News Bits

by Luke Muehlhauser on November 25, 2009 in News

I finished transcribing and hyperlinking Richard Carrier’s massive bibliography of naturalism found in Sense and Goodness Without God.

You knew this already, but: William Lane Craig doesn’t give a damn about the evidence.

Study ‘New Testament History and Literature’ at Yale through a free video course.

Added several new books to the free religion audiobooks page: The Wars of the Jews, The Age of Reason, Buddhist Writings, Autobiography of Madame Guyon, The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion, With Christ in the School of Prayer, Second Apology of Justin Martyr, The Bahai Revelation, Hurlbut’s Bible Lessons, Augustine’s Confessions, and The Making of a Nation: The Beginnings of Israel’s History.

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{ 72 comments… read them below or add one }

ayer November 25, 2009 at 6:24 pm

“You knew this already, but: William Lane Craig doesn’t give a damn about the evidence.”

Right, that’s why he spends all his time traveling around the world debating the evidence. I understand you’re trying to be pithy in these “news bits,” but give me a break.

The evidence is one of the means by which the Holy Spirit works in conversion; so he “gives a damn” about it, but not in the same way that you do. That’s why is called “conversion” and is not a case of “well, I will commit my life to Christ because I have determined that 50.1% of the evidence tips this way.” If there is a God, as Plantinga notes, to expect that he would require all people to do a lifetime study of philosophy of religion (as fun as geeks like you and me find that) to come to faith is ludicrous. The knowledge comes through the internal witness of the Spirit, but the Spirit makes use of apologetics as a form of evangelism.

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Michael Thackray November 25, 2009 at 6:43 pm

“You knew this already, but: William Lane Craig doesn’t give a damn about the TRUTH.” – fixed.

Your right,he does care about the evidence; as far as it supports his faith. The guy obviously puts the truth second to his religion.
And that’s why he’s so painful to listen too. Such biased brilliance.

Same with any fundy arguing for or against any issue.

Luke’s fantastic because he hasn’t got some religious dogma motivating his learning. (at least none that he is aware of). kudos luke. Your impartiality and sincerity is what has set you apart from the billion of bloggers on the web, and why I reguarly visit your site.
(That, and it’s not blocked by workplace’s internet filter)

If only I could find a Christian version of you. Oh wait, I guess you are…

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Lee A. P. November 25, 2009 at 9:58 pm

This ghost could “authenticate” himself by solving the problems religious believers have amongst themselves.

He doesn’t. It turns out that Christians are talking to themselves. Imagine that.

This “self authenticating witness of the holy spirit” business is absolutely THE biggest snake oil, horse shit, stumble-fuckery that Craig spews forth.

And there in that link he ADMITS that any “witness” that differs enough from what he himself understands of the holy spook, is then obviously flawed or misinterpreted. That sort of reasoning is offensively putrid and self deceiving to me. It is just pathetic.

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Roman November 25, 2009 at 10:11 pm

I wonder if Craig has ever responded directly to “historical reliability” problem for using inner experience as a source of knowledge.

Luke says this all the time – inner experience has one of the worst track records for giving us true beliefs. So why does Craig think that HIS experience is giving him true beliefs?

I haven’t read the relevant part of his Reasonable Faith book, so maybe he has a response there. If anyone knows what Craig’s response is, I would be interested to hear it.

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Roman November 25, 2009 at 10:30 pm

Hi Ayer,

“If there is a God, as Plantinga notes, to expect that he would require all people to do a lifetime study of philosophy of religion (as fun as geeks like you and me find that) to come to faith is ludicrous. The knowledge comes through the internal witness of the Spirit, but the Spirit makes use of apologetics as a form of evangelism. ”

One might ask, if God’s intention is for people have a relationship with Him, and hence also for people to believe in God (this seems like it is probably necessary for having a relationship with God), and furthermore God can make people believe in his existence through the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit, why would God bother with using evidence at all? Or if he does use evidence, why would the available evidence be such that it’s not convincing to honest seeking individuals? Not giving the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit to those individuals who honestly seek the truth and end up not believing in God, seems the exact OPPOSITE of what we would expect if God intended for people to believe in Him.

Using evidence just does not seem like an optimal way way for an all-powerful, all-knowing being to achieve his aim.

But this could be wrong because:
1) There are no honest individuals who examine the evidence and come out not believing (So Luke and Paul Draper and Me are culpable for our non-belief.)
Or 2) God has a reason for allowing honest individuals examine the evidence for God’s existence and come out not-believing and we can know this reason,
Or 3) God has a reason for allowing honest individuals examine the evidence for God’s existence and come out not believing but we can’t know the reason.

Or maybe there are more ways in which I could be wrong. I don’t know. What do you think Ayer?

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Mark November 25, 2009 at 11:31 pm

Dr. Craig said: “As to your point about my defense of the witness of the Spirit undermining my apologetic efforts, I HAVE NO CHOICE but to hold to the religious epistemology that I think is true, whatever the consequences.”

