Panel Discussion of Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell

On January 28, the C.S. Lewis Society hosted a panel at Tampa, Florida, to discuss Stephen Meyer’s new book Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design. The audio from that discussion is now available on the Society website. Download it here.

On the panel was the book’s author Meyer, mathematician and popular author David Berlinski, and apologist and professor of theology Tom Woodward. Radio host Michael Medved chaired the exchange. The discussion lasts for over two hours and explores the evidence for  intelligent design and Meyer’s central claim that the information in DNA demonstrates a designing intelligence behind the origin of life.

Stephen Meyer’s book is available on Amazon.

Here are some of the book’s endorsements:

Signature in the Cell delivers a superb overview of the surprising and exciting developments that led to our modern understanding of DNA, and its role in cells.   Meyer tells the story in a most engaging way.  He retained my interest through many areas that would normally have turned me off.  He is careful to credit new ideas and discoveries to their originators, even when he disagrees with the uses to which they have been put.  The central idea of the book is that the best explanation of the information coded in DNA is that it resulted from intelligent design.  Meyer has marshaled a formidable array of evidence from fields as diverse as biochemistry, philosophy and information theory.  He deals fairly and thoroughly with even the most controversial aspects and has made a compelling case for his conclusion.  The book is a delightful read which will bring enlightenment and enjoyment to every open minded reader.
—Dr. John C. Walton, School of Chemistry, University of St. Andrews

Signature in the Cell is the quintessential work on DNA and its implications for intelligent design.
Greg Koukl, host of Stand To Reason

How does an intelligent person become a proponent of intelligent design? Anyone who stereotypes IDers as antiscientific ideologues or fundamentalists should read Dr. Meyer’s compelling intellectual memoir. Meyer as a student became fascinated with the ‘DNA enigma’—how the information to produce life originated—and at considerable risk to his career hasn’t given up trying to solve the mystery. Meyer shows how step-by-step he concluded that intelligent design is the most likely explanation of how the DNA code came to be, but he’s open to new evidence—and in so doing he challenges defenders of undirected evolution to have the courage to explore new alternatives as well.
— Dr. Marvin Olasky, provost, The King’s College, New York City, and editor-in-chief, World

In this engaging narrative, Meyer demonstrates what I as a chemist have long suspected: undirected chemical processes cannot produce the exquisite complexity of the living cell. Meyer also shows something else: there is compelling positive evidence for intelligent design in the digital code stored in the cell’s DNA. A decisive case based upon breathtaking and cutting-edge science.
Dr. Philip S. Skell, National Academy of Sciences and Evan Pugh Professor at Pennsylvania State University, emeritus

(HT: Brian)

29 replies
  1. Other Simon
    Other Simon says:

    I have a lot of time for Meyer, I really like him. At around 1:17 he gives his answer to the question “Who designed the designer”. He essentially states that ~”the ability to ask further questions as to your knowledge does not negate the validity of your explanation of that knowledge in the first place” In other words he’s saying, sure, “who designed the designer” is a legitimate question, but it does not invalidate the designer (the explanation to “where did everything come from”) as an explanation.

    I commend him in steering away from this “god is self-extant” nonsense. Good on him for recognising the question as valid.

  2. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    I do like Meyer’s answer, but I like Belinski’s added point particularly:

    “If one argues the universe had to have an explanation – an origin – and one rejects the hypothesis of a deity on the grounds that it too requires an explanation, then by force of logic, either there is no answer to the question or that the universe itself must be its own explanation. That is we accept the universe as a given just a theologian would accept the existence of God as a given. The trouble with that dialectical position is that if it refined analytically it becomes glaring unacceptable, because in order for that to become persuasive the characteristics traditionally applied to the deity would have to be applied to the universe itself, among them are necessity [self-existence]. (And this was the hope of very many serious physicists in the 1970’s and 1980’s, Stephen Lynberg for example… The laws of the universe are unique, and that is why the universe exists – but it doesn’t appear to be truthful. So there is a real balancing point where the theological argument, although it looks as though its irrefutable in terms of the ultimate candidates for explanations, it may be preferable to the physical arguments.”

    So either God is self-existent or the universe is. But the universe doesn’t appear to be self-existent. So God, as an explanation, is preferable.

  3. Other Simon
    Other Simon says:

    Yes, I agree with his statement, too. As you know I tend towards thinking that questions regarding the universe as a whole are invalid so, for me, I tend towards thinking that there is no answer to the question.

    The glaring difference, I think, is that the universe exists. That is obvious.

