The Superdog Explanation

by Luke Muehlhauser on August 14, 2010 in Funny

“Fred, come over here! Look at this!”

“What is it, Bertie?”

“Look at this spectrogram! I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s kind of like a giant ‘Bloop’ from an animal or something, but it’s several times louder than any known animal sound!”

“Where did it come from?”

“The middle of the Pacific Ocean, deep underwater. Here, listen to it.”

“That is amazing. What do you think it is?”

“It could be a big shift in earth or ice, but it sounds too biological for that. I really have no idea how to explain it right now.”

“I think I can explain it.”

“Really? What do you think it was, Fred?”

“Sounds like a dog to me, Bertie.”

“A dog?”

“Yes, a dog.”

“You think a dog made that sound?”

“Do you have a better explanation?”

“Well no, but… a dog? Why do you think it was a dog?”

“Something tells me it’s a dog. Anyway, you can’t come up with a better explanation can you?”

“But… okay, listen. A dog at that depth couldn’t survive. Its lungs and heart would collapse.”

“Oh yes, of course. But this dog I’m talking about is a special dog. It doesn’t have lungs or a heart.”

“A dog without lungs or a heart?”

“Yes.”

“What do you mean? Is it dead?”

“No, no. It just doesn’t have lungs or a heart.”

“Then how does it breathe or pump blood?”

“Oh, it doesn’t need air or blood.”

“What the heck kind of dog is that?”

“Well, I admit it’s an unusual kind of dog, but nothing I’ve described is logically impossible. It’s logically possible for a dog to live without air or blood, right?”

“Ummm… I suppose it’s logically possible, but… I mean, we’ve never seen a dog survive without air or blood. So why would you think there is a dog without air or blood making loud sounds at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean?”

“Well, look, Bertie: Just because we haven’t seen a dog like that before doesn’t mean there isn’t any such dog. For a long time we had never seen a black swan, but that didn’t mean there were no black swans. In fact, there are black swans.”

“But… I don’t get it. Why think there is a dog with no lungs or heart? That contradicts everything we know about dogs!”

“I know it’s odd, but you can’t explain the Bloop, and I think this dog – I’ll call him Superdog – can explain the Bloop.”

“Really. And how does Superdog explain the Bloop, Fred?”

“Well, see, Superdog wanted to cause the Bloop, and he was capable of doing so, and therefore we had the Bloop.”

“That’s supposed to be an explanation?”

“Well yes! If I want to explain why my your once-full plate of food was empty after lunch, I explain it by saying that you wanted to consume the food, and you were capable of doing so, and therefore the plate of food was empty after lunch. The same goes for Superdog and the Bloop.”

“Fred, I can’t believe I’m still talking to you, but now you’ve got me curious. So let me ask one question. When you explain the empty plate of food with reference to my desires, it’s because you have some understanding of human desires, and one very common human desire is to eat food at lunchtime. But this Superdog… why would it want to create a massive Bloop sound in the middle of the Pacific Ocean?”

“Well, I really can’t say why it would do so. I mean, this Superdog’s mind is quite different from human minds. It would be rather arrogant of us to expect that we could understand the mind of Superdog.”

“But if you don’t understand its desires at all, how is it that Superdog can explain the Bloop?”

“Well, obviously he wanted to make the Bloop! We don’t have to know why he wanted to cause the Bloop.”

“This is insane. Okay, how about this: How did Superdog have the strength to swim two miles down into the Ocean? No dog is that strong, even if it doesn’t have to worry about its lungs and heart collapsing.”

“Actually, it didn’t take Superdog any effort at all to get down there. See, Superdog isn’t made of atoms.”

“Fascinating.”

“Indeed! Superdog is amazing.”

“What is he made of then?”

“Well, nothing really. He just is.”

“Uh-huh.”

“And since he’s not made of atoms, he didn’t have to swim through water to get down there. He can just pop into the physical world where he likes and cause a Bloop or whatever he wants.”

“This is nonsense. How can a Superdog not made of atoms interact with the world of atoms?”

“He just does. He has that power.”

“Oh my God. You must be joking. That is the most ad-hoc, superfluously complex explanation I have ever heard.”

“Complex? Goodness, no. Remember, Superdog has not atoms; no parts. Superdog is profoundly simple. The Superdog explanation is simpler than anything else you can come up with.”

“Simple? How? This is a being with desires and thoughts and actions. How could such a being be simple? That’s crazy.”

“Why? Is anything I’ve said logically impossible?”

“I suppose not, but that doesn’t make it at all plausible. Your Superdog idea is the worst explanation I have ever heard of anything in my entire life.”

“Do you have a better explanation, Bertie?”

“Better than that? Yes! Anything is better than that! Aliens from the dark side of a moon is better than that! An undiscovered species of deep-sea whale is better than that! A machine planted there by the mathematician-designer of our simulated universe is better than that! Superdog is the worst possible explanation for the Bloop I can even imagine.”

“But can you disprove it? If you can’t disprove it, isn’t it arrogant of you to say you know it’s wrong?”

“Jesus Christ you’re a moron, Fred.”

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{ 97 comments… read them below or add one }

Keith August 14, 2010 at 5:05 am

I notice Bertie didn’t say the Bloop formed from nothing. Is that better than the superdog explanation?

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Ralph August 14, 2010 at 5:57 am

Fred sounds a lot like William Craig to me.

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Zak August 14, 2010 at 6:10 am

I LOL’d at “nothing I’ve described is logically impossible.” Indeed, that sounds just like WL Craig.

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lukeprog August 14, 2010 at 6:45 am

First person to identify the two participants in this dialogue wins a pat on the back.

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Teapot August 14, 2010 at 6:54 am

Fred and Bertie.

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Martin August 14, 2010 at 7:18 am

OK, I’ll provide an indirect counterpoint from The Prosblogion. They recently presented a challenge to atheists.

I’m deathly afraid to hyperlink because it will get caught up in Luke’s overly sensitive spam filter, so you’ll have to do the hard labor of copying and pasting:

http://prosblogion.ektopos.com/archives/2010/08/open-challenge.html

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Márcio August 14, 2010 at 7:30 am

That is the “Superdog” of the gaps argument. William Lane Craig himself said that his arguments are deductive.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_WfPWJrsPY

There are other videos too.

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Ajay August 14, 2010 at 7:40 am

This is brilliant. And Martin, that link is interesting. But even if atheists were not able to meet the challenge, why would this imply that the theistic position is correct?

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Haukur August 14, 2010 at 7:42 am

“To explain the bloop by invoking a superdog is to explain precisely nothing, for it leaves unexplained the origin of the dog.” – The Dog Delusion

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Torgo August 14, 2010 at 7:45 am

This reminds me of Craig (and others) as well. Without explicitly saying so, he starts with the idea of human persons, then tweaks the idea a little, then a little more, and so on, and eventually ends by claiming to have some coherent notion of God as a personal being. But the end result is really incoherent on its own.

