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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Answering Dan Lawler's review of my book, the Trace of God (availabe on Amazon)

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Lawler's cutsie ultra cleaver review is given brilliant title:"Listen To What The Flower People Say"

By Dan Lawler May 20, 2015

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

This is not a review it's the typical mindless knee jerk atheist mocking that so obviously forms the signature move of their movement. to wit:

he quotes a few statements I made about love and mystical experience

"Mystical experience is like love; it is love, in a very real sense." Location 5649.

"Mystical experience is not going to tell us what God is made of; it will tell us God is love. Love is a matter of experience and we can experience that. We need not make doctrines about love, we need only love. " Loc. 5774.

"God is love, and love is the foundation of everything." Loc. 6156.

Than his incisive commentary:
That's right folks, all you need is love, love; love is all you need. If you missed the 1960s or haven't otherwise had a mystical experience of love (or "God," as God is love), then a dose of psilocybin combined with a Good Friday church service might be just what the love doctor ordered for that life changing encounter with the Absolute.

Out of an almost 500 page book he isolates three comments about love then characterizes the whole work by that. Forget over 100 (maybe more like300) empirical scientific studies, the ground breaking M scale that gives us a basis of comparison between experiences so that we not just guessing about subjective states, water off a Duck's back for Lawler.

Pardon the sarcasm, but even the author himself concedes the lollipops-and-rainbows content of his peace and love message. After telling us for the umpteenth time that mystical experience provides a sense that God is love and "the sense of God's love enables one to cope and to love others" (Loc. 6131), he states: "I admit this interpretation does sound a bit 'New Age-like' or pie in the sky; one might go so far as to say 'sunshine and candy lambs.'" One might indeed.

Pardon it? without the sarcasm there's nothing there. In this quote he tries to insist that the "message of the book" is summed up in these three statements, not "umpteen" but three, despite two whole chapters on study findings and study methodology. The message of the is stated explicitly in more than three places (like the subtitle and the back cover)is that good scientific research provides a rational warrant for belief. He knows that:
Mystical experiences that God is love provide the "trace of God" from the book's title, and pragmatism provides the "rational warrant for belief" of the subtitle. People are justified in believing that God is love if they have a mystical experience to that effect and the experience allows them to better cope with life. This rational warrant is said to justify a belief in God without the need of otherwise proving his/her/its existence. The author desires to "free the believer from the need to prove." (Loc. 125.) In the process, however, he also frees them from truth and reality.

Notice that he's still trying to confuse the real message with mocking point (his fear of love is symptomatic of Dawkamentalism. In this statement Lawler reveals his inability to follow a simple argument. Love is a universal or ner universal aspect of the experie3nce, it is not warrant for belief. The warrant is the transformative effects that tells religious belief does what it says it will (changes your life), thus acts as a measure of veracity. That may be over his head. It's Understandable why love is s8uch a red flag for him. Dawkamentalists hate love and thus fear it.
The pragmatic test 'Does it work?' is the author's substitute for truth. "Working equals truth in the epistemic field of our assumptions." (Loc. 5295.) Mystical experiences "work" because they allow one to better cope with the "human problematic" of life being nasty, brutish and short. Magic mushrooms work even better.

Are we dealing with Donald Trump here? If working is not an empirical test what is? Science? You mean like the 50 years of scientific studies with no negative findings? In the book I actually made a big deal out of the atheist refusal to acknowledge this point. If you ask them how they know science is true they will say, it works! they make little pithy comments like "you can ask that and you are using a computer?" The connection between working and truth is foundational to atheist thinking. It's the core of empiricism. That's the basis of prediction and explanatory power. Apparently Lawler doesn't understand the distinction between epistemic matters and propaganda. Insisting upon "truth" while ignoring the means to find it is mere propaganda.

then he wants to throw the good Friday study at me.

In 1962, two groups of Harvard divinity students were sent to church on Good Friday; members of one group were given a placebo and the others a hit of psilocybin. All the members of the drugged group reported experiencing profound, positive mystical experiences (save for the one guy who "totally freaked out"). (Locs. 2553, 5105.) Subsequent experiments in the late 80s and early 2000s had psilocybin takers similarly reporting mystical experiences that increased their personal well-being and life satisfaction (though "about a third of the subjects reported significant fear, with some reporting transient feelings of paranoia"). Loc. 5089.

The psilocybin trips were, for some, an effective coping mechanism for the human problematic. They "worked" according to this author's pragmatic standards. The author steadfastly denies that the administered hallucinogens caused the reported experiences, and says the cause of the experience is beside the point anyway. If the subject reports an experience that adds to his well-being, the experience is deemed "real" because it has "real" effects. (Loc. 1092.) This is where the author's pragmatism cuts its ties to reality. If a drug induced hallucination helps you to cope with life's problems, you can say you've experienced God and that is all the rational warrant you need for living in fantasy land.

First of all I acknowledged the link between transformative experience and the drug. he just doesn't talk about my answer. I wonder if he read the whole chapter. Secondly he relates an answer I did not give. He says, "The author steadfastly denies that the administered hallucinogens caused the reported experiences, and says the cause of the experience is beside the point anyway.." I said no such thing. He mistakes my challenge to the study to supply proof of cause but makes it sound like I am denying something the study supplied. Moreover, I prove that the good Friday data is contaminated so it can't tell us anything. totally ignores it. He also misses the fact that I pointed to that the subjects of the original Panke study (Good Friday) all had mystical experiences before the study, some in childhood. That opens the door to the prospect that the drugs opens receptors that allow the memory of the experience. That's why the data is contaminated.

