Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Some Varieties of Disproof


Sometimes, we reject a claim about reality because it doesn’t fit with other claims about which we have better evidence overall.  Your aunt, who has smoked 2 packs of cigarettes a day for 20 years, is diagnosed with lung cancer.  She has a job working in a building where there has been construction that has created a lot of dust over the last several weeks and she insists that it is the dust, not the smoking, that is the cause of the cancer.  Or perhaps she, like millions of Americans, believes in hexes.  And she’s suspicious that her neighbor across the street, with whom she has had a lot of personal friction over many years, has something to do with the cancer.  The hateful thoughts radiating from the house across the street have made her sick, she thinks.  In either case, the evidence we have for the smoking being the cause of her cancer is better, and with some thought and investigation, we could conclude with confidence that the smoking hypothesis is proven, and the other theories are disproven.  Let’s call this Inductive Disproof.

A brief note about proof:  Many people who haven’t reflected on the topic much have the sense that we should reserve the term “proof” only for those cases where we have the most substantial level of deductive certainty.  We can prove, for instance, that 2 + 2 = 4, or that bachelors are unmarried.  But we shouldn’t use the term proof for other matters of less confidence.  Furthermore, their sense is that we should only use “proof” about indefeasible conclusions, claims that we would not change our minds about under any circumstances.  For other matters, like smoking and cancer, the connection between a high calorie diet and obesity, and who won last year’s Superbowl, we should describe the status of our beliefs in some other way. And many of the same people who feel this way about proof have the same impulse about “knowledge.”  We only know those things, they say, that we can prove.  No other less certain matters should be called knowledge. 

For a number of reasons, I think it is a mistake to reserve “proof” for only indefeasibly certain matters.  First, if we raise the bar on “proof” this high, then there remains little or nothing that we know.  On this view, we don’t know that smoking causes cancer, that the sun will rise tomorrow, that the sun rose yesterday, that Obama is the President, that violent crime is on the decline in the United States, that people who have a low fat, high fiber diet with lots of exercise tend to live longer than those without, and so on.  Too many things that we comfortably and normally claim to know must now be described in some other artificial manner.  Second, we can have our cake and eat it too; we can readily acknowledge that there are things we know and that we have proven, but our conclusion is defeasible.  We can say that even though the evidence supports the conclusion overall, we are prepared, under the right circumstances, to change our minds in the light of new information.  We know that the force of gravity, for instance, on the surface of the Earth is 9.8 meters/sec2.  (The extreme proof/knowledge advocate must insist awkwardly and artificially, “No, we don’t really know that, we only have a massive amount of evidence and justification for it.”)  A more natural way to proceed here is to say that we know, and have proven, many things beyond the deductively certain.  But we are always ready to incorporate new evidence into our theories about what is true and change our minds if that becomes warranted.  Third, people who press for the extreme proof/knowledge view are quite vulnerable to the Going Nuclear problem. Fourth, the extreme proof/knowledge view often fall into the Sliding Scale Fallacy.  And fifthly, to make the extreme proof/knowledge advocate happy, we can easily make a distinction that is widely accepted and acknowledged in the sciences between inductive and deductive proof/justification.

Now back to varieties of disproof.  Sometimes we reject a claim because it is internally inconsistent or logically contradictory.  We know that Smith is not a married bachelor for instance, or that a three sided figure labeled ABC is not a square, because married bachelors and three sided squares are logically impossible.  Deductive disproofs of the existence of God in this category have either argued that a single attribute that is typically given to God like omnipotence is impossible, or that some combination of properties like infinitely just and infinitely merciful are mutually inconsistent.  Let’s call these Single Property Deductive Disproof and Multiple Property Deductive Disproof.  There is an an extensive philosophical literature stretching across centuries offering these sorts of disproofs for God.  See: 
  


Sometimes we reject a claim because the concepts that it employs and the model of reality that is embedded in the concepts has become impoverished, bankrupt, useless, or inapt at describing reality.  Consider three theories about a sick person who is exhibiting swollen lymph nodes, gangrene, fever, malaise, and seizures.
  