  4. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Other Simon,

    You’re previous statements were different to the above statement, quoted here…

    As you know I tend towards thinking that questions regarding the universe as a whole are invalid…

    You previously said that questions regarding the universe as a whole are necessarily self-contradictory. What do you mean by this precisely?

    And what precisely do you mean by “the universe as a whole”? Is not this wording a bit redundant – the universe is the whole.

    And why is it that questions regarding the whole universe can be regarded as invalid (or necessarily contradictory?) questions without answers, but that question such as “Who made God?” cannot be regarded in like manner?

  5. Other Simon
    Other Simon says:

    “The universe as a whole” – No I do mean to say this. Try to get rid of the ‘redundancy’ and you’ll see why.

    And why is it that questions regarding the whole universe can be regarded as invalid (or necessarily contradictory?) questions without answers, but that question such as “Who made God?” cannot be regarded in like manner?

    By definition of the universe. Certainly – and I have granted you this before – that if you just define god as self-extant (or necessary or whatever) then, yes, surprise, surprise, god ends up self-extant! Wow! Magic!
    It is intuitively obvious that by ‘universe’ we mean everything. EVERYTHING! Including questions about the universe; and contradictions and circularity necessarily result.
    I’d agree, god can be viewed in a similar manner to the universe. But so can the invisible carrot-eating monkeys behind quantum indeterminancy.

    Succinctly: Oweing to the intuitive concept ‘universe’ – specifically the attribute that it contains everything – one can always make any statement about it into a circular-nonsense-loop. There is every reason to think that the concept ‘universe’ is…..well, real. Not so for god (to some it may be, but not to all like ‘universe’).

  6. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Other Simon,

    Clarifications are meant to make things more clear, not more obscure.

    You did clarify however what you mean by “universe” is “everything.” I would further clarify “universe” as “everything natural.” Now it seems to me that your phrase “universe as a whole” means “all of everything natural.” Is that right?

    You say regarding questions about the universe you say…

    contradictions and circularity necessarily result.

    Is that logically necessary? Why is it that circularity is permitted when reasoning about the whole universe? How is it that self-contradiction is acceptable when talking about whole universe, when for everything else its shows the proposition to be necessarily false?

  7. Other Simon
    Other Simon says:

    Obviously I don’t believe in non-natural things. I also believe that anything that does exist is natural. If a god were to exist then it would be a part of the universe. So, NO, I do not consider the universe to be “everything natural”. The universe means just “everything”.
    You may believe that there are things beyond the universe, but this position makes a mockery of the term ‘universe’. In fact, this position is self-contradictory.

    I would not say that it is acceptable for reasoning about the universe as a whole to be circular and self-contradictory. I would say that it is not acceptable to reason about the universe as a whole period! Including, ultimately, the previous sentence. This is really just an observation about what seems to resault when we try to make objective statements about the universe as a whole.

  8. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Other Simon,

    Obviously I don’t believe in non-natural things.

    Ok. That’s your belief. Why is it rational?

    I also believe that anything that does exist is natural.

    Ok, that follows from the first.

    If a god were to exist then it would be a part of the universe.

    If God exists then this being is one particular thing in the whole set of everything – yes. If God exists then this being is one particular natural thing in the universe (the everything) – no. This is obviously a non-standard definition. Rather than arguing against God’s existence you are merely defining God out of existence.

    So, NO, I do not consider the universe to be “everything natural”. The universe means just “everything”.

    The a priori assumption is nothing non-natural exists.

    You may believe that there are things beyond the universe, but this position makes a mockery of the term ‘universe’. In fact, this position is self-contradictory.

    If the position is self-contradictory then one wonders why the universe defined as “everything that exists.” On the definition that is not worthy of a three year old it is not self-contradictory.

    I would not say that it is acceptable for reasoning about the universe as a whole to be circular and self-contradictory. I would say that it is not acceptable to reason about the universe as a whole period! Including, ultimately, the previous sentence.

    Lets simplify;
    (1) It is not acceptable for reasoning about the universe to be circular and self-contradictory.
    (2) It is not acceptable to reason about the universe period!
    (3) Including, ultimately, step 2.

    Other Simon! Step 3 admits it contradicts Step 2. This admission contradicts Step 1.

    This is really just an observation about what seems to resault when we try to make objective statements about the universe as a whole.

    The observation only arises because of poor definitions and an a priori commitment to naturalism. Rid yourself of these and you might have less trouble with reasoning about the universe.

  9. Other Simon
    Other Simon says:

    The a priori assumption is nothing non-natural exists.