Another misimpression he creates is that two subsequent studies back up good Friday. The study in the 80s was a follow-up to good Friday, same people same bad data. The study in the first decade of the century was Johns Hoppkins (the researcher's name is Griffiths), that was a new study. Lawler ignores my point that the author of the study buys the receptor argument (above) and says it doesn't rule out God. I quoted his statement in a news paper and also communicated with him in emails.

The final part of that quote: "If a drug induced hallucination helps you to cope with life's problems, you can say you've experienced God and that is all the rational warrant you need for living in fantasy land," this is a ridiculous exaggeration. That kind of data is not existent in the Griffiths study, They did not follow the subjects for years to determine if they experienced transformation, many studies on mystical experience have done so. The findings in Griffiths show high score on the M scale and the subjects themselves reported experiences, There is no data on transformation. The receptor argument explains the M scale scores but since there is no data on transformation there's no proof the drug produces that. The critics still can't explain how the mystical experience without the drug does that, Lawler can't explain how all those people who did not take the drug, in other studies, did have the transformation.

Whatever the Bible might say about God, truth and reality is of little account to the pragmatist, so don't go looking there for guidance.

He didn't read the last chapter where I show how an experiential apologetics is Biblically based.

He exhibits another little technique that atheists use on message boards, labeling. They think if they label your position then they beat your argument. This excessively stupid because atheists are usually pragmatists. I am not a pragmatist at all, it's stupid to use that label just because I use social science data.

Pragmatism rejects representation and correspondence, that is, language does not truly represent an objective reality and our concepts do not truly correspond to an objective reality.
that's ludicrous and shows massive ignorance about pragmatism. Lawler is on the verge of making a beginner's mistake in argumentation. Let's watch:
Consequently, language cannot convey true knowledge of reality. Religious language in particular is "basically guaranteed to be wrong" insofar as it purports to correspond to reality. (Loc. 5035.) Language, like religion, is merely a culturally constructed coping mechanism. To the extent it allows one to better survive in the world it "works," and for pragmatists that's as good as it gets vis-à-vis truth and reality.

That is not the result of pragmatism but of mystical theology. Nor does it apply to all language, speaking directly about talk of the transcendent.

Because words are mere cultural constructs that do not accurately represent reality, religious doctrine is not all that important. In fact, doctrine exacerbates the human problematic as it "creates religious differences and religious problems." (Loc. 3092.) The world's mystics all experience the same ground of being, its only the words they use to describe the experience that differ: "Jesus," "Jehovah," "The Void," "Vishnu," "Allah," "Krishna," "Christ." (Locs. 2771, 5880.) The words are insignificant. The experience is what counts. Why bother with those troublesome words and religious doctrines when one can just mystically experience love?

That's an exaggeration of what I said and I never said anything like Jesus = Vishnu. I did not lump Christ in with Krishna. or any other god in a theological sense..To not understand the link between J (OT God) and Allah is totally ignorant. Even so that doesn't bar one side being wrong.

I never said words are unimportant I did made caveats against ignoring it. In fact I made a big deal out of the point that I would not base doctrine upon mystical experiences I use doctrine to make sense of it. My point is we can know love apart from language.

Altogether now:

Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind's true liberation
Aquarius! Aquarius!

I have a counter quote from an old 60s song, one I always liked better: "a man only sees what he wants to see, and dis-regards the rest, lie lie lie lie lie lie lie --The Boxer, by Paul Simon.
here'a the link order the book
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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

is belief in God magical thinking?

by Matthew Hutson, author of The Seven Laws of Magical Thinking. The article is called "All Paths Lead to Magical Thinking." (Posted: 09/19/2013 8:32 pm).

In recent years, psychologists have come to understand religion and paranormal belief as resulting, in most people, from simple errors in reasoning. You believe in God or astrology or a purpose in life because you apply ideas about people -- that they have thoughts and intentions -- to the natural world. Some display this tendency more than others, but it's there in everyone, even atheistic heathens like me. What has not been clarified is exactly how the various cognitive biases interact to produce specific ideas about the supernatural -- until now.

He presents a tour de force in the form of a bunch of studies that supposedly prove that religious belief is magical thinking. "In the November 2013 issue of Cognition, Aiyana Willard and Ara Norenzayan of the University of British Columbia report on the relative influence of three cognitive tendencies on three types of supernatural belief, as well as the role of cultural influence." This study supposedly shows that "cognitive biases explain religious belief."

several studies show that people who think more intuitively are also more susceptible to magical thinking. One intuition that's been proposed as a foundation for religious thought is Cartesian mind-body dualism, the idea that a mind can exist independently of a body. (See chapter 5 of my book The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking, "The Soul Lives On.") This proposition allows for souls, ghosts, spirits, and gods, all made of disembodied mind-stuff. Explanations for dualism include belief in free will and the mutual inhibition of brain areas responsible for pondering feelings and physics.

Of cousre that doesn't say that any of these studies show that religious belief is magical thinking. Instead they present a possibility based upon the notion that more intuitive people are susceptible to magical thinking. So that says "if you are not careful you might do some magical thinking." Nor is a link provided between being more intuitive and religious belief. Although I would not doubt that believers are more intuitive, but the lack of prevision of that link is telling.