It’s a bit like the frog in the gradually boiling water myth (myth because real frogs eventually jump out). If we change just a little bit at a time, no one will notice the bullshit that’s crept in, and we can imagine that God is a person like us, though he’s really not like us at all (e.g., not materially embodied, non-spatiotemporal, doesn’t perform mental acts of reasoning [Craig has explicitly says this, and it follows if God is outside of time], etc.).

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Taranu August 14, 2010 at 8:07 am

Luke,
this video by FatGermanBastard distinguishes between two types of possibilities: logical and epistemic. (from 8:16 onwards)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHkXeT5U-vs

I am wondering if the logical possibilities being referred to in this post aren’t really epistemic possibilities.

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Zeb August 14, 2010 at 8:19 am

I find this post to be a surprisingly sharp challenge to [some aspects of] my theism. It applies particularly well to the argument from the resurrection as laid out by Licona in the CPBD interview. Not that I used the Bible to support my beliefs anyway, but Licona got me thinking that maybe that old book actually could be used to get to the faith, not just from within it. But the cosmological arguments and arguments from mind are not quite like this – they are based on necessity, not best explanation. I’d like to see if a Superdog type story could be made around those arguments that fits as well and shows their absurdity (to which I am blind currently).

But towards the end of the Superdog story, the Superdog hypothesis starts to go the same direction that FSM and IPU arguments usually go – as Superdog becomes less of a super dog and more of a transcendental being, believing in Superdog seems less and less absurd to me. Eventually I may concede that based on your definition of Superdog, I do believe in Superdog, by a different name.

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Cindy B. August 14, 2010 at 8:43 am

So the story makes the point that scientists are “morons.”

Yep, I knew it!

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Ralph August 14, 2010 at 8:47 am

I don’t see how Superdog becomes a less absurd explanation of the bloop even as the story progressed, Zeb. Can you explain?

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Zeb August 14, 2010 at 8:58 am

Ralph,

Maybe it is a matter of subjective aesthetics, but the idea of a super dog under the sea strikes me as more absurd than the idea of a transcendental being that affects the physical world. The only things I find absurd about Superdog are that Fred chose to call it Superdog, and that he jumps to the conclusion that Superdog caused the Bloop with no prior context implying anything about Superdog.

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Reidish August 14, 2010 at 9:22 am

Luke,
What would you say are the essential properties of a dog? What constitutes “dogness”?

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Ralph August 14, 2010 at 9:32 am

Craig and Hitchens?

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Rob August 14, 2010 at 9:35 am

I love this. As much as I hate false dichotomies . . .
It has always seemed to me that there are two kinds of people, those who find that the God hypothesis makes a lot of sense and explains things, and those who think the God hypothesis is the lamest most bat-shit crazy and feeble non-explanation imaginable.

I am reminded of a quotation from Peter Adkins:

“The assertion that God is an explanation of anything is intellectually contemptible, for it amounts to an admission of ignorance packaged into the pretense of an explanation.”

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Bill Maher August 14, 2010 at 9:58 am

Martin,
that link is just silly buddy.

Physics has come a considerable way since Leibniz and Newton. The theory of time used in physics today makes that argument meaningless.

Also, I shouldn’t have to do the activity either way. It is an appeal to ignorance and declares the answer to be something that isn’t proven to exist.

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Chuck August 14, 2010 at 10:03 am

Watching the Craig link makes me think WL is a really sincere guy but one who has convinced himself (due to his limited practice of physics or science) that “goddidit” is the best explanation. Which of course, explains nothing.

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Matthew D. Johnston August 14, 2010 at 10:09 am

That is the “Superdog” of the gaps argument. William Lane Craig himself said that his arguments are deductive.

Firstly, thanks for sharing the video.

A couple things strike me, though. The Kalam Cosmological Argument is certainly deductive in its standard statement, but the premises are justified inductively. He relies on the best sciences has to offer (as he interprets it) and argues that the premises are more plausible than their negations. Furthermore, he openly admits at the end of the video that it’s possible that further scientific investigation could conceivably change that weighting. Putting the argument into a deductive form does not seem, to me, to free it from the fact that his premises themselves are based, in large part, on our own ignorance (i.e. we do not know of anything which begins to exist which does not have a cause [in time], therefore premise 1, etc.).

Similarly, it seems Fred could change the argument into a deductive form if he so chose, where it would just be the premises which are inductive. Something along the lines of:
1) Either the bloop is caused by natural processes, necessarily occurs, or has a non-natural (or super-natural) cause.
2) The bloop does not occur naturally.
3) The bloop does not occur necessarily.
4) Therefore the bloop has a non-natural (or super-natural) cause. [1-3]
Although the argument is deductive, premise (2) is justified inductively (we know of no natural process which is capable of explaining the bloop, seems more likely than its negation, etc.). From there you would go through some argument similar to what Fred (or Craig) gives to develop the properties of such a cause. As Zeb pointed out, although Fred and Craig obviously have different conceptions of what their starting point should be, they arrive at a being with very similar properties.

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cl August 14, 2010 at 10:28 am

Oh, how cute… a Saturday morning cartoon for oh-so-rational smarty-pants atheists!! Tee-hee!!!

I offer the following in an equal spirit of jest:

[EPISODE 2: FRED & BERTIE TALK MORALS]

“Fred, come over here! Listen to this!”

“What is it, Bertie?”

“Listen to this theory of morality! I’ve never heard anything like it. It’s super-duper neat-o ‘cuz it only references things that actually exist, unlike your dummy ideas about the Superdog, which aren’t even tested let alone proven. Pshhawww… duh, try telling those ideas to a scientist and see what happens.”

“Oh come on Bertie, let’s drop the Superdog issue since we’ll likely never agree! Where did this theory come from anyways, Bertie?”

“Oh, from the middle of Billy’s brain. He’s the smartest guy I know, after all. Here, you don’t have to take my word for it unlike your stupid, irrational Superdog. Listen.”

[Fred listens to Bertie and Billy ramble on about morality while a heavenly chorus resonates in the background. Think: "Ahhh..."]

“Wow, that really is amazing, Bertie. What do you think?”

“Well, I’d like to talk about it more, but Billy said that anyone who has a fat child should be condemned, so I’m on my way to my aunt Trina’s to open up a can of whoop-ass on her for that fat little pudgeball Benjamin she’s raisin’ over there! But I won’t be there too long, ‘cuz after that I gotta get over to cousin Jake’s. They watch a lot of trash-tv so I gotta condemn them, too. Oh, that reminds me – my stepmom smokes, so I should really get going, as I’ve got a lot of condemning to do, and that’s not even to mention that I have to stop by the local Superdog gathering later to tell them that what they believe is evil. See, isn’t it hard to do what’s right?”

