Another breathtaking example of creationist Egnorance

If you’ve followed the Intelligent Design (ID) mishigass, you’ll have heard of Michael Egnor, a neurosurgeon, a Christian who was once an atheist, and a big supporter of ID and senior fellow of the Discovery Institute. Egnor writes for the Evolution News website. Like several people there, he’s obsessed with me, but instead of taking apart my views on evolution, he goes after me personally, criticizing my attacks on theology and, worse, calling me names. This tells you two things. First, that religion is intimately entangled with ID. Although IDers disingenuously claim that they’re driven to the idea of a Designer in the Sky by the science alone, it’s curious that virtually all of them (biker David Berlinski may be an exception) are religious. Why are all the Discovery Institute flaks religious?

Also, it shows the intellectual failure of ID to replace evolution, which according to the Wedge Document timetable, it should have done by now. So they result in apologetics, theodicy, and philosophy. They’ve already lost on the science.

This week Egnor goes after me because of what I wrote about David Attenborough the other day. You can read his rant, which includes name-calling, by clicking on the screenshot below from the comment-free Evolution News site (I’ve archived the link below so their site doesn’t get clicks.)

Here goes Egnor’s argument, which is indented.

A shimmering example of atheist idiocy (there is no other word for it) is Jerry Coyne’s recent argument, at Why Evolution Is True, against God’s existence in his post on David Attenborough’s agnosticism. Attenborough, who is a Darwinist producer of nature films (quite good films I must say, despite the Darwinist taint), was interviewed about his views on God.

To Coyne’s chagrin, Attenborough declares that he is agnostic about God’s existence. Attenborough raises common objections to theism (e.g., the problem of evil), but he invokes a rather nice metaphor about a termite mound. He points out that termites, blind and busily working away in a mound, are unaware of human observers. Their unawareness is not evidence that an observer doesn’t exist — they lack the sense organs to perceive the observer. Attenborough says that is why he is agnostic — he doesn’t sense that God exists, but perhaps that is because he lacks the capacity to know God.

Attenborough:

I do sometimes feel that maybe I’m lacking in some sense organ, and I don’t know whether there’s anybody else involved in all this sort of thing. And it’s a very confident thing, saying that you’re absolutely sure that there’s nothing in this world that I don’t have the sense organs to appreciate. That would be my position.

Coyne hops on this:

[O]f course, if a god wanted to make himself known to humans, he would have given them the sense organs to detect divinity.

A Breathtaking Ignorance

My goodness. In this one assertion, Coyne (culpably) and Attenborough (more innocently) betray a breathtaking ignorance.

God is not a physical thing. It is only physical things that can be sensed by sense organs. If God could be sensed via an organ, He would not be God. What would be sensed would be a part of creation, not the Creator. God is not in nature. He is prior to nature. He is the Source of nature.

And, contra Coyne and Attenborough, God did endow us with an organ by which we may know Him. He endowed us with reason. Alone among animals, human beings have the power of abstract thought — to contemplate ideas separated from concrete particular (sensible) objects. We have intellect, by which we can understand immaterial knowledge and will by which we act on our abstract knowledge.

Reason and Will

Our capacity for reason is the “organ” God gave us to know Him, and our will is the “organ” God gave us to love Him.

Reason is our divine “sense organ.” It is perfectly adapted to its task — it allows us to know and love our Creator. In this sense we are created in His image: we have the capacity to know immaterial reality and to act on our knowledge.

Atheists ask where is our “divine sense organ?”, when the very capacity by which they ask the question — their capacity for reason — is the “sense organ” they seek.  This utter atheist idiocy helped lead me to God. What I found, when I looked at the arguments for and against His existence, is that the arguments against His existence were vapid nonsense. 

There are many problems here. First of all, even if God is not a physical thing, nearly all Christians—the theistic ones—think that God interacts with the world in a physical way. After all, God sent his son/alter ego down to Earth as a scapegoat to be killed for our sins, thereby expiating us. IDers believe that God The Intelligent Designer either brought new species into being or made the requisite mutations to promote their appearance. Indeed, the very concept of Intelligent Design presupposes that empirical evidence—science and observation itself—inevitably brings us to the concept of an Intelligent Designer. And that evidence is “sensed by sense organs.” 

