple ways. In fact, my point has nothing to do with Adam and Eve and evolution at all. It has to do with understanding that since all data is interpreted through the grid of one's ultimate beliefs, then if Christianity is true, the adjustment of secondary beliefs is not a threat to it. It may be right or wrong to adjust those secondary beliefs, as long as one is wary about uncritically adopting his opponent's ultimate beliefs because he is duped into confusing the data with the interpretation of the data by his opponent. That's why this whole discussion of Adam and Eve being literal is irrelevant. It could be that our interpretations of Adam and Eve are incorrect or it could be that our interpretations of the genome data are incorrect, or both for that matter. That is not evidence for or against an ultimate belief, such as Christian theism is true.

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    2. What I said was that empiricism and logic have a verifiable track record of working - that's a fact, but I never said that they prove themselves to be a particular metaphysic. That logic works is properly basic, I doubt you'll deny this. I have good reason to believe what is true based on my epistemology because my epistemology is demonstrably reliable and I have evidence to back it, and the knowledge derived from it, up. You trump evidence and logic with revelation and yet you have nothing but blind faith in believing the things you do based on that revelation. You have yet to give a single good reason why revelation as an epistemology is reliable. And until then, the skeptic movement will ensure that your kind of religious belief will dwindle, as it should.

      I came to this particular post to see your case for Christianity, since it's about apologetics. But according to you, evidence and logic are trumped by faith in Christianity, so that no evidence or logic could possibly affect your views. That's the height of arrogance and irrationality. And that's why your religion is dying. If saying, "Just have faith that Christianity true and forget about evidence" is the best apologetic you can offer, by all means, rock on.

      Let's forget about the science, fine, but the point I was making is that the science cannot be interpreted as helping the Christian story, unless you deny it somehow using trickery, and fraudulent representations, like on the numerous creationist websites out there. This is why creationists as well as many other theists have to simply deny a priori aspects of science that conflict with their faith, and they're then forced to concoct disingenuous means to maintain this. I could never adopt a religion that makes me do that because I care about science and of truth. And the thing is, since you're brandishing revelation as the ultimate epistemology that trumps all others, and since you're not giving me a single reason or piece of evidence that shows it has a reliable track record to deserve such a status, I don't even have to take your beliefs determined by it seriously, no more then I have to take the lunatic in the insane asylum seriously. That was my original point.

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  21. "What I said was that empiricism and logic have a verifiable track record of working - that's a fact, but I never said that they prove themselves to be a particular metaphysic."

    And it's a moot and irrelevant point because it has no track record in verifying a particular metaphysic, which is what we need to know supposedly through it in your epistemology. Who cares that it has a track record for working to discover empirically verifiable phenomena. We all agree about that. It has not ability to discover what is not empirically verifiable, which means that it has no ability to know the truth concerning the phenomena. That's like saying that using a hook and a worm has a fantastic track record for catching fish, and therefore, we can trust its reliability when it comes to collecting rocks. There is no verifiable track record that shows your epistemology as being more reliable than that of anyone else when it comes to identifying a metaphysic.

    "But according to you, evidence and logic are trumped by faith in Christianity, so that no evidence or logic could possibly affect your views."

    This is a strawman. Evidence and logic are not trumped by faith. Faith must precede and ground them in certain ultimate premises. For instance, you must believe that your senses can perceive what exists, as opposed to your existing in a dream. If you are in a dream instead, none of your logic and evidence has the ability to discover reality, as you merely are assuming that the dream is reality. Likewise, if naturalism is true, then there can be no evidence or reasons that take it into account. Hence, everything is interpreted and rationalized within that framework. If, however, Christian theism is true, then all of those rationlizations and interpretations of data as evidence for philosophic naturalism are fallacious. So my point is merely that everyone uses data and reason grounded in certain ultimate beliefs. Hence, your worldview dictates your worldview. It's completely circular. The only thing you ever change with logic and data is secondary beliefs that can function within that worldview without contradicting it. The only way to switch worldviews is to merely remove one's faith from one and place it into another. The real issue is which metaphysic and epistemology is consistent and which one is self defeating. Mine is consistent, whether you like where I choose to place my authority for my utlimate beliefs or not, and yours is not.

    "but the point I was making is that the science cannot be interpreted as helping the Christian story, unless you deny it somehow using trickery, and fraudulent representations, like on the numerous creationist websites out there."

    Nonsense, there are plenty of Christian evolutionists who think to believe that such odds of the universe coming into existence, random chance and time bringing about life and mind from matter, etc. is complete nonsense and a denial of where science points us. You can interpret all of that within your worldview, but so can a Christian. Hence, "science" (another very ambiguously applied term to what we're talking about) is not threat to Christianity at all. It's the philosophic naturalism that is being assumed by many of its advocates today that is the threat, and that is not something that science can address.

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  22. "other theists have to simply deny a priori aspects of science that conflict with their faith"

    LOL. What's an "a priori aspect of science"? Science can't function a priori. Only philosophy does that. The very nature of science is an a posterior activity.

    "since you're not giving me a single reason or piece of evidence that shows it has a reliable track record to deserve such a status, I don't even have to take your beliefs determined by it seriously, no more then I have to take the lunatic in the insane asylum seriously. That was my original point."

    A single piece of evidence according to what? Philosophic naturalism that assumes your radical empirical and rationalistic verificationism? Yes, I'm not going to assume your worldview that automatically decides mine is false and then try to prove my worldview is true. That's complete nonsense. That's like asking me to prove that Julius Caesar existed in history by a method that automatically excludes the possibility that he did. You can't prove a metaphysic and epistemology by another metaphysic and epistemology that a priori excludes it. If you have no basis for trusting my epistemology, then take the log out and see that you definitely have no basis for trusting your own. I believe I have revelation. You have nothing but pure speculation that then has to critique my revelation as speculation with your speculation. You're in a much worse boat than I am.

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  23. I notice you still haven’t given me a good reason or any evidence that revelation is a reliable epistemology. I guess you realize as I do that there isn’t any.

    “It has not ability to discover what is not empirically verifiable, which means that it has no ability to know the truth concerning the phenomena. That's like saying that using a hook and a worm has a fantastic track record for catching fish, and therefore, we can trust its reliability when it comes to collecting rocks.”

    False analogy. Collecting rocks would also be an empirical task using the senses, and would be verifiable to all other parties. Your religious faith only allows you to collect invisible spirit rocks that as far as I can tell, only exist in your mind. And you can’t say you have the “truth” just because you believe your invisible sky-daddy told you it. That can’t be called truth under any circumstances.

    “There is no verifiable track record that shows your epistemology as being more reliable than that of anyone else when it comes to identifying a metaphysic.”

    We haven’t even begun to have a detailed, nuanced debate over the evidence, and I think it would be pointless with you, because you admitted you’re not a man of science, and so most of the things that work against your religion you are unaware of, or you dismiss outright because it conflicts with your religion. A worldview that forces one to deny so much well attested science can’t possibly be correct, and bares all the hallmarks of one that was created by ignorant people long ago who reflected the flawed cosmology and science of its age.

    “So my point is merely that everyone uses data and reason grounded in certain ultimate beliefs.”

    Let me ask you a serious question. Do you believe, as some Calvinists do, that mankind is fundamentally incapable of being rational without the guidance of god, and that the natural world deceives us perhaps through evil demons that trick us with evidence that lures us away from Christianity?

    “The only thing you ever change with logic and data is secondary beliefs that can function within that worldview without contradicting it. The only way to switch worldviews is to merely remove one's faith from one and place it into another.”

    That’s not true at all. If logic and data force one to acknowledge that there is a contradiction between that data and their ultimate beliefs, it can force someone to jettison their ultimate beliefs due to the cognitive dissonance caused by the contradiction. That’s why many people become either liberal Christians or atheists when they get properly educated in science, philosophy and history. That switch in one’s worldview is not guided by faith, it’s guided by evidence.

    “The real issue is which metaphysic and epistemology is consistent and which one is self defeating. Mine is consistent, whether you like where I choose to place my authority for my ultimate beliefs or not, and yours is not.”

    Any metaphysic that forces you to deny science or “interpret” it in a “friendly” manner to Christianity – which almost always involves trickery and fraudulent representations, is not a metaphysic that can be consistent. So therefore, you actually have to deny real science for your worldview to remain consistent, all I have to deny is revelation as an epistemology because it has no record of being consistent or reliable and virtually every claim that has been made from it that could be verified, has turned out to be false. That’s easy.

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  24. “Nonsense, there are plenty of Christian evolutionists.”

    Indeed, there are. But they have to reconcile why their perfectly good and moral god chose to create mankind through a process that required millions and millions of years of logically unnecessary conscious animal and hominid suffering, and why he created mankind the one way where it could have happened naturally. And no, evolution is not random chance, natural selection is patternistic, and science points us to a universe that is eternal in the sense that the past, present and future are all ontological real. It’s called special relativity, Einstein gave us that. So the universe did not “come into existence” in the true ontological sense. Hence, no god required.

    “LOL. What's an "a priori aspect of science"? Science can't function a priori. Only philosophy does that. The very nature of science is an a posterior activity.”

    You misread me, or perhaps I should have added more punctuation. When I said “a priori,” I meant that the theists deny - by definition (a priori) - any aspects of science that conflict with their faith. Like when I hear Christians say, “If it conflicts with the Bible, it must be wrong by definition.” That’s something you probably hold to.

    “A single piece of evidence according to what? Philosophic naturalism that assumes your radical empirical and rationalistic verificationism?”

    No not at all. I could be a deist and still reject theism without adopting a naturalistic philosophy. I could also reject Christian theism as a theist on the account of how absurd, inconsistent, contradictory and antagonistic Christianity is with logic and evidence. I don’t dismiss revelation a priori. If I had a good reason to accept it as a reliable means, I’d incorporate it into my epistemology. But there’s no evidence for it, and there’s a lot of evidence against it, and I don’t believe anything grand without good evidence. I can’t make an exception for revelation. I get that you have faith in your religion. I can live with that. For the most part, that alone doesn’t affect me. But you support a network of presuppositional apologists who want to go out and convert others into believing your fairytales, and to achieve your goal you to try and undermine scientific rationalism and logic to convince people that blind faith in the Christian dogma is the way to go. That affects me. And I seek to inoculate as many people as I can against the spread of this social disease. You believe you have a revelation and you have nothing but pure speculation to support it, not even any evidence at all. You’re in a much worse boat than I am, you’re in the Titanic.

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  25. "I notice you still haven’t given me a good reason or any evidence that revelation is a reliable epistemology. I guess you realize as I do that there isn’t any. "

    You want to empirically or rationally verify an epistemology that cannot be empirically or rationally verified, which is every epistemology there is. Would you like some square circles with that?

    "False analogy. Collecting rocks would also be an empirical task using the senses, and would be verifiable to all other parties."

    Wow, there are your stellar reading and logic skills again. The analogy is between methods that are particular toward one type of thing versus another. Metaphysics is something that cannot be verified through empiricism and reason without begging your metaphysic in the first place, and that is why it isn't the same thing as things that are empirically or rationally verifiable. That was point.

    "We haven’t even begun to have a detailed, nuanced debate over the evidence, and I think it would be pointless with you, because you admitted you’re not a man of science, and so most of the things that work against your religion you are unaware of, or you dismiss outright because it conflicts with your religion. A worldview that forces one to deny so much well attested science can’t possibly be correct,"

    You can't make an argument without producing a strawman, can you? There is no evidence for your worldview, Dude. Why do you not get that. Evidence has to be selected and interpreted with a worldview, so you can't get to a worldview with it without first assuming that worldview. You just DO NOT GET IT! And this canard that Christianity has to deny science is complete nonsense. You didn't hear a word I said about the matter, and continue to argue against the positions of someone else.



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  26. "Do you believe, as some Calvinists do, that mankind is fundamentally incapable of being rational without the guidance of god, and that the natural world deceives us perhaps through evil demons that trick us with evidence that lures us away from Christianity?"

    So you're moving away from my challenge to you to produce a refutation of Christian theism then?

    Calvinists don't believe that people cannot be irrational. You need to learn the theology before you go on about it. We believe that men can be rational, but they use it in service of an irrational worldview, and are therefore inconsistent, in order to excuse themselves of their rebellion against God. Demons only give opportunity and temptation. Man is already inclined to believe and do whatever evil he desires. Deception, however, is God giving man over to their irrational delusions as a judgment upon him.

    "If logic and data force one to acknowledge that there is a contradiction between that data and their ultimate beliefs, it can force someone to jettison their ultimate beliefs due to the cognitive dissonance caused by the contradiction. That’s why many people become either liberal Christians or atheists when they get properly educated in science, philosophy and history. That switch in one’s worldview is not guided by faith, it’s guided by evidence."

    Nope, you're wrong, and it's because you don't understand what is going on in those cases. A naturalistic worldview has been fused to those areas of study and their analyses, and hence, your epistemology is assumed. This is what creates cognitive dissonance. The Christian has been duped into thinking that what conflicts is evidence and logic and what really conflicts is the worldview that has parasitically attached itself to data and logic. Think about it. If the Christian had a Christian epistemology, which is the one described above, then he wouldn't be switching worldviews, would he? Hence, he assumes a naturalistic worldview and soon begins to realize that all that he has come to believe in his studies now conflicts with what the Bible says. Well, of course it does. It, however, is nothing more than a fantastic delusion.

    "Any metaphysic that forces you to deny science or “interpret” it in a “friendly” manner to Christianity – which almost always involves trickery and fraudulent representations, is not a metaphysic that can be consistent. So therefore, you actually have to deny real science for your worldview to remain consistent, all I have to deny is revelation as an epistemology because it has no record of being consistent or reliable and virtually every claim that has been made from it that could be verified, has turned out to be false. That’s easy."

    Round and round we go, where and when "Thinker" gets it, nobody knows. I've refuted this a million times. I'm not going to do this anymore.

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  27. Indeed, there are. But they have to reconcile why their perfectly good and moral god chose to create mankind through a process that required millions and millions of years of logically unnecessary conscious animal and hominid suffering, and why he created mankind the one way where it could have happened naturally. And no, evolution is not random chance, natural selection is patternistic, and science points us to a universe that is eternal in the sense that the past, present and future are all ontological real. It’s called special relativity, Einstein gave us that. So the universe did not “come into existence” in the true ontological sense. Hence, no god required."

    1. God hasn't created. He's creating. We're still in the middle of it according to the Bible. So there is no far leap from what we have experienced now and what the world may have experienced before us. God creates through chaos. That is standard for Him.

    "You misread me, or perhaps I should have added more punctuation. When I said “a priori,” I meant that the theists deny - by definition (a priori) - any aspects of science that conflict with their faith."

    Yeah, I don't think punctuation was going to help you out there, but if you want to restate it that way, that's fine.

    "Like when I hear Christians say, “If it conflicts with the Bible, it must be wrong by definition.” That’s something you probably hold to."

    Of course I do. That's because the Bible is true and inerrant and gives us an accurate picture of reality from an omniscient Being. Why would I trust an ever changing source that claims authority, run by people who don't even consider their presuppositions when making the types of claims that you try to make with it? The Bible is true. Anything that conflicts with what it conveys as true is a delusion.

    "I could be a deist and still reject theism without adopting a naturalistic philosophy."

    Are you joking with me right now? Deism, agnosticism, and atheism are the three positions about God that create philosophic naturalism, so, of course, you could be a deist. Could you be a Christian theist and assume that God has spoken infallibly in His Word and conclude what you do? I think not.

    "If I had a good reason to accept it as a reliable means, I’d incorporate it into my epistemology."

    That's nonsense. It would be purely ad hoc. If you were capable of verifying revelation then you would not need it to verify it. Hence, revelation is irrelevant to your worldview. That's a good example for you, then, that you are doing precisely what I say you are: assuming an epistemology and metaphysic that a priori rules out revelation as a necessity of knowledge. Yet, if that revelation is true, your entire metaphysic and epistemology is false. You're just lost and confused here.

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  28. "But you support a network of presuppositional apologists who want to go out and convert others into believing your fairytales, and to achieve your goal you to try and undermine scientific rationalism and logic to convince people that blind faith in the Christian dogma is the way to go. That affects me."

    Now you're emoting. Why should you care? You're just a pre-programmed biological machine among other pre-programmed biological machines.

    I, of course, care because your irrational worldview is the real fairytale, and it has not only destroyed our culture, but continues to destroy lives every day. It is irrational, gives no grounding for objective morality, logic, or science. It is the great science and logic denier of our time. That's what is so ironic about your fabricated narrative.

    "And I seek to inoculate as many people as I can against the spread of this social disease."

    Good thing. We need more Stalins and Pol Pots in the world. I say, bring it on, Mao! Rid the world of this disease. Paint Christians as unthinking rats unworthy to share the same air with you. Oh, the world you will make. If you want to see your future, look to your past. I cringe at your utopian vision where Christians are no more, but then again, the Bible says that won't happen. We will be here 'til the end. Sorry to disappoint you.