He might be possessed by evil demons, he might have an imbalance in his four humors—black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood—that could be rectified with leeches, or he might have a bacterial infection of yersenia pestis—Bubonic Plague.  The Bubonic Plague theory along with modern virology in which it is embedded turns out to be far better at recognizing the ailment, treating it, curing it, preventing it, making predicitions, and so on.  If we successfully cure the patient by means of virology and the Bubonic Plague hypothesis, it’s not so much that we have disproven the evil demon possession claim in any deductive or logical sense.  It’s still logically possible that there could be evil demons disguised at the yersenia pestis bacteria in his blood.  But holding onto the evil demon claim and the baggage that comes with it just becomes increasingly useless, and extraneous in our model of reality.  



At some point we leave some ideas behind because they just don’t fit with the rest of what we know about reality.  It strikes me as natural and sensible to say that we know that those symptoms are caused by yersenia pestis now.  We have proven that the illness is caused by the bacteria, and not by evil demons.   Let’s call this sort of case Theoretical Disproof. 

So on this way of carving things up, we have at least fours kinds of disproof:  Inductive Disproof, Single Property Deductive Disproof, Multiple Property Deductive Disproof, and Theoretical Disproof.  There are others, and there are different ways of mapping out the epistemological landscape.  But this will suffice for now. 

As I see it, the God hypothesis, where God is described in the ways that the vast majority of modern believers describe him, fails because of arguments of all four types.  More details about can be found in the over 300 posts on this blog written over the years, in my recent book Atheism and the Case Against Christ, and in the book I’m now working on Atheism:  Proving the Negative.  There are some other accounts of God that escape those four varieties of Atheological Disproof, but those, as far as I can tell, just end up being vaccuous, trivial, or unmotivated—God is love, God is the development of human self-awareness, God is energy, God is reality.

So the challenge for the theist, as I see it, is to first come up with a description of God that is internally, logicall coherent.  It must attribute properties to God that are individually coherent, and that are logically consistent with each other.  And this description must navigate around the broad set of Deductive Atheological arguments that have undermined the God concept.  Furthermore, the description needs to it needs to be sufficiently superlative to warrant the "God" label," and, one would hope, it would have some semblance to the supernatural being that billions of traditional believers have advocated for centuries.  Then the theist reconcile the claim that this being is real with the a posteriori facts as we know them—the theist must deal with the Inductive Disproofs for God.  The theist needs to address the problem of evil, the problem of divine hiddenness, and a host of other serious inductive challenges that have come up over the centuries. 

But even all of that wouldn’t be sufficient to justify theism, as I see it.  We could construct some account of evil demons that is internally logically consistent.  And we could add enough provisos, tweaks, and emendations to the story to accommodate all of the details of modern virology.  Evil demons are clever and sinister, you see, and part of their malevolent deception of us is that they are disguising their activities to look like bacterial infections, cancer, and so on.  How do you know, afterall, that viruses and bacterial infection aren’t just the way that evil demons do us harm?  Like evil demonology, theology has been rendered superfluous and vacuous by the rest of what we have learned about biology, geology, history, psychology, anthropology, astronomy, and cosmology. 

The theist, as I see it, has to do more than sketch out some scheme whereby it might be possible that God employed evolution to create us, for example.  The theist needs to give us some substantial positive evidence for thinking that it is true.  Possible, as I have argued many times, it not probable or reasonable or justified.  

Are we proving the negative yet?   

30 comments:

Bob H said...

Evidence is something that contributes to knowledge of what happened.
Proof is evidence that is sufficient to demonstrate the certainty (or truth) of something.
(Copi 28, Essentials of Logic)
Evidence is something that may lead to proof. It may not.

A posteriori considerations depend on their probability and on their respective explanatory power therefore they are not conclusive evidence
The criteria for judging inductive arguments are guidelines for judging the relative strength of an inductive argument, they generally do not give you grounds for claiming conclusively that an argument is acceptable. (Copi 334)

Matt McCormick said...