“Wait a minute, Bertie… that sounds a little extreme, don’t you think? Maybe Benjamin’s getting fat from school food? You just said we should be scientific but you might be relying on a confounder there.”

“No, Fred. Not when you really use your brain to think about the theory, anyways. I don’t really have time to explain it right now though, as I said.”

“But I don’t really get the theory, Bertie.”

“Yeah, I know… barely anybody does, Fred, but don’t worry, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. That just means it’s fresh, new, and cutting-edge. I mean, theories of morality are like, so hot right now.”

“I don’t know, Bertie, I just don’t think it’s always right to judge others based on our own attitudes towards things, you know?

“Don’t worry Fred. Billy’s written books on the subject.”

“Well yeah, Bertie, but people write books about all sorts of ass-backwards nonsense. After all, that’s what you say the Grandestly Grand Compendium of SuperDog Knowledge, Vol. 1 is, right?”

“Of course Fred. That’s because the Grandestly Grand Compendium of SuperDog Knowledge, Vol. 1 is a bunch of ass-backwards nonsense.”

“Well what about your theory? What do scientists of morality have to say about it?”

“Silly Fred, there’s no such thing as scientists of morality. We have philosophers. Like, duh!”

“Come on, Bertie, you know what I mean. What do philosophers have to say about it?”

“Oh, well, uh… we’re not really sure, um, because, um… well, Billy hasn’t actually sent it to them yet. See, he doesn’t have enough time. But don’t worry! I’m helping him get it ready!”

“Wait a minute: you mean to tell me that after all that crap you talked about Superdog not being proven or even tested, that your theory’s not even tested, either? Where’s the consistency in that? And whaddya mean Billy doesn’t have time? Look at all the stuff on his website.”

“See Fred, this is why I don’t like to talk to you. I really don’t have time for these questions that go to nowhere.”

“Questions that go to nowhere? You’re so convinced of this theory you called me ‘evil’ for believing that Superdog made the universe, when I don’t even talk about it in public or push my views onto anyone! How am I evil since I’m not hurting anyone? I’m afraid you might be jumping in too deep. Can you explain the theory?”

“No Fred, I told you, I have a lot of condemning to do, and you obviously don’t understand the theory anyways.”

[EPISODE 3: FRED CONFESSES DESIRE FOR AN OLDER MAN]

“Hey Bertie, I have a confession to make.”

“What’s that, Fred?”

“I’ve got the hots for my uncle Bob’s friend, Mike, and he for me. It all started one day when he touched me inappropriately, but, after he talked to me for a while, he made me realize that I actually like it. We’re going to start dating and probably get married.”

“YUCK, Fred, have you lost your mind? What’s wrong with you?”

“What do you mean? What’s wrong, at all? The age of consent here in Pederastia is 9, and I just turned 13. What’s the problem?”

“That’s just gross, Fred. Besides, you could catch the clap or some other kind of VD.”

“Well yeah, Bertie, but you could catch the clap from having regular ‘ol vanilla sex, couldn’t you? Is regular ‘ol vanilla sex wrong, too?”

“I don’t know, Fred, I told you, I don’t have the time to actually work this out. Go ask Billy.”

“I already asked Billy, Bertie. He didn’t have anything to say, but I need answers. Isn’t that another confounder you might be relying on here? Make this make sense, ‘cuz it sounds like you’re just judging me from your own intuitions here. Why is it wrong for me and my uncle Bob’s friend Mike to have a sexual relationship? You’re the one who says your theory is so good, why can’t you tell me?”

“I’m done with this conversation, Fred. It’s going nowhere.”

“How does that work? You expect me to explain all these details about SuperDog but then you just clam up when we put your theory under the spotlight. What’s that about?”

“I told you, Fred, I’m done with this conversation. Try taking your questions to philosophers and see how they react.”

“Well, I would Bertie, but I’m on my way to the local NAMBLA meeting, so I’ll have to catch up with you later.”

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lukeprog August 14, 2010 at 10:35 am

Nobody has guessed who Fred and Bertie are. You will be slapping yourself when someone does. :)

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Matthew D. Johnston August 14, 2010 at 10:43 am

Bert and Ernie?

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Martin August 14, 2010 at 10:46 am

Bill Maher,

OK then, add your comment to the blog. They allow comments. See what they say.

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Ari August 14, 2010 at 11:02 am

Could Bertie be Bertrand Russell?

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Haukur August 14, 2010 at 11:08 am

>Could Bertie be Bertrand Russell?

Fred, then, would be Frederick C. Copleston.

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Rob August 14, 2010 at 11:09 am
lukeprog August 14, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Ari and Haukur win!

*pat*

*pat*

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Reginald Selkirk August 14, 2010 at 12:35 pm

What would you say are the essential properties of a dog? What constitutes “dogness”?

the essential property of ‘dogness’ is “that which cannot be disproven.”

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Hermes August 14, 2010 at 12:46 pm

From Rob’s post of Russell and Copleston, it comes to mind that arguments for non-contingent beings are analytic only arguments and not experiential arguments.

In all philosophical arguments, the bridge between assertions of logic about non-contingent beings and actual demonstrations of experienced examples of those non-contingent beings are never offered.

When evidence is offered, it is offered as a spiritual experience or a dogmatic one based on a set of stories.

So, it is offered then without analysis, or it is offered dryly without evidence. But at no time can the evidence offered be ripped out and placed on the table — actual or metaphorical — for mutual examination.

Yet, there is a large category of actual non-contingent beings. These non-contingent beings are arrived at experientially and they are are not in dispute. If anything, these beings can be quite annoying and persistent, having a will of their own at times.

I’ve argued with a few myself, as have many people both professionals and amateurs that draw up characters that populate stories. They arrive, often, full-formed and quite cantankerous.

As an example, one of many, I offer <a href=Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk at TED on nurturing creativity.

Another is in the words of Robert Persig as well as Richard Bach. Bach notes, in his Illusions;

I do not enjoy writing at all. If I can turn my back on an idea, out there in the dark, if I can avoid opening the door to it, I won’t even reach for a pencil.

But once in a while there’s a great dynamite-burst of flying glass and brick and splinters through the front wall and somebody stalks over the rubble, seizes me by the throat and gently says, “I will not let you go until you set me, in words, on paper.”

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Hermes August 14, 2010 at 12:47 pm
Bill Maher August 14, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Martin,

I don’t care what they think. The thing about the internet is that you can continuously argue even if you are wrong. I guarantee if I posted on any other creationist website I would get a ton of continuous responses also.

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Shane August 14, 2010 at 2:10 pm

There is no such thing as an essential property of dogness! Things do not possess attributes; SYSTEMS display behaviours, duh! ;-) Here you go: http://answersingenes.blogspot.com/2010/07/things-do-not-possess-attributes.html

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Haukur August 14, 2010 at 2:40 pm

I find it striking how cerebral and leisurely the debate between Russell and Copleston is. Would this material be considered too tame and highbrow for a mass audience today?