There just brings up a bait and switch that the Aiyana and Norenzayan study is pulling off. They discuss their methodology:

We used a path model to assess the extent to which several interacting cognitive tendencies, namely mentalizing, mind body dualism, teleological thinking, and anthropomorphism, as well as cultural exposure to religion, predict belief in God, paranormal beliefs and belief in life’s purpose. Our model, based on two independent samples (N = 492 and N = 920) found that the previously known relationship between mentalizing and belief is mediated by individual differences in dualism, and to a lesser extent by teleological thinking. Anthropomorphism was unrelated to religious belief, but was related to paranormal belief. Cultural exposure to religion (mostly Christianity) was negatively related to anthropomorphism, and was unrelated to any of the other cognitive tendencies. These patterns were robust for both men and women, and across at least two ethnic identifications. The data were most consistent with a path model suggesting that mentalizing comes first, which leads to dualism and teleology, which in turn lead to religious, paranormal, and life’s-purpose beliefs. Alternative theoretical models were tested but did not find empirical support.

Notice that anthropomorphism is not linked to religoius beilef but they are going to use it anyway because it's involved in belief. In fact all of these things are descriptions of various overlapping historical artifacts form religious thought because it goes back so far in human history. Most of them have not been disproved, none of them are magical thinking. What's the link bewteen teleology and magical thinking? Teleology means an end goal, so religious thinking is teleological if and only if it assumes there's a creator who has a plan that's being fulfilled. Why is that in itself magical thinking? It's just logical if there is a creator. Has teleological thinking been proved to always be wrong? No, of course not and it's logical if there is a creator. So actually they are just begging the question. They are assuming there can't be a creator so therefore anything connected with belief must also be connected with magical thinking. This probably goes back to the biases of anti-clerical prejudice, that religion is superstition. So they start with the assumption religious beilef must be magical thinking because it's superstition, thus they just look for typical aspects of religious thought (many of which are connected to ancinet religious texts) and assume it's all magical thinking. No psychological link is provided that proves that teleological thinking is magical thinking.

When he says "several studies" he links back to his own website for the book 7 Laws of Magical Thinking (he uses the number 7 rather than writing "seven" seems infantile). So his article is just a rehash of his website. What are these studies what do they really show? Those are the ones that supposedly show that intuitive thinkers are apt to be suckers for magical thinking if they are not careful, but does it access the percentage of the time that they are not careful? Can't we still check the results by our own logic and empirical data?

One such satment in disclosing these "several studies:"

Psychologists who study the origins of religion say belief in God relies on several intuitions, including a teleological bias (the assumption that certain objects or event were designed intentionally) and Cartesian dualism (the belief that mind can exist independently of the body). So to become an atheist one must second-guess these automatic ways of thinking. And recently a number of studies have supported the idea that belief in God is influenced by cognitive style–how much of a second-guesser you are.

Why is teleology "intuitive" any more than it is logical? If God is what you believe in then is it not logical to assume God has a purpose in crating? it's not prove that necessarily intuitive. Not that they link intuitive thinking with magical thinking. His comment about Cartsteian thinking is ironic since major aspects of atheist thinking is also based upon Cartesian thinking. E.O. Wilson's world view is largley Cartesian and he produced evolutionary psychology which is important to atheist thinking.

One such study: paper published last year in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General by Amitai Shenhav studuents took cognitive reflection test and answered questions. This is so telling he says "The number of intuitive (incorrect) responses they gave on the CRT was correlated with their belief in God and immortal souls," so in other words intuitive means "wrong." How could one possibly study the validity of intuitive thinking when one defines it as "wrong form the outset? Moreover, they are judging it wrong because it's connected to God, is that not also what makes it "intuitive?" They are just running around in circles demanding that what they believe has to be true and using their baises as the basis for proof. When we look at the actual tests on the study (see link above) we find that the real way they administer it (reported badly by Hustson) was to compare math answers arrived at intuitively with the persons individual belief in God. They compared believers answers to non believers answers. We are infer that the believers missed more. Actually that would mean that intuitive thinking does not correlate to belief in God and that the better intuitive thinking is done by non believers. Why? Because they got more math problems right by intuitive means. That would destroy their link from intuitive thinking to magical thinking. Wouldn't it also matter what one used intuitive sense for? Perhaps intuitive sense is better at God finding than at mathematics. What if that's what it was made for? Massimp Pigliucci sights research and argues that intuition is domaion specific. Some things lend themselves to it and some don't. [1]

Moreover, both studies demonstrated that intuitive CRT responses predicted the degree to which individuals reported having strengthened their belief in God since childhood, but not their familial religiosity during childhood, suggesting a causal relationship between cognitive style and change in belief over time. Study 3 revealed such a causal relationship over the short term: Experimentally inducing a mindset that favors intuition over reflection increases self-reported belief in God. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)[2]

So in other words because they have some evidence that initiative thinking is part of the stronger religious belief that means that religious belief is produced by intuitive thinking which is mostly wrong and is magical thinking. There are a number of things wrong with that methodology. That's not the same as proving that religion itself is derived from intuitive thinking. That is not even investigating the logic that goes into it. Nor does it investigate the right answers in one's personal life that lead to believe, they don't even offer a theological measuring devices for such answers. Putting up a bunch of math problems is not valid. People don't arrive at belief by just saying "I sense that God is really there." There is a sense of God's presence that people have and they are totally confusing that sense with 'intuitive' thinking,' they don't have it they don't know how it feels or works so they assume it's "intuitive." Moreover, the term "intuitive" can refer to different things. There's no link that the kind of intuitive thinking (guessing) about the math is the same kind done by religious thinkers.

There's an article in N.Y. Times that illustrates scientific work depending upon and being conformed by intuitive thinking. The article is a chapter form a book by Philip Lieberman, Eve Spoke, Human Language and Human Evolution.[3] The book is based upon scholarly work.