In other words, ID itself refutes Egnor’s claim that God The Intelligent Designer cannot be sensed via an organ. The stupidity here (and I’m not pulling punches given that Egnor engages in name-calling) is to assume that a deity who is nonphysical cannot be apprehended through sense organs. If you’re a theist, that’s palpably ridiculous.

As for God giving us our “capacity for reason” specifically so we can know Him (do chimps know Him, too, since they have a capacity to reason?), that’s also ridiculous. If our capacity for reason gives us the “capacity to know immaterial reality and act on our knowledge”, then how come every religion has a different conception of immaterial reality? Egnor is a Christian; does he reject the Muslim belief that Jesus wasn’t the son of God but merely a prophet, and that Muhammad was given the true religion by Allah through Gabriel? Does he reject Hindu pantheism, or the animism of some tribes? Does he reject the thetans and Xenu-beliefs of Scientology?

Yes, if God gave us reason to know the truth about Him, how come the “truths” that “reason” tells believers are so disparate? Our divine sense organs must be defective in some way.

And why, over time, has “reason” turned more and more of the West into atheists? After all, God gave this reason to each of us, and gave it to us specifically so we’d know Him (or Her or Whatever). Are some people lacking in this reason? And that includes people who seem to have plenty of reason on other fronts: atheist intellectuals like Bertrand Russell, Stephen Hawking, Dan Dennett, Stephen Fry, Richard Dawkins, and so on. And David Attenborough lacks it, too? Why did God give these people lots of ability to reason, but prevented that reason from apprehending His existence? Why are more and more people not using their organs of reason properly as time progresses?

And why is this blather on a site called Evolution News & Science Today? Because that’s also a site where Egnorant fools who are slaves to ancient superstitions parade their inability to reason. And that’s why they promote ID. Every time an IDer like Egnor writes about theology on that site, it affirms Judge Jones’s decision, back in Dover, that ID is not science but a form of religion.

70 Comments

  1. Posted September 27, 2019 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    “My goodness. In this one assertion, Coyne (culpably) and Attenborough (more innocently) betray a breathtaking ignorance. God is not a physical thing. It is only physical things that can be sensed by sense organs. If God could be sensed via an organ, He would not be God.”

    Ah right, so all those theologians, from Calvin to today’s Alvin Plantinga, who postulate a Sensus Divinitatis, are “breathtaking ignorant” in the view of the breathtaking Egnorant?

    • eric
      Posted September 27, 2019 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      He’s also calling the Bible itself ‘breathakingly ignorant.’

      Genesis 3:8-9, NIV “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?””

      • JP415
        Posted September 27, 2019 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        I always found that passage weird. Presumably, God is omniscient, so he already knows where Adam and Eve are hiding. Maybe he’s just asking a rhetorical question, or simply testing their honesty? Who knows.

        • eric
          Posted September 27, 2019 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

          It’s not weird if you subscribe to the fairly mundane hypothesis that the books of the bible were developed over time, with multiple human authors, who changed their views of their own theology over time.

          Or shorter version: omniscience got added later.

    • phar84
      Posted September 27, 2019 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      Egnorant is bless(ed).

  2. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 27, 2019 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    … virtually all of them (biker David Berlinski may be an exception) are religious.

    That’s ’cause Berlinski’s a (well-compensated) cantankerous crank.

    “Hey, Davey, what are you rebelling against?”

    “Whaddya got?”

    Never go full outlaw biker, man. Never.

  3. Andrew
    Posted September 27, 2019 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    ”Reason is our divine “sense organ.” Hahahahaha! What drivel.
    Like you say, PCCE, Reason is why people LEAVE God and Religion. It worked for me. Thanks to God for giving me the Reason to figure out he is an asshat that can’t even provide good evidence for his own existence.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted September 27, 2019 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      ” he is an asshat that can’t even provide good evidence for his own existence.”