    "You believe you have a revelation and you have nothing but pure speculation to support it, not even any evidence at all. You’re in a much worse boat than I am, you’re in the Titanic."

    Nice rhetorical play, but that's all it is. There is no argument here. I have a consistent epistemology and yours is self defeating. That means yours is false and mine has the possibility of being true. That's hardly the same boat. Looks more like I'm on a Disney Cruise and your on the Edmund Fitzgerald.

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  29. As for your eternal universe, see this:

    http://bnonn.thinkingmatters.org.nz/8020-arguments-for-god-why-and-wherefore-2/

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  30. http://bnonn.thinkingmatters.org.nz/8020-arguments-for-god-why-and-wherefore-1/

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  31. “You want to empirically or rationally verify an epistemology that cannot be empirically or rationally verified, which is every epistemology there is.”

    Wrong again. You know empiricism and logic work because it helps us advance knowledge. In fact, our very survival often depends on it. In principle, knowledge could be obtained via revelation that is empirically verifiable. And all religions make claims about the natural world. They almost always turn out to be false.

    “Would you like some square circles with that?”

    Sure, have it served by a timeless god that does things that require time.

    “Metaphysics is something that cannot be verified through empiricism and reason without begging your metaphysic in the first place, and that is why it isn't the same thing as things that are empirically or rationally verifiable. That was point.”

    It looks like that’s your winning strategy for converting people to Christianity: Assume the least reliable epistemology as the most reliable one, and hope no one notices the fact that your fairytales are supported by nothing but faith.

    “There is no evidence for your worldview, Dude. Why do you not get that. Evidence has to be selected and interpreted with a worldview, so you can't get to a worldview with it without first assuming that worldview. You just DO NOT GET IT! And this canard that Christianity has to deny science is complete nonsense. You didn't hear a word I said about the matter, and continue to argue against the positions of someone else.”

    It was you who linked me to a creationist site that tries to disprove evolution with absurd and factually challenged arguments, right? Or was that someone else? Hmmm.

    There are many Christians I know who would disagree that we must blindly believe our worldviews on faith. No one’s born with a worldview, we develop our worldviews by the data we receive. For example, if the story of Genesis was corroborated by all the scientific data, I’d have no choice but to adopt Christianity, as it would be vindicated. I would not be able to rationally deny it. Good data can shatter one’s worldview if it presents an irrefutable contradiction to it. A presuppositionalist like you will never get this however.

    “Calvinists don't believe that people cannot be irrational.”

    Never said that.

    “We believe that men can be rational, but they use it in service of an irrational worldview, and are therefore inconsistent, in order to excuse themselves of their rebellion against God. Demons only give opportunity and temptation. Man is already inclined to believe and do whatever evil he desires. Deception, however, is God giving man over to their irrational delusions as a judgment upon him.”

    You’ve already presupposed that any evidence that could contradict your religion must be false by definition. With such a way of thinking, how can you even know if you are wrong? I don’t walk around thinking that anything that contradicts naturalism is wrong by definition. If everyone did that, regardless of what they believe, the world would be utterly irrational. This makes Christians look so bad, which I suppose I have no problem with you doing.

    “A naturalistic worldview has been fused to those areas of study and their analyses, and hence, your epistemology is assumed. This is what creates cognitive dissonance. The Christian has been duped into thinking that what conflicts is evidence and logic and what really conflicts is the worldview that has parasitically attached itself to data and logic.”

    Excuse me if I don’t assume like you do that demons haunt our world. It is 2013 you know. And please excuse the scientists who don’t assume like you do that any data that contradicts Calvinism is wrong by definition. It would be the death of science if we all thought like you.

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  32. “If the Christian had a Christian epistemology, which is the one described above, then he wouldn't be switching worldviews, would he? Hence, he assumes a naturalistic worldview and soon begins to realize that all that he has come to believe in his studies now conflicts with what the Bible says. Well, of course it does. It, however, is nothing more than a fantastic delusion.”

    Not all Christians think like you, hate to let you know. Some of them are actually more rational, and don’t presuppose their faith in the way you do. What if a Christian interpretation and a naturalistic interpretation were compared side by side of data, and the naturalistic one made better sense to the Christian? Your still kidding yourself if you think there are no conflicts with science and Christianity. But your firewall to that is to assume that any conflicts are “irrational delusions” a priori.

    “God hasn't created. He's creating. We're still in the middle of it according to the Bible. So there is no far leap from what we have experienced now and what the world may have experienced before us. God creates through chaos. That is standard for Him.”

    Oh now he’s not a creator anymore? My haven’t we changed. And now it’s standard for god to use the suffering of other species as a means to bring about an end. What a heartless utilitarian. Sure doesn’t compel me to worship him.

    “Of course I do. That's because the Bible is true and inerrant and gives us an accurate picture of reality from an omniscient Being.”

    Right, except for the fact that all its claims about the natural world have been falsified. So according to the Bible, how long does god’s anger last? Give me a real accurate answer.

    “The Bible is true. Anything that conflicts with what it conveys as true is a delusion.”

    Make sure you turn that into a bumper sticker so everyone can know you were home schooled.

    “Are you joking with me right now? Deism, agnosticism, and atheism are the three positions about God that create philosophic naturalism, so, of course, you could be a deist. Could you be a Christian theist and assume that God has spoken infallibly in His Word and conclude what you do? I think not.”

    Well if I were a Christian, as soon as I read the Bible I’d have to conclude that it either the Bible is not infallible, or that god was having a really bad day when he chose to reveal himself.

    “That's nonsense. It would be purely ad hoc. If you were capable of verifying revelation then you would not need it to verify it. Hence, revelation is irrelevant to your worldview.”

    Makes no sense.

    “That's a good example for you, then, that you are doing precisely what I say you are: assuming an epistemology and metaphysic that a priori rules out revelation as a necessity of knowledge. Yet, if that revelation is true, your entire metaphysic and epistemology is false. You're just lost and confused here.”

    You’re apparently lost, or running out of intellect maintaining your epistemology, because I just said I do not rule out revelation a priori, I rule it out a posteriori. How do you explain the fact that just about every bit of knowledge obtained through “revelation” that could be verified, like things about the natural world, has turned out to be false? E.g. the flat, geocentric earth, creationism, the age of the earth and universe, having animals mate while looking at white bark affecting their offspring, and other silly iron-age superstitions etc.

    “Now you're emoting. Why should you care? You're just a pre-programmed biological machine among other pre-programmed biological machines.”

    Because I’m alive, and I want to live in a world free from iron-age superstition because it's anti-science and it's keeping ignorance alive. That's hurting society.

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  33. “I, of course, care because your irrational worldview is the real fairytale, and it has not only destroyed our culture, but continues to destroy lives every day. It is irrational, gives no grounding for objective morality, logic, or science. It is the great science and logic denier of our time. That's what is so ironic about your fabricated narrative.”

    Why should you care? You don’t believe in free will. We’re meat puppets controlled by god.

    You can’t say my worldview is a fairly tale because you have no evidence against it. The enlightenment actually lead to the modern world where we no longer keep one another as slaves and burn alive accused witches, just like your Bible recommends. That was spearheaded by those who rejected your iron-age worldview that is supported by no evidence. Religion is the lazy man’s logic. If the answer’s too hard, just believe god did it! Requires no schoolin’. And please explain to me how the “objective” source of morality recommends we behave this way:

    Ephesians 6:5 "Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear."

    1 Peter 2:18 "Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh."

    Titus 2:9 "Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them,"

    “Good thing. We need more Stalins and Pol Pots in the world. I say, bring it on, Mao! Rid the world of this disease. Paint Christians as unthinking rats unworthy to share the same air with you.”

    Oh right because an atheist could never be a capitalist. And Christians have never done that when they had the power.

    “Oh, the world you will make. If you want to see your future, look to your past. I cringe at your utopian vision where Christians are no more, but then again, the Bible says that won't happen. We will be here 'til the end. Sorry to disappoint you.”

    No one’s talking about a utopian vision. My greatest ally is actually fundies like yourself who are destroying the church from the inside. Make sure you stay irrational.

    “Nice rhetorical play, but that's all it is. There is no argument here. I have a consistent epistemology and yours is self defeating. That means yours is false and mine has the possibility of being true. That's hardly the same boat. Looks more like I'm on a Disney Cruise and your on the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

    You claim to have an accurate and consistent epistemology because you believe your sky-daddy gave you one. That’s hardly anything to brag about. Muslims and Mormons claim the same thing. At least I have evidence on my side. You have the blindest faith possible.Your Disney cruise is a land of make believe. Seems about right for you.

    “As for your eternal universe, see this: http://bnonn.thinkingmatters.org.nz/8020-arguments-for-god-why-and-wherefore-2/”

    LOL, you obviously don’t know anything about physics do you? Stick to theology, at least you won't look totally ignorant there. You just said before god is not a creator, now you link me to a site saying he is. You need to retake logic 101. And this embarrassing link doesn’t even begin to refute my argument, and that website is run by a bunch of clones who plagiarize William Lane Craig’s arguments, which I refute all the time on my blog.
    There really is no point going on further. At least I learned how presuppositionalists operate and now I'm better prepared to deal with them.

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    1. Hey thinker,

      Nice job. Only detail. Calvinists don't care about converting. They think that converting is "God's decision." They also think (look at the contradiction), that we already "know" that their god exists, but that we deny the "truth" in "unrighteousness." The most far gone into crazyland therefore reject the idea of preaching to the infidel and mainly aim at showing that "unbelievers" do indeed deny the truth in unrighteousness. How they show so? By rhetorical strategies like presuppositionalism. Notice that it is not really an argument. It's just rhetoric. fallacy on top of fallacy. Part of the trick is to try and encage you into a trap that they think you must fit into no matter what you say. See how Hodge here won't read what you say, he will assume that you are a naturalist in an absolutist sense, that you are a materialist in the absolute sense, etc. He has to paint an either/or scenario. There's only one god, his god (even though there's thousands of versions of his god alone) to deny in unrighteousness, and only one way to disbelieve it. This false dichotomy puts his "worldview" into a much better situation (in their own eyes, a rational person easily see what you see: they just imagine and then claim triumph), because the straw-man they draw of atheism does not "compete" with their claims about their god. Oh and don;t you dare be an atheist any different to their cartoon! (See how he did not acknowledge understanding anything of what you say and instead he tried to keep you encaged within his cartoon of what you should be according to his rhetoric.)

      Etc, etc, etc.

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    2. LOL. Pot meet kettle. There is no argument here. Nothing but rhetoric on your part. The only cartoon here is yours. You keep trying to pull everyone on your naturalistic assumptions and then cry when they don't comply. No thanks. If you don't understand that certain epistemologies are NECESSARILY based in particular worldviews and metaphysics then I can't help you when I merely point out your own and you don't get it. Keep living the dream because that's all it is.

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    3. And if you think that "Thinker" did a nice job when I refuted his entire position, then that doesn't bode well for your intellectual credibility.

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    4. @Photo

      I'm aware of Hodge's false dichotomies and rhetorical presuppositional strategies. I basically debate him for fun when I have nothing better to do. I know I won't get aware as he has presumed he's right from the start because his sky-daddy said so, but at least I can get him to display the utter inanity is such a mentality. That's really all he's got. He thinks all evidence against his faith is false by definition. There's no way anyone who holds that view can be rational. To him, all atheists are logical positivists and communists. Anything to the contrary is wrong by definition to him. Go figure.

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    5. Sorry BC, but in order to defeat The Thinker you would have to read what he said, rather than force your imaginary atheists into what he said. It's quite easy to defeat your own cartoon of an atheist (well, not really, I don't think that you defeat your straw-man either, but explaining that might require a bit more than I can give you here).

      Summary: you have not derated The Thinker's arguments. You just restated your cartoons of what you think atheists must be holding to, then put your imaginary being in the front as if that answered any of the problems that you accept and just think that we do and should share those problems, when I don't.

      We share reality. We can both check that out. You think that we should doubt reality, only to then accept it after your imaginary god tells you that this reality, which you already knew, is real. Couldn't be more nonsensical than that. I don't need to travel to fantasy land to accept reality. See? I don't have your problems. Your imaginary atheists might, but I don't.

      Also, I have told you a million times that I don't have a naturalistic worldview, or a whatever else you want me to believe, when I don't. But do you learn this? Nah, I have to be a naturalist, I have to be this and that. Otherwise your rhetorical strategies fall flat on the floor. News to you: your rhetorical strategies never stood.

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    6. Photo, I've already stated that what you say here is mere assertion and my supposed "cartoon" of your position is accurate. The really comical thing is that you keep supporting my definitions of what you believe by stating how you know reality. Your arguments are laughable. The only people who need to learn to read is you and your ilk. We share reality, not our views of it. You cannot argue from reality unless you first know what it is. In order to know what it is you have to know whether there is an aspect to it that you cannot perceive with your senses. In order to know that, you have to know that which cannot be perceived. That's true of all metaphysics. Hence, without revelation, you have nothing. Ergo, to argue an epistemology based upon empirical verificationism and rationalism that stems from what you experience, and think that you are actually coming to something of a knowledge that you call "reality," is to hold to an epistemology rooted in a philosophically naturalistic metaphysic. I'm sorry you don't get that and you have to throw blind assertions around that I'm caricaturing your position or conflating ideas. Not quite. Listen a little and you'll learn a lot.

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    7. What's laughable is that I have not shared anything about how I know what I know with you and yet you assume your cartoons to be the right thing. There is no need whatsoever to be omniscient before you can learn things. The very question is nonsensical. To question how we know reality is to deny the very reality that makes it possible for you to make questions. Pretending that we need omniscience before knowing anything is begging the question of your worldview. Pretending that you have some question that needs an answer before a worldview can be judged assumes two things:

      1. That the problem is really a problem for any worldview. Therefore there should be something independent of world views that would compel any worldview to answer them.
      2. That's there's a way to impartially judge those worldviews. Otherwise how would we know if they are self-consistent if we can't know what self-consistency means except from within a worldview? How could you judge my worldview unless there was an impartial way to judge worldviews? A way to judge them from "outside"?

      Then you deny those very things. You then go on to say that you can prove your wolrdview from within. But that means that judgement from outside is impossible. If so, then you cannot know if my worldview is self-consistent or not. You refuse to judge it from within and insist on projecting a problem that only exists from within yours. But you are all angry if I judge without believing that your god solves a problem that I don't have.

      So, here's the question: if you can't see that I have no problem whatsoever, and you think that you don;t have a problem whatsoever. Then how do we solve anything? how on earth do you think that you can judge if I have a problem or not if you truly won't see what's here and how it works? By your "reasoning" all we could do is stare at each other in disbelief never to be able to judge each other's worldviews. Yet in clear contradiction to your own "reasoning" you think that you can judge my worldview.

      Do you understand what you're doing?

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    8. You're the one who is clueless by thinking that you can judge worldviews without a worldview. That's epistemologically ignorant. The very act of autonomy begs a worldview. That's what you don't get.

      Second to this, I have never said that I PROVE my worldview by assuming it. That's your poor reading skills. I merely stated that your worldview is self defeating and thus you can show that other worldviews that are not true collapse upon themselves. That's one way you might know that Christianity is true and atheism false.

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    9. Well, stating that my worldview is self defeating does not make it so. Care to share that wisdom? What's my worldview and why is it self-defeating? I ask because obviously whatever I say about my worldview does not matter. What matters is what you think that y worldview is. So, please. Tell me. I would like to know what my worldview is. Please don't jump over your assumptions. Be clear about what makes my worldview self-defeating. Don't assume that I know what that worldview is.

      As per yours. It's clearly self-defeating, while mine is not. there. As much weight as your "argument." Nah. I can do better. Christianity cannot have its god as the source of reason, knowledge, and such because Christianity is nonsensical. The Bible contradicts reality and itself. This god is a contradiction or terms in many ways. It is supposedly perfect, but prone to anger and jealousy. Supposedly good, but needed blood in order to forgive the chosen ones. Not any blood, but divine blood. Only that could satisfy this god's anger. This supposedly good god has chosen ones, the people of Israel, but no, it's not them, well, it is, well, it's not, and leaves the rest to deception (which makes it a deceiver god regardless of wording and layers between the deceiver and the deceived). This "perfect" god made a creation that was so flawed that it fell at the first sin of disobedience by a couple thus condemning a huge amount of later creations to death, pain suffering, and hell (hell is optional depending on the Christians). Christians are far from believing the same things, so their god cannot be revealing things to them because otherwise they would agree remarkably more, this god is a conscious being despite it lived out of time with nothing to be conscious about ... etc. etc. etc.

      Now, your excuse could be that from my worldview all of that is contradictory and nonsensical, but not from yours because in yours good means whatever god prefers to do, and logic is whatever god wants. OK then. Remember this when you try and tell me why my worldview is self-defeating.

      There.