Right. Exactly.

clamflats said...

Often discussions I have with Christians over their claimed certainty of knowledge will center on the words "know", "believe", and "trust". I strongly doubt that most Christians believe, have faith in, or trust what they claim is true. I use this thought experiment as an illustration:

You lose control of a car driving down an icy street, the car slams into a tree, crushing the frame, only the passenger door is operable. You are trapped. You are suddenly seized by a tremendous pain in your chest that radiates down the left arm. Still conscious, you recognize that there are just a few minutes to get aid to prevent death. You are relieved as you see two people approaching, the first to get to the car is a man waving a Bible who gets in the passenger seat and urges you to pray with him, citing chapter and verse, Matthew 21:22, "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” You begin to pray. The second person arrives, a women carrying a portable defibrillator. Do you demand that the bible-waver get out of the car and make room for the women? I argue that the person you turn to for aid reveals your knowledge, faith, and trust.

Ron Cram said...

Matt,

Interesting post. I agreed with the paragraph saying "it is a mistake to reserve “proof” for only indefeasibly certain matters." As it turns out, I am currently in the process of writing a booklet titled "Does science prove God exists?"

In the introduction I note that we have two types of courts in the US. One is the criminal court system and one is the civil court system. The instructions to the jury in each court are quite different. A higher level of proof is required to convict a man of a crime than to decide between to litigants in a civil case.

In a criminal court it is "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" and in a civil court it is "preponderance of evidence" or "greater weight of evidence."

It makes perfect sense to me to use preponderance of evidence as the standard when deciding on the existence of God.

By the way, it was the science evidence that convinced atheist philosopher Anthony Flew that God existed.

Ron Cram said...

clamflats,

Interesting story. If I was the man having the heart attack, I would trust the man with the Bible to get out of the way since the answer to his and my prayer had arrived.

Bob H said...

Ron,
Using the search engine at www.infidels.org for Antony Flew gives us a good idea of what Flew’s conversation actually is all about. I am afraid that due to your Christian apologists, you have missed characterized the Flew argument.

Nick Covington:
“All over the Internet, Christian apologists have been ecstatic about "converting" long time atheist Antony Flew to belief in God. Of course, Flew only believes in some vague sort of intelligent creator, and he is still insistent that there is no afterlife and that all so-called revealed religions are false. Nevertheless, Christian Apologists such as Roy Varghese and Lee Strobel are over the moon about Flew's change of heart. Perhaps they think it adds credibility to their beliefs.”

Raymond Bradle”
“On the one hand, you have been persuaded by some of the stuff you've recently read that naturalistic explanations of apparent design in the universe just aren't credible. In particular, you now subscribe to the idea that there are unbridgeable gaps in evolutionary history, gaps such as those alleged to exist between nonliving and living matter. And since, on your view, it is "inordinately difficult" to give a naturalistic explanation of the origins of living organisms, you conclude that only some nonnaturalistic explanation will suffice, i.e., that only the intervention of some sort of supernatural agent, to be called "God," can fill these gaps.”

Bob H said...

Ron,
If you are on trial for murder and a conviction is a death sentence, do you want a "preponderance of evidence”?

Dr. McCormick has characterized the sliding scale fallacy.

If God is the ultimate concern or the infinite reality and through is divine providence is the creator and savior, I want proof beyond reasonable doubt.

Ron Cram said...

Bob,

I have actually read Anthony Flew's new book "There is a God." I know the evidence he is looking at and the preponderance of evidence is on the side of God's existence. I don't think this is well understood yet and that is why I am writing the booklet.

You are correct that Flew did not become a Christian. At the time he and Roy Varghese wrote the book, Flew was a deist. However, Flew did speak very highly of Christianity in the book. I don't have the book in front of me or I would quote a few sentences. I would like to think Flew became a Christian prior to his death but I don't have any evidence of that.

But Flew's book is quite good. He talks about what he used to believe and why he changed his mind.