Over the past thirty years my colleagues and I have studied monkeys, chimpanzees, infants, children, normal adults, dyslexic adults, elderly people, and patients suffering from Parkinson's disease and other types of brain damage. We have also examined the skulls of our fossil ancestors, comparing them with those of newborn infants and apes. The focus of these studies has been the puzzle surrounding human evolution. Why are we so different from other animals, although we are at the same time so similar?...In some deep, unconscious way we "know" that dogs, cats, chimpanzees, and other intelligent animals would be human if they could only talk. Intuitively we know that talking = thinking = being human. The studies discussed below show that this intuition is correct.

This may upset young earth creationists, which I don't mind doing, but it doesn't disrupt my Christian faith because I don't see evolution as a disruption. Nor does it disprove the existence of the soul because that depends upon answering the question "why is it we did evolve to talk and other animals did not? There are two points that refute Hutson's ideas: (1) not only does religious belief depend upon intuitive thinking of a kind (at certain points) but so does scinece as well. (2) this scientist thinks that the intuitive thinking is proved correct by the scinece. So intuitive thinking is not always wrong. Some studies backing this up have shown that the correct results of intuitive thinking, while not better than other forms of knowing, are not worse.[4]

U.S. Navy reserach has yielded so much scientific data backing the notion that there is an intuitive sense that aids troops in battle that they started a program to teach troops how to be more intuitive.

Research in human pattern recognition and decision-making suggest that there is a "sixth sense" through which humans can detect and act on unique patterns without consciously and intentionally analyzing them. Evidence is accumulating that this capability, known as intuition or intuitive decision making, enables the rapid detection of patterns in ambiguous, uncertain and time restricted information contexts, that it informs the decision making process and, most importantly, that it may not require domain expertise to be effective. These properties make intuition a strong candidate for further exploration as the basis for developing a new set of decision support training technologies.[5] Ivy Estabrook, program manager at the office of Naval Resarch, says, "There is a growing body of anecdotal evidence, combined with solid research efforts, that suggests intuition is a critical aspect of how we humans interact with our environment and how, ultimately, we make many of our decisions."[6]

Published in Popular source Sarah Moore form Alberta School of Business and colleagues from Duke and Cornell have produced research that proves that the first choice one makes is often the right choice. [7] That certainly implies an intuitive choice. While Trisha Greenhalgh discusses research that shows that intution is a valuable aid in medical diagnosis and that it improves with critical thinking about the process. Intuition is not unscientific. It is a highly creative process, fundamental to hypothesis generation in science. The experienced practitioner should generate and follow clinical hunches as well as (not instead of applying the deductive principles of evidence-based medicine. The educational research literature suggests that we can improve our intuitive powers through systematic critical reflection about intuitive judgements--for example, through creative writing and dialogue with professional colleagues. It is time to revive and celebrate clinical storytelling as a method for professional education and development.[8] Not only is it not unscientific, not only can it assist in medical care, but it there's a large body of literature that shows it can be improved. How can it be improved (meaning the answers are right) if it's no good and it never works and it's just magical thinking?


(1) None of the studies demonstrate a real link between intuitive thinking and religious belief. They make an unsupported assertion that teleology and other quasi religious ideas are intuitive thinking. The closest thing to a link is one study that shows that believe was strengthened apart form family tie, but that does rule out logic, empirical data, discussions with friends and individual thought.

(2) The studies that claim to link religious belief with magical thinking are doing a bait and switch whereby the substitute intuitive thinking. They don't bother to consider the venue or the domain but merely assume that if intuitive thinking is wrong for math then it must be wrong for all things. They assume intuitive = magical, probably because they think belief in God is magic or supernatural is magic. Then they assert that since intuitive thinking doesn't work in one domain it work in any domain. Since that tag that as religious thinking then religious thinking is wrong. They actually prove nothing at accept that they are biased against religion.

(3) A vast body of scientific research disproves the idea that intuition is always wrong and doesn't work. It's not only backed by science it's part of science. I give examples of scientific work that is based upon intuitive thinking. It's not more special and unique to religious thought than is logic. Nor is it always wrong. The scientific reserach shows it has it's place where it's right, that including not only some scientific work but also medicine.


[1]Massimo Pigliucci, Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to A More Meaningful Life , New York: Basic books, 2012. Massimo Pigliucci (Italian pronunciation: [ˈmassimo piʎˈʎuttʃi]; born January 16, 1964) is the chair of the Department of Philosophy at CUNY-Lehman College.[1] He is also the editor in chief for the journal Philosophy & Theory in Biology.[2] He is an outspoken critic of creationism and advocate of science education.

[2] Shenhav, Amitai; Rand, David G.; Greene, Joshua D. "Divine intuition: Cognitive style influences belief in God." abstract on line: Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Vol 141(3), (Aug 2012), 423-428 abstract on Apa Psychnet accessed 10/2/13.

[3] Philip Lieberman, "The Mice Talked at Midnight," except from Eve Spoke: Human Language and Human Evolution, New York: W.W. Norton, published in New York Times, on line accessed 10/2/13 [4]AJ Giannini, ME Barringer, MC Giannini, RH Loiselle. Lack of relationship between handedness and intuitive and intellectual (rationalistic) modes of information processing. Journal of General Psychology. 111:31-37 1984.

[5] Office of naval research Basic Research Challenge: Enhancing intuitive deicsion making.

Solicitation Number: 12-SN-0007 Agency: Department of the Navy Office: Office of Naval Research Location: ONR accessed 10/2/13.