@Lukeprog: Dr. Craig’s “I have no choice” words line up perfectly with what I stated earlier: when one has truly witnessed and developed true faith, one has NO CHOICE but to remain IN that faith.

True faith is an immutable and eternal branch. It can’t be shaken loose from its tree. In fact the more violently you shake the tree, the stronger the bond between the supporting vine and branch grow. That is how Jesus said faith works, and that is in fact exactly how it works. I’m witness.

Look, I don’t mean to be a pain. I have no issue whatsoever with your rejection of God; I just take exception to the notion that you once had faith, but then somehow lost it. Sorry, but that’s like saying you hate your car because you can’t start it by blowing into the exhaust pipe. It just doesn’t follow.

Faith cleaves to one’s heart like a starfish, and in TIME becomes one with it. You can’t reduce it to hocus pocus nonsense simply because it can’t be examined under a microscope like a pap smear and blogged about in your latest essay. Faith is personal. It is predicated on the UNSEEN, not the SEEN. Have you absolutely no belief in the invisible? Not even the air you are sucking in and out at this very second you are reading this?

Have faith… or don’t… but don’t knock something you have never experienced for yourself.

Peace and love and have a great Thanksgiving Luke

Mark

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Mark November 25, 2009 at 11:54 pm

why would the available evidence be such that it’s not convincing to honest seeking individuals?

It can only be convincing if you first convince your inner skeptic that there just MIGHT be an intelligent designer infinitely smarter than him and all his scientific idols. You’ll also need to convince him that this intelligent designer guy MIGHT be revealed in the Holy Bible, and that you MIGHT just find him there if you can somehow produce a mustard seed’s worth of faith in the unseen… all of which will require you wash down your pride with a few shots of humility.

Convince yourself you’re not a god, and you might find the real one.

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Mark November 26, 2009 at 12:00 am

Luke says this all the time – inner experience has one of the worst track records for giving us true beliefs.So why does Craig think that HIS experience is giving him true beliefs?

How do you know he is relying SPECIFICALLY on his own inner experiences? How do you know he has not seen the Lord’s works in the hearts and lives of his loved ones, or people who have testified to him? When we witness the Spirit, we witness it in everything and everyone. I’m almost certain Dr Craig’s whole belief system is not hinged on his own inner experiences

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Roman November 26, 2009 at 2:28 am

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your answers. With regard to this part of what you said:
” It can only be convincing if you first convince your inner skeptic that there just MIGHT be an intelligent designer infinitely smarter than him and all his scientific idols. You’ll also need to convince him that this intelligent designer guy MIGHT be revealed in the Holy Bible, and that you MIGHT just find him there if you can somehow produce a mustard seed’s worth of faith in the unseen… all of which will require you wash down your pride with a few shots of humility.”

I actually started off with this position. I believed that there IS an intelligent designer infinitely smarter than me. I believed that this intelligent designer IS revealed in the Holy Bible and that I HAD found him there. I thought the evidence showed that these things ARE true. So I didn’t start off with a bias against any of these beliefs. I started off with a massive bias TOWARDS those beliefs.

But then I studied philosophy at university…

But even throughout my studies I never stopped thinking that these things MIGHT be true, of course they might! For all I know they could be true. I should be open to that. And if they are true, then hopefully there are some good REASONS for thinking they are true. But from my examining of the evidence – my personal experience, others personal experiences and philosophy of religion, it just does not look like Christianity or theism is true. But of course they COULD be true. I change my mind about big things a lot, so I am open to that.

I have by no means looked at all the evidence yet, but if God exists and wants me to believe in Him, he’s not acting in a way which is getting his intention fulfilled, and I don’t think it’s because of anything I’m doing wrong. Maybe it’s because he’s not there.

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Roman November 26, 2009 at 2:47 am

“How do you know he is relying SPECIFICALLY on his own inner experiences?”

This is always the impression I got when reading or hearing him talk about the inner witness of the Holy Spirit.

But even if that’s wrong and really he relies on hearing about the inner experiences of others too, I’m not sure if that adds much more reliability to this method of coming to have beliefs.

Confirmation bias, misreports of events, poor estimation of probability, lack of awareness of confounding variables are all rife when people base their belief about something on anecdotal evidence.

It’s like belief in alternative medicine. You believe in it because it worked for you. (Problems: Sample size of one, no control for the placebo effect, no control for getting better for other reasons, you probably forget or underestimate the number of times it doesn’t work for you.) You believe because you have heard or seen other people get better using alternative medicine. (Problems: People tend to exaggerate their experiences (even unintentionally), you forget or underestimate the number of times it didn’t work for other people, lack of awareness of confounding variables, people lie for various reasons, etc.)

And it’s not just belief about alternative medicine that is sustained in this way. It’s also superstition, folk religions, psychic readings and so on.

So believing something on the basis of a combination of your personal experience and anecdotal evidence of others’ personal experience is a VERY unreliable way of forming a belief about something.

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Freethinker November 26, 2009 at 3:40 am

Mark, you say “Dr. Craig’s “I have no choice” words line up perfectly with what I stated earlier: when one has truly witnessed and developed true faith, one has NO CHOICE but to remain IN that faith.”