    No Stuart. Not only is this a posteriori (not a priori), it is not even an assumption. That nothing non-natural exists is empirical and an observation.

    If the position is self-contradictory then one wonders why the universe defined as “everything that exists.” On the definition that is not worthy of a three year old it is not self-contradictory.
    “I would further clarify “universe” as “everything natural.

    No idea what you’re on about. You keep looking for things outside the universe. Let me know when you find somrthing. You never know…..

    Other Simon! Step 3 admits it contradicts Step 2. This admission contradicts Step….

    It’s not that I’m saying that it is “not acceptable” for logic about the universe as a whole to be circular. I’m just saying that I wouldn’t accept circularity as good logic. But logic breaks down when it tries to handle the object “the universe” because “the universe” necessarily supervenes on logic.

    The observation only arises because of poor definitions and an a priori commitment to naturalism. Rid yourself of these and you might have less trouble with reasoning about the universe.

    My commitment to naturalism is empirical and inductive. It could change at any moment, although – inductively – it seems unlikely.
    I’m doing fine thanks. It’s you that holds the contradictory position that there are tings outside the universe.

  10. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Other Simon

    No Stuart. Not only is this a posteriori (not a priori), it is not even an assumption. That nothing non-natural exists is empirical and an observation.

    How is it you can see and observe things that are by nature invisible? I understand that for something to be empirical you have to be able to determine it exists with at least one of your five senses. Thus you can empirically determine if God exists, but not empirically determine if God does not exist.

    But logic breaks down when it tries to handle the object “the universe” because “the universe” necessarily supervenes on logic.

    Is that “necessarily” logically necessary? You clearly don’t appreciate that logic is in itself a second order discipline – metaphysical and not bound by physical constraints.

    It’s you that holds the contradictory position that there are tings outside the universe. [sic]

    Lets say beyond the universe. And yes I do hold this. And no it is not self-contradictory. It would be self-contradictory if by the “universe” you mean simply “everything.” But this primary school definition is not permissible here if intelligent conversation is going to take place. If by “universe” one means “everything natural,” or as my dictionary defines it “all existing matter and space considered as a whole; the cosmos,” or as I have defined it elsewhere “all matter and energy, space and time,” then it is not a self-contradictory position to hold that there are things that are beyond the universe, i.e. that are not-natural.

    It seems your argument is this;
    (1) I have not seen or observed anything beyond nature (i.e. God)
    (3) Therefore, there is nothing beyond nature.

    Its obvious that there is a missing premise here. In order to legitimately infer (3) you need to insert the premise (2`), “What we do not see or observe does not exist.” This is obviously false. A more moderate premise would be (2“), “What we do not see or observe may not actually be there.” This is obviously true. But that will not give you the naturalism of (3). Your a posteriori belief is an illogical deduction, and so must be, if held, an a priori assumption.

  11. Other Simon
    Other Simon says:

    How is it you can see and observe things that are by nature invisible? I understand that for something to be empirical you have to be able to determine it exists with at least one of your five senses. Thus you can empirically determine if God exists, but not empirically determine if God does not exist.

    By this logic we should both take the toothfairy, Thor and water-divining seriously.

    Is that “necessarily” logically necessary? You clearly don’t appreciate that logic is in itself a second order discipline – metaphysical and not bound by physical constraints.

    This is not ‘necessary’, as you seem to be obsessed with; it is an observation. Welcome to the realm of actual knowledge, as opposed to the logic that you think is knowledge.

    If you can show me some logic without anything physical/natural, then sure. You can’t.

    ……

    Okay, so clearly you believe in a beyond-the-universe ‘place’ where the causality of our universe does not extend to (for if it did then that ‘place’ would merely be a part of the universe)

    What we do not see or observe does not exist.” This is obviously false.

    Let’s say that “What we cannot see or observe does not exist.” This is an a posteriori conclusion based on the myriad of absurd and false things that people convince themselves exist when they are given enough leash to hang themselves. What leash? The leash which claims that there is more that exists than what we can see, and that you don’t have to be able to objectively demonstrate the validity of your beliefs. Your beliefs, Stuart, are so far from being able to be demonstrated that you have had to banish yourself from the realm of empiricism and objective observation.

    Besides, by holding that there are things that exist that cannot be seen you are going against your own position; that there is a god who we can ‘see’.

  12. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Other Simon,

    I’m frustrated at all the falsehood you irrevocably hold to.

    Stuart: How is it you can see and observe things that are by nature invisible? I understand that for something to be empirical you have to be able to determine it exists with at least one of your five senses. Thus you can empirically determine if God exists, but not empirically determine if God does not exist.