[6] Ivy Estabrook, uoted in Channing Joseph, "U.S. Program to Study How Troops Use Intuition," New York Times, Wednesday (Oct 2, 2013) story filed March 27, 2012, 5:09 pm on line accessed 10/2/13.

[7]Leon Watson ."why we are right to trust out gut intincts:Scientists discover First Decision is the Right One." Mail online updated 30 (August 2011) accessed 10/2/13

[8]Trisha Greenhalgh, "Intution and Evidence--Uneasy Bedfellows?" BJGP:British Journal of General Practice. 52, (478) May (2002) 395-400. On line article accessed 10/2/13 Posted by Joe Hinman at 6:40 AM

Friday, May 30, 2014

UP To their old Tricks agian: Atheist Refuse Evidence

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Atheists are in such a good position if they don't care about truth. They can always just deny any evidence and demand more then make a big thing out of the fact that no evidence convinces them. What they never admit but is obvious is that no evidence ever could convinced them because their position as atheists is to refuse all evidence. They use a kind of circular reasoning that says "I refuse to believe, therefore it can't be true." Then assume that since they have not been convinced the arguments don't pan out.

On CARM, Skylurker makes the point that religion is a cultural artifact. I said yes it is but so what? That doesn't mean it can't also be true. We have to use cultural constructs to communicate the experiences of God through. That means they are going to colored by the culture. That doesn't' render them false. Of course the unspoken assumption is they want it to be true. so they have to admit it could be. Of course will say "I never said it couldn't be." But they also don't accept it might be.

Originally Posted by MarkUK View Post
There's no valid reason to deny that a guy did miracles and came back to life based on two-thousand-year-old hearsay written forty years after the "fact"?

not if you know the historical facts.
the idea that miracles are not possible is not a valid position for you anymore. Atheists have given up that ground a long time ago. you gave up prescriptive laws of nature so you dont' get to there's a close naturalistic system. you say laws of physical are description of the universe works, then miracles are part of that.

 That sets off an argument about the possibility of miracles. My argument was about the philosophical justification for closing naturalistic process to naturalistic events only. I said they forfeit that in a couple of ways. I said, "of course there is 7000 remarkable cases is a good enough reasons. 400 resurrections since the middle ages is a good reason." We had a thing about burden of proof.

Originally Posted by Metacrock View Post
you don't have an argument. you little quips are BS.

It's not my job to disprove miracles.

I'm not trying to get you to stop believing. To all who read this:

I've decided that you owe me a million dollars. However, I wrote myself a cheque to cover each and every one of you.

 Originally Posted by Metacrock View Post
If you can't disprove my claim to a prima facie warrant then I win. simple.
In other words, if you call yourself the winner, you win.
Miracles do not get prima facie; if they did, you'd believe every single miracle claim ever made, and you don't.

I did point out that doesn't know what Prima facie is. Anything is prima facie if you meet the PF burden, which include evidence. But I did that or have done so in the past, we were sort of comparing general overall proofs of each side.

the only way to prove it prove it does not is to prove more is needed for the claim. 
 I'm speaking about meeting the Prmia facie burden.
If you don't think more is needed to support "a Nazarene carpenter was Yahweh incarnate and came back from the dead" than "a bloke wrote two thousand years ago that some anonymous people saw it", I don't know what to say to you.
Note: argument from incredulity. why should it be any more improbable that a carpenter would come back to life than a Rabbi? It's important to mention that he's talking about Jesus becuase then it has the atheist stamp of incredulity on it.


you don't have to disprove the existence of God you have to disprove my argument. 
Since you claimed prima facie in the opening, you have effectively declared yourself the winner of the game without bothering to play it.
 That's not true, he must show that I haven't met the burden. I can show I have.

you do not know the word pima facie means. you don't know what it is or how to achieve it. you have no basis for the silly claim that miracles can't be pria facie.
Besides I didn't make an argument based upon miracles. you can't engage with the arguments long enough to remember what I argued.
I didn't either remember? My argument was based upon the framework which they have abandoned in favor of QM theory and descriptive laws of physic those open the door to wild and crazy things like miracles. The reference to docs for 7000 miracles (healings) and 400 resurrections (middle ages to now) were just additional evidence to boost the gain.

btw prima facies means "on face value." It's different for philosophers than for debaters. I tend to use the debate concept. Even though it's made for policy debate, that is the idea that the opening speech must present the basics that are needed to prove the case (the case being belief in God is warrated).
I did't do that in that thread but since the debate referst to the general state of evidence prestned by both sides over time I refer to my God argument pages, and perferomances in 1x1 debates.


If you don't think more is needed to support "a Nazarene carpenter was Yahweh incarnate and came back from the dead" than "a bloke wrote two thousand years ago that some anonymous people saw it", I don't know what to say to you. 
I've supplied what is needed to support it. you have not answered my arguments.

here's an overview to my Resurrection arguments. read that and argue down the overall point.

Now here is where he really shows his refusal to accept any kind of evidence.

Why can't the resurrection be a fiction that has been transmitted faithfully since its beginning?

Do you really think "transmitted faithfully" contributes to plausibility? There may be 100% accurate copies of the Harry Potter novels two thousand years from now...
 I am the one who made the label. I said transmitted faithfully form the beginning. He's acting like i copied it form something. "Do you really think this means..." Yes I do becuase I said it.


 of course it does. this is proof for me that you do not accept any evidence of any kind. If you refuse to accept any evidence then you are not arguing wit. you are seeking answers. If every peice of evidence you get you reject as evidence by some trick of words, you are not seeking answers you don't care about truth.

what was passed on faithfully was the eye witness that they saw him alive again. that you refuse to believe it no matter what is not proof that it's not true.