To answer your question, if I was up for murder I would certainly want the higher standard of proof without reasonable doubt.

Regarding the existence of God - If you understand probability theory as Pascal did - then you would certainly want preponderance of evidence. As I understand it, Matt is also arguing for preponderance of evidence or something roughly equivalent.

Bob H said...


Ron,
Without getting into the mess of Bayes Theorem, Pascal would probably accept the following argument from probability:

Let o be a statement to the effect the cosmos is ordered in a certain way. The conclusion, g, asserts the existence of a creator-god. pr(g|o) > pr(!g|o). The fact that pr(o|g) is high does not necessarily mean that pr(g|o) is high. There is no reason to believe(inverse probability) pr(g) > pr(!g) in fact it would be the other way around. So a priori, it is much more likely that there is no creator.

P(A|B) = P(A given B) = we know B occurred what is the probability that A occurred

The probability of god(g) based on the background information (k), where k is evidence without proof is less that 50% pr(g k) < .5

Ron Cram said...

Bob,

No. Pascal would not accept that argument, especially not in today's world. Pascal was not approving of the deductive arguments for God but he was very supportive of evidences for God. And the number and quality of evidence for God from science is much, much greater than in Pascal's day.

Matt McCormick said...

I'm never quite sure what the point of the name dropping of famous theists, or famous atheists who converted is supposed to accomplish. Is the argument supposed to be something like, "1. If X famous atheist converted, then so should McCormick. 2. Flew converted. 3. therefore, so should McCormick?" It's always possible to find outliers on the curve, of course. Famous Harvard psychiatrist John Mack was convinced that alien abductions of humans were real. Linus Pauling became convinced that mega doses of vitamin C could cure all sorts of ailments. Isaac Newton advocated astrology and alchemy.
But in general, education and intelligence are inversely correlated with religiousness. That is, as intelligence and education go up, religiousness drops off. What matters in science and academics is when an informed, broad based consensus develops in a relevant field of experts. Recent polling of professional philosophers shows the wide majority of them as atheists. The vast majority of the world's best scientists are atheists. So what is the believer supposed to make of this puzzling part of the theist's apologetic playbook?

clamflats said...

Ron Cram - " since the answer to his and my prayer had arrived."

Not quite, per the scenario, the women with the AED was already there. You would have to propose that God "answers" prayers that haven't been prayed yet.

Ian said...

Matt McCormick said:

"But in general, education and intelligence are inversely correlated with religiousness. That is, as intelligence and education go up, religiousness drops off. What matters in science and academics is when an informed, broad based consensus develops in a relevant field of experts. Recent polling of professional philosophers shows the wide majority of them as atheists. The vast majority of the world's best scientists are atheists. So what is the believer supposed to make of this puzzling part of the theist's apologetic playbook?"

But you're talking about people in our modern western world. The prevailing modern western metaphysic shapes our beliefs about the world. Moreover it matters not at all that the wide majority of professional philosophers are atheists, reject a belife in a "life after death", etc. What matters is the arguments they advance to support their positions. And in my experience their arguments almost inevitably attack the weakest concepts of a "god". It is not therefore surprising that they are atheists!

Ian said...

"Furthermore, the description needs to it needs to be sufficiently superlative to warrant the "God" label," and, one would hope, it would have some semblance to the supernatural being that billions of traditional believers have advocated for centuries".

I'm sure you would like that. It's very easy to attack the beliefs of people who have never entertained a philosophical thought in their lives. Somewhat more difficult to attack sophisticated concepts of "God", but which might still be reasonably labelled "God", as advocated by intellectuals.

Ian said...

"A brief note about proof: Many people who haven’t reflected on the topic much have the sense that we should reserve the term “proof” only for those cases where we have the most substantial level of deductive certainty".

Well that's simply what the word "proof" means. So it makes no difference how much we have reflected on the topic (and I have done so a lot).

"And many of the same people who feel this way about proof have the same impulse about “knowledge.” We only know those things, they say, that we can prove. No other less certain matters should be called knowledge".