    Other Simon: By this logic we should both take the toothfairy, Thor and water-divining seriously.

    First, what in my statement do you actually find fault with?
    Second, you haven’t actually disputed the logic in my statement, but just noted that (in your opinion) the results of such reasoning is onerous to your sensibilities. Well… so be it!
    Third, that is not the result of such reasoning. By this logic we should take such entities as the Toothfairy and Thor to be unverifiable by empirical means. But there is more than one way to slice a chicken: empirical means are not all that is available to to us.
    Fourth, I’m quite happy to take such entities seriously if there are some good reasons to believe such entities exist. As there are none, I am not under this obligation.

    Other Simon: But logic breaks down when it tries to handle the object “the universe” because “the universe” necessarily supervenes on logic.

    Stuart: Is that “necessarily” logically necessary? You clearly don’t appreciate that logic is in itself a second order discipline – metaphysical and not bound by physical constraints.

    Other Simon: This is not ‘necessary’, as you seem to be obsessed with; it is an observation. Welcome to the realm of actual knowledge, as opposed to the logic that you think is knowledge.

    You are the one who wrote “necessarily.” I was asking for clarification.

    If you can show me some logic without anything physical/natural, then sure. You can’t.

    If I can’t, you can’t. So I find it surprising you can observe a truth which is necessary, n.b. “the universe” necessarily supervenes on logic”
    But indeed your challenge is easy as logic is a second order discipline. How about the laws of logic, such as A does not equal non-A in the same situation. This is easily demonstrated with abstract objects, not that it needs demonstration. Mathematics is another example, such as 1 + 1 = 2.

    Okay, so clearly you believe in a beyond-the-universe ‘place’ where the causality of our universe does not extend to (for if it did then that ‘place’ would merely be a part of the universe)

    There are two claims here. The first (I believe in a beyond-the-universe ‘place’), is clumsy wording, but a tentative yes. More precisely, I believe that all in the universe is not all there is. The second, (where the causality of our universe does not extend to) I’m not sure what is meant by this, but I am pretty sure I made no such claim.

    Let’s say that “What we cannot see or observe does not exist.” This is an a posteriori conclusion based on the myriad of absurd and false things that people convince themselves exist when they are given enough leash to hang themselves. What leash? The leash which claims that there is more that exists than what we can see, and that you don’t have to be able to objectively demonstrate the validity of your beliefs. Your beliefs, Stuart, are so far from being able to be demonstrated that you have had to banish yourself from the realm of empiricism and objective observation.

    “What we cannot see or observe does not exist.” Lets call this claim (2“`). This claim is roughly equivalent to the (2`) hidden premise I spoke of earlier. It also is false. It is obviously false. One should not need to argue with examples. Though its insulting to your intelligence I will cite some because you actually make this claim and think it true; first 2 scientific examples, then 3 more of a philosophical flavor.

    Exhibit A;
    We cannot see or observe atoms (they are inferred indirectly). According to the claim (2“`) atoms do not exist.

    Exhibit B;
    We cannot see or observe dark matter (it is inferred by indirect means). According to the claim (2“`) dark matter does not exist.

    Exhibit C;
    We cannot observe the memory of another person. Other people do not have memory according to claim (2“`).

    Exhibit D;
    Before the advent of radio and television we could not observe the rain in Spain while in NZ [Spain is on the opposite side of the world to New Zealand]. Therefore, according to claim (2“`) if we were in NZ in or before the early nineteenth century, there was no rain in Spain.

    Exhibit E;
    We cannot observe the principle “What we cannot see or observe does not exist” as true. This principle, according to itself, if true, does not exist.

    Besides, by holding that there are things that exist that cannot be seen you are going against your own position; that there is a god who we can ’see’.

    No inverted commas needed. I do think we can see God. Not on our own – God would need to reveal himself somehow. This is not against my position.

  13. Other Simon
    Other Simon says:

    First, what in my statement do you actually find fault with?

    Actually I think I’ve misread your statement in that I didn’t pick up your focus on things that are by nature invisible. Let’s try this again:

    How is it you can see and observe things that are by nature invisible? I understand that for something to be empirical you have to be able to determine it exists with at least one of your five senses. Thus you can empirically determine if God exists, but not empirically determine if God does not exist.

    1. You do not even believe that god is ‘invisible’; you think that he is observable both in a logical-proof way and in a personal experiential way.

    2. Your last sentence is confused. The first half is relying on god being ‘visible’, and the last half is relying on god being invisible. You can’t do this. Besides, a negative empirical ststement is perfectly valid. It is perfectly valid to make the empirical statement “there are no black swans” or “there is no god” based on NOT seeing them.