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    10. Wow, your reading of Christianity is as careful as your reading of me, which is to say, it isn't at all. You don't understand Christianity at all. No wonder you're an atheist.

      Your worldview is rooted in philosophic naturalism. That's your primary religion. Whatever secondary religion you have acquired is irrelevant. Your worldview is known through your epistemology. Whatever your epistemology, that is your REAL worldview.

      Now, I don't think I said that a particular worldview was self defeating, but a metaphysic that must be acquired through your particular epistemology. I already laid out why that is, so you can read it again. You said nothing to address the problem I gave you, and I'm taking that to mean that you can't and must continue to bombard me with your strawmen and empty assertions. This entire comment is an emoting rant. There is no argument to be found here. I've explained that your superficial caricature of Christianity is a strawman, but that doesn't comport with your fabricated narrative, so you must just ignore those corrections and keep on keeping on.

      This "conversation" has become a waste of time. I've already presented you with everything you need to know what I'm saying. Whether you ever figure it out is your problem.



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  34. I agree about not going on further, You're arguments are getting dumber and dumber by the minute. Your use of ad hominem evidences your unwillingness to acknowledge the intellectual superiority of what I have already proven beyond a shadow of a doubt here to your irrational fantasies where you assume omniscience and then act like you don't. Your epistemology speaks for itself, and your lack of reading skills, evidenced by your strawmen above, displays why a fundamentalist like yourself maintains such an easily refuted religion. I'm done throwing my pearls before you. In all of this, you've made no argument that even touches what I've said and I've destroyed your self defeating epistemology. I've enjoyed devouring your extremely novice arguments for breakfast, but I've got to get back to the land of adults who can read and reason, so I'm done with this. If any adult wants to ask me any of the questions you pose above, I'll be happy to answer him or her, as none of them are difficult to do so. Cheers.

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    1. This must be the most ironic comment I ever read. Self-unware, self-describing, yet projected onto others. Amazing BC. How do you manage your cognitive dissonance?

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    2. Nice strawman Hodge, attacking logical positivism and conflating it with atheism (along with communism) as you've yet to learn are two different things. I never assumed omniscience, you do. You just want everyone to occupy the intellectual misery your religion forces you into. Misery loves company. Your epistemology is claimed by everyone who believes in god, who each think their sky-daddy gave them the truth. That's why hardly anyone in any intellectual fields takes revelation seriously. And that's why it's self defeating. It's all you have. It's the only thing you can rest on to keep your sanity - faith that your sky-daddy exists and is the right one and that everyone who denies it is wrong by definition. It's pathetic. Atheism is not self defeating. If you think you can tear down positivism and think you've defeated atheism, think again.

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    3. This one is a gem:

      "I don’t walk around thinking that anything that contradicts naturalism is wrong by definition. If everyone did that, regardless of what they believe, the world would be utterly irrational. This makes Christians look so bad, which I suppose I have no problem with you doing."

      "Excuse me if I don’t assume like you do that demons haunt our world. It is 2013 you know. And please excuse the scientists who don’t assume like you do that any data that contradicts Calvinism is wrong by definition. It would be the death of science if we all thought like you."

      In other words, "I don't assume philosophic naturalism. I just assume philosophic naturalism." Priceless.

      I realize you all want to maintain that self comforting narrative that you're just reasoning to your positions, but that's why I asked you to assume my metaphysic and the epistemology that flows from it and see if you can get the same thing. Obviously, you can't. That's because I assume something that you do not assume and you assume something that I do not assume, and those metaphysical assumptions are necessary to your epistemology. If your assumptions are wrong, then your epistemology is wrong. That's common sense. Yet, I've yet to hear any acknowledgement of that fact and only these self delusional denials where you imagine yourselves as the gods who have no need of revelation to understand reality. You can just directly experience it or reason from what you've directly experienced. That is a completely self defeating and incoherent system.

      I haven't conflated atheism with positivism. You have. I already said that you can just believe atheism and reason from there, which is actually what you're doing, but you can't say that you just reasoned to it without first assuming a worldview that is consistent with it either philosophically or practically.

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    4. "In other words, "I don't assume philosophic naturalism. I just assume philosophic naturalism." Priceless."

      Utterly out of context. There are things that could contradict naturalism that would not rely on blind faith in demons. Of course if don't assume like you do that any evidence against Christianity is false by definition, I will be able to come to the conclusion that naturalism is true (or that another religion might be true). But you haven't given one good reason why I or anyone else should adopt your circular epistemology. And by the way, I don't have to assume naturalism in order to deny that demons haunt our world and deny the presuppositionalism you espouse. I could technically be a Christian who denies that.


      Actually, this is priceless:

      Hodge: God hasn't created.
      Hodge: As for your eternal universe, see this [link trying to make a case for god as the creator].

      In other words, god's not a creator, but here's a link trying to make the case that he's a creator.

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    5. First, I was attempting to introduce you to Christian theology that you may be unaware of as an atheist. Most atheists think that this is the world that God has created, meaning that He is finished with creation and this is the end product. That isn't true. He is creating a world through this one. But I forgot that you're such a wooden literalist that no one can make a nuanced argument with you, so I'll just say, Yes, He has created this world, but only as a means to create the one to come. Is that better for you?

      Second,

      "There are things that could contradict naturalism that would not rely on blind faith in demons. Of course if don't assume like you do that any evidence against Christianity is false by definition, I will be able to come to the conclusion that naturalism is true (or that another religion might be true)."

      This is why you don't get what I'm saying. Your assumptions are already in your epistemology that evidences a particular metaphysic. Your equivocating between ultimate beliefs and secondary beliefs. Those ultimate beliefs disallow you from accepting my epistemology because they disallow you to accept my metaphysic. That's why you WON'T be coming to my position, even with all the evidence in the world, which I maintain supports Christian theism. You just won't ever see it that way.

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    6. I'm all about hearing of different religious perspectives. That's one thing I get out of debating with you. And yes you should have said that in the beginning. But like I said, a universe that does not come into being in the ontological sense doesn't require a creator. And all those links contain bad logic inferred from bad science. Hate to tell you that, but you can't get your "science" from apologetic websites, you have to get it from scientists.

      Second, if I somehow adopted your metaphysic, I'd have to believe god was a deceiver. There's no other way I can get around that. But god is not the author of confusion. So I'd be in a dilemma and I don't think anyone could help me reconcile that. Something has to be wrong. And no, I wouldn't be able to deny science as easy as you do. So my very worldview would be contradictory. Thus, cognitive dissonance.

      And what evidence supports Christian theism?

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    7. B.C.,

      Really? If we don't assume that any piece of data that contradicts Calvinism must be false then we are holding to naturalism? Really?

      Wow.

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    8. That's what you got from what I said? I hardly was saying anything of the sort. I suggest watching "Reading Rainbow" a few times before commenting next time. Reading comprehension is a wonderful thing.

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    9. Thinker, I simply don't understand this "deceiver" business. Why does He have to be a deceiver? Who is He deceiving and with what?

      BTW, as a Calvinist, I do believe that God sets things up to be read and misread, depending upon one's disposition toward Him. That's why the Bible can be read as ultimately contradictory or ultimately complementary, depending upon how you approach it (i.e., with humility or hubris).

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    10. Well, do you believe that god is perfectly good and moral and is incapable of intentionally deceiving us? Do you also believe god is incapable of inflicting gratuitous suffering?

      It seems that you believe god does deliberately deceive us.

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    11. The Bible teaches that truth is a privilege granted to people by God, and that deception is something we are left to without Him, so as a judgment upon those who reject what He reveals, He hands them over to be deceived. He also purposely hides truth from the unbelieving. Jesus says that His use of parables are for this purpose. Both His special and natural revelation are said to be misunderstood and misread by man who wishes to supress the truth in unrighteousness due to God giving them over to those deceptions.
      There are other texts that speak of God directing His people to deceive murderers, calling upon a wicked spirit to deceive, and sending a deluding influence upon those who do not love the truth.

      So I don't place perfectly good and moral in contrast to deceiving the wicked. I would view a man who deceived a Nazi to save the life of a Jewish family as a good and moral man.

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    12. BC,

      That's what you got from what I said? I hardly was saying anything of the sort. I suggest watching "Reading Rainbow" a few times before commenting next time. Reading comprehension is a wonderful thing.

      You out two paragraphs from The Thinker together. In the first TT said that he does not hold to naturalism. In the second he asked you to excuse him for not believing like you, for example: "And please excuse the scientists who don’t assume like you do that any data that contradicts Calvinism is wrong by definition"

      After that second paragraph you said:
      In other words, "I don't assume philosophic naturalism. I just assume philosophic naturalism." Priceless.

      From that it naturally follows that you think that not assuming that anything that contradicts Calvinism must be wrong is equal to "assume phylosophical naturalism."

      Seems like problems with reading comprehension are all yours. As always.

      Check it out yourself. You make these mistakes s often it's ironic that you would ask me to watch "Reading Rainbow." Follow your own advice BC.

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    13. BTW, as a Calvinist, I do believe that God sets things up to be read and misread, depending upon one's disposition toward Him.

      Therefore this god of yours, if it existed, would be a deceiver. No way around.

      That's why the Bible can be read as ultimately contradictory or ultimately complementary, depending upon how you approach it (i.e., with humility or hubris).

      And "hubris" is defined as being open to the possibility that it might just be a book (or books), and that it might be wrong and contradictory. Right?

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    14. He also purposely hides truth from the unbelieving.

      Yup. Definitely a deceiver. So good that it's imaginary. Otherwise we would have no say of knowing if we are among the deceived. After all, if you accept evolution BC, as you appear to, then other Christians would have the right to say that you are being deceived because you reject such and such parts of the bible that you claim to be perfect, yet deny here and there, but save face by an exercise of eisegesis (no different to the very same exercises of eisegesis Christians of various shades and colors do to believe that it claims a spherical earth, etc, etc).

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    15. 1. Thinker, in so many words, said he doesn't assume supernaturalism is true right after he said that he doesn't assume that naturalism is true. So it's contradictory.

      2. Saying that if one does not presuppose supernaturalism he presupposes naturalism is not the same as saying that if one does not presuppose Calvinism then one presupposes naturalism. That's a sloppy reading of what I said, so the poor reading skills remain yours, as always.

      3. God is your deceiver in the sense that He lets you deceive yourself and be deceived by demonic influences. He doesn't deceive you and tempt you to believe what is false, but He does withhold rescuing you from your delusions and give you over to be deceived. That is His judgment upon those who demand that He bow to their empirical verificationism and rationalism, which is nothing more than demanding that He bow to you so that you may be satisfied and grant Him your divine worship. God's not going to comply to that, but rather show you that He is God and makes the demands.

      4. I'm actually the biblical scholar here, and since I don't have a child's view of literature, as you and your ilk does, your claim that I commit eisegesis. Please. I have come to my conclusions exegetically. I don't care what theoretical fad the academy latches onto at any given moment, which is why I'm agnostic toward those questions and don't believe in evolution.

      5. I'm open to a lot more than your boxed in worldviews. Much more is possible in mine than in yours. Yours is a narrow and dogmatic religion that far outweighs anything to which I am committed. Hence, this strawman that I am not open to the possibility of being wrong is nonsense. I am not open to your epistemology in determining whether I am wrong. If you don't understand the difference between those two then you haven't listened to a word I've said.

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    16. Hi BC,

      1,2. But you are therefore defining naturalism as the worldview that does not assume that demons haunt our world, and that doesn't assume that any data that contradicts Calvinism is wrong by definition. You should be careful to read what is actually said. Naturalism would be the view that everything cannot be but natural, not the view that we should not assume some specific instances of fantasy, like your fantasies. So, TT was far from showing to hold to naturalism, and you are the one who needs a few lessons in reading comprehension. You cannot see the implications you make in your haste to dismiss TT or me.

      3. Deception is deception is deception. Call it "God" not bowing to me, call it whatever, it's still deception. Now I understand why apologists think that it is fine to rely on mere rhetoric to "defend the faith." Thanks for the enlightenment. That one kept me puzzled for ages.

      4. Of course you commit eisegesis. Eisegesis is eisegesis is eisegesis. You might want to call it scholarship, but eisegesis it remains.

      5. Meh. as I said, we share reality. It's only you who thinks that there's a need to go to fantasyland in order to accept the reality you are already living. I don't. What would be possible under your worldview and impossible in mine? Thinking that those fantasies are real? Wow, what an accomplishment!

      As per **my** epistemology. You are quite mistaken about what epistemology means. It is the study about knowledge, what it is, how we acquire it. It is not the art of making up fantasies about how we know things. In that precise sense, you have the very same epistemology that I have, only you have come to jump into the idea that fantasies are what sustains the possibility for you to gain knowledge, rather than properly identify the phenomena. That's not **your** epistemology, that's your fantasy about knowledge.

      Of course, if you're not open to checking whether you are wrong properly, then you are not open to the possibility to being wrong. Your fantasy includes a god who deceives those who seek truth no matter how painful, therefore any instance of doubt against your belief you can "rescue" by thinking that you are being deceived away, and you would run back below that umbrella of self-deception you live under. So tell me: under your worldview, how would you be able to discover if you're wrong? How exactly?

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    17. "1,2. But you are therefore defining naturalism as the worldview that does not assume that demons haunt our world, and that doesn't assume that any data that contradicts Calvinism is wrong by definition. You should be careful to read what is actually said."

      No, Calvinism is not the only supernatural worldview that assumes supernatural forces at work, so denying Calvinism is not assuming naturalism. That's, again, your poor reading skills at work, not mine.

      "Naturalism would be the view that everything cannot be but natural, not the view that we should not assume some specific instances of fantasy, like your fantasies."

      I never said otherwise. Thinker was clearly saying that he does not assume that ANY supernatural forces are at work in day to day events by using demons as a referent. That is naturalism. Again, reading using logical inference skills would be beneficial for you.

      "Deception is deception is deception. Call it "God" not bowing to me, call it whatever, it's still deception. Now I understand why apologists think that it is fine to rely on mere rhetoric to "defend the faith." Thanks for the enlightenment. That one kept me puzzled for ages."

      Deception is what God decides to give you over to, not what Christians practice, unless they are dealing with a life-threatening event. But if you can't distinguish between primary and secondary agents, then I can't help you there. God uses secondary agents by not holding them back any longer. He does not lie to anyone Himself. His judgment is a removal of His influence by which He unclouds the cloudy.

      "Of course you commit eisegesis. Eisegesis is eisegesis is eisegesis. You might want to call it scholarship, but eisegesis it remains."

      Of course you're ignorant. Ignorance is ignorance is ignorance. You might want to call it an informed decision, but ignorance it remains.

      That should carry with you the same force of an argument as your assertion does for me.

      "Meh. as I said, we share reality. It's only you who thinks that there's a need to go to fantasyland in order to accept the reality you are already living. I don't. What would be possible under your worldview and impossible in mine? Thinking that those fantasies are real? Wow, what an accomplishment!"

      Meh. We share reality. You just assume that reality is not made up of a supernatural realm without any evidence and ability to know that. I believe revelation that it does and thus can know it. Your epistemology should lead you to radical agnosticism where nothing can be known, but instead it leads you to an absurd arrogance where you think you know reality even though that is impossible in your epistemology. What does your worldview allow you to know? Nothing, that's what. My view makes it possible to know and your view does not. If knowledge is no big deal to you then, by all means, continue with your "mehs."







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    18. "As per **my** epistemology. You are quite mistaken about what epistemology means. It is the study about knowledge, what it is, how we acquire it. It is not the art of making up fantasies about how we know things. In that precise sense, you have the very same epistemology that I have, only you have come to jump into the idea that fantasies are what sustains the possibility for you to gain knowledge, rather than properly identify the phenomena. That's not **your** epistemology, that's your fantasy about knowledge."

      And we cannot know anything without a metaphysic upon which an epistemology relies. Hence, we have to discuss how it is we know things in terms of how we know what metaphysic and epistemology to use. This is the dumbest statement you've made so far. Your ability to understand why this is so important in discussing epistemology shows your ignorance in the matter. Your view is the fantasy if your metaphysic and epistemology is wrong. You just don't get that. You seem to be confusing "what we think we know" with "how we think we know it."

      "Of course, if you're not open to checking whether you are wrong properly, then you are not open to the possibility to being wrong."

      And how would I do that within your system? By assuming your metaphysic and epistemology based upon it? LOL. I've already told you. I'm not falling for that trick. But that's all you have, nothing of substance. If you can't get someone to agree with your presuppositions then you can't make a case for your religious faith, can you?

      "So tell me: under your worldview, how would you be able to discover if you're wrong? How exactly?"

      Even your language begs your worldview. How would I "discover"? Through what means? Empiricism and rationalization? Through my own finite experience and study? I would believe I am wrong when I adopt another worldview, or that mine was self defeating likes yours is.

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    19. So off the mark BC, did you read my comment above? The one asking you if you know what you're doing? Start there.