Indeed many people do. However I don't.

"For a number of reasons, I think it is a mistake to reserve “proof” for only indefeasibly certain matters. First, if we raise the bar on “proof” this high, then there remains little or nothing that we know".

Here you conflate proof and knowledge. Just because we cannot prove something doesn't mean to say we lack knowledge.

Ron Cram said...

Matt,

You wrote:
"'m never quite sure what the point of the name dropping of famous theists, or famous atheists who converted is supposed to accomplish. Is the argument supposed to be something like, "1. If X famous atheist converted, then so should McCormick. 2. Flew converted. 3. therefore, so should McCormick?"

No, that is not the argument. The argument is that Flew knew all of the arguments used here to disprove the existence of God. He fact he helped formulate some of them. But these deductive arguments ultimately failed, just like they always have through history. It took about 20 years for Flew to change his mind, but he made a commitment to follow the evidence wherever it led. Eventually Flew found the evidence from science supporting God's existence more compelling. Therefore McCormick should drop his attempts to prove or disprove God from deductive argument and make a commitment to follow the evidence wherever it leads.

If nothing else, I have the history of philosophy on my side.

Ron Cram said...

clamflats,

Perhaps you missed the part of our discussion here regarding the fact God is not constrained by time.

Ron Cram said...

Matt,
I'll make a few comments interspersed:

"Famous Harvard psychiatrist John Mack was convinced that alien abductions of humans were real."

Sorry. can't comment on this one as I don't know the story.

"Linus Pauling became convinced that mega doses of vitamin C could cure all sorts of ailments."

This is quite true. Our knowledge of science and medicine is increasing all the time. Pauling was on the right track. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and antioxidants have powerful natural healing abilities. Different organs benefit from different types of antioxidants. The antioxidants in green tea are especially good for the lungs. The antioxidants in coffee are especially good for the colon, etc. There are two keys to living a long life - calorie restriction and a high level of antioxidants in your body.

"Isaac Newton advocated astrology and alchemy."

This is also true. I've never understood his attraction to astrology but his interest in alchemy is consistent with the level of scientific knowledge in his day. The truth is that lead and gold are made in the same way, inside stars. In Newton's day, they did not understand the process like we do today.

"But in general, education and intelligence are inversely correlated with religiousness. That is, as intelligence and education go up, religiousness drops off. What matters in science and academics is when an informed, broad based consensus develops in a relevant field of experts. Recent polling of professional philosophers shows the wide majority of them as atheists. The vast majority of the world's best scientists are atheists. So what is the believer supposed to make of this puzzling part of the theist's apologetic playbook?"

Your statements here are not quite correct. The percentage of scientists who believe in God today is roughly the same as 100 years ago. It is true that polling shows the more educated people are, the less likely they are to be religious - but the reason has more to do with our education system than the quality of the evidence. Go to any major university and you are far more likely to find more atheists in the philosophy department than you are in the physics department or the mathematics department.

Regarding the apologists playbook, my guess is that the goal is to get people to agree to look at the evidence. Of course, it is not possible to argue anyone into the kingdom of God. Even if the person is willing to follow the evidence where it leads, as Anthony Flew did, that does not mean the person will bow the knee to the Creator. There is always a choice involved in faith. The apologist's goal (at least my goal) is to let people know it is not unreasonable to believe in God.

Bob H said...

Ron,
I think you are being hypocritical by stating “my goal is to let people know it is not unreasonable to believe in God”, but then try to convert atheist to your belief system and arguing about the preponderance of evidence.
Professor Kirby, who is a secular humanist, thinks theist do have an epistemic right to their beliefs. If we take William James’ ‘Will to Believe”, Richard Taylor on Faith, Wittgenstein’s fideism, Plantinga on reformed epistemology seriously then Christians can not be considered insane.
Instead of arguing about how philosophers have failed to prove the negative, you should be writing a justification of knowledge for Feelings (religious experience), Facts (natural theology) and Faith.