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Hermes August 14, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Martin, I agree with Bill Maher. Additionally, a logical construction that makes claims about reality but is not demonstrated in reality is meaningless. That’s part of what Russell was getting at in the linked discussion.

As such, the burden of proof still resides with the claimant not those who say they do not believe the claimant has shown what they claim to be true or even credibly possible.

Refer to my previous post for more details on a different tangent.

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Hermes August 14, 2010 at 6:07 pm

I can’t find an appropriate Robert Pirsig quote in either Lila or Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, so I retract him as an example of what I was discussing earlier.

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Reidish August 14, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Reginald Selkirk,

the essential property of ‘dogness’ is “that which cannot be disproven.”

That was either a joke or you hang around some really unusual dogs. Would you care to explain your response further?

Shane,
I’m not sure what to make of this:

There is no such thing as an essential property of dogness! Things do not possess attributes; SYSTEMS display behaviours, duh!

Would you consider a proposition a “thing”? If not, then what is it? If yes, then it seems to me the proposition “things do not possess attributes” has at least one attribute: it is either true or false. If you believe it is true (ie, it has the attribute of being true), then you’ve got yourself a self-refuting proposition. So it can’t be true that “things do not possess attributes”.

Now maybe you meant to restrict the statement to physical things. But then, you would have to agree that an electron does not have an attribute of negative charge. If so, then how do you identify what is an electron? Put it another way: are you saying we can call things electrons even if they don’t have negative charge?

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Hermes August 14, 2010 at 9:05 pm

Serendipity…the current RadioLab podcast on Words is spot on and covers quite a bit of what I’ve mentioned, especially the middle and later parts. This one is up there with the one on Morals.

http://blogs.wnyc.org/radiolab/2010/08/09/words

Too much to cover right now. A few early items…

~8:00 – [slaps his hands on the table] “OH! Everything has a name!”

10:00 – “What is it in human beings when we get symbols?”

14:00 – ‘rats can’t understand what the phrase ‘left of blue’ means, and neither can some humans … children behave just like the rats’ [language links conceptual islands into more complex thoughts]

19:00 – [shadowing someone else's speech knocks out language ability out of adult minds] {my thought: this could be why many dogmatic groups repeat mantras}

20:30 – “What is thought?” “I don’t think it is very much at all.” … “I don’t think that very young children do think.”

Too many to comment on. Great stuff.

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Hermes August 14, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Her maid is gone, and she prepares to write,
First hovering o’er the paper with her quill.
Conceit and grief an eager combat fight;
What wit sets down is blotted straight with will;
This is too curious-good, this blunt and ill:
Much like a press of people at a door,
Throng her inventions, which shall go before.

– William Shakespeare, The Rape of Lucrece

Referenced in the RadioLab podcast on Words. [~27:30]

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Martin August 14, 2010 at 10:39 pm

Bill Maher,

The Prosblogion isn’t creationist; it’s philosophy. They stick to strict reasoning. I’m curious to see what they’d say. What exactly is your argument? That contingency doesn’t apply to the universe… why? How?

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TaiChi August 15, 2010 at 2:56 am

Martin,
What use do we have for a principled stipulation about what sorts of things have explanations? Why is it incumbent upon us, theist and atheist alike, to declare the scope of our future epistemic success? The challenge you link to doesn’t say, and I’m confused as to why you think it should be taken up.

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Hermes August 15, 2010 at 5:23 am

Martin, why does non-contingency matter? Better yet, where is it demonstrated?

As I mentioned before; there is an analytical statement and there are demonstrations in reality of that analytical statements.

For religious theistic assertions, there seems to be no connection between evidence and analysis; there’s one and the other and no connections between the two except by assertion, while much of both the analysis and the evidence are asserted to mean something well beyond what they demonstrate if they demonstrate anything at all.

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Hermes August 15, 2010 at 5:53 am

Martin, also, note that I have given an example of a class of things that are non-contingent (or at a minimum arguable as non-contingent to some respect). I think that the evidence shows that deities fit in that category, though not as theistic forces but as more literary ones.

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cl August 15, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Additionally, a logical construction that makes claims about reality but is not demonstrated in reality is meaningless.

That’s a matter of opinion at best, and certainly not any sort of epistemically justifiable position. Are cosmological theories meaningless because we can’t demonstrate them in reality? Of course not. Further, it is often that case that logical construction precedes empirical demonstration. For example, scientists, through logical construction, might devise some method for obtaining an empirical demonstration of any given claim. This is, in fact, one way that scientists test claims.

Martin,

The Prosblogion isn’t creationist; it’s philosophy.

Yes; good catch. I was going to point that out as well. I wonder why Bill made that assumption?

Bill Maher,

The theory of time used in physics today makes that argument meaningless.

How so? Can you clarify which physicists you’re alluding to? Can you explain exactly what “the theory of time used in physics today” actually means?

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Hermes August 15, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Cl: That’s a matter of opinion at best, and certainly not any sort of epistemically justifiable position. Are cosmological theories meaningless because we can’t demonstrate them in reality? Of course not. Further, it is often that case that logical construction precedes empirical demonstration. For example, scientists, through logical construction, might devise some method for obtaining an empirical demonstration of any given claim. This is, in fact, one way that scientists test claims.

Thanks for the response.

I note that the qualitative responses you provide are correct, in that they offer some evidence that is verifiable and not stuck in a logical and self-referential abstraction.

They are, unfortunately, not the devoid of evidence type of abstractions I was referring to.

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CGO August 15, 2010 at 2:35 pm

But Hermes you don’t see CL’s point

Logical Construction Leading to Empirical Demonstration ergo Jesus.

: )

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Hermes August 15, 2010 at 3:03 pm

A Haysouse-a-tron? A Presup-a-sup-iasatic layer? A Psychlopsynco craft-e-dye-e-namics?

(Was the last one too too Xenu? Should I have waited till more people forgot Battlefield Earth?)

My money is on the Super Monkey Collider.

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cl August 16, 2010 at 3:24 pm

…[the qualitative responses you provide] are, unfortunately, not the devoid of evidence type of abstractions I was referring to.

Well, you crafted your argument with the precision of a 2×4, so how was I supposed to know what you meant? You simply prefaced your claim with “In all philosophical arguments…”

CGO,

Logical Construction Leading to Empirical Demonstration ergo Jesus.

Oh my God! You like, totally got it! You must be smart!

  (Quote)

CGO August 16, 2010 at 3:51 pm

No CL

I’ve just scanned your blog and see by your arguments there that you are a YEC Christian

  (Quote)

cl August 16, 2010 at 4:28 pm

CGO,

Ah, I see. You’re one of those who apparently likes to leap before they look. Way to go!