So, does that mean that once you find God, you no longer have freewill?

Thoughts and beliefs are the result of a complex of neural pathways in the brain. If you have a healthy, functioning brain, to say that you have no choice but to believe in something is ridiculous. The neural pathways that correspond to your belief in God may be particularly strong, as they have been reinforced for many years, but they can be altered if you allow it.

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Steven Carr November 26, 2009 at 5:08 am

So Craig hears voices telling him he is right and that other people are wrong?

Why does that mean that he is right?

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majinrevan666 November 26, 2009 at 8:41 am

Michael Thackray: “You knew this already, but: William Lane Craig doesn’t give a damn about the TRUTH.” – fixed.Your right,he does care about the evidence; as far as it supports his faith.The guy obviously puts the truth second to his religion.  

In a way, I can agree that Craig doesn’t give a damn
about the evidence, but to say that he doesn’t give a damn
about the truth is simply wrong.

To him, his self authenticating experience IS the truth.
It’s not as if he’s knowingly choosing a comforting lie
because he can’t face the capital T truth.

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Steven Carr November 26, 2009 at 9:38 am

What is Craig’s self-authenticating experience?

According to his personal testimony, he felt a lot better after a really good cry, and then he saw a lot of stars in the sky.

Guess there must be a God.

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majinrevan666 November 26, 2009 at 9:42 am

Steven Carr: What is Craig’s self-authenticating experience?According to his personal testimony, he felt a lot better after a really good cry, and then he saw a lot of stars in the sky.Guess there must be a God.  

I have no idea.

I would imagine that such experiences are ineffable.

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Steven Carr November 26, 2009 at 9:50 am

There is nothing ineffable about feeling better after crying or seeing a lot of stars in the sky.

Or perhaps Craig just had the feeling that no matter what anybody else said, he was right?

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majinrevan666 November 26, 2009 at 10:02 am

You’re presupposing the idea that all that happened was
that he felt better and saw stars.
Does it make sense to you that someone, anyone, would
convert to anything whatsoever given these things alone?

I mean, I know he is far from perfect, but honestly, give
him some credit at least.

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Steven CArr November 26, 2009 at 10:26 am

MAJIN
You’re presupposing the idea that all that happened was
that he felt better and saw stars.

CARR
I guess I will have to quote Craig, claiming he cried, felt better, and then saw a lot of stars in the sky.

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=6651

Finally, one night I just came to the end of my rope and cried out to God.

I cried out all the anger and bitterness that had built up inside me, and at the same time I felt this tremendous infusion of joy, like a balloon being blown up and blown up until it was ready to burst!

I remember I rushed outdoors—it was a clear, mid-western, summer night, and you could see the Milky Way stretched from horizon to horizon. As I looked up at the stars, I thought, “God! I’ve come to know God!”

That moment changed my whole life.

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majinrevan666 November 26, 2009 at 10:51 am

I’ve heard his testimony before.
A “tremendous infusion of joy” doesn’t equate to “feeling better” although joy does entail feeling better.

Suppose you’d had a transcendental experience, would you
be able to convey it to others in such a way that
if you were your own audience, you wouldn’t dismiss it
as “feeling better”?

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Reginald Selkirk November 26, 2009 at 11:50 am

Mark: True faith is an immutable and eternal branch.

Oh, sure, if you’re talking about true faith. Let me guess, if faith turns out to be mutable and ephemeral, then it wasn’t true. linky

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lukeprog November 26, 2009 at 12:08 pm

“True faith is an immutable and eternal branch.”

Is that even a proposition? It looks something like “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.”

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Ben November 26, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Luke,

That article was alarming, but to Craig’s credit, he did say at the end, “So you present arguments and evidence in favor of Christian theism and objections against their worldview in the hope that their false confidence will crack under the weight of the argument and they will come to know the truth. (This also is what the atheist should do with me.)”[emphasis mine]

Otherwise, he’s just being as consistent as anyone is who thinks they are in direct personal communion with deity. What kind of defeater do you really expect someone to embrace if they think they are in mid-conversation with a real person you claim doesn’t exist?

Just sayin. It makes sense.

Ben

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Steven Carr November 26, 2009 at 12:59 pm

I think Majinrevan thinks there is something supernatural about somebody feeling a lot better after crying a lot.

No there isn’t. Craig’s self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit is high-faluting talk for the totally banal and mundane experiences of somebody feeling better after crying a lot.

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Ben November 26, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Steven Carr: Craig’s self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit is high-faluting talk for the totally banal and mundane experiences of somebody feeling better after crying a lot.

Is there some place online where WLC goes into detail about just what his experiences entail?

Ben

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majinrevan666 November 26, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Steven Carr: I think Majinrevan thinks there is something supernatural about somebody feeling a lot better after crying a lot.No there isn’t. Craig’s self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit is high-faluting talk for the totally banal and mundane experiences of somebody feeling better after crying a lot.  

You just perfectly described what each of us thinks
of Craig’s experiences.