 You seem to think that "not transmitted faithfully => incorrect" means "transmitted faithfully => correct". This is the "affirming the consequent" fallacy.

Faithful transmission is necessary for plausibility, not sufficient.


 you seem to think that as long as you refuse to receive the evidence as true then it can't be true. I have beaten you because you don't have an arguemnt. just saying "I dont' bleieve it, it could still be false" is not an argument. that's refusing to take part in the next part of the debate.

there is no point in debating someone who doesn't care bout facts.

 Now you've gone past faithful transmission to the original record - why should we believe the original record is correct? why should be believe anything we don't want to believe. that's why there are still flat earth people. they don't want to believe the fact so they don't.

because it's being passed on faithfully stupid. don't you see whatever I can give back to the original claims they must be wrong, if there's no utterly compelling that that wont let you doubt at all then they must be doubted. that's what these guys think is "reasoning."  But it means no evidence could ever suffice.

it doesn't matter what reason I give because like the flat earth guys you don't care what the facts are.

you think its a done deal because we went up in space and orbited the earth? no they have answers to that, because they refuse to believe.
 With that kind of thinking all facts can always be doubted so there's no basis in proof. thing can ever prove anything to someone who doesn't want to believe i badly enough. tha'ts why we still have flat earth guys.

 Originally Posted by MarkUK View Post
If a guy tells me he saw a pig fly, I am under no obligation to disabuse him of that notion; I can say "I don't believe it happened", and walk away.
that's just the point! anything you don't like you don't want to believe you put in the category of pig flying. I have evidence. you do not. you have no way to refute my evidence except to say "I refuse to believe it." that's you have. you are acting that is some magic disproof. It's not. it's just a refusal to believe the facts.

Originally Posted by MarkUK View Post
If a guy tells me he saw a pig fly, I am under no obligation to disabuse him of that notion; I can say "I don't believe it happened", and walk away.
that's just the point! anything you don't like you don't want to believe you put in the category of pig flying. I have evidence. you do not. you have no way to refute my evidence except to say "I refuse to believe it." that's you have. you are acting that is some magic disproof. It's not. it's just a refusal to believe the facts.

As to the rest of it, you seem to have staked out your position that I reject Christianity because I "don't want to believe it", a trite and tedious response that comes right out of the Bible.
duh, pretty obviuos.

 Here's the real kicker form another thread by another atheist.

 Occum opens a thread
Theists: What good reasons can you offer an atheist to believe that God exists?

 Originally Posted by Occam View Post I would probably be easier to persuade that God exists than many of the atheists on this forum. I think that the mind is immaterial, that we have libertarian free will, that morality is objective, and that philosophical arguments are a valid source of knowledge. Clearly, I am not the sort of atheist who reflexively rejects claims just because religious people accept them.

Nevertheless, I require some sort of reason to believe that God exists before I become a theist, and in the absence of such a reason I am obligated to believe that God does not exist. I see theism - especially the versions that include an afterlife - as similar to the emails you get from someone who claims to be a Nigerian prince who needs your help. He might be telling the truth, but for the moment you are obligated to believe that his story is false.

 I put up a thread listing all my God arguments. he says:

Metacrock, I would rather not rehash my reasons for rejecting your argument from religious experience again. Let our debate in the Debates section stand as a sufficient presentation of our respective positions.
 read the 1x1 debate I had with him and see why. reading it again I can see hey did't want to revisit it.

 Originally Posted by Metacrock View Post
sure, you have all these big reasons you start a thread on the subject but would rather not share those reasons? that's fine but then go around acting like there are no reasons. You can't handle the reasons.

now Occie how would it be if I said to the op in this thread "I have my reasons I don't want to talk about them here." what do you think guys like Diest and Skylurker would say to that? Not to mention MarkUK.
This is a dishonest interpretation of what I said. I said that we shouldn't discuss it against because we've already discussed it on the Debates forum, not just because I don't feel like discussing it.

sure what I said that and begged off debate on arguments with any number of atheist on this board would I eve hear the end of it?

On the other hand I like Occum and I don't him to think I'm putting him down. I do think if you put up a thread and call for discussion on some topic you should be willing to discuss it.

Overall what we see here is that facts and evidence don't mean much to these guys. As long as they can doubt they will doubt what they don't want to believe. they will continue to rationize it by pretending that the evidence is just no good becuase they will always be in a position to turn it down.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Atheist Problem with Prayer: prayer studies vs emprical miracles


We can always expect atheists to be on prowl to mock and ridicule prayer. They really have no choice to but reject it and clutch at straws to keep from believing the thousands of stories that come out every years of answered prayers. They have to reject it. It's only their ideology that prevents their addition that they have no intention of examining the facts. A particular study has been bandied about as "proof that prayer doesn't work." This study is ironic because to accept it's validity they actually must accept the validity of previous studies that show prayer does work. Since atheists are usually pretty dishonest they can't distinguish between different kinds of evidence, so they act as though this one studies disproves even empirical results.
Friendly Atheist