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Hermes August 16, 2010 at 4:53 pm

It’s they way I swing, baby. Hubba hubba.

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Hermes August 16, 2010 at 4:58 pm

[ For a more sophisticated entry on this thread, see my first post on the 14th starting with the words "From Rob’s post of Russell and Copleston, ...". As more unusual and insightful posts often get ignored, I yield to market forces and provide fluffier stuff as well. ]

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CGO August 16, 2010 at 6:03 pm

CL

By your blog writing it’s obvious you are a Jebus lover and your defenses are simply thinly veiled apologetics. Thus my observation.

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cl August 16, 2010 at 10:13 pm

For a more sophisticated entry on this thread, see my first post on the 14th starting with the words “From Rob’s post of Russell and Copleston, …”

Are you kidding? That’s the comment I just criticized.

CGO,

By your “let’s jump to conclusions based on only a cursory glance at what someone has to say” style, it’s obvious you like to prejudge and use trigger words when you haven’t the slightest idea what or who you’re talking about. I mean, you waltzed in here, didn’t say anything at all relevant to the OP, made a few wrong assumptions about me, and tried to make a wisecrack out of it all. If that sort of juvenile, trollish behavior is what passes for rational argument in atheist circles, so be it, I guess.

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CGO August 17, 2010 at 1:37 am

CL, you defended your god belief at your blog by arguing for a 6000 year old Earth based on your interpretation of recorded history. That statement and your defense of epistemic possibilities based on epistemic methodologies exposes you as an apologist for Jesus belief not as someone who respects the scientific method.. Ridicule is an appropriate response for your type of dishonesty.

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cl August 17, 2010 at 1:51 am

CGO,

CL, you defended your god belief at your blog by arguing for a 6000 year old Earth based on your interpretation of recorded history.

No, I didn’t. Had you read further instead of only as far as you needed to confirm your bias, you would have been able to discern my actual position on the age of the Earth. It is rather technical, you know, but I can sum it up simply and humbly as, “I don’t know.” I honestly don’t know. I haven’t the slightest idea, and so I refrain from pretending otherwise.

That statement and your defense of epistemic possibilities based on epistemic methodologies exposes you as an apologist for Jesus belief not as someone who respects the scientific method.. Ridicule is an appropriate response for your type of dishonesty.

Right. You show up and jump to brash, unsupported conclusions about me, and I’m the one who disrespects the scientific method. What would be a suitable response for your horrid confirmation bias and utter disrespect for a reasoned or rational argument? Your inability and/or disinterest in digging deeper isn’t my problem.

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CGO August 17, 2010 at 3:39 am

CL methinks you protest too much. I’ve read your blog. You are an argumentative young man who defends his superstitions with ideas aligned to fundamental Christianity. And as for assumptions, how do you know I am an atheis?. I am simply a CL watcher who doubts your intellectual honesty.

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Hermes August 17, 2010 at 5:59 am

Cl: Are you kidding? That’s the comment I just criticized.

OK. I’ll take a look.

Apologies if I was mistaken.

[ goes to look again ]
Ah, here it is. Yes.

You quoted and criticized one of my other posts.

I don’t know if you read what I actually wrote, but I do know you haven’t provided any comments on what I gave you a reference to. For what it’s worth, I was talking about the post starting with the following words;

From Rob’s post of Russell and Copleston, …

It was my *first* post on August 14th.

Now, you may disagree with the first few paragraphs there, and I would not care much. The later half, though, has the main point. The point where — if crossed — I would say that most normal theists jump the shark and move from book enthusiasts to positions that are open to valid criticism.

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Hermes August 17, 2010 at 6:02 am

Cl & CGO, what blog entries does CGO contend were in support of a 6K Earth?

  (Quote)

CGO August 17, 2010 at 6:28 am

His answers to what would shake his religious belief. He believes recorded human history only goes back 6K years.

  (Quote)

Hermes August 17, 2010 at 7:35 am

Thanks.

[ looks ]

[ searches blog for shake belief ]

Can’t find an obvious one. The claim is that the blog is a free thinker blog, not that that means much.

(FWIW, I think Cl’s a she, though that doesn’t matter much.)

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cl August 17, 2010 at 9:53 am

You quoted and criticized one of my other posts.

No, I didn’t. I quoted and criticized the second paragraph in your first post August 14th.

The later half, though, has the main point.

Yes, as you conceded: mine aren’t the type of devoid of evidence abstractions you’re alluding to, so, where is this main point, and how is it relevant to me?

CGO,

And as for assumptions, how do you know I am an atheis?

I don’t. I didn’t state that you were. The string “in atheist circles” is not tantamount to a claim that you are an atheist, but you’ve already established that you hear what you want to hear, not what actually is.

I am simply a CL watcher who doubts your intellectual honesty.

Yeah, and… like the rest of those who make that claim without evidence [which is odd for somebody pontificating about intellectual honesty], doubt would be all you’ve got there. As for “intellectual honesty,” how intellectually honest is it to label people as YEC’s when they’re not? So, tell us: are you dishonest? Lazy? Trolling? Something else??

OTOH, if you want to try something that might be productive, perhaps you can give us an instance of my intellectual dishonesty? Don’t just assert it without evidence or argue from gut feeling like Luke and Fyfe on creationists and pederasty; actually make your case.

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CGO August 17, 2010 at 10:27 am

CL

Is your blog an off-limits data set? You assert your reformed theology God belief and argue for it by claiming recorded history is 6000 years old.

You then want to argue here for epistemic methodology relative to empiricism but want us to ignore the balance of evidence provided for us regarding your presuppositions and aims.

I stand by my original sarcastic point when dealing with you, “logical construction leads to empirical demonstration ergo Jesus”.

If you didn’t publish a boatload of woo at your blog I might not have the right to assert what I do. The evidence there however shows you’re looking to defend your belief not engage in intellectual honesty.

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cl August 17, 2010 at 11:10 am

CGO,

Is your blog an off-limits data set?

No.

You assert your reformed theology God belief and argue for it by claiming recorded history is 6000 years old.

1) What is this “reformed theology God belief” that you allude to?

2) Presuming you can identify it, I don’t argue for “reformed theology God belief” by claiming recorded history is 6000 years old. Rather, I claim that if we could show recorded history extending back hundreds of thousands or even millions of years, that such would be more damning to the young Earth hypothesis than any evidence I’ve yet seen. That’s what I mean when I say you hear what you want to hear, vs. what I’m actually trying to say.

You then want to argue here for epistemic methodology relative to empiricism but want us to ignore the balance of evidence provided for us regarding your presuppositions and aims.

I don’t want you to ignore anything, other than the unfounded assumptions and “hearing what you want to hear” strategy that’s been at work so far. What is this “balance of evidence” that you claim I want you to ignore? Where is the evidence for your claim that I want you to ignore it?