      It’s a good point. I can manage to provide evidence for my own existence, why can’t god? And I’m _really_ lazy. Not ‘infinitely lazy’, which I know Peter Atkins posited as a semi-serious get-out clause for god, but still very, very lazy.
      Yet I drop, vomit, slough off, type, shout, deposit and sneeze evidence of my existence everywhere I go.

      If god really existed surely you’d expect to find some fingerprints on the odd doorknob. But nope, he seems to have scrubbed the crime-scene free of all evidence, like some killer in a David Fincher movie.

  4. GBJames
    Posted September 27, 2019 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    sub

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted September 27, 2019 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    I would just call him what he is, a creationist. I wonder if g*d gives out a special organ to creationists. If he is the designer then surely he does. I could even guess the name for that organ but will not throw it out publicly.

    • Posted September 30, 2019 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      Alvin Plantiga thinks we all have the organ, but us non-theists have it broken, by sin, he thinks.

      (A great example of what Bunge calls a “male fide ad hoc hypothesis”!)

  6. Posted September 27, 2019 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    The longest con in existence…
    If there is money involved, it’s a racket. This is the acid test: let everyone that glorifies the gawd not hand over a cent. For what does gawd even need of cents? Its nature is beyond price, beyond imagination, beyond reason, why would anyone pollute such thing with pesos, Euros, dollars, rubles, Krugerrands?

    Starve the beggars of centimes, they will vanish.

    • rickflick
      Posted September 27, 2019 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      why would anyone pollute such thing with pesos, Euros, dollars, rubles, Krugerrands?

      Not to mention 60 million dollar corporate jets. What happened to – leave your possessions and follow me? Perhaps they thought he meant – I’ll walk in bare feet. You can follow me in first class.

    • davelenny
      Posted September 27, 2019 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      Many have experienced the reality of the cents divinitatis.

  7. Posted September 27, 2019 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I actually laughed out loud at the “argument” presented. You can’t sense God because then you would be sensing the creation and not the creator. Do they ever actually listen to the drivel they spew?

    In any event, I would like to wish JC a sweet, happy and healthy New Year and to all his readers who celebrate, as well.

  8. Jon Gallant
    Posted September 27, 2019 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    And of course, we communicants of the Flying Spaghetti Monster know how our deity made itself known to the world: by giving us spaghetti. [BTW, I didn’t know that David Berlinski was a biker. And at his age! Makes me think a little better of him, but only a little.]

    • Posted September 27, 2019 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      No, he just dresses like a biker in this video:

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted September 27, 2019 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        What a bewildering sartorial ensemble. ‘Snoop McFly’.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted September 27, 2019 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

          Sonny Barger manqué.

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted September 27, 2019 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

            I’ve never seen this guy on The Simpsons so I don’t recognise him. Hell’s Angels? Easy Rider? Tell me if I’m getting warm.

            …The look’s the same, but this guy’s missing the pimp cane that Berlinski’s carrying. Final rating: not weird enough.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted September 27, 2019 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

              Former president and founding member of the original, Oakland CA chapter of the Hell’s Angels (as well as author of several books and key character in HST’s Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs.) He’s still alive a riding, despite the removal of his larynx due to cancer in the Eighties, and despite having done a four-year federal prison bid in the Nineties. (Dunno if he needs a walking stick these days.)

              I’m surprised he hasn’t made an appearance on The Simpsons. Here’s an interview with him while he was across the pond visiting Blighty.

              • Saul Sorrell-Till
                Posted September 27, 2019 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

                Crikey. He’s in a bad way in that video.

                The only time I hear about The Hells Angels anymore is for their increasingly desperate attempts to rationalise the lack of apostrophe in their name.

                Eg. http://www.hellsangelslondon.com/page4.html

                …and when it was pointed out that multiple hells would also require an apostrophe they dug in their heels further:

                “yes we know there is a missing apostrophe, but it is you who miss it, not us.”

                Which is not an excuse that ever worked for me in class, so top marks for chutzpah.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted September 27, 2019 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

                @ SST:

                Speaking of apostrophes, it turns out our US president doesn’t know an apostrophe from a hyphen — but then, he also doesn’t know shit from Shinola or his ass from a hole in the ground, either. 🙂

  9. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 27, 2019 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    “God is not a physical thing. It is only physical things that can be sensed by sense organs.