    3. There is no point in discussing things which are truly invisible by nature. Unless they are pure fantasy you must have some information about them, in which case they aren’t invisible!

    empirical means are not all that is available to to us.

    I disagree with this and would quite enjoy following an argument through on this topic.

    This is easily demonstrated with abstract objects

    You misunderstand me. There is no such thing as a completely abstract object. Nothing exists without the medium of matter. If, as you claim, logic is not subject to physical constraints then you need to show me some logic without using matter(natural things). But anyway, I am quite confused as to why you asked this question in the first place: You clearly don’t appreciate that logic is in itself a second order discipline – metaphysical and not bound by physical constraints.

    ——–

    I’m not interested in childish play with the words ‘see’ and ‘observe’. We can ‘see’ all those things you mention. Objectively so! God – hah! – plenty claim they can see him, but they all disagree on what they see. How seriously would you take electrons if only 1/5 of the world believed in them? Exactly.

  14. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Other Simon,

    Its difficult to take seriously someone whose best argument that God does not exist is, when it comes down to it, because we can’t see God.

    On the theological issue you raised; God is both visible and invisible. Invisible: God is Spirit. That means several things, but the most important to for purposes here is that God is immaterial or non-physical. That means to the eye he is invisible, and to the touch untouchable.
    God is hidden. God, in his grace, has chosen to veil knowledge about himself, in order that people may freely choose him without undue pressure, such that He is apparent to those who would choose him if they seek him, but not apparent to those to those who would reject Him if they do likewise.

    Visible: But God has revealed himself to us. Incapable of seeing or knowing God ourselves he made nature in a way that speaks of his glory and declares his handiwork; He has spoken his word in scripture so we can hear him; and most importantly he has manifested the fullness of his being in the person of Jesus Christ. There are more ways God reveals himself, such as through the Spirit who can give a personal experience of regeneration and transformation. But that gives you the point.

    So God is empirically discernible – that is, detectable with the five senses – should he chose to be so, but not empirically falsifiable. You are right that one can empirically falsify propositions, such as “there are no black swans.” Just line up all the swans and detect which are black. But God is unlike black swans. The difference is two-fold. One, with black swans we have an expectation of finding swans, of any colour should we look for them, for they are by nature visible and physical. Two, the area of survey in which black swans can be found is relatively small.

    So in order for you to declare with confidence that God does not exist, you not only have to find no empirical evidence for God, but also have to (1) adequately survey the universe for evidence for God existence, and (2) determine somehow the expectation of finding him should he exist.

  15. Other Simon
    Other Simon says:

    Its difficult to take seriously someone whose best argument that God does not exist is, when it comes down to it, because we can’t see God.

    You have well over-stated this (difficult to take seriously). I think you have to resort to these more personal offences because you have nothing; you have no evidence. That we can see (no, not just ‘see’ visually) something is the ONLY real reason to believe in something. And you have absolutely no evidence for god, and so it is YOU who shouldn’t expect to be taken seriously.

    Thus you can empirically determine if God exists, but not empirically determine if God does not exist.

    2. Your last sentence is confused. The first half is relying on god being ‘visible’, and the last half is relying on god being invisible. You can’t do this.

    On the theological issue you raised; God is both visible and invisible. Invisible: God is Spirit. That means several things, but the most important to for purposes here is that God is immaterial or non-physical. That means to the eye he is invisible, and to the touch untouchable

    I don’t know why you go down these paths of explaining things like how god is spirit and immaterial and invisible; when you do, it’s as though you expect to be taken seriously.
    This is not a theological issue. It is an evidentiary matter. I am not going to take seriously something that is purported to be invisible if you look for evidence of its absence, but visible if you look for its presence. I am actually surprised that you sink this low Stuart. This is just bald-faced partiality, but it make sense. Let’s say that I believe in water-divining but no double-blind test shows it to have any merit. My options are to reject water-divining, or claim that it only works when people are looking for positive evidence for it; it only works when people who believe it to be true are doing it. “Knock and the door will exist” Haha!!

    So in order for you to declare with confidence that God does not exist, you not only have to find no empirical evidence for God, but also have to (1) adequately survey the universe for evidence for God existence, and (2) determine somehow the expectation of finding him should he exist.

    Ah, no. This standard of evidence is so low as to be pathetically useless. You have to jump through the same hoops to prove that magic invisible trolls don’t exist.
    This is a classic turning of the tables. It is not up to me to prove that god doesn’t exist. It is up to you to prove that he does, and so far all you have provided is one-sided reasoning worthy only of….well, a blind religious zealot! As always it’s just a case of put up or shut up, Stuart.