Congratulations.

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Steven Carr November 26, 2009 at 1:24 pm

I have no idea how this alleged ‘Holy Spirit’ can ‘witness’ to anything, unless Craig hears voices.

Without words, how does Craig channel this alleged ‘Holy Spirit’?

Christians used to whip themselves to get these ‘experiences’.

So how does Craig’s experiences of feeling better after a heavy bout of crying differ from a masochist,or a Christian hermit, having an endorphine rush after being whipped?

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Ben November 26, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Steven Carr: I have no idea how this alleged ‘Holy Spirit’ can ‘witness’ to anything, unless Craig hears voices.

I don’t know how we can judge unless we have details. I do recall him saying he doesn’t hear voices in his head in the Richard Carrier debate. Don’t know if the only option left is a warm fuzzy feeling in relation to Christian theology. Maybe there are other possibilities. Dunno.

Ben

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majinrevan666 November 26, 2009 at 1:39 pm

How does the feeling of sex differ from the feeling of
love?
How does the feeling of hate differ from the feeling of
frustration?
You can’t actually describe feelings in any meaningful way
anymore than you can describe colors.

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Ben November 26, 2009 at 1:43 pm

majinrevan666: You can’t actually describe feelings in any meaningful way anymore than you can describe colors.

So someone like Craig might be saying that they can’t really explain their God feeling like they can’t explain the color red?

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Steven Carr November 26, 2009 at 1:44 pm

So Craig can’t describe how his feelings differ from the endorphine rush that Christian hermits, or masochists, get after being whipped?

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lukeprog November 26, 2009 at 1:48 pm

Ben: I do recall him saying he doesn’t hear voices in his head in the Richard Carrier debate. Don’t know if the only option left is a warm fuzzy feeling in relation to Christian theology. Maybe there are other possibilities. Dunno.

Yeah, that is an interesting question…

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majinrevan666 November 26, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Ben and Steven, no he can’t.
The best he can do is provide you with some vague term
like “mystical” or “spiritual”, or describe the experience’s effects as opposed to the effect of beating
yourself with a whip. (effects other than the feeling itself, like a sudden willingness to give money to the poor etc.)

By the way, even though endorphins are natural, they
are not necessarily devoid of spiritual meaning.

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Ben November 26, 2009 at 2:08 pm

majinrevan666: Ben and Steven, no he can’t. The best he can do is provide you with some vague term like “mystical” or “spiritual”, or describe the experience’s effects as opposed to the effect of beating yourself with a whip.

By the way, even though endorphins are natural, they
are not necessarily devoid of spiritual meaning.

I don’t think anyone is doubting the logical possibility that a real spiritual realm could have natural effects. The existence of those effects isn’t meant to be a slam dunk for naturalism. The problem is that our brains are well known virtual reality machines that enable a wide range of divergent mental phenomena and we should expect this given the natural variation of brain construction.

Whatever the case may be, the experiences are a weak evidential contribution to the cause of theism and amount to more interpretation than fact. Powerful personal experiences maybe, but without the ability to do any meaningful cross-checking like we can with our other normal experiences, more likely explanations exist even if mundane analogous mental happenings don’t conclusively prove it.

Ben

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majinrevan666 November 26, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Right, but that’s why Craig doesn’t really use it as an
argument for god’s existence.
It’s only valid if you’ve had such an experience yourself.

I imagine that it would be something like the knowledge that
you were not created 5 minutes ago, or the knowledge
that the external world exists.

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Michael Thackray November 26, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Mark

So to answer this apostasy, you make faith becomes this ambiguos vague idea that authenticates fundamentalism and that the apostate clearly never had it in the first place
i.e
We never had “True faith”

If faith is what you imply it is, then this has huge implications regarding God.
Let us consider that he denies this answer-all “faith,” to someone like our dear Luke, whose has clearly attested to seeking God more sincerely and genuinely than any christian I’ve ever met, and then permits this faith to people like those in Westboro Uniting Church, George Bush, and those lunatics at Jesus Camp.
What chance then does Luke have? Because if Faith is what you say it is, then God selects us according to blind fanaticism and fundamentalism, rather than out of any desire to know him.

Quite simply put, your faith has no room for people who care about the truth, and so for people like Luke, they had no hope in the first place.

As for Craig, if the truth slapped him in the face, if it spoke against Christianity, it wouldn’t change him at all. He’d make a clever excuse for it.
And that’s why he doesn’t care about the truth.

I reject your definition of faith as a delusional cowardly attempt to protect your religious beliefs from the harmful fact of the Apostate Luke.

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Ben November 26, 2009 at 3:17 pm

majinrevan666: Right, but that’s why Craig doesn’t really use it as an
argument for god’s existence.
It’s only valid if you’ve had such an experience yourself.

That’s just it. From what I gather so far (barring further explicit details), I probably wouldn’t consider it valid even if I was the one experiencing it. Cross-checking isn’t some special atheist tool. It’s just a human tool we use to make more certain our minds or our senses on their own are not deceiving us. What worldview can do without that? Plenty of apostates have had all sorts of experiences (I’ve had some impressive encounters with demons and gnomes) and there are good reasons we don’t consider that to be good evidence.