Study Concludes Intercessory Prayer Doesn’t Work; Christians Twist the Results

I was reading an article in Christianity Today and one of the paragraphs made me do a double-take. I couldn’t believe anyone was actually writing it… it was incredible how much fact-twisting was going on.
First, a bit of background.
It’s no surprise that prayer can have a positive effect on those who believe in it. If you pray, it can relax you and make you feel better. If you know others are praying for you — that others care about you — you feel better and your body might actually respond to that positivity. None of this has anything to do with a god answering (or even listening to) the prayers. It functions more like meditation. Prayer can have a calming, healing effect for those who buy into it.
But what happens when others pray for you and you are unaware of it? To no atheist’s surprise, this has never been shown to work.
This idea has been tested repeatedly — usually, the studies have flaws. And even when the results show that the intercessory prayer has no effect on anyone, those who believe in it will look at the hits and ignore (or rationalize) the misses.
Funny he should mention flaws, because that's going to be a key issue with me. The so called "faults" he's talking about are mainly about the inability to control for outside prayer. The irony is back ten years ago when there were about 14 studies that proved prayer worked,* the major athist argument was you can't control for outside prayer. These were all done the same way, double blind and so on. The major atheist argument was that you can't control for outside prayer. The study athesits now run around touting as a disproof of prayer is one that is invalidated by the same argument it depends upon controlling for outside prayer. Rather than understand that if they accept their anti-prayer study they have to drop the major argument against Byrd and Harris and the pro-prayer studies, they try to invalidate the pro prayer studies on irrelevant grounds that basically amount to guilt by association.

Here's the "big study" that disproves all prayer:
also from the article above:
Three years ago, a multi-million-dollar, controlled, double-blind study was conducted to test intercessory prayer.
The Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) found two major results:
1) “Intercessory prayer had no effect on recovery from surgery without complications.”
2) “Patients who knew they were receiving intercessory prayer fared worse.”
Fared worse?! Even I was surprised by that. So were many Christians — this didn’t sit well with them.
This new article from Christianity Today, though, offers a rationalization I’ve never heard before. You can tell they’re really straining to find a silver lining…[this is quoting Christianity today]

Ironically, STEP actually supports the Christian worldview. Our prayers are nothing at all like magical incantations. Our God bears no resemblance to a vending machine. The real scandal of the study is not that the prayed-for group did worse, but that the not-prayed-for group received just as much, if not more, of God’s blessings. In other words, God seems to have granted favor without regard to either the quantity or even the quality of the prayers. By instinct, we might selfishly prefer that God give preferential treatment to those who are especially, deliberately, and correctly prayed for, but he seems to act otherwise.[end quote]

True to his character, God appears inclined to heal and bless as many as possible.
This prefectly rational explanation the atheist calls a "rationalization." Of cousre he does, his ideology demands that he not think reasonably about it but that he use it to attack. That's what atheism is about. Nothing could be more reasonable. What the quote actually says is that we can't study prayer the way we would a drug in a field trial. The reason the mystical experience studies I use don't make this mistake is becuase they have the sense to study the effects, they don't try to get inside the experience itself. These studies must actually assume that we can control God's will and control for what God does as well as for outside prayer.

What do I mean by outside prayer? The study has two groups, experimental group and control group. You blind the study so that neither the participants nor the researchers even know who is in which group. That way they wont treat them differently based upon expectations. So in this case it means the control group is not prayed for the experimental group is prayed for. Then you look to see if there is a difference. Back ten years ago when I used to argue these studies all the time I was actually rationalizing the answer on the control because I felt it was so important to have studies since atheists are always flapping their gums about no empirical proof. I was rationalizing. It was only latter that I was able to force myself to take a good hard look at the rationalization and then I stopped using the arguments. But the current crop of atheists are not willing to face the honest truth. How can you double blind and say no one in group A will be prayed for? How can you know people not connected with the study aren't praying for them? Their friends know they are sick. How can we be sure no one of them has one friend, or how can we know one guy on the freeway doesn't pray for everyone in the hospital every time he passe it on his way home form work? Christians do things like that. So there's no way to ever control for outside prayer.
Friendly Atheist man wants to Claire its' Christianity today that is rationalizing but look at his own rationalization. He's twisting the facts, as surely as he says Christians do. He has to ignore the problems of controlling for God's will and for outside prayer. He's twisting because the says the pro prayer studies have flaws but he's not begin honest about what they are. He is in a catch 22. He must either give up his study and admit you can't control (his study depends as much on controlling outside prayer and Byrd or Harris did). If he denies the problem and says they can control for outside prayer then he must accept that Byrd, Harris, and at least eleven other studies show that prayer works.*
Friendly Atheist above:
So the fact that the prayers had no effect on the sick? Don’t think about that, say Gregory Fung and Christopher Fung, the authors of the article. Instead, they want you to consider that prayer works because the un-prayed-for people didn’t die a horrible death.
That’s one way of ignoring the evidence when it’s staring you in the face.

What's obvious here is that the concept of double blind prayer study is a problem. Not prayer that is disprove, clearly , it is the ability to conduct a double blind and control for the will of God and outside prayer. One of the major problem with atheists taking this is a rationalization is that they don't know what prayer is about. They think prayer is just for getting stuff if it doesn't get you somethign one time then it doesn't work. This is because they refuse to study about the meaning of Christian theology or to understand what Christianity is about. Since they don't want to know they can't figure out what they are doing wrong with the criticize the wrong end of prayer. Far from disproving prayer this study disproves the ability to study prayer as thought it's a drug that has to work every time.

Friendly atheist:
There’s gotta be a perfect analogy for this somewhere. What comes to mind?
to be honest what comes to my mind first is that you are not idiot. I suppose that would be one of those uncalled for comments that is sure to send Hermit comment the comment box. But he did ask.