  16. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Stuart: So in order for you to declare with confidence that God does not exist, you not only have to find no empirical evidence for God, but also have to (1) adequately survey the universe for evidence for God existence, and (2) determine somehow the expectation of finding him should he exist.

    Other Simon: Ah, no. This standard of evidence is so low as to be pathetically useless. You have to jump through the same hoops to prove that magic invisible trolls don’t exist.
    This is a classic turning of the tables. It is not up to me to prove that god doesn’t exist. It is up to you to prove that he does, and so far all you have provided is one-sided reasoning worthy only of….well, a blind religious zealot! As always it’s just a case of put up or shut up, Stuart.

    You say these criteria are pathetic and useless because by them I cannot disprove the existence of magic invisible trolls. I don’t have to disprove them. I can be merely be agnostic as to their existence, and justifiably sceptical in the absence of any personal experience of magical invisible trolls and/or cogent philosophical proof.

    You say, “It is not up to me to prove that god doesn’t exist.” You are wrong. That is a positive claim to truth, and as such requires some philosophical justification. The question you have to ask yourself is why not agnosticism?

    You say, “It is up to you to prove that he does” and you are right. I have three cosmological arguments, various teleological arguments, the moral argument, the historical evidence that Jesus rose from the dead to which God is the best explanation, a version of the ontological argument, present day miracles, fulfilled biblical prophesy, and more. Add to that my own personal experience of God’s Spirit to which there are no good defeaters and I think I am justified in believing in God’s existence. Together that’s a pretty good cumulative case, and if it makes me a “blind religious zealot” I welcome the title.

  17. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Other Simon,

    I have discerned in your previous comment an argument.

    (1) There is no evidence for God’s existence.
    (3) Therefore God does not exist.

    Again, its obvious your argument is missing a premise. Namely (2) The absence of evidence is evidence of absence. This premise is shown to be false by the two criteria [quoted at the top of this comment]. They show the absence of evidence is inadequate for showing that something does not exist.

    As an example, take the claim “There is no elephant in the quad.” This is easily empirically verified by glancing in the quad and finding an absence of evidence. Say though, that I then said, “The elephant is made of plastic, and is only an inch tall.” Then a glance at the quad will not be adequate to determine if said elephant is not there. You also have to have considered if the area of the quad has been adequately surveyed, as well as the expectation of finding the elephant should it be there.

    In any case, I think the first premise false as well.

  18. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Other Simon,

    This is not a theological issue. It is an evidentiary matter.

    When it comes to talking about God, I sorry but there no way to avoid theology. You are the one who raised the incoherence of God being both visible and invisible. That is not an evidentiary matter. It is a philosophical/theological matter. But this is not an incoherent concept, as God is not visible and invisible at the same time and in the same way. I tried to explain that.

  19. Other Simon
    Other Simon says:

    You say these criteria are pathetic and useless because by them I cannot disprove the existence of magic invisible trolls. I don’t have to disprove them. I can be merely be agnostic as to their existence, and justifiably sceptical in the absence of any personal experience of magical invisible trolls and/or cogent philosophical proof.

    If you don’t have to disprove invisible trolls, why do you claim that I have to dispprove god?

    Is it reasonable to be agnostic about invisible trolls, Stuart? Of course not. No more than it is reasonable to be agnostic about a fanciful being which purposefully evades detection.

    ———-

    “The elephant is made of plastic, and is only an inch tall.

    No, an equivalent situation would be: “The elephant is there, but you can only see it if you believe that it is there. You can’t do impartial objective observations of the elephant because it will evade any such attempts as it demands that you have faith in it to see it. But it really is there! Ah…….it’s logically consistent…..it’s theologically sound……ah….you can’t disprove it, so there!….” lol
    It really is sad I guess that people resort to Grand Consiracy Theory rather than face reality. On the other hand, perhaps it is better for their – and societies’ – health.

    ———-

    When it comes to talking about God, I sorry but there no way to avoid theology…..But this is not an incoherent concept

    Yeah, I guess if you resort to claiming crazy reasons (like god is hiding from impartial observation) for god’s invisibility then theology does come into it, because ‘evasion’ is sellotaped on to his definition.
    You always focus on non-incoherency. This is a terribly low standard, and is not what I am focusing on. I don’t disagree that it might be ‘coherent’ for god to be invisibly-visible, or hallabaloo-la-dak-jack-dandy. Many a concept is coherent. Vampires are coherent given the right framework. But coherency is the minimum requirement for an entity or phenomenon.