Let’s say Craig was hearing voices in his head. That still wouldn’t mean it was good evidence “just for him” since there’s no reason the voices couldn’t tell him something objective that he could in turn relate to us, that we could in turn verify independently. So what is good for him really ought to be good for us, too. And if it’s not good for us, how in the world has he confirmed it’s good for him?

To the extent you can’t verify, is to the same extent you should probably doubt. That’s my standard for myself in the event my brain starts wonking out. I don’t want to be a slave to what is indistinguishable from my own insanity. I’m assuming that standard has some appeal. wink, wink

Ben

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Steven Carr November 26, 2009 at 10:27 pm

Not only is Craig’s experience the banal one of seeing a lot of stars in the sky, but ‘self-authenticating’ means Craig authenticated it himself, rather than checked it against any external evidence.

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Ben November 26, 2009 at 10:47 pm

Steven Carr: ’self-authenticating’ means Craig authenticated it himself, rather than checked it against any external evidence.

It does appear to be antithetical to cross checking.

Ben

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lukeprog November 27, 2009 at 12:23 am

Steven Carr: ’self-authenticating’ means Craig authenticated it himself, rather than checked it against any external evidence. 

Exactly. That’s the whole problem.

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Reginald Selkirk November 27, 2009 at 7:16 am

majinrevan666: It’s only valid if you’ve had such an experience yourself.

AND you follow the same brand of religion. Or do you consider the nonverifiable inner experience of people of other religions to be valid? How about Matt McCormick’s sensus atheistus which “assures him, beyond any possibility of mistake, that anyone who claims to have direct experience of God is mistaken.” ?

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majinrevan666 November 27, 2009 at 7:54 am

Reginald Selkirk:
AND you follow the same brand of religion. Or do you consider the nonverifiable inner experience of people of other religions to be valid? How about Matt McCormick’s sensus atheistus which “assures him, beyond any possibility of mistake, that anyone who claims to have direct experience of God is mistaken.” ?  

I personally think that personal religious experiences
all point to one truth, whatever that may be.

The sensus atheistus thing is just stupid.
If it really existed, then it would be noteworthy, but
also evidence against naturalism in my opinion.

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drj November 27, 2009 at 8:18 am

majinrevan666: I personally think that personal religious experiences
all point to one truth, whatever that may be.

The sensus atheistus thing is just stupid.
If it really existed, then it would be noteworthy, but
also evidence against naturalism in my opinion.

Actually, when I look at all the doubtful experiences religious folk have, the world over, I am assured of the existence of the sensus atheistus and that it speaks some truth to us. Doubts may manifest differently, but they all speak to the same underlying truth. When I look at the haphazardness of nature, the thoughtlessness and arbitrariness of its “orginization”, or the suffering in the world, I have a self-authenticating experience that tells me there was no mind behind any of it.

When I read the words of Mother Theresa – “I am told God loves me — and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul.” – I know that she experiences the same truth I do!

But you are right, actually… the sensus atheistus is stupid – but its no different in character or validity when compared with the sensus divinitatus. So by what right do you call the sensus atheist stupid, while praising the sensus divinitatus?

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ayer November 27, 2009 at 8:44 am

lukeprog:
Exactly. That’s the whole problem.  

“Self-authenticating” in the same way your knowledge that you are innocent of a crime (based on your clear memory of a perfect alibi) is authentic even if all the physical evidence is stacked against you (e.g., the plot of the book and movie “presumed innocent.”). Absent an overwhelming defeater, you are perfectly warranted in asserting the knowledge of your innocence.

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Reginald Selkirk November 27, 2009 at 8:59 am

majinrevan666: I personally think that personal religious experiences
all point to one truth, whatever that may be.

I impersonally doubt that you could make that stick. Religions vary in their doctrines on almost every conceivable point, from the nature of time to the number, identity and character of gods, to the existence of a putative afterlife and post-life punishment/reward.

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majinrevan666 November 27, 2009 at 9:08 am

drj:
Actually, when I look at all the doubtful experiences religious folk have, the world over, I am assured of the existence of the sensus atheistus and that it speaks some truth to us.Doubts may manifest differently, but they all speak to the same underlying truth.When I look at the haphazardness of nature, the thoughtlessness and arbitrariness of its “orginization”, or the suffering in the world, I have a self-authenticating experience that tells me there was no mind behind any of it.When I read the words of Mother Theresa – “I am told God loves me — and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul.” – I know that she experiences the same truth I do!But you are right, actually… the sensus atheistus is stupid – but its no different in character or validity when compared with the sensus divinitatus. So by what right do you call the sensus atheist stupid, while praising the sensus divinitatus?  