Bob H said...

Ron,
PS: Students of philosophy engage in epistemic discourse in an analytical approach to the writings, for instance, W.K. Clifford “The Ethics of Belief” versus William James “The Will to Believe”.
Apologetics (from the Greek, a defense), which assume the premise “God exists” does not engage in such activity. To reiterate, if you are posting to a philosophers website, you should be more philosophical.

Ron Cram said...

Bob,

There is nothing hypocritical in my stance or actions. My goal is to let people know belief in God is reasonable. In order to convince this, I have two areas of activity. First, I have to show the errors in the deductive arguments against God's existence. Second, I need to explain the positive evidence for God's existence from science.

Bob H said...

Ron,

Here is a deductive disproof of Aquinas’ 3rd and 4th ways from Summa Theologia:

1)The universe exist only contingently.
2)If anything exists contingently, something must exists necessarily.
3)Something exist necessarily.

There is no grounds for saying (3) is an Omni-God or a personal being with moral perfection. This says nothing about just one being. It could be some cosmic force gravity.

A flaw in Aquinas thinking is in that he assumes that what exists contingently cannot exist through all time.

According to Hume, a cause must precede its effect. It is clearly impossible for anything to cause itself. For to cause itself, it would have to precede itself.

4)Existence is not a predicate (Kant).
5)Existential statements are second order.
6)No existential statements can be logically necessary.
7)A necessary non contingent grounding of contingency logically can not be an Omni-God

Ron Cram said...

Bob,

I have already conceded that any attempt to prove God through deductive reasoning is doomed to failure. My point is the same applies to any attempt to disprove God by deductive reasoning.

Bob H said...

Ron,
Nice work around.
However, quoting you “I have to show the errors in the deductive arguments against God's existence.” and “I have already conceded that any attempt to prove God through deductive reasoning is doomed to failure”.

Do you or do you not have to show why a deductive argument is a failure?

I maintain pseudoscience = df. “trying to explain the positive evidence for God's existence from science”.

Let Ta = absolute start of time or df. T = 0.
Let Tp = Planck time = 6.4x10E-44 seconds.
In contemporary physical science there is no first instance Ta. In other words the universe is half-open in the earlier direction prior toTp. It is illogical to instantiate an archetype supernatural being, i.e. “god of the gaps”, because such an entity would be eternal and therefore a potential infinity (Aristotle) before Tp.

If you think that your pseudoscience includes an anthropic principle and God has purposely created a “Goldilocks zone“, Dr. Stenger and Dr. Krause have knocked that idea out of the ball park.

Ron Cram said...

Bob,

Well, I see you are at least familiar with some of the arguments regarding the Big Bang. This is a start.

Regarding the start of time, it is true that physicists and mathematicians can model the early universe mathematically going back in time to just after the Big Bang. They can model to t > 0 (about one trillionth of a second after the Big Bang), but they cannot model t = 0. The reason is the math breaks down due to infinities. But this does not mean that t = 0 (the start of time) did not happen. Logic and the laws of physics can take us back further than mathematics alone.

When we say we can only model to t > 0, someone may think t > 0 means a singularity that could remain static for an indefinite period. But the laws of physics say if something exists that is immensely hot and dense, it would immediately begin to expand and cool.

If someone, for atheological reasons for example, wanted to say that t = 0 never existed, he would have to exchange the miracle of creation for two miracles which are even more improbable. Instead of God creating the universe from nothing, you would have to say that a stable, non-expanding singularity existed in eternity past (the first miracle) and that for no reason at all suddenly lost its ability to remain hot and dense and began to expand and cool without any cause (the second miracle).

As you can probably tell, I don't have enough faith to believe the second scenario. Logic demands the t = 0 happened.