    By the same token, it is only physical things that can interact with the material world. Experimental quantum physics excludes there being any unknown force or particle capable of interacting with the material world at the level of human experience. Accordingly, if there exists some spirit world or deity, it does not interact with humankind in any way. QED.

    The undetectable and the nonexistent are asymptotically equivalent.

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted September 27, 2019 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      Indeed; and if some ‘spirit world or deity’ did manage to interact with our brains in any way, that would surely amount to a continuous injection of energy from the immaterial world into the material world. Wow, we could at least measure that, and maybe even exploit it!

    • Posted September 29, 2019 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      Or QCD.

      🐜

  10. eric
    Posted September 27, 2019 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    If God could be sensed via an organ, He would not be God.

    So…clearly, the being that walks with Adam in the Garden, talks with him, later talks with Abraham, even later talks with Moses…isn’t God.

    Oh never mind, we all know the answer. Egnor and people like him use ‘undetectable’ arguments when the moment suits them, ‘very evident’ arguments when the moment suits them, and care little or nothing for intellectual consistency.

  11. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted September 27, 2019 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Disappointingly short article from Egnor(whose surname pronounced backwards is ‘wrong’). But I thought this:

    “Richard Dawkins and his coterie of Darwinists and materialists recycled sophomoric tropes (“Who made God?!,” “Why don’t we see God in our telescopes?”) and the like.””

    …was amusing, partly for the chutzpah it takes to dismiss ‘who made god?’ as a sophomoric question, and partly because halfway through his ‘examples of stupid atheist questions’ he just sort of…gives up, and invents out of whole cloth the quite fabulously moronic question ‘why don’t we see god in our telescopes?’.

    Okay, so:

    a. ‘Who made god?’ is not sophomoric; it’s possibly the single most powerful question in the atheist’s armoury, and no one has ever come close to proposing a reasonable answer to it.

    b. I have never heard anyone ask ‘why can’t we see god in our telescopes?’. Did he mean ‘microscopes’? …Even then it would be a gibberish strawman question that no famous atheist has ever asked.

    What a funny little man. I sense his heart’s not quite in it any more.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted September 27, 2019 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      “a. ‘Who made god?’ is not sophomoric; it’s possibly the single most powerful question in the atheist’s armoury, and no one has ever come close to proposing a reasonable answer to it.”

      *Well, us atheists have answered it, but not in a way that flatters the religious.

    • Posted September 27, 2019 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      I have it in my memory that some centuries ago, while hot air balloons were being tried out, that some of the strident Christians were very concerned about what would happen when balloons trespassed into heaven. Of course no heaven was discovered up there. Then the space program got underway, with probes and then astronauts venturing toward the moon. Once again (and I remember this part), a new generation of strident Christians were crying out with all certainty that we would soon be trespassing the boundaries of heaven.
      Nope. Didn’t happen. Now this variety of person is seen to declare in all certainty that heaven is somewhere outside of our space. In another dimension, I guess. Always… just beyond our grasp. But always there is no doubt that it exists.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted September 27, 2019 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      Plenty of evangelical Christians over the years have used legit space telescope imagery* as evidence for a universe creator. Egnor knows little about his own fellow believers & their beliefs.

      As an example there’s this quote from the The Gospel Herald re a famous Hubble image:

      The “Hand of God” image has brought the topic of religion into the world of science, which many scientist and astrologists [sic!] tend to avoid to explain a more scientific approach to the evidence of life and the universe. Despite the astronomical perspective of studying the explosion of supernova star, the “Hand of God” title acknowledges that science may be more open with the notion of a Creator and the universe created.

  12. Andrew Lautin
    Posted September 27, 2019 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Ultimately the best strategy might be to follow that employed by Thomas Henry Huxley when he declined to pursue further his decisive victory over Owen, in the so-called, “great hippocampus debate” (This debate/Huxley demonstrated there was no material substance in the human brain, that was not present in the brain of an ape: specifically the calcar avis/hippocampus minor: this is an inward protrusion to the floor of the temporal horn. And it – the result of the collateral sulcus – it present in both.)