If by sensus atheistus you mean that you see suffering etc
and think that no divine being exists because of that, then, as I said, that’s evidence against naturalism.
To even postulate that things ought to be different you’re
either expressing a personal preference, or making a valid
judgment.
If it’s the former, then the SA thing is meaningless.
If it’s the latter, then you need something to account
for that. (ie, a real, objective moral truth)

I was calling the SA stupid because it doesn’t exist as
defined by the link, whereas SD does exist, whether it
points to truth or otherwise.

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majinrevan666 November 27, 2009 at 9:11 am

Reginald Selkirk:
I impersonally doubt that you could make that stick. Religions vary in their doctrines on almost every conceivable point, from the nature of time to the number, identity and character of gods, to the existence of a putative afterlife and post-life punishment/reward.  

But we’re not talking about doctrines, we’re talking about
a sense of divinity.
I don’t believe that there’s a Jesus sense and an Allah sense and a Yaheh sense and…ad infinitum.

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ayer November 27, 2009 at 10:35 am

ayer: (e.g., the plot of the book and movie “presumed innocent.”)

Since this site likes to use movies as jumping-off points for discussion, I thought of another good example of a self-authenticating experience–the Jodie Foster character’s encounter with the aliens in “Contact.” Even though all the external evidence (that is not being covered up by the corrupt government officials) indicates she had no such experience, she insists that her experience constitutes knowledge, and she is perfectly warranted in doing so.

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lukeprog November 27, 2009 at 11:01 am

ayer,

I do suspect I’ll discuss Contact some day. That movie rather irritates atheists, especially since it’s based on a Carl Sagan novel! :)

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Reginald Selkirk November 27, 2009 at 11:45 am

majinrevan666: But we’re not talking about doctrines, we’re talking about
a sense of divinity.

Are we? I thought you were talking about

I personally think that personal religious experiences
all point to one truth, whatever that may be.

So “one truth” means that the time structure of the universe is a line and a circle, there are 0, 1, several and millions of gods, he/she/they want an immense variety of things from humans, there is and is not an afterlife, souls are and are not rewarded or punished for a finite and infinite period of time in that afterlife.

given that, we can at least assume that if there are any gods, they are not the sort of gods who wish to convey a clear and consistent message to humans about whether they exist, what they want of us, etc. This already rules out a great number of reported gods from across the ages and cultures of man, because a quite a few of those gods allegedly delivered a clear message on those topics.

You are failing to make sense.

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ayer November 27, 2009 at 11:52 am

lukeprog: ayer,I do suspect I’ll discuss Contact some day. That movie rather irritates atheists, especially since it’s based on a Carl Sagan novel!   

That’s interesting to hear, since as a theist watching it I kept wondering why it wasn’t irritating me as much as I expected! :)

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majinrevan666 November 27, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Reginald Selkirk:
Are we? I thought you were talking about
So “one truth” means that the time structure of the universe is a line and a circle, there are 0, 1, several and millions of gods, he/she/they want an immense variety of things from humans, there is and is not an afterlife, souls are and are not rewarded or punished for a finite and infinite period of time in that afterlife.given that, we can at least assume that if there are any gods, they are not the sort of gods who wish to convey a clear and consistent message to humans about whether they exist, what they want of us, etc. This already rules out a great number of reported gods from across the ages and cultures of man, because a quite a few of those gods allegedly delivered a clear message on those topics.You are failing to make sense.  

What the hell are you talking about?
How do you get from a feeling of divinity to all that?

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drj November 27, 2009 at 12:34 pm

majinrevan666:
If by sensus atheistus you mean that you see suffering etc
and think that no divine being exists because of that, then, as I said, that’s evidence against naturalism.
To even postulate that things ought to be different you’re
either expressing a personal preference, or making a valid
judgment.
If it’s the former, then the SA thing is meaningless.
If it’s the latter, then you need something to account
for that. (ie, a real, objective moral truth)I was calling the SA stupid because it doesn’t exist as
defined by the link, whereas SD does exist, whether it
points to truth or otherwise.  

I hate to tell you, but when it comes down to it, none of this really matters. To the extent that external evidence agress with my sense, fine. But I will simply have to say that any evidence or argument that controverts the sensus atheistus is simply wrong, even if I cannot readily see why. My sense of the mindless universe is warranted, properly basic, and self-authenticating through my internal experience. Just as I can be certain of the existence of other minds, I can be certain of the mindless universe.

It doesnt just stop here… There are few beliefs that could not be supported this way, just as effectively as theism. See the problem?

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Reginald Selkirk November 27, 2009 at 12:35 pm

majinrevan666: What the hell are you talking about?
How do you get from a feeling of divinity to all that?

So your “one truth” is just a feeling of divinity? You aren’t claiming that there is actual divinity driving that sensation? Then you are claiming practically nothing. That is so little as not to deserve the acclamation, “one truth.”

Now on the other hand if you are claiming that there is actual divinity driving that sensation, then that actual existing divinity must have some nature. Almost all of the huge variety of religions claim to know a lot of detail about their claimed divinities.

You are attempting to hide in a cloud of obscurity.