The Goldilocks Zone is only one small part of the fine-tuned universe argument from science. Stenger has written a book with lots of arm waving on the fine-tuned universe, but he only deals with a few of the observations of the fine-tuned universe and there are hundreds of them. More importantly, they are interconnected. This is a point Stenger evidently missed or did not understand. His argument is mainly about the isotopes of carbon. He suggests if one parameter was changed to reduce the amount of carbon in the universe that you could change another parameter and get the carbon back. The problem is that changes other parameters causes other problems. A full refutation of Stenger will be forthcoming.

Bob H said...

Ron,

I have stated that I am a student of Philosophy with enough units for a minor. I am a retired EE(electrical engineer) with a masters degree.

I would like to know what qualifications you have, so you can be taken seriously, in challenging the likes of Dr. McCormick, Dr. Stenger, Dr. Krause, Dr. Drange, Dr. Rowe, Dr. Martin, et al?

You just proved that you are a pseudosciencist. A real sciencist does try to explain the unknown by instantiating an archetype supernatural being that peforms miracles.
David Hume’s (1711-1776) Section X in his essay An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding regarding claims that miracles can never be justified. Hume’s definition of a miracle is “a violation of the laws of nature”. Swinburne agrees with Hume and states a miracle is “a transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the Deity or by the interposition of some invisible agent”.
Here is Hume’s argument:
1. Laws of nature are a posteriori considerations.
“all men must die…fire consumes wood…these events are found to be agreeable to the laws of nature”
2. Our experiences are very strong in support of natural laws.
“Conclusions as are founded on an infallible experience, he expects the event with the last degree of assurance, and regards his past experience as full proof”
3. A miracle is a violation of nature.
4. By definition, this is a breach of highly probable rules of the universe.
5. Therefore, it is not justifiable to believe that a miracle has occurred.
The FIRST problem is you have not established that a Deity or some invisible agent is a metaphysical reality.
The SECOND problem as stated in Dr. Matt’s book in chapter 9 “Would God do Miracles?”
The THIRD problem I state as :
1) If there is a God, For an infinite time Tp₋ₓ God does not have the will to create, because God is perfection, and would not have needs or wants.
2) If there is a God, At some point in the infinite past of nothingness, God has the will to create (Why)?
3) If there is a God, Given E=mc², how can God bring about energy or matter out of nothing?

You understand that Georges Lemaitre a Belgian priest is responsible for proposing the Big Bang. The Pope heralded it as proof of Genesis, and then had to retract because it was science not theological.

Bob H said...

Correction:
A real sciencist does NOT try to explain the unknown by instantiating an archetype supernatural being that peforms miracles.

clamflats said...

@ Ron Crumb
thought experiments are our thoughts now about a possibility at another time. The woman with the AED is only potential aid (at the moment your heart is still beating, you're conscious)and not a guarantee of continued life. Her potential outside or inside the car with life resuscitation is equally effective. As you revealed in your answer, you mentally adjust the probability of survival to human, not divine, direct aid. The prayer is answered, bible-waver depart, let's get on with some real solutions! Your trust in humans outweighs your trust in the divine. After the accident, should you live, the rationale that God answered your prayer would be typical thinking for the Christian. If the AED was never used for your survival the thought that it was divinely planned would, I propose, drop from the "God saved me" narrative altogether.

ST Mannew said...

You have misinterpreted your own scenario (example), and therefore missed the truth of the example.

"If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” You begin to pray”, and did believe that God would answer your prayer.”

And then God did answer the prayer because,

“The second person arrives, a women carrying a portable defibrillator. Do you demand that the bible-waver get out of the car and make room for the women?”

No since, you wouldn’t have to ask me to move, since I would willingly get out of the way, because I would have recognized the “women carrying a portable defibrillator” has the answer to the injured person’s prayer, just as I did here.

“I argue that the person you turn to for aid reveals your knowledge, faith, and trust.”

And so it did, and you were given a demonstration of that right here.

How that for a dumb Christian?

R said...

@Cram

“I have already conceded that any attempt to prove God through deductive reasoning is doomed to failure. My point is the same applies to any attempt to disprove God by deductive reasoning.”

So, can we conclude that we just don’t know, that no one knows and anyone claiming to have this knowledge is lying?