    Huxley declined to pursue his decisive victory and cited Alexander’s feast by John Dryden.

    The king grew vain;
    Fought all his battles o’er again;
    And thrice he routed at all his foes,
    and thrice he slew the slain

    This highly neotenous primate simply cannot accept this great insight into man’s true place in nature (the title of Huxley’s book). Jerry, the intellectual battles have long been won.

    Time and tide will ultimately render this neurosurgeon a place in a hospital gurney with a third year medical student placing an IV as he faces his true origins, and the return of his aged decrepit/diseased corpse to cosmic dust, cosmic waste . . .

  13. Posted September 27, 2019 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    “Egnorant fools”

    Nice one, CC.

  14. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 27, 2019 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    And why is this blather on a site called Evolution News & Science Today? Because that’s also a site where Egnorant fools who are slaves to ancient superstitions parade their inability to reason.

    To cop the last lines of Matthew Arnold’s poem, that website is “a darkling plain swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, where Egnorant armies clash by night.”

  15. rickflick
    Posted September 27, 2019 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Egnor points out that “Attenborough says … perhaps … he lacks the capacity to know God”.
    That might be a reason to be an agnostic and maybe Egnor shares that feeling. But, it seems odd to me that Egnor and his ilk do not claim ignorance, as Attenborough does. They are all about knowing everything conceivable about God. They have full and certain knowledge of Him. “God is not in nature. He is prior to nature”, etc. Attenborough tries to be humble, to a fault. But Egnor has determined through reason that God exists and what he wants us to do (Namely, send money).

  16. Vita206
    Posted September 27, 2019 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    “And, contra Coyne and Attenborough, God did endow us with an organ by which we may know Him. He endowed us with reason.”

    Help me out here! Isn’t this circular and self-justifying argumentation?

    For Aristotle and certainly much later for Hume, all knowledge begins with and comes through the senses. When Descartes and his dualism appeared on the scene, the mind/reason had an independent path to knowledge.

    Clearly Egnor is a dualist which is standard operating procedure for the religious worldview.

  17. Posted September 27, 2019 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    How blithely and proudly does he wave his delusions! Where to begin? Let’s just say that un-evidenced “reasoning” that leads you to conclude there is a pervasive but immaterial string-puller is indistinguishable from the “reasonings” of a psychopath. They claim agency and intent (god?) in immaterial things too.

  18. Steve Gerrard
    Posted September 27, 2019 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    I am at first tempted to point out the silliness, e.g. if reason is so perfectly adapted to the task of knowing our creator, why are there still atheists?

    But then I think why bother. I will not change Egnor’s mind, nor he mine.

    ID should really ponder why their web site title is about evolution, when they are opposed to it.

    • Posted September 27, 2019 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      That is also now my approach when facing the temptation to comment back and forth with these folks. There is the wish to describe evidence and explain how this evidence points to the conclusion that there is naturalistic evolution. But then they counter with babble, and clearly convey that they are sure you are checkmated. So you try again. Babble is returned. Try again. More babble, this time with a smug comment about how they are winning.
      So now I just don’t bother.

  19. KD
    Posted September 27, 2019 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    First of all, even if God is not a physical thing, nearly all Christians—the theistic ones—think that God interacts with the world in a physical way. After all, God sent his son/alter ego down to Earth as a scapegoat to be killed for our sins, thereby expiating us.

    I’m not sure this follows.

    God cannot be corporeal or a material being as we understand such a being. I don’t think a sophisticated theist (non-Sky Jesus set) is going to claim God interacts with the world in a physical way in the sense that God is physical. (He might make the Sun stop moving or part the Red Sea, which would be a physical act, but it wouldn’t be accomplished by physical means.)

    Clearly, if one buys the Christian doctrine of Incarnation, then God became a corporeal being and did physically interact with the world (although Christ was without sin, so the quality of his fleshliness has always been a subject of theological dispute).