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majinrevan666 November 27, 2009 at 1:20 pm

Reginald Selkirk:
So your “one truth” is just a feeling of divinity? You aren’t claiming that there is actual divinity driving that sensation? Then you are claiming practically nothing. That is so little as not to deserve the acclamation, “one truth.”Now on the other hand if you are claiming that there is actual divinity driving that sensation, then that actualexisting divinity must have some nature. Almost all of the huge variety of religions claim to know a lot of detail about their claimed divinities.You are attempting to hide in a cloud of obscurity.  

No, you’re just making this complicated for no reason at all.
I am claiming the latter, but how do you go from that saying that because a human makes claim
X about a certain thing, and another makes claim Y about
a certain thing, therefore that thing must be a delusion?

Using your logic, every disagreement would lead us to conclude that the object of disagreement does not exist.

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majinrevan666 November 27, 2009 at 1:35 pm

drj:
I hate to tell you, but when it comes down to it, none of thisreally matters.To the extent that external evidence agress with my sense, fine.But I will simply have to say that any evidence or argument that controverts the sensus atheistus is simply wrong, even if I cannot readily see why.My sense of the mindless universe is warranted, properly basic, and self-authenticating through my internal experience.Just as I can be certain of the existence of other minds, I can be certain of the mindless universe.It doesnt just stop here…There are few beliefs that could not be supported this way, just as effectively as theism.See the problem?  

I do, but I don’t think there’s any way around that.
A feeling of innate knowledge almost always trumps a
consideration of evidence.
The consideration of evidence itself is part of the innate
knowledge that our minds have the capacity to interpret evidence correctly.

All I can say regarding the SA is that it’s logically contradictory given a naturalist presupposition whereas
the SD does not.
But, as you rightly point out, that would have no bearing on your core belief using Craig’s logic.

Perhaps we should just try to balance logic and intuition
to reach the most accurate perspective we can.

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lukeprog November 27, 2009 at 6:50 pm

Personally, I wish they would not have put in that one little bit about the evidence of the camera recording for 17 hours or whatever. That just spoils the whole beauty of their chosen ending! When I review the movie I’m probably going to review it as if they had left that bit out.

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ayer November 27, 2009 at 9:54 pm

lukeprog: Personally, I wish they would not have put in that one little bit about the evidence of the camera recording for 17 hours or whatever. That just spoils the whole beauty of their chosen ending! When I review the movie I’m probably going to review it as if they had left that bit out.  

I found the Jodie Foster “testimony” scene on youtube and watched it again (see link below). I swear it could have been written by Plantinga or Craig to exemplify the concept of an epistemic “intrinsic defeater-defeater.” (Jodie is in the role of William Lane Craig and James Woods is the scoffing, incredulous atheist ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FbSPXC4btU&feature=related

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Steven Carr November 28, 2009 at 2:32 am

AYER
Even though all the external evidence (that is not being covered up by the corrupt government officials) indicates she had no such experience, she insists that her experience constitutes knowledge, and she is perfectly warranted in doing so.

CARR
Yes, she had cried an awful lot, hadn’t she?

And then she felt a lot better after crying.

And then she saw a lot of stars, so she was obviously
warranted in believing she had been transported to a distant planet.

When she was on this planet, she saw somebody and heard voices.

Does Craig hear voices, when he has the ‘self-authenticating testimony of the Holy Spirit?’

Does he see things nobody else can see?

People talk as if Craig actually has experiences.

No,all he did was cry a lot,and see some stars.No voices nobody else could see , no seeing things which were not there….

I assume Ayer defends the claim of the Yorkshire Ripper that God told him to butcher prostitutes…..

These experiences of God are ‘self-authenticating’,which means that Ayer has to authenticate them.

That is what ‘self-authenticating’ means, doesn’t it? Christians reject out of hand people’s experiences of God that do not fit in with Christian dogma.

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Reginald Selkirk November 28, 2009 at 7:06 am

majinrevan666: No, you’re just making this complicated for no reason at all.
I am claiming the latter, but how do you go from that saying that because a human makes claim
X about a certain thing, and another makes claim Y about
a certain thing, therefore that thing must be a delusion?

Using your logic, every disagreement would lead us to conclude that the object of disagreement does not exist.

I am stating that the disparity of descriptions is so great that it is very difficult to accept that these people are talking about one object and not a wide variety of different objects.

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ayer November 28, 2009 at 7:36 am

Steven Carr: No,all he did was cry a lot,and see some stars.

Yes, you remind me a lot of the James Woods character.

The self-authenticating experience is not meant to be an evidential argument like the cosmological, fine-tuning, etc., arguments, and is not meant to refute anyone else’s claim of self-authentication. Instead, it asserts that the Christian (like the Jodie Foster) is warranted in his belief prior to the debate on any evidence, and that the the burden of proof is on the atheist if he wishes to “deconvert” the Christian (just as the burden is on the Christian to “convert” the atheist).

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drj November 28, 2009 at 7:55 am

I think the “self-authentication” bit is really more of a safety net, just in case the theist gets trounced on evidential grounds. Let’s face it, this happens a lot.