      Meh. We share reality. You just assume that reality is not made up of a supernatural realm without any evidence and ability to know that.

      Wrong. I don't assume that reality is not made up of a supernatural realm. I just don't see why I should assume that it is. There's a huge difference BC. Do you understand it at all?

      I live in this reality that we share. We can both check it out. Therefore you cannot say that I live a fantasy. To do that you would be saying that you think that the reality we can both check is fantasy.

      I believe revelation that it does and thus can know it.

      Nope. The most you can claim is that you believe that you can know it, not that you can know it. There's a distinction as clear as that between epistemology and your fantasies about where knowledge comes from. The study of epistemology does not deny that we know stuff, it is rather the figuring out how we know things and what knowledge is. Pretending that fantasyland gives it to you is not epistemology, is imagination, is fantasy, but not epistemology.

      And we cannot know anything without a metaphysic upon which an epistemology relies.

      Kids don't go around learning by first thinking whether they need a metaphysics before engaging in learning. No animal that I have observed worries about having a metaphysics before learning anything. Most people never worry about such things. Are some metaphysics implicit regardless? Sure. But should we declare them to be within some school, or maybe we can learn something from checking things carefully instead of going to fantasyland? I rather check, and what I discover is not self-refuting. You think it is. Well, show me, because as far as I can see, my worldview is not self-defeating, and it's far from leading to extreme skepticism. So, what is it that I'm suppose to hold to rather than what I do indeed hold to?

      And how would I do that within your system?

      I did not say that. Obviously you can't read. Check what I asked:

      Me:
      under your worldview, how would you be able to discover if you're wrong? How exactly?

      But your answer still fits what I predicted. You cannot be open to being wrong. You aren't open to that possibility because that would be contaminated from my worldview. Your's does not accept questioning or evidence, or discovery. Pure fantasyland by your own admission. Yet, here you are, as if you had evidence that y worldview is self-defeating. But you reject the idea of evidence. My oh my. Your worldview is quite a mess BC. You need to borrow from mine to try and make a lost case against mine. But if you borrow from mine you would have to reject your own. Ups!

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    20. You could write a book on how much you don't understand of what I've said. Your entire answer to me above is pure strawman and begging the question.

      1. Your epistemology assumes a worldview one way or another, so if you don't get that, that's your problem, not mine. In Johnstonian fashion, I simply say to you, "Sir, I have provided you with an argument, I am not obligated to provide you with an understanding."

      2. "I live in this reality that we share. We can both check it out."

      Every attempt you've made to paint me as caricaturing your position is shown to be false by this statement alone. You can check out reality? With what? How do you know that reality consists of A(-B) versus A(+B), where B is not accessible to your experience? This is what you sound like to me:

      "I know that my senses and reason are reliable to "check out" reality that consists of A(-B) and I know this because reality consists of A(-B), and I know this because my senses and reason are reliable to "check that out." Your entire argument is circular and begs the question. It's an assertion is search of an argument, and you simply don't have one. So that you are merely fantasizing in your view of knowledge is quite real. I have revelation from an omniscient Being to determine that A(+B) is the true nature of reality. You have nothing to confirm yours but pure speculation that is NOT based in what you experience, as what you experience must be interpreted by your view of reality (i.e., whether it is A(-B) or A(+B). As I said before, you just don't get it.

      "The study of epistemology does not deny that we know stuff, it is rather the figuring out how we know things and what knowledge is."

      Who said it denies that we know "stuff"? And why do you think your correcting my definitions of epistemology. Your attempt to rebuke me here is comical, as it stems, once again, from your lack of reading skills. It is you who don't understand what epistemology is, as you keep confusing it with your narrow naturalistic epistemology. Nice try, but I'm not falling for this constant baiting, where you attempt to get me to agree that the presuppositions necessary for atheism to be true are true and then argue for Christianity from there. LOL.

      "Kids don't go around learning by first thinking whether they need a metaphysics before engaging in learning. No animal that I have observed worries about having a metaphysics before learning anything. Most people never worry about such things. Are some metaphysics implicit regardless? Sure."

      Wow, that is really bad argument. A descriptive analysis of the way people learn is not a prescriptive analysis of how they can know what they learn is true. It also conflates learning the nature of reality with learning something empirically experienced.

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    21. "Are some metaphysics implicit regardless? Sure."

      Then you concede the point.

      "But should we declare them to be within some school, or maybe we can learn something from checking things carefully instead of going to fantasyland?"

      Yes, you should declare them to be presupposing one versus the other. For instance, you just presupposed that people can check things carefully without going to fantasy land because they are not already in fantasy land because of their rebellion against God. So you just presupposed that the Christian worldview is false, that people have the ability to know the nature of reality on their own (i.e., that finite minds have that ability), and that there is no need for revelation from God to do so. Ergo, you just presupposed a metaphysical naturalism. How many times do I have to say this before it clicks?

      " I rather check, and what I discover is not self-refuting. You think it is. Well, show me, because as far as I can see, my worldview is not self-defeating, and it's far from leading to extreme skepticism. So, what is it that I'm suppose to hold to rather than what I do indeed hold to?"

      I've already demonstrated that numerous times. In order to verify your epistemology as valid you have to reject it and replace it with another. That's because it cancels itself out, and you cannot know the nature of reality through it. You have to use your metaphysic in order to confirm your metaphysic, but your metaphysic cannot be confirmed, yet anything that cannot be confirmed, or "checked," has to be graded by you as fantasy and too unreliable to be called knowledge.
      You deny you need omniscience but must be omniscient in order to deny it. Should I keep going?

      "And how would I do that within your system?

      I did not say that. Obviously you can't read. Check what I asked:"

      I did. What you asked implied that I need to confirm what is true, which is what your epistemology needs, not mine. I don't confirm. I believe and move on from there. You do the same. The difference is that I know what I'm doing and you are clueless as to what you're doing.

      "You cannot be open to being wrong."

      Now you know what I believe? Wow, you really are omniscient. I cannot be open to being wrong by your method of falsification and confirmation because I don't believe what you do. That hardly means I'm not open to being wrong through other means, as I stated.

      "But you reject the idea of evidence."

      LOL. I would stay away from any field of analysis if I were you. I never said I reject any idea of evidence. Your strawman are getting more comical by the moment. I reject your starting point. It's you who are so indoctrinated with your worldview that you can't understand the difference.

      "You need to borrow from mine to try and make a lost case against mine. But if you borrow from mine you would have to reject your own."

      Nope, nice try. Mine looks at logically consistency. As I said, it just doesn't start where you do, i.e., in a delusional autonomy where naturalistic presupps are true.

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    23. Hi BC,

      What about we take it just one step at a time?

      Here. You affirmed despite I said many times that this is not what I hold to:

      How do you know that reality consists of A(-B) versus A(+B), where B is not accessible to your experience?

      I never said I know so. I just said that I don't assume that it is A(+B) because I can check A, but not B, and I don't need to worry about B.

      You said I sound like:
      I know that my senses and reason are reliable to "check out" reality that consists of A(-B) and I know this because reality consists of A(-B), and I know this because my senses and reason are reliable to "check that out."

      Actually, this is quite the charged argument. This has many components. For one. I know that my senses and reason are reliable because otherwise we would not be able to have this conversation. If you are trying to challenge whether my senses and reason are reliable, you are making an incoherent question. A question that challenges it's very basic needs. My senses and reason have to be reliable in order to make and understand that question. Therefore they are reliable. I don't need fantasies to know this. Affirming that this is circular, needs, again, that the senses and reason be reliable. Therefore this is not circularly fallacious, but rather, this identifies senses and reason as axiomatic. Try it yourself. No matter what you propose, the reliability of your senses and reason are lurking behind every attempt at their justification, and behind every attempt at challenging them. Your own proposed "solutions" don't escape them.

      Second part. I do not affirm that reality consists on A(-B). I affirm that I don't need to suppose that there's a B. Furthermore, I affirm that your supposed solutions to a problem that you accept as a problem, but not me, does not escape the problem. You would have to be quite dishonest if you were to tell me that you learned all of this rhetorical presuppositional stuff without using your senses and reason.

      Check what I said. I did not say there's no B. I said I don't assume that there's a B. I said we can both check A. I said that by checking A I can understand how we acquire knowledge, and I can understand that your questioning of my senses and reason is nonsensical and self-defeating nonsense. I showed you so: without senses and reason you would not be able to make those questions. Without senses and reason you would not be able to imagine that some god is feeding you with knowledge. Without senses and reason you would not be able to learn anything. Feel free to show me that the contrary is true.

      We might visit other stuff later. Just show me that questioning the validity of senses and reason is not incoherent, does not make use of those very senses and reason, etc.

      As per self-defeating: my worldview does not demand answering incoherent and self-defeating questions. Therefore my worldview is not self-defeating.

      There you go.

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    24. "I never said I know so. I just said that I don't assume that it is A(+B) because I can check A, but not B, and I don't need to worry about B."

      You don't have to say that you know so. You assume that knowledge in your stated epistemology. I don't care what you declare to know, or even are aware of assuming. Your arguments beg the question of that knowledge.

      "For one. I know that my senses and reason are reliable because otherwise we would not be able to have this conversation."

      That's an equivocation. I'm referring to how you know we are having this conversation. That we have knowledge is evident to me. How we can know we have knowledge is a different story that begs a metaphysic and epistemology grounded in those assumptions. Hence, the question is whether your sense are reliable to know THAT information that you are assuming. You have to know what you cannot know through your epistemology in order for your epistemology to be valid. But you cannot know it through your epistemology, which means that it is invalid. That is one self defeater.

      "Therefore this is not circularly fallacious, but rather, this identifies senses and reason as axiomatic."

      Nope, try again. As I said, we're not discussing that the senses and reason are reliable, but what they are relaible for and what they need to be so even to properly identify things in our world. So your argument is a strawman. You think it accomplishes something against my argument that it doesn't. And the question I posed to you remains "begged."

      "I do not affirm that reality consists on A(-B). I affirm that I don't need to suppose that there's a B."

      And you would only come to that conclusion by assuming A(-B). That's what is so comical about this weak argument.

      "Furthermore, I affirm that your supposed solutions to a problem that you accept as a problem, but not me, does not escape the problem. You would have to be quite dishonest if you were to tell me that you learned all of this rhetorical presuppositional stuff without using your senses and reason."

      Another equivocation. 1. I never said the senses and reason were unreliable for subjectively learning. Learning is the means through which one can take hold of reality. The question is how we justify as true what we think we learn.
      2. Therefore, description of one learning is not a justification for the truth of what one has learned. I believe that God has placed revelation within every man, so a naturalistic description of how one has learned information just begs the question again.

      "I said I don't assume that there's a B. I said we can both check A."

      Which is to assume there is no B. You are clueless!

      "I said that by checking A I can understand how we acquire knowledge, and I can understand that your questioning of my senses and reason is nonsensical and self-defeating nonsense."

      You can't "check" how you acquire all knowledge if you don't know all knowledge. You can only "check" what is accessible to you through your senses and reason, which means that you cannot "check" as to whether such an epistemology is effective toward knowledge that is not accessible by that methodology. You have to merely assume that there is no other knowledge not accessible to you (i.e., you must assume there is no B) in order to come to that conclusion. Yet, your epistemology does not allow you to know the very information it needs to sustain itself, and even rejects any information that is not obtained by it. It therefore must reject itself. That's why it is self defeating.

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    25. "I showed you so: without senses and reason you would not be able to make those questions. Without senses and reason you would not be able to imagine that some god is feeding you with knowledge."

      I don't imagine it. I have revelation that grounds how I justify what I sense and reason to. You don't. You just have a self contradictory belief system that is completely self unaware.

      "Without senses and reason you would not be able to learn anything. Feel free to show me that the contrary is true."

      I don't need to because it had nothing to do with my argument.

      "As per self-defeating: my worldview does not demand answering incoherent and self-defeating questions. Therefore my worldview is not self-defeating."

      Since I've just shown you that the question is not incoherent and self defeating, you need to answer it now.

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    26. Sorry BC, but you did not show me that the question was not self-defeating. you changed the question. It was how do you know that your senses and reason are reliable? Now:

      Let's retry:

      That we have knowledge is evident to me. How we can know we have knowledge is a different story that begs a metaphysic and epistemology grounded in those assumptions

      No assumptions. You have just contradicted yourself. You declare that the fact that we can know is self-evident. Yet you follow that with the question about how we can know that we have knowledge. If we had no knowledge we would not be able to question whether we have knowledge. So you just changed your question into another self-defeating and incoherent question. Therefore your argument falls flat yet again. I would therefore insist that my worldview does not demand an answer to incoherent questions. Yours might depend on those incoherent questions (thus becoming a vicious circle). Mine doesn't. therefore my worldview is not self-defeating.

      You have to know what you cannot know through your epistemology in order for your epistemology to be valid.

      That might be so in your worldview. In mine an epistemology is valid if it does the work required from it, which is, obviously, to gain knowledge. It does the job, therefore it is valid.

      we're not discussing that the senses and reason are reliable, but what they are relaible for and what they need to be so even to properly identify things in our world

      Oh but we were discussing that. You now moved the goal posts. So is this other question how to know how far can our reason and senses go? I can quickly tell you that having an answer to this question or not, does not make my worldview into a self-defeating one. I don't know how far they can go. I do think that there's limits to what we can know. But that is far from being a self-defeater. I never claimed that my worldview demanded knowledge of everything there might be to know. How's that self-defeating?

      The question is how we justify as true what we think we learn.

      It depends on what piece of knowledge we are talking about. For example, I know that I don't know everything. That cannot but be true. Care to show me how could that be otherwise? If I am wrong, that would mean that I do know everything, but if that was so, then I could not be wrong. Therefore that I know that I don't know everything is true and there's no way around it.

      I don't imagine it. I have revelation that grounds how I justify what I sense and reason to.

      You admitted that you take that on faith. therefore you can't show it to be anything more than your imagination. There's a jump you make in the middle that's a non-sequitur. That you can take something on faith does not mean that you do indeed have revelation.

      You don't. You just have a self contradictory belief system that is completely self unaware.

      So far all you have shown is incoherent questions that you try to make into problems for my worldview. You are yet to find anything contradictory in my worldview though.

      Since I've just shown you that the question is not incoherent and self defeating, you need to answer it now.

      You did not show that the question was not incoherent. You changed it for other incoherent questions. Again, your world might be happy in that vicious circle. Mine doesn't need it.

      As per assuming no-B. Nope. I don't need to assume no-B. If A gives me an answer, I don't see the need to consider B. There's a huge difference that you seem unable to grasp. Let me try this one: I am free to consider many many different Bs. I have nothing against considering them if I find a need for it, or perhaps for fun. But, it remains true that we can both check A, and that I don;t need B so far.

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    27. "Sorry BC, but you did not show me that the question was not self-defeating. you changed the question. It was how do you know that your senses and reason are reliable?"

      Um, no, it wasn't. This is what happens when you don't read the context. I understand why you can't read the Bible accurately now as well. How you know that your senses are reliable in determining the nature of reality as A(-B) versus A(+B). That's clear to everyone else who can read. So, it's you who is changing the question so that you can ignore it.

      "No assumptions. You have just contradicted yourself. You declare that the fact that we can know is self-evident."

      Ho hum. You only think I did because you don't understand what I'm arguing. You're conflating that we have knowledge versus how we justify having it. The contradiction, therefore, is only in your strawman.

      "Yet you follow that with the question about how we can know that we have knowledge. If we had no knowledge we would not be able to question whether we have knowledge."

      Which means we must have knowledge, but since the only way that such is possible is to have it grounded in revelation from an omniscient Being, God must exist. Thanks for proving my argument for me.

      "So you just changed your question into another self-defeating and incoherent question."

      Nope, you just didn't get the question. I believe knowledge is possible because God exists and has related revelation to us to ground our knowledge. You don't have an epistemology that is reliant upon that, but rather on the incoherent and self defeating idea that you can obtain it through empirical experience and reason. So I was never arguing that knowledge is impossible for me to justify. I've been arguing that it is impossible for you to justify. You assume information that you don't have in your system and cannot obtain in your epistemology.

      "I would therefore insist that my worldview does not demand an answer to incoherent questions."

      You can avoid the very obvious problem all you want, but no one with a brain will join you. That you would try and convince me that, if my worldview is true, it is irrelevant to what you know, shows how much you don't understand what you're doing.

      "Yours might depend on those incoherent questions (thus becoming a vicious circle). Mine doesn't. therefore my worldview is not self-defeating."

      Assertion in the face of refutation. Is this how you teach your students to argue?