    I would also note that some atheists acknowledge the philosophical necessity to posit the existence of numbers in order to avoid relativism with respect to mathematical truths. Such Platonic numbers would be nonphysical, noncorporeal, but obviously interact in the world in a “physical way” in that the purported language of the Universe is mathematics (at least the way some physicists talk about it). This connects to a traditional distinction between the formal cause of a thing (related to what it is) and the efficient cause of a thing (related to how it came to be). To take this further, I suspect that Monotheistic faiths were influenced by Greek philosophy and the “logos” concept (the form of the world) which got adopted theologically.

    Obviously, most atheists break with ancient and medieval philosophy (its too Christian) but a form of the logos idea underlies representationalist philosophy, in that if science is a total and complete representational description of the universe, then there must be a correspondence between the form of scientific description and the form of the universe, otherwise, you have to abandon the intelligibility of being and start reading Derrida and Foucault.

    • Jon Gallant
      Posted September 27, 2019 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      On behalf of my fellow communicants, I affirm that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is neither material nor immaterial, but rather a la carrettiera. We also acknowledge the necessity to posit the existence of Amatriciana, Arrabbiata, Bolognese, and Marinara in the philosophical universe of sauces.

      • KD
        Posted September 27, 2019 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        Does 2 + 2 = 4?

        Is that true because Big Brother or social consensus makes it so? Does that mean 2 + 2 = 5 if Big Brother says?

        Is 2 + 2 = 4 an empirical truth? You know, 2 water drops and add 2 water drops and you get 4 water drops?

        Or is 2 + 2 = 4 true because it represents something beyond social conventions and empirical reality?

        Likewise, is E = mc^2 some kind of socially constructed scheme for imposing white supremacy on unsuspecting minorities, or does it represent something fundamental about nature? [Even though its **truth** in a mathematical sense as a mathematical expression has nothing to with the fact that it happens to correspond with empirical observation.]

        Plato, Quine, Godel, Frege were not stupid men, and their ideas about mathematics were not flying spaghetti monsters.

        https://stanford.library.sydney.edu.au/archives/spr2014/entries/platonism-mathematics/

        • JP415
          Posted September 27, 2019 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

          The statement “2 + 2 = 4” is true by definition, isn’t it? In philosophical jargon, it’s an analytic statement — which is really just a tautology. It’s like saying, “an unmarried man is a bachelor.”

          • KD
            Posted September 27, 2019 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

            Yes, its a convention. So, 2 + 2 = 5 if Big Brother says.

            To quote Orwell (and raise Goodwin’s law):

            “Nazi theory indeed specifically denies that such a thing as “the truth” exists. … The implied objective of this line of thought is a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past. If the Leader says of such and such an event, “It never happened” – well, it never happened. If he says that two and two are five – well, two and two are five. This prospect frightens me much more than bombs.”

            • JP415
              Posted September 27, 2019 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

              As much as I love Orwell, I think he was wrong about the Nazis in this particular case. They didn’t deny the existence of objective truth (as postmodernists do) — they just lied a lot and tried to cover their tracks. There is a crucial difference.
              In any case, I don’t think that “2+2=4” is some fundamental property of the universe that exists apart from human beings, anymore than Up and Down or East and West do. I see it as more a process that exists in our minds and happens to describe reality pretty well, or well enough to build bridges and launch rockets and what not. Plato and others have argued otherwise, so I think I kind of see where you’re coming from.

      • Posted September 29, 2019 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

        So do FSM’s pasta and sauces parallel the standard model’s particles and forces?

        🐜

    • KD
      Posted September 27, 2019 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      I don’t want to defend ID, or the traditional arguments for the existence of God, but certainly science postulates unobservable entities, for example, quarks:

      https://journals.openedition.org/philosophiascientiae/303

      [Although there is debate about whether quarks are observable or unobservable or indirectly observable.]

      But if you don’t like quarks, you can take dinosaurs, which no one has observed.

      Thus, a priori, I don’t see the problem with inference from observable data to the inference that an unobservable entity exists, even the Monotheistic God as traditionally understood. In fact, that is exactly what the “ways” of Aquinas would accomplish if the arguments were logically valid and philosophically sound in their assumptions.