I stand by my original sarcastic point when dealing with you, “logical construction leads to empirical demonstration ergo Jesus”.

Well, good for you. Stand on irrational illogic if you wish, but please, don’t misrepresent me as the simpleton here.

If you didn’t publish a boatload of woo at your blog I might not have the right to assert what I do. The evidence there however shows you’re looking to defend your belief not engage in intellectual honesty.

I just love it when people say “the evidence shows” and then completely fail to cite even a smidgen of evidence that shows anything. Are you a rationalist, or not? If so, play the part.

I’m not a big fan of “woo” [whatever that is]. If you actually engaged any of the many arguments from logic and science at my blog, I might be able to respect you as an informed dissenter. However, from your performance here, I suspect you’re just another head-hunter who actually doesn’t have a valid rebuttal to any of the arguments.

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CGO August 17, 2010 at 11:17 am

CL,

I’m done satisfying your need for dispute. You stated that the #1 reason for your God belief at your blog is that recorded history can’t be affirmed as more than 6000 years old.

Take care I’m signing out of this dialogue. You can get your adrenaline rush elsewhere.

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cl August 17, 2010 at 11:37 am

CGO,

I’m done satisfying your need for dispute.

I understand. Defending empty claims for no reason other than personal dislike of one’s interlocutor is probably somewhat tiring. Seriously though, why do you say I have the need for dispute when I’m simply correcting the erroneous assumptions you’ve made? I have no need or desire to dispute with you. Hell, you’re not even making any arguments such that I might dispute! In my experience, people with the need to dispute often make dispute where none need be. That’s you, here.

You stated that the #1 reason for your God belief at your blog is that recorded history can’t be affirmed as more than 6000 years old.

No, I didn’t. I listed a series of things in no particular order, and stated that I would consider any or all of them particularly damning against various interpretations of Christianity. There is nothing unscientific or intellectually dishonest about that. You don’t have any ground for your claim that I’m a YEC creationist other than your own hurried induction. In fact, I don’t believe you have any ground for any of the claims you’ve made here, else, we would see it.

Look, nothing personal, just don’t come with a bucketload of unfounded assumptions, and I suggest you actually try to hear the other person next time, instead of trying to paint them into your pre-existing prejudices.

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CGO August 17, 2010 at 11:44 am

CL

If it is in no particular order then why is it numbered 1.1?

And I don’t consider you my “interlocuter”. I consider you a creationist apologist who pretends to be a free thinker.

You are a free-lance writer who holds dubious beliefs and uses the language of science to bolster them.

Do you believe the Earth is 6000 years old? Yes or no?

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Hermes August 17, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Cl: No, I didn’t. I quoted and criticized the second paragraph in your first post August 14th.

Er, no. No you didn’t. I’m kinda puzzled why you’re making a big deal on this as I’ve already pointed out what part of that post was the important part, and the first half ain’t it anyway.

But, for a moment, let’s see what actually happened.

First, you quoted and commented this;

Hermes: Additionally, a logical construction that makes claims about reality but is not demonstrated in reality is meaningless.

Cl: That’s a matter of opinion at best, and certainly not any sort of epistemically justifiable position. Are cosmological theories meaningless because we can’t demonstrate them in reality? Of course not. Further, it is often that case that logical construction precedes empirical demonstration. For example, scientists, through logical construction, might devise some method for obtaining an empirical demonstration of any given claim. This is, in fact, one way that scientists test claims.

Note that the part you quoted is from a post of mine on the 15th, not the 14th.

(On second thought, maybe WordPress presents you with different dates based on your time zone? I see the 14th on the post starting “From Rob’s post of Russell…”, and you see the 13th for the same post, skip ahead to the first post on the 14th (for you but not for me) that starts not with “From Rob’s” but with “Martin, I agree with Bill Maher.”? In either case, I did cite the string that the text I was referring to started with. With that as a possibility, let’s continue.)

I recommended you look at another post of mine, starting with the words “From Rob’s post of Russell and Copleston,”. A string search for the first post by me on August the 14th shows that the text is as follows;

Hermes: From Rob’s post of Russell and Copleston, it comes to mind that arguments for non-contingent beings are analytic only arguments and not experiential arguments.

In all philosophical arguments, the bridge between assertions of logic about non-contingent beings and actual demonstrations of experienced examples of those non-contingent beings are never offered.

When evidence is offered, it is offered as a spiritual experience or a dogmatic one based on a set of stories.

So, it is offered then without analysis, or it is offered dryly without evidence. But at no time can the evidence offered be ripped out and placed on the table — actual or metaphorical — for mutual examination.

Yet, there is a large category of actual non-contingent beings. These non-contingent beings are arrived at experientially and they are are not in dispute. If anything, these beings can be quite annoying and persistent, having a will of their own at times.

I’ve argued with a few myself, as have many people both professionals and amateurs that draw up characters that populate stories. They arrive, often, full-formed and quite cantankerous.

As an example, one of many, I offer Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk at TED on nurturing creativity.

Another is in the words of Robert Persig as well as Richard Bach. Bach notes, in his Illusions;

I do not enjoy writing at all. If I can turn my back on an idea, out there in the dark, if I can avoid opening the door to it, I won’t even reach for a pencil.

But once in a while there’s a great dynamite-burst of flying glass and brick and splinters through the front wall and somebody stalks over the rubble, seizes me by the throat and gently says, “I will not let you go until you set me, in words, on paper.”

Now that it is available to you, can you admit your faux pas and get on to the topic I brought to your attention?

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Hermes August 17, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Cl: Rather, I claim that if we could show recorded history extending back hundreds of thousands or even millions of years, that such would be more damning to the young Earth hypothesis than any evidence I’ve yet seen.

What young Earth hypothesis?

As for evidence, surely you as a freethinker (?) are not disputing the current consensus gathered from evidence from many fields of study?

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Hermes August 17, 2010 at 1:26 pm

On history. It’s not geology or anthropology or even forensics. A historian mostly uses written records, not other objects.

Written records require a symbol system. The oldest written records I’m aware of are accounting chits and crude pictograms. These records tend to be very fragile so few survive even over fairly short periods such as a lifetime or two.

While there are exceptions, those written records are what a historian generally limits themselves to, though non-written physical evidence from other fields also is increasingly taken into account.

For example, anthropologists who dig through ancient trash pits can gather together some fragments of paper if the climate has been very dry in a specific area. Piecing those parts together, though, still takes quite a bit of patience before a historian can then take advantage of the work of the anthropologist. Add in a wet environment or one where only accounting chits on clay were made — everything else being verbal; not written — and the historian has very little to go on.

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cl August 17, 2010 at 3:39 pm

A string search for the first post by me on August the 14th shows that the text is as follows;

Yeah, I know. The comment of mine you cite responds to more than one of your comments. It does respond to the post of yours in question, but let’s not waste time on nothing. When you told me to respond to your post, you actually meant the latter half of it, not the part I already responded to. I get that.