    Whether something actually exists depends upon…….evidence. Impartial, objective, repeatable evidence. I and many others will not stand by and let biased and arcane ideas such as yours rot modern epistemology. Your ideas will remain largely ignored until serious evidence is found.

  20. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Other Simon,

    If you don’t have to disprove invisible trolls, why do you claim that I have to dispprove god?

    Because you claim that God does not exist.

    Is it reasonable to be agnostic about invisible trolls, Stuart? Of course not. . .

    More reasonable than being sure invisible trolls do not exist. Having an inability to disprove something is no slight on my philosophy.

    No more than it is reasonable to be agnostic about a fanciful being which purposefully evades detection.

    Only I do have personal experience of God that has no reasonable defeaters, and there are some excellent philosophical and evidentiary arguments for God’s existence besides. I do not have any of those for invisible trolls.

    No, an equivalent situation would be: “The elephant is there, but you can only see it if you believe that it is there. You can’t do impartial objective observations of the elephant because it will evade any such attempts as it demands that you have faith in it to see it. But it really is there! Ah…….it’s logically consistent…..it’s theologically sound……ah….you can’t disprove it, so there!….” lol

    It was an analogy that illustrated the criteria you are missing in your assessment. I was not trying to give an equivalent situation!

    But is that really an equivalent situation? I disagree on more of your “equivalent situation” than just this one point (especially your view of what faith is in relationship to evidence), but the main thing I want to bring out here is this: “you can’t disprove it.” If you mean in principle you can’t disprove God, I think you are wrong. If you mean when it comes right down to it, in practice you can’t disprove God, then I think you are right. If I thought otherwise on this last, I would believe differently wouldn’t I?

    (like god is hiding from impartial observation)

    I didn’t make that claim. I would say rather that God reveals enough of himself to those he knows will freely accept his love and mercy, and is under no obligation to reveal any more of himself to those whom he knows will reject him if he did. God knows the perfect balance between divine hiddeness and revelation of the divine such that the maximal amount of people will freely accept him, the minimal amount of people freely reject him, and that none who reject him do so solely on the basis of lack of evidence, and none who accept him do so solely on the basis of too much evidence forcing them.

    – – – – – – – –

    You always focus on non-incoherency.

    Why don’t you just say coherence? I do focus on this a lot because this is what your are always critiquing. But is not true, I also present positive arguments for God’s existence.

    But coherency is the minimum requirement for an entity or phenomenon.

    I’m glad you said so. I’ll remember you said this so I can quote it back to you next time you allow yourself and your worldview an incoherent concept.

    – – – – – – – –

    Whether something actually exists depends upon…….evidence.

    False. You could make a case for evidence being what is needed to know something exists, but actual existence is not dependant on evidence.

    Whether something actually exists depends upon…….evidence. Impartial, objective, repeatable evidence. I and many others will not stand by and let biased and arcane ideas such as yours rot modern epistemology.

    Illegitimately flip-flopping from ontology to epistemology.

  21. Other Simon
    Other Simon says:

    I didn’t make that claim. I would say rather that God reveals enough of himself to those he knows will freely accept his love and mercy, and is under no obligation to reveal any more of himself to those whom he knows will reject him if he did. God knows the perfect balance between divine hiddeness and revelation of the divine such that the maximal amount of people will freely accept him, the minimal amount of people freely reject him, and that none who reject him do so solely on the basis of lack of evidence, and none who accept him do so solely on the basis of too much evidence forcing them.

    Rather convenient isn’t it. God reveals himself only to those who will accept him. This is called the Confirmation Bias. All pseudo-quackery uses it, because otherwise they’d have to count the misses as well as the hits. And you try to hide your confirmation bias under the name ‘theology’.
    If god came to me, I’d accept him. Why wouldn’t I?! It’d be great to know there is a benevolent being on my side and that for everything there is a purpose.

    False. You could make a case for evidence being what is needed to know something exists, but actual existence is not dependant on evidence.

    Yes, okay, sure. I merely mean that where there is no evidence it is foolish to believe in something, and if it is not foolish to believe in something there is evidence.

  22. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Rather convenient isn’t it. God reveals himself only to those who will accept him.

    Another bastard version of what I actually said, here: God reveals enough of himself to those he knows will freely accept his love and mercy, and is under no obligation to reveal any more of himself to those whom he knows will reject him if he did.