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    28. "That might be so in your worldview. In mine an epistemology is valid if it does the work required from it, which is, obviously, to gain knowledge. It does the job, therefore it is valid.
      You don't know if it does the job. That's the whole point. I believe that you have to borrow my worldview to have knowledge, that you have to use revelation given to you that you suppress; and that means that you don't have knowledge in your worldview. You have borrowed knowledge from this world, which is a world governed by God in which man needs revelation in order to know the nature of reality. You can't verify the nature of reality with your epistemology. You just have to assume your naturalism and then turn around and tell us all that you're not assuming a reality of A(-B) because reality is just A(-B). And you're not assuming that your senses and reason are reliable to confirm A(-B) because reality is made up of A(-B) and you know that because you can have knowledge of A. Ergo, A = A(-B). So simple, isn't it? You are clueless. Your entire argument is circular, begs the question, and is self-defeating. And it remains that way whether you try to slip out of the very obvious conundrum by saying you don't think it's a problem. Your justifications for that assertion have to distort what I was asking and equivocate what knowledge we're talking about. If you have to distort what I say in order to slide out of it, that should tell you a lot about the true frailty of your position.


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    29. "As per assuming no-B. Nope. I don't need to assume no-B. If A gives me an answer, I don't see the need to consider B. There's a huge difference that you seem unable to grasp. Let me try this one: I am free to consider many many different Bs. I have nothing against considering them if I find a need for it, or perhaps for fun. But, it remains true that we can both check A, and that I don;t need B so far."

      Nope, you just are not going to get it. You don't know A if you don't know that A is not A(+B) versus A(-B), so you can't "check" A and say that you know the reality of A. You can do some things with A, but you can't determine the reality of A, and therefore, there is no way for you to determine the relevance of knowing other aspects of A either.

      "There's a jump you make in the middle that's a non-sequitur. That you can take something on faith does not mean that you do indeed have revelation."

      I never claimed otherwise. My faith doesn't make the object true. It just states that I believe the object true instead of believing another object true, as you do.

      "You are yet to find anything contradictory in my worldview though."

      If you say so. It's clear to me that I've devastated your view, but since you don't have to answer the objection, you're free to fly like a fairy through fantasy land unhindered.


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    30. "Oh but we were discussing that. You now moved the goal posts. So is this other question how to know how far can our reason and senses go? I can quickly tell you that having an answer to this question or not, does not make my worldview into a self-defeating one. I don't know how far they can go. I do think that there's limits to what we can know. But that is far from being a self-defeater. I never claimed that my worldview demanded knowledge of everything there might be to know. How's that self-defeating?"

      Oh but we weren’t. You were because you didn’t understand what I was asking of you. Because you have to know that A is not A(+B) or A(-B) in order to know A. If your knowledge is partial and you assemble a view of reality and epistemology based upon that, you have no way of knowing whether your view of reality is true, and hence, you can never know anything. You can only believe. Now, I believe we have knowledge because I believe that our knowing stems from an omniscient Being who has given revelation of the nature of reality from which a reliable epistemology can be formed. But you don't have that. You have a belief that you must know apart from believing, and hence, the very method through which you seek to know cannot be confirmed and known. That is self-defeating. If I must know A(-B) from an epistemology that can only access physical components of A, then I cannot know if A is A(-B) or A(+B), and yet, my epistemology functions off of the idea that reality can be known by knowing A. Hence, since I cannot know the true nature of A, but I need to know the true nature of A in order for my epistemology to be valid, I have to reject my way of knowing/my epistemology in order to verify my epistemology, but that means that I acquired knowledge with a different epistemology that my other epistemology has already concluded is invalid. Your problems are LEGION. Do you not see it?

      "It depends on what piece of knowledge we are talking about. For example, I know that I don't know everything. That cannot but be true. Care to show me how could that be otherwise? If I am wrong, that would mean that I do know everything, but if that was so, then I could not be wrong. Therefore that I know that I don't know everything is true and there's no way around it."

      I don't disagree with the conclusion, but the argument isn't valid, as it assumes that you know of knowledge that you don't know. You're making an inference from past experience, but there is nothing to say that, at this moment, you have not achieved all knowledge. But, in any case, I would agree that you can have such knowledge. Why you have it is another story.

      "You admitted that you take that on faith. therefore you can't show it to be anything more than your imagination."

      If everytihng that is grounded in faith is imagination then everything is imagination, including everything you believe. That you call revelation "imagination" just displays how indoctrinated into a naturalistic worldview you really are. In my worldview, your metaphysic and self-defeating epistemology is the fantasy, and mine reality.

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  35. "That's why hardly anyone in any intellectual fields takes revelation seriously. And that's why it's self defeating."

    It's self-defeating because no one takes it seriously? Do you understand what "self-defeating" means, because I have never seen anyone show that an epistemology where God directs knowledge through revelation is self defeating. I'd like to see that. You may not like it. You may be convinced by your delusion that it is inferior to your imagined autonomous epistemology, but it is not self-defeating at all. You're just throwing around terms now. Your epistemology is self-defeating. Mine is not. If no one takes that seriously, that shows you how dense our culture has become.

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    1. Again you're attacking a straw man. It's self defeating for two reasons. 1. Everyone who holds to revelation believes their sky-daddy is the right one, and their sky-daddy's message is the right one. You see in science, no matter where the experiment is done, you will get the same answer, assuming no screw ups. With "revelation' everyone gets the answer they want to hear. There's no way to call that answer the "truth' under any circumstances. 2. You have to deny any science that conflicts with the information you believe via revelation. It has to be wrong by definition, hence you must deny your senses and live like many creationists do. And Christians who are open to science still do this too, they just do it less by watering down the inerrancy of the bible. Hence, what they do when revelation and science conflict, is they choose science over it. It shows the power of science over faith. Any worldview that has to deny well attested scientific facts is self-defeating.

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    2. That's not what "self-defeating" means. It means your very assertion, if true, cancels itself out. Your epistemology does that. Mine does not.

      Everyone does not "get what he wants" with revelation. That's ironically what your view does. Revelation dictates what is true so that everyone precisely does not get to decide what is true or false for himself.

      Again, this constant strawman that Christians have to deny science because of revelation is really unimpressive. You have to first take the Bible out of context and pretend that it attempts to make assertions about the world that science contradicts and then argue that Christians have to deny science in order to believe the Bible. You're arguing against modernists, not me. So you're argument is irrelevant to most people who hold to Christian theism.

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    3. Most people who hold to Christian theism are creationists. So yes they do indeed have to deny science in a very big way. Yes, revelation does give people what they want. Joseph Smith wanted teenage brides, and a "revelation" gave him that. Same is true of Mohammad. If a pastor wants to believe god loves gays, he'll get a "revelation" saying god's OK with them. If Pat Robertson wants something, god magically reveals himself to Pat so that Pat can get what he wants and his biases can be given divine sanction. What a miracle.

      No, science forces us to agree with the evidence, not what we want the evidence to look like. Time and time again science has made us jettison our long held cherished intuitions based on the evidence. Don't make me laugh trying to compare science with faith.

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    4. All Christians are creationists, but I'm assuming you mean people who believe God directly created apart from any evolutionary means. My theological point to you was to say that God already creates through a process according to the Bible, so there really isn't much of a conflict between the Bible and evolution. Some of the most brilliant Reformed men in history were evolutionists, so this idea that you have to jettison this theory or the Bible is nonsense. It's also nonsense to paint science as something that can have any bearing on ultimate questions. I've already addressed this. Science has a bearing on secondary questions, but it needs ultimate beliefs to guide it, and thus, it cannot guide them.

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    5. All of your examples of revelation are of people making it up. I'm talking about believing that God has spoken and given appropriate signs that He has to the people. I can choose to believe or disbelieve that witness, but I am forced to give myself over to what it says.
      Your alternative isn't anything different, especially since you confuse science with the metaphysical naturalism with which you apply it. You must trust blindly what you cannot prove. And yet, you must fully admit that you cannot have such information as a finite mind. It's impossible. So the alternative you offer is merely a faith in no witness versus a faith in many witnesses. That's not evidence supporting your worldview. It's speculation in absence of evidential support.

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    6. Well I agree all of these people are making it up, but there's no difference between them and anyone else claiming to have received a revelation. All I hear are people making claims that god "spoke" to them. And I don't claim infallible knowledge. Heck, I could be wrong. There may be some sort of supernatural realm out there. But without any evidence for it, all I have to go on are people who claim to "know" about this realm. This has not shown itself to be reliable. What I have is a sort of model-dependent realism. I construct my best approximation of reality going by the best information I have available to me. The information I have has lead me to atheism. To me, atheism makes the best sense of the evidence. Could I be wrong about it? Perhaps. Like I said, I don't claim infallibility, Nobody can. I am merely going by the best information I have available to me.

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    7. But you have to have the ability to analyze information and know what is "the best information." That is not possible without assuming a worldview that functions as, often, an unconscious measuring stick. In fact, the very idea that you must be the one to acquire this knowledge yourself already begs the question. What data is evidence for what worldview is subjective. If your knowledge/information concerning reality, and the phenomena that occurs within it, is insufficient then you cannot approximate it. So you either need omniscience to construct a worldview yourself, or you need simply to believe that a worldview is true (either as believing a revelation from one who is omniscient or via speculation) and then argue from there. Atheism, therefore, makes best sense to you, not because the data speaks to it, but because you already believe it. The data makes best sense to me as evidence for Christianity because I already believe it to be true, and hence, I argue from there. That's why the question cannot be determined by "evidence" and "reason," not because I deny the two for secondary beliefs, but because they have no bearing on ultimate beliefs.

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    8. Like I said before, there is possible evidence that could shatter one's worldview. If for example, all the scientific and archaeological data corroborated the biblical narrative, then Christianity would be vindicated, and I would have to recognize Christianity as the truth. This would be true regardless of where I had came from, whether it was a secular background or not. But think about it - if you have to presuppose a metaphysic that excludes even the possibility that you're wrong and that your religion may be false, that shows the inherent weakness of your religion. If Christianity is indeed true and the Bible is its god's infallible word, there should be plenty of evidence from the natural world corroborating its narrative and its claims. Revelation is the most unreliable epistemology. Most of its claims are logically inconsistent, can't be verified and must be taken on faith, and almost all of the claims derived from it about the natural world that could be verified have been falsified by empiricism via the scientific method. This is just a fact. To be forced to presuppose a "metaphysic" that this isn't true is to live in a fantasy. If the data makes the best sense to you it's most likely because you're ignorant about it, or you're getting it funneled through theists who manipulate it for theistic audiences. I've seen hundreds of debates and have done extensive research into the evidence both for and against god and Christianity and it is obvious the sophistry and giant leaps of logic one has to take to defend god/religion. And one reason I know I could never be a Christian, is because I could never defend it. Still, couldn't the arguments against theism be considered more compelling than the ones for it, while one is still a theist? It seems to me that this is how theists become atheists.

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    9. Why would the Bible being consistent with archaeology and science demand that Christianity is vindicated? Are you saying that anyone who has their history and science straight can claim revelation and you'd believe him? Of course you wouldn't, because one has nothing to do with the other. You think that the Bible is trying to teach you something about historical details. You also think that archaeology and science have some sort of ability to know the past without believing the reports that have come down to us. These are both claims that lack quite a bit of nuance on your part. This all denies the obvious truth that these disciplines are governed by metaphysics that already determine both their epistemologies and their conclusions when it comes to what metaphysics their supposed conclusions give witness.

      You can't make the claim that revelation has been an unreliable epistemology without knowing through some other means (i.e., adopting another epistemology that can be confirmed concerning matters to which revelation speaks) in order to determine that it is unreliable. You have to assume its unreliability and the reliability of another contradictory epistemology before you even judge whether it is reliable. Hence, it merely begs the question.

      You also have to assume that you know what the Bible is attempting to reveal. It's clear to me that you don't because you keep on bringing up things like the Bible teaches that there is a flat earth, or definitely reveals a direct creation, or reveals this or that historical idea. It does seek to reveal certain historical ideas, but likely not as many details about it as you think.

      And I've already said that all of the metaphysical claims of atheism cannot be falsified, are self defeating, and can't be verified, but have to be taken on blind faith in pure speculation.


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    10. "If the data makes the best sense to you it's most likely because you're ignorant about it, or you're getting it funneled through theists who manipulate it for theistic audiences."

      I'm far more educated than you are, so I'd watch the ignorant comments, since it is you who are the one reading these disciplines as an outsider. The only one I don't comment on is the area of scientific theory when it pertains to physical science because I'm not a scientist. I comment on their philosophical/theological theories using science. Maybe it's more likely that you have an infantile view of knowledge and think that every judgment of a particular branch of archaeology, science, or historiography are certain objectively acquired facts. That you don't understand the amount of speculation that goes into these disciplines, and the presuppositions that govern them, is evidenced by our conversations. As I've said before, the evidence belongs to Christianity because Christianity is true. If you conclude something different, it's because you are misreading it with your false worldview and empty epistemology.

      "I've seen hundreds of debates and have done extensive research into the evidence both for and against god and Christianity and it is obvious the sophistry and giant leaps of logic one has to take to defend god/religion."

      I used to be an evidentialist, so I've done nothing but study those arguments on both sides, have seen hundreds of debates, read hundreds of books and articles, and thought for myself. It's clear that the sophistry is on the atheist's side. That's all I EVER see from them. Even now, you have nothing but pure assertion to try and combat the arguments I've made. You just keep repeating them over and over again without ever addressing the dilemmas I've given to you.

      "Still, couldn't the arguments against theism be considered more compelling than the ones for it, while one is still a theist? It seems to me that this is how theists become atheists."

      Nope, that's not how it occurs. I've already explained what is clearly going on in these supposed conversions. How can an argument for atheism be compelling when atheism is false? And what epistemology would we be using in order to determine whether the argument was compelling? The atheists I presume. That's how all of their arguments are won. And that's why you haven't won any here.

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  36. “Why would the Bible being consistent with archaeology and science demand that Christianity is vindicated?”

    I’m saying the Bible could have been consistent with science and archaeology. It isn’t. Just like every other “holy” book isn’t. That’s clearly a strike against it because that’s what you’d expect from a man made book.

    “This all denies the obvious truth that these disciplines are governed by metaphysics that already determine both their epistemologies and their conclusions when it comes to what metaphysics their supposed conclusions give witness.”

    In other words, I need to believe the Bible is true on blind faith because no good arguments exist that can demonstrate its truth, otherwise. I get it.

    “You can't make the claim that revelation has been an unreliable epistemology without knowing through some other means (i.e., adopting another epistemology that can be confirmed concerning matters to which revelation speaks) in order to determine that it is unreliable. You have to assume its unreliability and the reliability of another contradictory epistemology before you even judge whether it is reliable. Hence, it merely begs the question.“

    If “revelations” are logically inconsistent, and if they consistently make claims about the natural world that are falsified, yes I can make the claim that revelation is an unreliable epistemology. You have to assume god deliberately deceives us by misleading us through scripture and nature in order for you to forgo cognitive dissonance. It’s sad.

    “You also have to assume that you know what the Bible is attempting to reveal. It's clear to me that you don't because you keep on bringing up things like the Bible teaches that there is a flat earth, or definitely reveals a direct creation, or reveals this or that historical idea. It does seek to reveal certain historical ideas, but likely not as many details about it as you think.”

    Oh I’m well aware that the Bible is in the genre of myth that reflects the flawed cosmology of its day. You don’t have to convince me of that.
    “And I've already said that all of the metaphysical claims of atheism cannot be falsified, are self defeating, and can't be verified, but have to be taken on blind faith in pure speculation.”

    Look, you have your worldview and I have mine. I at least don’t presuppose that my view is infallible and that it is impossible for me to be incorrect.

    “I'm far more educated than you are, so I'd watch the ignorant comments, since it is you who are the one reading these disciplines as an outsider.”

    Yeah in theology, from evangelical schools. I’ve heard what goes on in those schools. You wouldn’t exactly trust Islam coming only from a Muslim scholar now would you?

    ‘Maybe it's more likely that you have an infantile view of knowledge and think that every judgment of a particular branch of archaeology, science, or historiography are certain objectively acquired facts. That you don't understand the amount of speculation that goes into these disciplines, and the presuppositions that govern them, is evidenced by our conversations.”

    Oh I understand how complex the sciences are and the data they give. A while back when we were going over the lack of archaeological evidence for the Jewish enslavement in Egypt I agreed that a huge loss would probably be something the Egyptians wouldn’t want to record, but that was one small piece of a much larger argument and was not a defeater.

    “As I've said before, the evidence belongs to Christianity because Christianity is true. If you conclude something different, it's because you are misreading it with your false worldview and empty epistemology.”

    Argument assertio. Prove it.

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    1. "I’m saying the Bible could have been consistent with science and archaeology. It isn’t. Just like every other “holy” book isn’t. That’s clearly a strike against it because that’s what you’d expect from a man made book."

      It's also what you would expect from a divinely inspired book that uses the language, based upon the knowledge of man at the time, to communicate truth to him. The Bible is not like other holy books. It does not claim to be dropped out of heaven or using a pure heavenly language. God stoops to man to communicate to him, so he uses what men of the time use to communicate with one another. What else would he use? Twenty-first century language and referents? And why stop there. We likely don't understand as much as primitive man when compared to someone living in the year A.D. 4000. You would make communication impossible, all in some effort to get God to bow to you as the god who must verify Him and His Word.