Now that it is available to you, can you admit your faux pas and get on to the topic I brought to your attention?

It was never unavailable to me, I had properly identified the comment from the moment you cited it, so there is no faux pas. However, if there is a point that’s relevant to me, I’ll ask you again: what is it?

…surely you as a freethinker (?) are not disputing the current consensus gathered from evidence from many fields of study?

Reference actual scientists or actual data, please. I refuse to guess what you’re alluding to.

CGO,

Somehow I knew your claim to be done was bogus. Somehow I just knew that you’d be back for more dispute.

If it is in no particular order then why is it numbered 1.1?

Because it was the first point in the first section; hence, 1.1. You assumed some sort of hierarchical value structure where none was intended.

…I don’t consider you my “interlocuter”. I consider you a creationist apologist who pretends to be a free thinker.

Whatever. I consider you a head-hunting troll who hasn’t made a comment relating to the OP yet, and who has failed to justify every single one of their unfounded assertions. Seriously. You haven’t advanced one single argument here. You’re just taking potshots and attempting to belittle me. Whatever though; get your rocks off.

You are a free-lance writer who holds dubious beliefs and uses the language of science to bolster them.

There you go again, with more unfounded assertions. I’m not a freelance writer; I’m a card-carrying member of WGA who owns a publishing company and has had a few of my own books published. Not that money or publishing matters, I just wanted to show your baseless accusations for what they are: baseless accusations.

Do you believe the Earth is 6000 years old? Yes or no?

I realize that you badly wish to categorize me, but I’ve already told you that I hold no belief regarding Earth’s age other than what I’ve already stated, which is that I don’t know. I think that’s the only intellectually honest response, but that’s just me.

Off the record, I would say that I think Earth must be at least 6-10,000 years old, based on the collection of extant documents we have.

  (Quote)

Chuck August 17, 2010 at 4:38 pm

CL,

Everything I stated is related to the OP. You are “Fred” in the Superdog scenario.

It’s a shame you can’t see that.

  (Quote)

Chuck August 17, 2010 at 4:44 pm

CL,

I read this series of malarkey (e.g. “woo”) at your blog : http://thewarfareismental.wordpress.com/category/creationism/

And “argue to the best explanation” that you are a YEC who doesn’t understand science or evolution.

Now get uppity, sensitive one and list out your professional credentials while wasting grey matter on defending a superstitious position.

  (Quote)

Hermes August 17, 2010 at 5:34 pm

Cl: However, if there is a point that’s relevant to me, I’ll ask you again: what is it?

Cl: When you told me to respond to your post, you actually meant the latter half of it, not the part I already responded to. I get that.

Great. Go for it.

I’ve provided a set of comments you’ve probably not heard anywhere else. The basics for a much larger discussion that you probably don’t appreciate at the moment, or may just think are nutty. I’m fine with that for now. The potential offer starts with something new and gets away from the same old back and forth nonsense.

I think what I have discussed in part gets at the basis of many theisms (not just religions), and offers an opportunity to have common ground that is honestly examined instead of one based in strident polemics.

Many of the positions that people feel compelled to cling to are not necessary. They shut down conversations instead of improving them.

If exploring what I’ve shown so far is not interesting to you, then I can’t make you be interested.

  (Quote)

Hermes August 17, 2010 at 5:41 pm
Hermes: …surely you as a freethinker (?) are not disputing the current consensus gathered from evidence from many fields of study?

Cl: Reference actual scientists or actual data, please. I refuse to guess what you’re alluding to.

Cl: Off the record, I would say that I think Earth must be at least 6-10,000 years old, based on the collection of extant documents we have.

Come now. Do you want to go through a whole training session?

Is this a reasonable and efficient way to start a conversation, or a defensive one used to soak up time over the well supported?

What say you ‘freethinker’?

* * *

Note what I mentioned about the difference between historians and other specialists;

Hermes: On history. It’s not geology or anthropology or even forensics. A historian mostly uses written records, not other objects.

Written records require a symbol system. The oldest written records I’m aware of are accounting chits and crude pictograms. These records tend to be very fragile so few survive even over fairly short periods such as a lifetime or two.

While there are exceptions, those written records are what a historian generally limits themselves to, though non-written physical evidence from other fields also is increasingly taken into account.

For example, anthropologists who dig through ancient trash pits can gather together some fragments of paper if the climate has been very dry in a specific area. Piecing those parts together, though, still takes quite a bit of patience before a historian can then take advantage of the work of the anthropologist. Add in a wet environment or one where only accounting chits on clay were made — everything else being verbal; not written — and the historian has very little to go on.

  (Quote)

cl August 17, 2010 at 6:45 pm

If exploring what I’ve shown so far is not interesting to you, then I can’t make you be interested.

Actually, you’re being so vague and esoteric that I’m getting interested. Give me some time and I’ll read your comment, again. So, yes: I’ll play you’re game for a few.

Regarding the other issue:

Do you want to go through a whole training session?

Get to the point.

What say you ‘freethinker’?

I say if you’ve got a point to make about the age of the Earth, make it. Your attempts at snark are pretty boring and I’m about to lose interest again.

Chuck,

Are you also CGO?

Regardless, what is it with commenters who have an aversion to specificity? If you wish to make a point, be precise. If all you’re going to do is link to search or category results, you’re not saying much and you expose yourself as lazy. Though it might help if you would define your cute little trigger word, I don’t believe there’s any “woo” in any of the posts on the page of mine you linked to. Since you’re making the claim that there is, follow through.

OTOH, I do know that what I wrote in one of those posts garnered approval from a professor of biochemistry, and an employed biology postdoc. I mean, if professors and working scientists are giving me minor props, why should I be worried about what you think, ye of little faith?

  (Quote)

Hermes August 17, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Cl: So, yes: I’ll play you’re game for a few.

It’s not a game, but I’m OK if you think it is for now. Just restrain your actions a bit in treating it like one.

Cl: Get to the point.

I’m replying to your broad comments about history and provided some direction already including background information on what historians do as opposed to other groups.

But, maybe a different question will cut to the chase.

Do you consider the world wide flood in Genesis to be a real event or a story written for some other reason but to describe an actual historic account (ex: instead of history, it was intended to be didactic/inspirational/illustrative/… .)?

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CGO August 17, 2010 at 7:42 pm

CL

Keep the faith.

I will keep seeing it as superstition.

  (Quote)

Hermes August 17, 2010 at 9:33 pm

For what it’s worth, one example of 60K old human lineage in Australia alone;

Interview [ time: 38.45 through 44.00 ]: http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/podcasts/show/2010.08.15

Transcript: http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/content/interviews/interview/1393

  (Quote)

Hermes August 17, 2010 at 9:39 pm

FWIW, some traditional Australian aborigine groups consider all other humans to be descendants of them. This is a claim also held by some South American tribes as well as others, such as some desert tribes in northern Africa through to Turkey and India.