      • GBJames
        Posted September 27, 2019 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        “…you can take dinosaurs, which no one has observed.”

        Oh, FFS. Go to a museum. Or go out and look at a bird.

        • Posted September 27, 2019 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

          Agreed. If you, KD, say there is as much evidence for God than there is for dinosaurs, then you are sorely misguided.

          If there is an unobservable entity whose existence makes predictions about what we should see in the real world, then our empirical observations and senses should either support that or not. Dinosaurs are supported by data. God is not, unless you’re willing to accept ancient books and revelations as “data”.

          • KD
            Posted September 27, 2019 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

            If you, KD, say there is as much evidence for God than there is for dinosaurs, then you are sorely misguided.

            Which is why I did not say (nor would say) what you attribute to me.

            There is certainly more scientific utility in positing the specific existence of dinosaurs than the existence of a God.

            • rickflick
              Posted September 27, 2019 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

              I can figure out what the utility of your comment is.

        • dabertini
          Posted September 27, 2019 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

          Damned straight! I once had a blue heron fly over head as i was riding my bike. I could have sworn it looked like a pterodactyl. Made the hair on the back of my head stand up.

      • Posted September 27, 2019 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

        I understand what you are getting at, as expressing an open mind toward some extraordinary claims can have merit. Objectivity and all that.

        But let Victor Stenger have his say. When writing about the phrase “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”, he added: ” I can think of many cases where absence of evidence provides robust evidence of absence. The key question is whether evidence should exist but does not“.

        I was surprised to learn that this essay from Stenger was published in the Huffington Post! But it was some time ago.

      • Murali
        Posted September 29, 2019 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

        It is true that quarks are confined to colour neutral configurations. However, the six Standard Model quarks have been detected.

    • Steve Gerrard
      Posted September 27, 2019 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      “He might make the Sun stop moving or part the Red Sea, which would be a physical act, but it wouldn’t be accomplished by physical means.”

      I’m not sure what your definition of physical act is, or your definition of physical means, but that sentence is incoherent to me.

      If a 1 kg stationary mass starts moving at 1 meter/second, then by definition a force of 1 Newton has been applied. We might not know what force, but we know it was something physical, even if was god’s pinky tractor beam. We can in principle calculate the number of newtons it would take to part the Red Sea, and then assert that however it got done, that many newtons of physical force was applied.

    • Posted September 30, 2019 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      This is why some of us are non-Platonists. Platonism about mathematics violates conservation laws.

      The neopythagorean view that the world itself is mathematical (rather than being understandable through the tools of mathematical) is provably wrong with a reasonable theory of reference.

  20. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted September 27, 2019 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    “Yes, its a convention. So, 2 + 2 = 5 if Big Brother says.”

    That’s not what JP415 was saying at all. 2+2=4 is not just a ‘convention’ we use, and which we could swap for something else, like 2+2=5. I’m hoping that’s not what you meant, but it seems to be from what you wrote.

    You can’t just swap bits of this stuff around. It’s like Popper says; a good theory is one where the constituent parts are hard(or, in this case, impossible) to vary.

  21. Matt
    Posted September 27, 2019 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    I’m reminded of Isaac Asimov’s answer when asked if there is a force we don’t know about. He answered “There may be but we don’t know about it.”

  22. Jeffrey Shallit
    Posted September 27, 2019 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Egnor firmly denies that animals (other than people) can reason.

    When asked how he knows this with such certainty, he never replies. Not surprising.

    And he only posts his drivel at a forum where no one can leave comments. Gee, I wonder why.

  23. Posted September 27, 2019 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    I wish I could do an Annie Hall scene where I pull out David Attenborough from behind the bushes, and David (I would call him David) says to Egnor “You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. You are a complete idiot”.

  24. Posted September 27, 2019 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Suppose God really existed.

    He made a universe with trillions of galaxies (we can see a few billions). This makes for septillions of stars — more than there are grains of sand on earth!