      "In other words, I need to believe the Bible is true on blind faith because no good arguments exist that can demonstrate its truth, otherwise. I get it."

      Ho hum. You don't get it. I wasn't making an argument concerning what I must presuppose, but what everyone must presuppose, regardless of their stances.

      "If “revelations” are logically inconsistent, and if they consistently make claims about the natural world that are falsified, yes I can make the claim that revelation is an unreliable epistemology. You have to assume god deliberately deceives us by misleading us through scripture and nature in order for you to forgo cognitive dissonance. It’s sad."

      If that narrative makes you feel better, by all means, keep perpetuating the strawman. I don't believe God is deceiving me. That's your lot in life. But I would like to know where Christianity is logically inconsistent, and why you seem to have a problem with what you only think is an inconsistency, whereas you have no problem with your self defeating atheism.

      "Oh I’m well aware that the Bible is in the genre of myth that reflects the flawed cosmology of its day. You don’t have to convince me of that."

      Wow, that's super sloppy. The Bible uses some myth, but not in the sense that you use the term; and no one, liberal or otherwise, would characterize the entire Bible as the genre of myth. It contains all sorts of genres that scholars would not consider "myth."

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    2. "Look, you have your worldview and I have mine. I at least don’t presuppose that my view is infallible and that it is impossible for me to be incorrect."

      Neither do I. I never said my worldview could not be wrong. I just said that I believe it is true and go from there. But how could your view be corrected? By what methodology of inquiry? One that presupposes naturalism in the first place. Your Cartesian model would have to lead you to deny the Cartesian model, but then it shows itself unreliable and you cannot therefore deny it. It's self defeating. You, therefore, cannot ever come to the conclusion that you are wrong and I am right through your model because it precludes its possibility. You must come by another way.

      "Yeah in theology, from evangelical schools. I’ve heard what goes on in those schools. You wouldn’t exactly trust Islam coming only from a Muslim scholar now would you?"

      LOL. Yes, well, apparently you don't know what goes on because we're required to read everyone and examine everything analytically. I also attended UPenn, and guess what? The Ivy League doesn't even come close to analyzing things the way we did at Trinity and Westminster. It's purely a "we just do" environment, not a thinking one, where what we are doing is actually questioned at all.

      "A while back when we were going over the lack of archaeological evidence for the Jewish enslavement in Egypt I agreed that a huge loss would probably be something the Egyptians wouldn’t want to record, but that was one small piece of a much larger argument and was not a defeater."

      I wasn't viewing it as such. I'm just saying that most archaeologists who don't have some major agenda to pretend that they are just concluding facts all admit that archaeology and historiography are much more of an art than a science.

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  37. “I used to be an evidentialist, so I've done nothing but study those arguments on both sides, have seen hundreds of debates, read hundreds of books and articles, and thought for myself. It's clear that the sophistry is on the atheist's side. That's all I EVER see from them. Even now, you have nothing but pure assertion to try and combat the arguments I've made. You just keep repeating them over and over again without ever addressing the dilemmas I've given to you.”

    Oh really? You just asserted Christianity is true on blind faith and now you’re saying that I’m making the assertions? Oh the irony. If you want to debate the evidence for god/Christianity, I’m all for it.

    “Nope, that's not how it occurs. I've already explained what is clearly going on in these supposed conversions. How can an argument for atheism be compelling when atheism is false? And what epistemology would we be using in order to determine whether the argument was compelling? The atheists I presume. That's how all of their arguments are won. And that's why you haven't won any here.”

    How then can a theist come to the conclusion that atheism is true if it is false? Simple. Because they heard arguments that shattered their existing explanations in explanatory power and in detail and it made them realized that presupposing that they can’t be wrong is a childish and absurd. They’d be using logic to do so.

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    1. "Oh really? You just asserted Christianity is true on blind faith and now you’re saying that I’m making the assertions? Oh the irony. If you want to debate the evidence for god/Christianity, I’m all for it."

      That's because you think I'm trying to "prove" Christianity to you. I'm not. I'm merely saying that one must believe his worldview, whatever that may be, first and then argue from there. So I'm not making assertions as arguments. I'm stating an axiom and moving on from there. You're the one asserting that you do not presuppose naturalism as a metaphysic and in your epistemology, which is patently untrue; but you just can't see it.

      "Simple. Because they heard arguments that shattered their existing explanations in explanatory power and in detail and it made them realized that presupposing that they can’t be wrong is a childish and absurd. They’d be using logic to do so."

      There's that lovely strawman again. No one presupposes that he can't be wrong. The only childish and absurd thing is that you keep perpetuating that self-affirming narrative.

      People who think they are Christians become atheists because they were never Christians and always atheists. You need to learn how primary and secondary beliefs work. Their primary must first become atheism in order for their secondary to become so. You often have people with secondary religious beliefs who are primarily atheists/agnostics/deists in their epistemologies begging a naturalistic metaphysic, but they are completely unaware of what is going on. Our primary worldview in this culture is naturalism, so if they never drop that, they never truly become Christians in their thinking. It is easy to re-convert one who never deconverted.

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    2. “It's also what you would expect from a divinely inspired book that uses the language, based upon the knowledge of man at the time, to communicate truth to him. The Bible is not like other holy books. It does not claim to be dropped out of heaven or using a pure heavenly language.”

      It’s not so much the language used, it’s that the Bible doesn’t contain any wisdom that wasn’t already known at that time. God could have snuck in something about germs, or the big bang, or evolution in such a way so that no one back then would understand it, but we’d confirm it now. If god could waste time preoccupied with clothing fabrics, what to do with the entrails of an animal and other such trivial matters, he surely could have revealed some true cosmic wisdom.

      “God stoops to man to communicate to him, so he uses what men of the time use to communicate with one another. What else would he use? Twenty-first century language and referents?”

      Maybe it’s because the Bible was written by men of the time who had no revealed wisdom. Of course I expect the language used to be a language of that time. I don’t expect god to have revealed himself in Ebonics. But the knowledge communicated in the language is iron-age superstition, endemic to that part of the world at that time. Exactly what you’d expect of a man made book made at that time and place.

      “And why stop there. We likely don't understand as much as primitive man when compared to someone living in the year A.D. 4000. You would make communication impossible, all in some effort to get God to bow to you as the god who must verify Him and His Word.”

      Nope. That’s an over exaggeration. All skeptics need is some real specific knowledge otherwise unobtainable at that time through any other means than through revelation. Along with perhaps a little less iron-age superstition. I’m sure that could’ve been squeezed into the texts. According to you then, god made his revelation such that there’d be plenty of ammo for non-Christian skeptics to have.

      “Ho hum. You don't get it. I wasn't making an argument concerning what I must presuppose, but what everyone must presuppose, regardless of their stances.”

      I used to ask myself, “How could any educated person actually believe the Bible?” Well apparently you simply just need to believe it on faith and believe that everything against it is an illusion because there’s no other way to come to the conclusion it’s true.

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    3. “If that narrative makes you feel better, by all means, keep perpetuating the strawman. I don't believe God is deceiving me. That's your lot in life. But I would like to know where Christianity is logically inconsistent, and why you seem to have a problem with what you only think is an inconsistency, whereas you have no problem with your self-defeating atheism.”

      You believe god deceives through scripture and nature, to allow people to be lured away from him. And only those who presuppose a certain “metaphysic” will be immune to this by presupposing all evidence against them is an illusion. Let me ask you this. This supernatural realm you believe in could be all in your imagination, so is it possible for me to tell the difference whether it is real or whether it is imaginary?

      I think the central core to Christianity is illogical. A timeless spaceless god finds the time and space to impregnate an underage Palestinian virgin, so that she can give birth to himself, as an eventual human sacrifice to himself, the save us all – you guess it – from himself. And I’m supposed to believe this is all the plan of an infallible, omniscient deity. It gets worse. God is “perfect,” yet he’s wrathful, he angers easy and is intrinsically jealous. Three traits not even associated with goodness, let alone perfection. He’s timeless, yet he requires time to do everything. Even his emotions require temporality. His primary command is that we love him, yet as everyone knows, love cannot be commanded, it must come natural. I cannot be commanded to love Hitler, or my father, or a random stranger, or anyone else. And if that’s not enough, god conveniently sets up hell just in case we can’t “love” him. Jesus admonishes us for our sins and desires, yet if he’s “perfect” - he has no desires and doesn’t even know what it’s like to have sinful desires. How can he make such a demand when we’re not on an equal playing field? And who put the desire there in the first place? It must have been built into our very nature by god. And if god used the evolutionary process to make human beings (as all the evidence shows he would have), then why would god use a process that would knowingly embed lust into our very nature and then make it a sin to have lust? When you take into account all we know from science, the Christian narrative makes less and less logical sense and appears more and more like the beliefs of iron-age superstitious fallible humans. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

      Since Christianity grants Judaism and the Old Testament, that introduces more contradictions. Watch this funny video going over them here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RB3g6mXLEKk Not every one is correct but many of them are.

      Please tell me how atheism is self defeating. Last time you tried to tell me that, you conflated it with logical positivism.

      “Wow, that's super sloppy. The Bible uses some myth, but not in the sense that you use the term; and no one, liberal or otherwise, would characterize the entire Bible as the genre of myth. It contains all sorts of genres that scholars would not consider "myth."

      Even myths contain some truth to them, like actual people and places. But where do you draw the line for what is myth and what is not? Were Adam and Eve a myth? Was the flood tale of Noah a myth? Did Jonah really spend 3 days in a big fish? Did David really get hundreds of Philistine foreskins? Did god really make bears kill a bunch of kids who mocked a bald guy?

      “Neither do I. I never said my worldview could not be wrong. I just said that I believe it is true and go from there.”

      What is “it” in this case? It’s the metaphysic that you are correct because you have access to infallible knowledge and that any evidence against your belief must be wrong by definition. That sounds like you believe it’s impossible for you to be incorrect to me.

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    4. “But how could your view be corrected? By what methodology of inquiry? One that presupposes naturalism in the first place.”

      Not at all. An evidentialist could prove atheism to be false starting from an agnostic standpoint that doesn’t presuppose any worldview. Like I said, if god exists, he could have made the universe and the earth 6,000 years ago, making atheism impossible. If the evidence showed that, no one would have to presuppose atheism or theism to make the case.

      "Your Cartesian model would have to lead you to deny the Cartesian model, but then it shows itself unreliable and you cannot therefore deny it. It's self defeating. You, therefore, cannot ever come to the conclusion that you are wrong and I am right through your model because it precludes its possibility. You must come by another way."

      Is this your take down of atheism? If it is, I missed it. But I think I addressed your conclusion in my response above.

      “Yes, well, apparently you don't know what goes on because we're required to read everyone and examine everything analytically. I also attended UPenn, and guess what? The Ivy League doesn't even come close to analyzing things the way we did at Trinity and Westminster. It's purely a "we just do" environment, not a thinking one, where what we are doing is actually questioned at all.”

      How could you view anything analytically if you already presuppose “The Bible is true. Anything that conflicts with what it conveys as true is a delusion”? Apparently you must adopt a metaphysic that you must be correct about your religion and cannot be wrong by definition because that seems to be the only way, given the evidence, that one can be a Christian nowadays.

      “I wasn't viewing it as such. I'm just saying that most archaeologists who don't have some major agenda to pretend that they are just concluding facts all admit that archaeology and historiography are much more of an art than a science.”

      I don’t disagree with you. I really don’t. But, the fact that the evidence for the biblical narrative in many important stories is nonexistent, does lend itself to the skeptic’s side of the argument. It certainly doesn’t hurt it.

      “That's because you think I'm trying to "prove" Christianity to you. I'm not. I'm merely saying that one must believe his worldview, whatever that may be, first and then argue from there. So I'm not making assertions as arguments. I'm stating an axiom and moving on from there. You're the one asserting that you do not presuppose naturalism as a metaphysic and in your epistemology, which is patently untrue; but you just can't see it.”

      I’m getting tired of going in circles. Apparently to you, not believing that “revelation” is a reliable epistemology because its claims are contradictory, it strongly resembles mental illness, it must be taken on blind faith, and its claims are demonstrably false whenever they could’ve been verified, is presupposing naturalism. But what about agnostics? Is everyone that doesn’t accept revelation automatically a naturalist to you even if they’re neutral about it?

      “People who think they are Christians become atheists because they were never Christians and always atheists.”

      There’s that Calvinist narrative. I’m beginning to see why I hate Calvinism, even if I were another Christian. Seems to me like your metaphysic prevents you from thinking Christianity is wrong since one must adopt it to be a “real” Christian who could never deconvert. So anyone who doesn’t adopt your metaphysic isn’t a real Christian?

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    5. “You need to learn how primary and secondary beliefs work. Their primary must first become atheism in order for their secondary to become so. You often have people with secondary religious beliefs who are primarily atheists/agnostics/deists in their epistemologies begging a naturalistic metaphysic, but they are completely unaware of what is going on. Our primary worldview in this culture is naturalism, so if they never drop that, they never truly become Christians in their thinking. It is easy to re-convert one who never deconverted.”

      So if a “Christian” hears a persuasive argument, whether it’s for atheism or any other religion, if they’re even capable of thinking the argument was persuasive, does it mean they were never a “real” Christian? Or do they have to go all the way and leave Christianity for them never to have been a real Christian? How does this work? What if a 90 year old man who was a “Calvinist” his whole life, realizes that assuming your metaphysic is intellectually closed minded and that it’s too stringent and foolish, and he stops believing in your metaphysic. Was he never a Calvinist/Christian?

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    6. "It’s not so much the language used, it’s that the Bible doesn’t contain any wisdom that wasn’t already known at that time."

      You really need to learn some biblical theology before you make that statement. I know of no scholar who would say that, even if he was an unbeliever. The entire Bible reveals God as very different than any other culture. There is one God, not many. He is not like man. He cannot be worshiped but through what He speaks, rather than through an image or empty altar. His sexual ethics for man are different. His way of salvation is completely different than any other religion on the planet. Are you seriously going to say that there isn't anything different? If you're referring to pieces of knowledge that you want God to throw in so that you can verify it two thousand years later, don't you think that's a bit narcissistic? Why should God have to submit to your scrutiny? He demands faith from you. If He submits to you, that isn't destroying the religion of the Self against which His entire revelation speaks. It, instead, supports it. He's not going to do that, and it is clear in Scripture that His confirming His Word with miraculous signs does not bring about obedience. It merely points the direction for those who already desire to worship Him.

      "But the knowledge communicated in the language is iron-age superstition, endemic to that part of the world at that time."

      You only think that because you think He's revealing detailed facts about nature and history when the Scripture is clear that it is profitable for knowledge that leads to salvation. The natural and historical details it uses are for communicative purposes, and function as its language, not its message.

      "I think the central core to Christianity is illogical."

      You know, with all of this back and forth, I want to say something really serious to you, and that is this: You really need to study what Christianity actually teaches. It's clear from this "summary" that you have a very superficial view of it, and by reducing it to such absurdities in description, you end up limiting your own ability to choose whether it is true or not. You, instead, limit your choices to whatever you present in the best light and destroy any ability to consider other options because you caricature them in the worst language possible. I'm just saying, you're not going to convince a Christian who knows what Christianity actually teaches with this sort of language. You're just going to limit your own knowledge and ability to make a choice for it. Now, you may not want to make a choice for it, but what I'm saying is that you are limiting yourself to no choice at that point.

      So learning that God does not have emotions and that Christianity interprets those passages as anthropopathic. And that God is triune and one of the Persons has become a human and has experienced time, so that God can be both timeless and experience time (this is not to mention that what happens in time is produced by Him and not a separate reality apart from His own knowledge that He must gain knowledge of). The love He is referring to there is a commitment you make to give yourself, thoughts, and actions to someone, not an emotion of affection, which may come later in the relationship. So the command is to have a relationship with Him that is giving over of the Self to Him. That's why the Torah follows the command.

      Desire is neither good nor bad. It is what is desired and in what circumstances that make it good or evil. So the fact that we have desires is not the issue. It's twisting them that is.

      In short, all of what you say here just needs a lot more study, and it would benefit you to do so, regardless of what you choose in the end, as the Christian narrative makes a lot more sense than you realize.






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    7. "But where do you draw the line for what is myth and what is not?"

      By genre, which is determined by how the literary nature of the text and what ANE myth it incorporates in its message. Myth is a genre, not a description of the message it conveys.

      "That sounds like you believe it’s impossible for you to be incorrect to me."

      It's possible for me to be incorrect by virtue having believed what is false. My epistemology allows me to consider the possibility of believing the wrong thing, since it begins with belief.

      " An evidentialist could prove atheism to be false starting from an agnostic standpoint that doesn’t presuppose any worldview. Like I said, if god exists, he could have made the universe and the earth 6,000 years ago, making atheism impossible. If the evidence showed that, no one would have to presuppose atheism or theism to make the case."