  (Quote)

Hermes August 18, 2010 at 3:21 pm

[ ping ]

  (Quote)

Hermes August 18, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Cl: Off the record, I would say that I think Earth must be at least 6-10,000 years old, based on the collection of extant documents we have.

Cl: Reference actual scientists or actual data, please. I refuse to guess what you’re alluding to.

Hermes: For what it’s worth, one example of 60K old human lineage in Australia alone;

Interview [ time: 38.45 through 44.00 ]: http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/podcasts/show/2010.08.15

Transcript: http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/content/interviews/interview/1393

With the above as a given, do you agree that 60K is a reasonable minimum age for the Earth?

  (Quote)

CGO August 18, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Herm

Has he answere your question regarding a literal worldwide flood and Noah?

  (Quote)

Hermes August 18, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Not yet.

If not that one, maybe she has a thoughtful response to the last question?

[ sits back on floor in lotus position and calmly hums ]

  (Quote)

CGO August 18, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Doubt it.

  (Quote)

Hermes August 18, 2010 at 4:22 pm

This has happened before and will happen again.

In other words: It happens, it don’t happen, it ain’t no matter. Sunrise, sunset. Wax on, wax off.

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Hermes August 19, 2010 at 5:18 am

CGO, please refrain from making any comments in this thread today.

I thank you for your consideration.

  (Quote)

CGO August 19, 2010 at 5:27 am

Affirmative. (Besides this)

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Hermes August 19, 2010 at 5:35 am

I call shenanigans on Cl.

Cl both proudly promotes the term freethinker in her blog’s banner and also this on the right hand panel;

LOGO: I [heart] Haters

Comment “Policy”

TWIM values free speech. Ads might get cut, that’s about it. Comments and criticisms from readers, writers, logicians, freethinkers, believers, skeptics, atheists, agnostics, scientists, theologians, philosophers, cranks, haters and trolls are welcomed. Inflammatory vitriol is subject to harsh rebuttal and/or mockery.

That’s a statement that encourages the idea that the writer is not phased by anything. That they can roll with it and that they deal with all comments that come to her.

Yet, pointing out that one little thing in jest — that Cl considers herself to be a ‘freethinker’ and proudly promotes that title in multiple places mainly through the use of the banner and quotes from authorities — causes the true nature of Cl to come out;

She feigns having the intellectual version of sunburn and will use that to manipulate or excuse herself at any time to to avoid substantial and earnest conversations.

Aggressive comments or ones easily criticized unproductively do get a reaction while thoughtful comments do not. This is demonstrated by the constrained and overly defensive comments that appear in the form of letters on a page; what Cl writes and does not write, quotes and does not quote, and what gains a reaction and what gets ignored or lost in reply. Those choices are available for all to review and judge for themselves, and for each person to draw their own conclusions about.

In my case, I pony up with references to challenge a strange idea that the age of the Earth is in dispute. While the evidence available and conclusions drawn from it are well documented, I’m asked for specific references from specific scientists as if it is a point of contention among reasonable people.

Yet, I do provide some details on one point so that we can move the conversation forward. Why document the obvious? So much time has been wasted on dealing with minor issues like who quoted what and replied where — arguments over minutiae as if facts are flexible.

So, why do it? I figured one concession to this nitpickery is a small price to pay to get to better more thoughtful comments. I know that Cl is capable of some insights, and it would be interesting to see her exercise that part of her brain and not just the fight or flight centers of her hypothalamus and sympathetic nervous system.

This passive aggressive nonsense draws me and others away from better content and focuses all attention on her behavior; the consistent dodge and encouragement of her own status as some kind of lone victim abused by the mean atheists as opposed to someone who can use the tools of her trade in an effective manner to deal with more productive ideas.

Then again, while she does encourage what she calls “haters” on her own blog at the same time she tellingly considers her blog to be based on mental warfare, not mutual discussions. Shame on me for considering she has any other motives. Like Cleese’s Lancelot from the Holy Grail [2], it’s not like she does not warn everyone what her focus is, though it would be good if she were just to cut the act and get on with it herself.

Cl: I know you are not a wilting flower and I see no reason to go along with that charade.

  (Quote)

Hermes August 19, 2010 at 5:38 am

[ repost ]

CGO, please refrain from making any comments in this thread today.

I thank you for your consideration.

  (Quote)

Hermes August 20, 2010 at 8:37 pm

I think it’s safe to say that Cl is both manipulative and spiteful. Traits consistent with theism.

  (Quote)

CGO August 21, 2010 at 4:02 am

And like Yahweh can summon divine hiddenness (where is she?)

  (Quote)

Hermes August 21, 2010 at 4:30 am

Who cares? If she considers herself a writer, and doesn’t mean what she writes about herself or doesn’t realize she is actually mistaken about who she is, then she’s doing it wrong. That error will translate into mistakes in her work.

Long hours with a journal, in private, might allow her to find herself and then she can start posting accurate statements instead of the current ones that shift from moment to moment. She might even gain insight into what other people actually think — by reading what they actually write.

Then again, this is just informed speculation. I don’t claim to be a mind reader and can only go with what words are presented and in what context. A void, like a puff pastry, demands a filling.

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CGO August 21, 2010 at 5:09 am

I agree. She also would do herself a favor and buy “On Writing” by Stephen King and realize her high falutin’ vocabulary is a sure sign of an insecure writer.

Also, “Why I’m not an Atheist” is a derivative title.

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Hermes August 21, 2010 at 5:50 am

On Writing — I didn’t know about that one. I haven’t looked at books about writing in many years. Even my shelf doesn’t have any, while my cherished Writer’s Digest archive is safe from oxidation, UV damage, and theft while it sits at the bottom of a landfill.

Thanks.

As for flourishes, I admit to that vice. It keeps me from being bored. Besides, I like quirky words.

Like The Dawkins Delusion, … and so many more. As marketing, it makes sense, though those offerings are intended to keep the believers On Guard as opposed to informed.

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Hermes August 21, 2010 at 6:40 am

(from an Amazon review of King’s book)

To quote him (p.160), “Plot is, i think, a good writer’s last resort and a dullard’s first choice.” He believes in creating the situations, characters and letting them drive the story.

I agree with the other reviewers that say not having a plot is a dangerous thing for any fiction writer. That King is a rare one that can pull it off. King’s emphasis on characters taking over shows he is not formulaic though he’s sometimes accused of that.

If the writer doesn’t let the characters act on their own and drive the plot, the results will be flat and uninteresting. There is a middle ground, though. Flesh out the landscape, and people it with appropriate characters that will allow the main characters to bounce towards the expected plot resolution. What they bring to the journey and even the conclusion won’t necessarily be the result of a stiff plot.

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