    Since God made the universe, he waited around 13 billion odd years to come up with humans. He made life in such a way that lesser organisms would often feed off higher organisms. The higher animals and humans can feel pain, and the planet is teeming with bugs, fleas, mosquitoes, ticks, all sorts of parasites fashioned by God to torment his higher creation — clearly that’s by design, too. God even saw to it that there are special human parasites, like the Loa Loa; a worm specialised to live in the human eye, causing blindness.

    After a few tens of thousands of years of human existence, and countless ancestors starving in dank caves, God chose the mythological enthusiastic earlier civilisations in the Middle East. Intelligent Design writ large, he revealed himself to lone illiterates, preferably after they wandered around in deserts or climbed mountains.

    All knowing that God He is, he knew his method of revelation would reach only comparatively few people, with billions adhering to some false idolatry (through no fault of them). Of those who follow Him, God knew there would be a lot of murdering, pogromes, wars and genocide through the ages, and yet he decided “revealing” himself not clearly at all was the best way to do it.

    He then decided to incarnate himself, show a few parlour tricks to impress a handful of people, not much more than followed Charles Manson, to sacrifice Himself to Himself, but only for a few days, to then revive Himself to ultimately teleport Himself into the other dimension where He, and the souls reside.

    He then let His revelations half-forgotten, and made people decades later begin to write things down. Surely, that’s intelligent design from the Creator of Billions of Billions Galaxies to spread His most important message to us humans in this way.

    Most religious minds were shattered in young age to create a shard that can contain such delirious nonsense, that can never interact with reality and knowledge otherwise known. The maintenance of this fantastical humbug is paid by wishful thinking and the community such belief provide in return. And, I’m assuming as with everything on the Right Wing, with a lot of money.

  25. Posted September 27, 2019 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Egnor has a grip on the wrong organ, he should stop that, well maybe not, I guess he ‘s already blind… to the truth.

  26. Roo
    Posted September 27, 2019 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Hmm. I’m actually disappointed that he never summarizes his reasons for believing in God in this article. He puts a great deal of emphasis on this in the introduction (saying reason is what personally led him to become a theist, as he found theistic arguments very compelling,) and later says that reason is the very means by which God wants people to know him. I’m genuinely curious as to what reasoning, specifically, he found so compelling, it’s a shame he didn’t describe it. (Personally, I have found Buddhism to be the most reasonable philosophy on metaphysical matters, although to be fair, I think Buddhism – as I understand it – tends to resort to propositions that are vague and hard to prove or disprove, as they have to be experienced personally and are supposed to be beyond the skill level of most laypeople. But, I prefer this to what are, to my mind, the loose ends of materialism. Something from nothing, uncaused first cause, etc. I think one can make a logical case for vaguely mystical assertions – i.e., that time must be an illusion because strictly linear timelines don’t really work out at the level of the infinite. But specific propositions about God as a singular agent, which I assume Egnor is referring to here, are more difficult.)

  27. Posted September 28, 2019 at 1:39 am | Permalink

    How do believers get away with blaming humans for everything that goes wrong (e.g. failing to sense God) while crediting God for everything good? Any belief system that can produce thinking that diverges that sharply from reason deserves no respite from scrutiny.

  28. Vittal
    Posted September 28, 2019 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    If he’s really saying God can not be sensed, is he saying God is nonsensical?

  29. Bruce Lilly
    Posted September 28, 2019 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Evidently, Egnor likes the term “Egnorance”; he has a blog with that name: https://egnorance.blogspot.com/

  30. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted September 28, 2019 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    What I found, when I looked at the arguments for and against [magic agency] existence, is that the arguments against [magic agency] existence were vapid nonsense.

    I literally don’t give a rats ass to Egnors’ superstition. whether implicit creationism or explicit “godism”. But I do care about facts.

    And, while details can still be argued, it seems to me science has done exactly the same number on religion as it earlier did on astrology. To sum it all up in one sentence:

    We see no mechanisms, and no effects where effect is expected.

    So yes, Egnor is breathtakingly Egnorant on the area.

    • rickflick
      Posted September 28, 2019 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      The way so many people ignore facts and cling to their texts is simply amazing to me…despite all the attempts to explain such belief and behavior.


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