      I believe evidentialists presuppose a naturalistic worldview in their epistemologies. That's why I think that they are inconsistent and am not one.

      "Is this your take down of atheism? If it is, I missed it."

      It's one of many. And you did miss it. Look again.

      "How could you view anything analytically"

      By presupposing a metaphysical grounding for understanding experience with reason. Then I go on to analyze everything with that understanding. How do you it? You seem to be arguing that if one must begin with an ultimate belief that cannot be analyzed then he cannot analyze anything. That's a non sequitur.

      "I don’t disagree with you. I really don’t. "

      Then you don't understand archaeology nor agree with most archaeologists who discuss archaeological and historical theory.

      "But, the fact that the evidence for the biblical narrative in many important stories is nonexistent, does lend itself to the skeptic’s side of the argument."

      There is no archaeological evidences for numerous historical events that everyone believes occurred via report. Hence, lack of archaeological evidence does not lend itself to the idea that it did not happen. That's bad historiography, especially when you have reports that say otherwise.

      I'm tired of going in circles too. You just don't get the arguments and keep repeating yourself, which then makes me try to explain it in fifty different ways, but you still don't get it.

      It depends what kind of agnostic he is. He certainly is presupposing that revelation is not true if he is agnostic, and if he claims knowledge, then he is presupposing naturalism in his epistemology.

      "I’m beginning to see why I hate Calvinism, even if I were another Christian."

      You hate Calvinism because its the most genuine form of Christianity and demands your total submission to God. That's why you'd still be in rebellion against God as a Christian by "hating" it.

      "So if a “Christian” hears a persuasive argument, whether it’s for atheism or any other religion, if they’re even capable of thinking the argument was persuasive, does it mean they were never a “real” Christian?"

      What made it persuasive? A person who claims to be a Christian can be persuaded by anything. It's a matter of whether he is persuaded by an epistemology consistent with his Christianity or something that goes against it. If he persuaded, he should look at why he was persuaded and what he must presuppose first in order to find an argument persuasive.

      "What if a 90 year old man who was a “Calvinist” his whole life, realizes that assuming your metaphysic is intellectually closed minded and that it’s too stringent and foolish, and he stops believing in your metaphysic. Was he never a Calvinist/Christian?"

      Then he evidences that he was not a Christian, as according the Bible, the revelation by which we know what is true, a true believer who knows Christ never departs from Him. Hence, Christ says of those who only appear to be Christians, "I never (ou pote "at no time") knew you."

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    8. My epistemology allows me to consider the possibility of believing the wrong thing, since it begins with belief.
      B.C., How would you approach the possibility of the Christian God not existing?

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    9. It would just happen by persuasion of emotion, if I decided to believe something else, etc. Any switch between ultimate beliefs is a matter of faith, and hence, one cannot come to them via any other means.

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    10. Do you have some ideas on what that might look like?

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    11. Someone undergoes a tragedy by which he becomes embittered toward God. He then begins to believe there is no God as an emotional response to the pain. That's the primary one I see take place.

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    12. Is that the only real way you could see yourself changing your position?
      Does that mean there is no real point in discussing this with your (apart from trying to understand your position)?

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    13. What do you think I should based a change of ultimate beliefs upon without making something else my ultimate beliefs to measure them by?

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    14. You could start with a more basic set of ultimate beliefs than "Christianity is true" on which to build.

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    15. “You really need to learn some biblical theology before you make that statement. I know of no scholar who would say that, even if he was an unbeliever. The entire Bible reveals God as very different than any other culture. There is one God, not many…...”

      Well Yahweh was originally one of many gods the Israelites worshiped, and then he evolved into the singular god of Judaism today. But monotheism was evolving elsewhere in the region. Zoroastrianism was a monotheistic religion of the 1st millennium BC. So it is not impossible for humans to make up the concept of a singular god. But my point was more about knowledge about the natural world that couldn’t have been known to anyone at that time. It’s not narcissistic to ask for evidence when confronted by an extraordinary claim, it’s rational. And I don’t need it just for me, but for the billions and billions of non-christians in the world who aren’t willing to believe Christianity on blind faith. If god knew we’d get to a point in our history where evidence mattered, he could have preempted that by giving us some really good evidence in the Bible that he exists and that Christianity is true. That would be good for all times, including people living in the year 4000 AD. If god’s goal is for all of humanity to know and worship him, why would he not want to give us evidence for him? Think about it. Billions could convert the Christianity if the biblical narrative was corroborated by science. But if you believe in a god that purposely is ambiguous or deceptive, then that god does truly deserve to be admonished.

      “You only think that because you think He's revealing detailed facts about nature and history when the Scripture is clear that it is profitable for knowledge that leads to salvation. The natural and historical details it uses are for communicative purposes, and function as its language, not its message.”

      Then you need to do a better job policing your fellow Christians who are constantly trying to argue that the Bible is a science book and that all of its claims are factually correct. Don’t blame me for caricaturing Christianity. Your fellow fundamentalist Christians are doing it and they’re making the most noise doing so. I know the Bible isn’t factually correct and that many parts of it weren’t intended to be. But why would an all-knowing and all-loving god substantiate the ignorant and superstitious beliefs of that time, knowing it would help exacerbate things like disease, witch hunts, slavery etc.?

      “You know, with all of this back and forth, I want to say something really serious to you, and that is this: You really need to study what Christianity actually teaches. It's clear from this "summary" that you have a very superficial view of it, and by reducing it to such absurdities in description, you end up limiting your own ability to choose whether it is true or not…….”

      My summary was not meant to be a full picture of Christianity. I know Christianity is complex like all religions. But when you clear away emotional attachments to the religion, and see what it looks like stark naked on paper, my description is essentially what most versions of Christianity looks like. It’s just cloaked in so much emotion that most adherents are blinded by it. I basically debate theists for fun. And I get a different version of Christianity almost every time I encounter a Christian. So please excuse me if there are so many subjective interpretations of it that I misconstrue yours. But I have to say, your version of god is certainly characteristically worse and less palatable than liberal Christians. And mind you, you need to learn that atheism is not tantamount to communism. OK. Please make that distinction in the future.

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    16. “So learning that God does not have emotions and that Christianity interprets those passages as anthropopathic.”

      How does an emotionless being, get ascribed human emotions? Is that to say god’s love is not real, but a human projection? If you want to say god’s emotions are anthropopathic, you can say the whole concept of god is anthropomorphic.

      “And that God is triune and one of the Persons has become a human and has experienced time, so that God can be both timeless and experience time (this is not to mention that what happens in time is produced by Him and not a separate reality apart from His own knowledge that He must gain knowledge of).”

      But this is not a defense, because even bereft of Jesus, an immaterial being still requires time to do anything – revelation, thinking, smiting disobedients, etc. A truly timeless god would be glaciated beyond all action. And god cannot be a mind, because a timeless mind is by definition, non functional.

      “The love He is referring to there is a commitment you make to give yourself, thoughts, and actions to someone, not an emotion of affection, which may come later in the relationship. So the command is to have a relationship with Him that is giving over of the Self to Him. That's why the Torah follows the command.”

      Ok, so you don’t really have to love god, just obey him. Not all Christians will agree with that. And what if you believe in god but you hate him and cannot bring yourself to love him? Does he send you to hell?

      “Desire is neither good nor bad. It is what is desired and in what circumstances that make it good or evil. So the fact that we have desires is not the issue. It's twisting them that is.”

      Jesus is pretty straightforward about desire and its equation with greater sins. And that still doesn’t explain why god gave us sinful desires in the first place if he didn’t want us to act on it.

      “In short, all of what you say here just needs a lot more study, and it would benefit you to do so, regardless of what you choose in the end, as the Christian narrative makes a lot more sense than you realize.”

      When I was younger I had a more romanticized idea of Christianity that has actually soured as I’ve learned more about it. But I do want to learn about all religions as much as I can. My intention is not to misrepresent them. I really do want to accurate understand Christianity, all of its versions.
      “By genre, which is determined by how the literary nature of the text and what ANE myth it incorporates in its message. Myth is a genre, not a description of the message it conveys.”
      But you didn’t answer my questions.


      “I believe evidentialists presuppose a naturalistic worldview in their epistemologies. That's why I think that they are inconsistent and am not one.”

      I’ve personally thought evidentialists do a really bad job trying to make the case for god using evidence. You really do just have to believe in god on faith. That’s what it all comes down to. But there’s nothing naturalistic about empiricism. There is no logically necessary reason why the supernatural couldn’t be verifiable as it interacts and violates the natural order. You’re just assuming it isn’t.

      “It's one of many. And you did miss it. Look again.”

      Considering your history of not defining terms properly, or using certain versions of terms, you’d have to flesh that one out for me. It’s too open to misinterpretation.

      “By presupposing a metaphysical grounding for understanding experience with reason. Then I go on to analyze everything with that understanding. How do you it? You seem to be arguing that if one must begin with an ultimate belief that cannot be analyzed then he cannot analyze anything. That's a non sequitur.”

      Well, I don’t begin by asserting that my views cannot be falsified. Your metaphysic precludes that. Naturalism could be falsified even within its own epistemological framework.

      “Then you don't understand archaeology nor agree with most archaeologists who discuss archaeological and historical theory.”

      I said I agreed with you. Maybe you misunderstood.

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    17. “There is no archaeological evidences for numerous historical events that everyone believes occurred via report. Hence, lack of archaeological evidence does not lend itself to the idea that it did not happen. That's bad historiography, especially when you have reports that say otherwise.”

      Yeah but the Old Testament narrative is not meant to be taken as a completely historical. It was meant to be a story that the Jewish people could share as something that unites them. Many cultures did this. In ancient times, myth was blended into history regularly.

      “I'm tired of going in circles too. You just don't get the arguments and keep repeating yourself, which then makes me try to explain it in fifty different ways, but you still don't get it.”

      I understand your argument about metaphysics. I don’t fully agree with you, but I get it.

      “It depends what kind of agnostic he is. He certainly is presupposing that revelation is not true if he is agnostic, and if he claims knowledge, then he is presupposing naturalism in his epistemology.“

      Here’s where I disagree with you. Coming to the conclusion that revelation is unreliable is not presupposing it is not reliable. There’s no reason why in principle revelation couldn’t have evidence supporting its reliability through other epistemologies. You just assume that. But if it indeed wasn’t reliable, we’d expect no evidence from other epistemologies.

      “You hate Calvinism because its the most genuine form of Christianity and demands your total submission to God. That's why you'd still be in rebellion against God as a Christian by "hating" it.”

      If it is, it makes the god of Christianity even worse that I originally thought. There’s no possible way anyone can call Yahweh the “greatest conceivable being.” Far from it. Yahweh really would fit the negative personifications that critics typically ascribe to him.

      “Wow, your reading of Christianity is as careful as your reading of me, which is to say, it isn't at all. You don't understand Christianity at all. No wonder you're an atheist.”

      What you don’t realize is that there are thousands of different versions of Christianity, and they don’t all agree. So if I encounter a Christian and learn their Christianity I sometimes assume that version of Christianity with another Christian, and they say, “You don’t understand Christianity.” Blame your fellow Christians for making so many versions and misrepresentations.

      “ You said nothing to address the problem I gave you, and I'm taking that to mean that you can't and must continue to bombard me with your strawmen and empty assertions.”

      Now sure what that problem was. Could you repeat?

      “This "conversation" has become a waste of time. I've already presented you with everything you need to know what I'm saying. Whether you ever figure it out is your problem.”

      Well I do have a better perspective of the Calvinist POV now. So I have learned. But I now think the case for Christianity is even weaker than ever, now that I know the level of faith it takes to believe in it. And I agree with you that the evidentialists are inconsistent. Most of them do hold your metaphysic but they hide it when trying to make their arguments. But debating them on the evidence is usually pointless, because they will often retreat into your unfalsifiable metaphysic when the going gets tough.

      But look. I want to say that I respect you. I really do. You’re a great debater. And even though we have opposing viewpoints and different agendas, I think people like us can coexist peacefully in a free society. I'm sure if we had met each other, without knowing who the other was, we’d both think of each other as decent people. I’m no communist. I don’t wish to kill or prevent all religious freedom. Secularism actually protects religion from other religion. I doubt you'd prefer Sharia law over the kind of secularism we have today.

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  38. B.C. I'd be interested in how Oliphant carries out his hypothetical dialogue with a Muslim, since I would think the same moves you make in order to insulate your belief system would also be available to a follower of Islam.

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    1. (I also suspect such moves would be available to people in numerous other belief systems which are incompatible with your Christian Theism)

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    2. His apologetic isn't that what he says to atheism is true for all religions. Instead, his point is that what is false will collapse upon itself. So he pursues the Muslim view of God as self defeating. It's an interesting, and very long, conversation in the book.

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    3. I understand that the conversation would differ depending upon the beliefs of the person being conversed with.

      What I wonder is whether and how Oliphant handles (or how you would handle) someone who has much the same position as he (and you), but starts with a different initial belief.
      For example, if the Muslim takes the truth of the Koran (and of Islam) as foundational, what can possibly demonstrate the self defeating nature of this view which wouldn't also demonstrate the self defeating nature of your own view?

      It seems to me that whatever moves you and Oliphant can use to insulate your beliefs are available to others. It certainly seems possible to construct a self-consistent belief system centred on Islam rather than Christianity. I could see it being possible to construct such thing on many other beliefs.

      Basically, your position seems somewhat similar to Plantinga's reformed epistemology, and seems open to the same sorts of criticisms.

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    4. He argues that the Muslim view of God makes revelation impossible. Hence, they can't have revelation on their view, but then believe that Allah gives it anyway and they know Allah by it.
      Christianity isn't self defeating, so the Muslim doesn't have the same argument the Christian has. Islam is self defeating.

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    5. I'm not as familiar with Islam as I am with Christianity, but I don't see how you could argue that Islam precludes revelation when it is supposedly founded upon revelation?

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    6. I guess you should buy the book then.

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    7. I probably should, but I likely won't.
      Any chance you could provide an outline of the discussion, or the reasoning which Oliphant uses when discussing Islam?

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    8. Sure, but whenever you get a summary of something, it's going to lose its force without giving the explanations. If you were familiar with the religion, that wouldn't be as big of a deal, but it would be better to read the actual discussion, as it is really just a suggested trajectory of what a conversation with a Muslim might look like.

      1. Muslims don't believe that revelation gives certainty about anything. So revelation does not reveal God or the nature of the world, etc. It just reveals Allah's will for mankind. Even if you do that will, there is no guarantee that you will be saved because Allah cannot be bound by anything external to him. This is also why Allah has no direct interaction with the world.

      2. If he cannot be bound by anything external to him, then he cannot be bound/defined by his revelation either, since the Quran is now external to him.

      3. Since Allah cannot be bound/defined by the Quran, it isn't really a reliable revelation to know anything at all, as Allah can decide that his will is something else in the future.

      4. The Quran is also supposed to be the very words spoken by Allah, in his language, to men. Yet, Allah is said to be singularly one. The very act of speech is plural, not singular. In order for Allah to remain one, he cannot speak. In order for him to remain one, he must only refer to himself at all times, but speech is about other things and requires plurality in thought.

      4. It needs to be understood at this point that the Muslim view of God is that he is not differentiated at all, and that the Quran is his eternal speech (it does not come by way of mediation through humans as in Christianity).

      5. Speech must be differentiated. It makes distinctions and definitions. Yet, Allah can have no such thing within him.

      6. Hence, revelation is impossible for the Muslim god who is supposedly revealed as "unrevealable" in revelation, since revelation to us is differentiated speech that Allah is said to be incapable of having.

      7. This shows Islam to be self-defeating.

      Whether you find this persuasive, or whether I would argue this way, I don't know. I haven't really given all that much thought. But is Christianity self defeating in the same way? No. God is triune and a unity in plurality who communes with His creation and uses created language to speak to humans through human agents. He has entered time through one of the Persons and is both transcendent and imminent.

      But the point would be that Islam cannot say that it has revelation from Allah in the same way that a Christian can say that without that revelation being self-defeating in its view of God.

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    9. You're right that a summary does lose the details of the arguments. From what I do understand of Islam, many of those claims don't seem to fit within it - I assume Oliphant goes in to far more detail.

      I also suspect that those arguments would be not be persuasive at all to a Muslim presuppositionalist counterpart, and that this person could bring forward all sorts of rationalisations to deflect Oliphants argument.

      I suspect a similar sort of arguments can (and have) been made against Christianity, showing it to be internally inconsistent (the various problems of evil, and arguments showing the inconsistency of the various divine attributes come to mind), and the mental gymnastics that Christians seem to go through in order to deflect these arguments appear to me to be similar to the rationalisations a Muslim would need to produce in order to save their own beliefs.

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    10. Any worldview can make rationalizations when faced with the claims that it is self defeating. You can look at this conversation from my perspective and see it all over the place on the atheist's side of things.