Its the theists last line of a defense, in a world where empiricism rules the day. Its meant to allow the theist to feel comfortable in tossing empiricism out the window, if it seems to threaten their worldview too much (and by doing so, does a tremendous disservice to humanity).

Like casinos, cigarrettes, advertisements, and porn magazines, the “self-authentication” arguments are designed to hit you in your weak spots – the pressure points where our innate biases are likely to overcome objectivity and sound judgement.

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ayer November 28, 2009 at 8:07 am

drj: I think the “self-authentication” bit is really more of a safety net, just in case the theist gets trounced on evidential grounds. Let’s face it, this happens a lot.

Yes, I guess that’s why Craig regularly trounces his opponents in evidential debate. Give me a break.

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drj November 28, 2009 at 8:25 am

ayer:
Yes, I guess that’s why Craig regularly trounces his opponents in evidential debate.Give me a break.  

Regardless of his skill at debate, simply examine the convincingness of his arguments – which are hardly based on strong evidential grounds.

By no good empirical standards can one rationally accept the Kalam, the historical resurrection, and his moral arguments as anything more than extermely tentative and highly conjectural hypotheses (in their best light) without first relaxing standards of evidence, by way of “self-autentication”.

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Steven Carr November 28, 2009 at 8:47 am

I see Ayer continues to pretend that these ‘self-authenticating experiences’ are anything more than utterly banal experiences of seeing a lot of stars in the sky and claiming you have come to know God.

He keeps pretending that Craig experienced something external to Craig, when all Craig did was cry a lot, feel better and then see some stars in the sky.

Calling that experience a self-authenticating experience of the Holy Spirit fools nobody.

Why doesn’t Craig hear voices and see things – the way the Yorkshire Ripper heard God tell him to butcher prostitutes?

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ayer November 28, 2009 at 10:13 am

drj:
Regardless of his skill at debate, simply examine the convincingness of his arguments – which are hardly based on strong evidential grounds.By no good empirical standards can one rationally accept the Kalam, the historical resurrection, and his moral arguments as anything more than extermely tentative and highly conjectural hypotheses (in their best light) without first relaxing standards of evidence, by way of “self-autentication”.  

I have examined his arguments, and even absent self-authentication, they are more plausible than the atheist alternatives (the universe just popped into existence uncaused out of nothing? the universe only appears fine-tuned because there exist an infinity of alternate universes which we presume but will never be able to detect?–yes, real plausible).

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majinrevan666 November 28, 2009 at 10:33 am

Reginald Selkirk:
I am stating that the disparity of descriptions is so great that it is very difficult to accept that these people are talking about one object and not a wide variety of different objects.  

You mean the descriptions of the feeling itself?
Could you cite at least 2 of them?

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Reginald Selkirk November 28, 2009 at 10:58 am

majinrevan666:
You mean the descriptions of the feeling itself?
Could you cite at least 2 of them?  

Pointing out that you are claiming that the ability to sense divinity is accurate in general but wrong in every conceivable particular is growing repetitive and dull. I am dropping this “discussion.”

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majinrevan666 November 28, 2009 at 11:13 am

Reginald Selkirk:
Pointing out that you are claiming that the ability to sense divinity is accurate in general but wrong in every conceivable particular is growing repetitive and dull. I am dropping this “discussion.”  

As you wish, but I still don’t see how one’s culture oriented interpretation of a given phenomenon should compel me to think that the interpretation is infallible.

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drj November 28, 2009 at 4:49 pm

ayer: the universe just popped into existence uncaused out of nothing? the universe only appears fine-tuned because there exist an infinity of alternate universes which we presume but will never be able to detect?–yes, real plausible).

They arent plausible at all, please… The kalam is an excersize in specualuation. If you disparriage the multiverse hypothesis, while hodling up the Kalam, it simply shows your unreasonable bias. You have no way to empirically verify either.

Simply inventing an explanation where no other well supported explanations exist, does not automatically make said explanation a good or believable explanation by default.

Craig, from his armchair, has been able to simply pontificate his way to a model the of the universe before the big bang (ie, timeless God)? Its absurd to think so.

If one is being generous, one can look at the Kalam as a possible hypothesis, based on extremely tentative evidence and speculation… but not an explanation that one can place any reasonable confidence in. But even so, people on this very site have posited devastating rebuttals to Craigs absurd arguments.

Certainly, the Kalam, even in the best light, cannot be rationally presuesive in regards to theism.

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Paul Wright November 30, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Does Craig goes further than Plantinga here? Craig writes that “Plantinga’s aim is to show that all such de jure objections to Christian belief are unsuccessful, or, in other words, that Christian belief can be shown to be unjustified, irrational, or unwarranted only if it is shown that Christian beliefs are false.” That is, Plantinga argues against the presumption of atheism. Craig seems to further argue that he should (though might not, the flesh being weak) carry on believing even in the face of arguments which defeat Christiannity.

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josef johann December 6, 2009 at 12:18 am

The william lane craig link is antiquated, and now points to this week’s q&a session. It is now here:

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=7679

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lukeprog December 6, 2009 at 5:19 pm

Thanks, josef!

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