    This was a response to your parenthetical example: “like god is hiding from impartial observation,” which is something I did not say. In fact from the first I have said God can be empirically verified, and evidence for Him can be assessed with impartial (if impartial be possible at all) observation.

    This is called the Confirmation Bias. . . [deletion of thinly veiled insult] And you try to hide your confirmation bias under the name ‘theology’.

    In the process of correcting your bad theology – which is a distortion of my good theology, I was telling you of a possibility that makes things internally consistent. Those things, in this case, were divine hiddeness and evidence for his existence.

    – – – – – – – – – – – –

    I merely mean that where there is no evidence it is foolish to believe in something.

    Of course, I think there is good evidence for God’s existence, so believing in God is not foolish by this axiom. But this axiom is not entirely true. If your trustworthy wife told you she spent the afternoon window shopping, but she of course did not have any evidence of this, it would actually be foolish not to believe it.

    and if it is not foolish to believe in something there is evidence.

    You could instead say “it is wise to believe in something if there is evidence.” Which is not entirely true either.

    (1) Suppose all the evidence points to you committing the murder. There is video footage of you walking into the alley. There are witnesses placing you at the scene of the crime at the approximate time of the murder. There are your fingerprints on the revolver that killed him. There is blood all over your cloths. One person even heard you cursing and yelling angrily over the victim’s body. Yet you knew you did not commit the murder. All the evidence points to you, yet your experience of walking into the alley for a cigarette break, picking us a lost revolver, then discovering a body, kneeling over him to check if he was dead and getting blood all over your clothes, and then realising it was a guy who owed you money and you lost your temper at him, is good reason, at least for you, to disbelieve what all the evidence points to.

    (2) I think of the other thread where the Problem of Evil is mentioned. This problem uses the existence of natural and personal evil in this world, as evidence that God is either not all-good, or not-all powerful, and since he must be both does not exist. But on analysis this is not good evidence – for several reasons. One such reason that I consider it not good evidence is because in order for there to be actual evil, there needs to be an objective standard of goodness which can only be grounded in God. So in order to even form the critique the atheistic objector has to borrow from the resources of theism.

  23. Other Simon
    Other Simon says:

    No. God cannot be impartially verified. If he could, everyone would agree he exists. Belief in god is the furthest thing from impartial; it is always an emotive thing.

    Another bastard version of what I actually said, here: God reveals enough of himself to those he knows will freely accept his love and mercy, and is under no obligation to reveal any more of himself to those whom he knows will reject him if he did.

    Rather convenient isn’t it. God reveals himself only to those who will accept him.

    Sorry, I did not mean to make a thinly veiled insult: Your beliefs are quackery Stuart.

    In the process of correcting your bad theology – which is a distortion of my good theology, I was telling you of a possibility that makes things internally consistent. Those things, in this case, were divine hiddeness and evidence for his existence.

    The move to making things ‘internally consistent’ is just a move to avoid having to have any actual evidence. Rather convenient isn’t it. God reveals himself only to those who will accept him.

    If your trustworthy wife told you she spent the afternoon window shopping, but she of course did not have any evidence of this, it would actually be foolish not to believe it.

    Completely and willfully deceptive. This is nowhere near the situation of ‘god’.

    (1)….

    More completely irrelevant stuff.

    You can’t give any impartially verifiable evidence for god, Stuart. All you have are sad excuses for why god evades detection.

  24. Other Simon
    Other Simon says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4MPz8h9gYY

    I’m going to bow out. I have adequately shown my point. That your beliefs are no more sensible than a water-diviner’s, your excuses for a complete lack of objective evidence no less ridiculous, and your refusal to acknowledge the evidence no less biased and pig-headed.

    Feel free to come at me with actual evidence, Stuart. But without any, don’t expect to be taken any more seriously than those water-diviners.

  25. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    I’m glad you’re bowing out, because I’m tired of answering the same objection over and over… Though the insults are quite amusing.

    (especially when it is I who is accused of reasoning purely on an emotive level.)

  26. Iapetus
    Iapetus says:

    Stuart,

    What happened to the comment function on the “The single most incompetent logical argument ever made” thread?

  27. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    I don’t know how those things work. I suspect a time of inactivity disables the comment function. Jason does the more technical side of things. What I can do if you are willing, is receive an email with a comment or question from you, and I’d perhaps be willing to opening up a new discussion thread.

  28. Iapetus
    Iapetus says:

    I think opening a whole new thread would not be the best solution, since for the purpose of context all relevant, previous comments would have to appear there, too.

    I wanted to post a final comment on said thread; if this is no longer possible, so be it.

Comments are closed.