      But there is a difference between what a superficial view of a belief takes as inconsistent and what is actually self-defeating. Oliphint actually addresses what you bring up above. I really would get the book if I were you, if you really want to know what he says.

      One of the things he mentions in the book, and I agree with him, is that an apologetic cannot be measured by whether it persuades someone, but rather by whether it stands up logically. People are hardly every persuaded by this or that argument, but that is more to do with the bond and investment we have in our ultimate beliefs. They're not just ideas. They're who we are. As such, a Muslim may be fine with such contradiction. So will an atheist be. The point he makes is just that Christianity cannot be taken down in the same way. A self defeater cannot be worked out as issues that seem to conflict at first in Christianity can be. The problem is that not many people move beyond the superficial understanding of what they critique. I'm sure I've done the same before. That's just who we are as humans, and why I believe every man is reliant upon God's decision to change his mind through the truth.

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    11. You can look at this conversation from my perspective and see it all over the place on the atheist's side of things.
      And vice versa :-)

      The point he makes is just that Christianity cannot be taken down in the same way.
      Which is a point the Muslim would make as well.

      A self defeater cannot be worked out as issues that seem to conflict at first in Christianity can be.
      I think you're saying that upon examination Christianity's conflicts are not fatal?
      Couldn't this just be seen as rationalisation?

      I'm sure I've done the same before
      You appear to be doing it with the (other) atheists on this very thread :-)


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    12. "Which is a point the Muslim would make as well."

      But he wouldn't be able to support it.

      "I think you're saying that upon examination Christianity's conflicts are not fatal?
      Couldn't this just be seen as rationalisation?"

      It could be, but I think logic decides. I've been a Christian for a long time and have yet to see a genuine defeater. There is plenty people can cite that they don't like or think is inconsistent with their view of what God should be like, but I don't see anything at its base that would cancel itself out.

      "You appear to be doing it with the (other) atheists on this very thread :-)"

      I actually left this comment to test to see what kind of person you are. Unfortunately, you went in for the kill rather than acknowledge your own inclination to do the same. Too bad. I don't have any more time for such "conversations." Good day.

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    13. But he wouldn't be able to support it.
      I'm sure he would not agree.

      It could be, but I think logic decides. I've been a Christian for a long time and have yet to see a genuine defeater. There is plenty people can cite that they don't like or think is inconsistent with their view of what God should be like, but I don't see anything at its base that would cancel itself out.
      I tend to agree, yet we have differing views of what the logical arguments show :-)

      Unfortunately, you went in for the kill rather than acknowledge your own inclination to do the same.
      I know that I have done and continue to argue from an outside/more superficial view of other sets of beliefs. It's why I have been trying to understand where you're coming from.
      Pointing out that you don't seem to be showing an understanding of the points the other atheists on this thread are making wasn't "going for the kill" or refusing to acknowledge my own shortcomings. And it wasn't to say that they or I completely understand your position.

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  39. B.C.

    Note that my answers quoted you verbatim. You sent from how do you know that your reason and senses are reliable, to how do I know that I haveknowledge, both of which were incoherent questions. I also answered other "questions" you had. Nothing self-defeating about my worldview. Now you added stuff. It's moving the goal posts game.

    How you know that your senses are reliable in determining the nature of reality as A(-B) versus A(+B).

    You never asked this. I checked, and not there. My answer is obvious. Since B is defined as something outside of sensory experience, I know for a fact that if there was a B, it would be out of such experience. However, I see no reason to worry about my senses not being able to show me that such B is real. "Faith" might be all right for you, but your faith is indistinguishable from anybody else's faith, and indistinguishable from mere imagination. Therefore I could not care less if my senses allow me to perceive what you take on faith or not. B is entirely your problem, and my ignoring it is far from being self-defeating. My worldview does not depend on "knowing" or in "worrying" about scenarios that look like mere imagination. My worldview would not suffer one bit if a B existed either. I don't say there's no Bs, or Cs, or Ds, or Gs. All I say is that it's your problem, not mine. Now, your very particular B demands too much myth to be taken at face value. Too many contradictory claims, and a flat out, in-your-face, lie (that I know that it's true). It is therefore false. Other Bs and Cs ... might be there, but, again, I see no reason to care. Nothing self-defeating there.

    You're conflating that we have knowledge versus how we justify having it.

    You do see that this is a different question to the ones above, don't you? What do you mean by "justify"? If you mean how is it possible to have knowledge, it's a long explanation. As short as possible: We can have knowledge because there's existence, and because we are conscious (we perceive such existence). Very short summary. But that's the main ingredients. Nothing self-refuting there.

    Which means we must have knowledge, but since the only way that such is possible is to have it grounded in revelation from an omniscient Being, God must exist. Thanks for proving my argument for me.

    You do note the many steps and unwarranted assumptions between my statements and your conclusion, don't you? If your worldview allows for this nonsense, then it is you who is proving that your worldview is nonsensical. So much for something that's revealed by an omnipotent god to you.

    Anyway, care to prove that the only way to have knowledge is trough your god? No tricks though. Mere assertions are mere assertions. You said so yourself.

    Nope, you just didn't get the question. I believe knowledge is possible because God exists and has related revelation to us to ground our knowledge.

    I know that's what you believe. That does not mean that you don't think that you have an answer for an incoherent question.

    You don't have an epistemology that is reliant upon that,

    Neither do you. You just imagine that your epistemology relies on that.

    but rather on the incoherent and self defeating idea that you can obtain it through empirical experience and reason.

    Which, curiously, you can't defeat, and more curiously is exactly what you used to learn to imagine that you obtain knowledge through revelation.

    So I was never arguing that knowledge is impossible for me to justify.

    Of course not. You keep saying that you have an answer to those incoherent questions.

    I've been arguing that it is impossible for you to justify.

    But failed miserably in making such a point other than by thinking that your incoherent questions hurt my worldview.

    ...

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    1. "Every attempt you've made to paint me as caricaturing your position is shown to be false by this statement alone. You can check out reality? With what? How do you know that reality consists of A(-B) versus A(+B), where B is not accessible to your experience?"

      That was what I actually said versus what you wanted me to say. That's also clear from the context of the entire discussion. I've clarified those referents for you numerous times. This may be why the bulk of atheists come from scientists and not literary critics, as your reading skills are atrocious.

      So compare this statement: "How you know that your senses are reliable in determining the nature of reality as A(-B) versus A(+B)?" with the one above. I asked the question over and over again. You just never read it right. So the goalposts are where they have always been.

      "My answer is obvious. Since B is defined as something outside of sensory experience, I know for a fact that if there was a B, it would be out of such experience. However, I see no reason to worry about my senses not being able to show me that such B is real."

      Right, so you have to assume that naturalism is true and therefore it's not relevant to worry about B. If Christianity is true, then you should worry about it, right? Or do you think that your ignoring your Maker, who you have been made to worship, sinning against Him, and burning in hell for all eternity is not relevant to you? Do you understand why it might be important if you did not assume that A is A(-B) versus A(+B)? So you have to assume the B no matter what. You cannot escape it.

      That also means that if you don't know the B, then you can never know the true nature of A, which means you don't really know reality. If you don't really know reality, then you're living in imagination and delusion. Is that important to you and your view of knowledge?

      And your epistemology relies on the idea that what is real (or what is important or factual about reality) can be discovered with it. Yet, naturalism would have to be true in order for that epistemology to be true. But you cannot know if naturalism is true and thereby confirm your epistemology, which now must be considered a method based upon the imaginary. Hence, it remains self-defeating.

      "Now, your very particular B demands too much myth to be taken at face value. Too many contradictory claims, and a flat out, in-your-face, lie (that I know that it's true). It is therefore false. Other Bs and Cs ... might be there, but, again, I see no reason to care. Nothing self-defeating there."

      Which you can conclude only when you assume your worldview and then read the Bible like a third-grader.

      "We can have knowledge because there's existence, and because we are conscious (we perceive such existence)."

      But you cannot identify it without a worldview. That's why your very definition of existence and perception are bound to a naturalistic worldview.

      "Nothing self-refuting there."

      Except that you have to know reality in order to know that you know it. LOL.

      "Which, curiously, you can't defeat, and more curiously is exactly what you used to learn to imagine that you obtain knowledge through revelation."

      Again, I've refuted you many times. You're just like the guy whose head has been cut off but it still stays there and he thinks he's fine. You're equivocating again. I'm discussing knowledge in terms of the nature of reality, i.e., a metaphysic. You're discussing knowledge in general. Now, I do think that knowledge in general needs God to exist, but that is not what I was mainly arguing here.

      OK, well, I'm done trying to explain it to you, since you have no capacity to understand what I'm saying. You think you do, but you don't, and that's evident from your line of reasoning. I have better things to do than waste my time on this. So feel free to restate your position again and again, even though I sunk it like fifty comments ago.

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    2. Hi BC,

      Before I go:

      If Christianity is true, then you should worry about it, right?

      If Christianity could possibly be true, then I should worry. But, since I know that there's many Christianities, and that all of them are contradictory (within and without), I truly don't need to worry about those Bs and Cs. You don't seem too worried about the many other gods, like Allah, who also demand worshipping, and so on. It's impossible to be "safe" from those fantasy characters. All of them demand exclusivity, so worshiping all of them is not safe either.

      Fortunately, all of them are as pathetically absurd as yours. But if they weren't, there would be no safety. So why worry?

      Be well.

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    3. One last thing just to address this.

      I actually have worried about other religions before. The only reason I am not worried about them is because I believe in a revelation that contradicts them. So I negate them with that knowledge. If I didn't have that, I really should be worried about everything, not knowing what might be true. So I don't dismiss them the same way you dismiss Christianity. And, of course, those objections are for completely different conversations than the one we've had here.

      Take care.

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    4. The only reason I am not worried about them is because I believe in a revelation that contradicts them. So I negate them with that knowledge
      I understand that your belief in the truth of (your variant of) Christianity insulates you from worrying about the truth of some other set of religious beliefs (including other Christianities).
      What I don't quite get (and I think the other atheists on this post have been trying to point out) is how you can call that particular set of beliefs "knowledge".

      If I didn't have that, I really should be worried about everything, not knowing what might be true.
      I would argue that being in this state is far more realistic and humble - but that's just me :-)

      So I don't dismiss them the same way you dismiss Christianity.
      True.

      And, of course, those objections are for completely different conversations than the one we've had here.
      I wouldn't say completely different ;-)

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  40. You assume information that you don't have in your system and cannot obtain in your epistemology.

    I don't assume anything. Reality was upon me in the very same way if was upon you. Only you deny it. I don't. If I break my leg I don't go around thinking that before I can trust that what I feel is pain I have to have faith in some imaginary being that I have pain, and then accept the fact. The fact is the fact. Existence exists. Since you can't prove otherwise, all you have is your imaginary problems matched to your imaginary solutions, all the while having learned everything exactly the way you deem to be self-defeating. Feel free to demonstrate though, that you did not use your senses and reason to learn those lines of rhetoric of yours.

    You can do some things with A, but you can't determine the reality of A

    Your worldview does not escape this incoherent problem. All you did was to imagine that some being gives you reassurance that A is real. Instead of solving a problem that only you have, you have moved it a few steps farther into using something you are farther from being able to prove in order to prove what you already had, which is the reality of A. But the very question about the reality of A is incoherent. If A was not real we could not possibly have this conversation. You would not be able to imagine and pose your incoherent questions. Therefore, again, your questions are self-refuting. Therefore you have not devastated my worldview. Existence is axiomatic, and any attempt at showing otherwise is self-refuting. Incoherent. My worldview, again, does not require me to answer incoherent questions. Yours depends on it (yours is an almost perfect parasitic meme, a viscous circle). Mine doesn't.

    but since you don't have to answer the objection, you're free to fly like a fairy through fantasy land unhindered.

    Says the guy whose worldview hinges on a fantasyland that holds to a necessity to answer incoherent questions.

    Because you have to know that A is not A(+B) or A(-B) in order to know A.

    Well, no. In order to know A all I need to know is A.

    If your knowledge is partial and you assemble a view of reality and epistemology based upon that,

    Ha. The irony. I guess you think that imagining that some imaginary character is all-knowing, and allows you a partial view regardless, solves this "problem." How ridiculous.

    you have no way of knowing whether your view of reality is true, and hence, you can never know anything.

    You are mistaking true for complete. Of course I have ways of knowing if my view of reality is true. It all depends on what we are talking about, as I demonstrated previously. And of course not knowing everything does not mean that I can't know anything. A non-sequitur that belongs in your worldview. I can see how that makes it an even better parasite of your mind: "you need all-knowledge to know, therefore this all-knowing god who contradicts this claim in its myths is true!" Again. That's your problem. Your worldview. Not mine.

    ...

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  41. the very method through which you seek to know cannot be confirmed and known.

    Of course it can. Can you show that there's no existence? Can you prove that there's no consciousness?

    That is self-defeating.

    It would be if the obvious needed confirmation. Since just asking for confirmation requires them, asking for confirmation is incoherent.

    If I must know A(-B) from an epistemology that can only access physical components of A, then I cannot know if A is A(-B) or A(+B),

    Yet, my worldview does not demand that I should know if there's A(-B) or A(+B). I don't care one bit. Your worldview, as the parasite it is, demands that, but mine doesn't. Yours gives you the false impression that you indeed know. But you admitted to take it on faith. Therefore you can't know if it;s A(+B), or A(-B). You just imagine that it's A(+quite-an-incoherent-B). Your problem. Not mine.

    and yet, my epistemology functions off of the idea that reality can be known by knowing A. Hence, since I cannot know the true nature of A,

    Depends on what is meant by "the true nature of A." For example, Christians as much as atheists must have been surprised to learn that atoms are mostly empty space. You did not know that by just being a Christian, therefore you did not know "the true nature of A." We might still be far from that, and no revelations have come to help. It's been investigating and investigating. That does not make what we knew before false. That just makes our knowledge on the side of things deeper.

    but I need to know the true nature of A in order for my epistemology to be valid,

    Again, that might be so in your worldview. In mine I just have to understand the difference between depth of knowledge, partial knowledge, and complete knowledge, for example. To distinguish true from complete, etc. I just have to understand how knowledge is possible, not make up definitions to accommodate for imaginary beings.

    I have to reject my way of knowing/my epistemology in order to verify my epistemology,

    That's absolute nonsense.

    but that means that I acquired knowledge with a different epistemology that my other epistemology has already concluded is invalid.

    Again, your worldview is a parasite. It forces you to think in such nonsensical ways in order to keep you trapped.

    Your problems are LEGION. Do you not see it?

    I see your problems. Not one of them is mine.

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  42. You're making an inference from past experience, but there is nothing to say that, at this moment, you have not achieved all knowledge

    Nope. I'm just saying that I don't know everything. I know so, and I am absolutely sure. It's self-evident. Since you can't prove otherwise, and since trying would confirm that I don't know everything, there's right there a piece of knowledge. No ghosts necessary.

    If everytihng that is grounded in faith is imagination then everything is imagination, including everything you believe.

    Well, you will have quite a hard time trying to prove that existence does not exist, or that it's self evident (any attempt would have to rely on this axiom). It's even nicer that you can't deny it without denying your worldview.

    That you call revelation "imagination" just displays how indoctrinated into a naturalistic worldview you really are.

    Nope. It's the logical conclusion from your own description f the process.

    In my worldview, your metaphysic and self-defeating epistemology is the fantasy, and mine reality.

    Of course you see it that way. That's because you think that those "problems" that your worldview depends on are real. You don't notice that instead of solving those problems you indulge in "solutions" that are actually suffering from such problems. You are unable to understand that your problems are yours, not mine. But in order for my worldview to be self-refuting, it would have to collapse on itself. On it's own claims and demands. Not on the demands of some worldview that tells you that fantasies are real answers.

    Since we are now going in circles. I hope those thinkers you're talking about can understand what we both wrote and make their own minds.

    I'm off. A conference awaits.

    Ciao.

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  43. One last thing and I'm off.

    "Of course it can. Can you show that there's no existence? Can you prove that there's no consciousness?"

    The question isn't whether we can know that existence and consciousness exist, but whether our knowledge of the nature of reality, whether A(-B) or A(+B), can be confirmed by such without first assuming a worldview. Merely trying to argue that we know something has nothing to do with how we really know it, nor does it have to do with my primary argument which deals with how we know what metaphysic is true.

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    1. B.C. I don't think you are grasping what Photo is trying to say regarding your A(-B) or A(+B) being the nature of reality.

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    2. Rian, I don't think you are grasping what I am saying to Photo regarding my A(-B) or A(+B) being the nature of reality.

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    3. I think you're saying that because on Photo's view, he is unable to distinguish between A(-B) and A(+B) he is in no position to assert A(-B) (which I assume you're equating with Naturalism?)

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    4. Or maybe you're saying that to make a decision between the two choices Photo has to have already decided on a metaphysic that rules one of the options out?

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