The better method of "proof" for prayer is empirical evidence. Prayer is something that can be studied empirically in terms of result so we don't need double blinds. There are no cotrols on them anyway so they can't be good double blinds. Empirical is better because it's there, if you have the evidence its' obvious. There's another atheist argument, one that says we just look at the good stuff and ignore the misses, that's "hit rate."

"Paradoxical" on CARM

I think it gives them the notion that they "could" have some control over things that are beyond their control. By way of just one example, I think they know that they personally can't control whether or not a loved one dies, and it is comforting to think that a being can grant that loved one a reprieve. If that loved one is deathly ill, and the believer prayed very hard that he or she would live, and he or she recovered, the believer chalks it up to a prayer being answered, and spreads the news so that others can feel empowered by this being that he and his friends believe in. This gives solace to society as a whole, and is useful to the human psyche. Humans don't want to think that life is random and there's nothing they can do to change what will be. Since they are not God, they want to think they can have a direct pipeline to Him and have him grant favors. That is the next best thing to being God, and gives that person perceived power that they wouldn't otherwise have without the prayer belief.

It matters not that billions and billions of prayers go unanswered or ignored. If there was even just ONE person out of a billion that got well after prayer, that would be all a believer would need. As for the outher 999,999,999,999, either they didn't pray enough, pray right, or it was God's will.
My opinion is that prayer gives humans the illusion of power that they do not possess by using an imaginary God to give it to them
The problem here is it doesn't take into account empirical miracles and it doesn't consider the complexity of veriables. In other words you don't need the hit rate because you are not dealing with something that is supposed to happen every single time. You are dealing with a will that can decide case by case if it wants to work or not. If scietnfiic studies on partcial excellorators had a theory about sub atomic pascals having minds of their own there would be no way to study them and no one would have evdience for the existence of any of them. Its' only when we can assume a stable situation that we can study it. That's why we have to go case by case. If a cause violates what we know nature on it's own produces then, and only then, do we have reason to believe there's really evidence of answered prayer. God goes case by case deicding if he wants to act. So we must go case by case deciding the chances of this or that happening according to probability. The veriables are far too complex to ever expect to be able to analyze the outcome short of something that really challenges our understanding of how nature behaves.

A leg is broken. We pray, we x-ray, the leg is not broken anymore. Within a half an hour the leg went from broken to not broken, this is something nature just doesn't ever do in our experience. That would be empirical evidence of a miracle. It would require a double blind. It wouldn't even try to control for anything because it doesn't have to. The only thing it would control for is making sure the X-Ray is not a fraud. I don't now of a case this dramatic but I do know of several that are close enough that they count as evidence of prayer working. The scientific study of miracles at Lourdes, France, the shrine to Mary of the Catholic chruch is very good. The ruels are strict and they are administered by major medical researchers of Europe.



The paradox of human miracle assessment is that the only way to discern whether a phenomenon is supernatural is by having trained rationalists testify that it outstrips their training. Since most wonders admitted by the modern church are medical cures, it consults with doctors. Di Ruberto has access to a pool of 60 - "We've got all the medical branches covered," says his colleague, Dr. Ennio Ensoli - and assigns each purported miracle to two specialists on the vanquished ailment.

They apply criteria established in the 1700s by Pope Benedict XIV: among them, that the disease was serious; that there was objective proof of its existence; that other treatments failed; and that the cure was rapid and lasting. Any one can be a stumbling block. Pain, explains Ensoli, means little: "Someone might say he feels bad, but how do you measure that?" Leukemia remissions are not considered until they have lasted a decade. A cure attributable to human effort, however prayed for, is insufficient. "Sometimes we have cases that you could call exceptional, but that's not enough." says Ensoli. "Exceptional doesn't mean inexplicable."

"Inexplicable," or inspiegabile, is the happy label that Di Ruberto, the doctors and several other clerics in the Vatican's "medical conference" give to a case if it survives their scrutiny. It then passes to a panel of theologians, who must determine whether the inexplicable resulted from prayer. If so, the miracle is usually approved by a caucus of Cardinals and the Pope.

Some find the process all too rigorous. Says Father Paolino Rossi, whose job, in effect, is lobbying for would-be saints from his own Capuchin order: "It's pretty disappointing when you work for years and years and then see the miracle get rejected." But others suggest it could be stricter still.

There is another major miracle-validating body in the Catholic world: the International Medical Committee for the shrine at Lourdes. Since miracles at Lourdes are all ascribed to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, it is not caught up in the saint-making process, which some believe the Pope has running overtime. Roger Pilon, the head of Lourdes' committee, notes that he and his colleagues have not approved a miracle since 1989, while the Vatican recommended 12 in 1994 alone. "Are we too severe?" he wonders out loud. "Are they really using the same criteria?"

Reported by Greg Burke/Lourdes
Copyright 1995 Time Inc. All rights reserved.

The Lourdes miracles are a good argument. They are much stronger than those double blind studies. There are a lot of good arguments and good info available on my miracles page on Lourdes. (Don't pronounce the s). There are also protestant miracles. There are three main prolems wtih this info:

(1) it's old
(2) It's assocaited with a faith healing ministry, the faith healer (Kathryn Kulhman ministry)
(3) book's out of print although recently has been re-pulished in a new form that I have not seen.** Kullman ministry asked Dr.Richard H. Casdraoph to verify several of the healing and he uses his his entire staff of medical technicians and consulting doctors to help. This is not as well founded as the Lourdes miracle committee, but it's not bad.

The Casdroph book goes into great deatail on every case. Since these were not the actual patients of Casdroph himself, there are 3 tiers of medical data and opinion; Casdroph himself and his evaluation of the data, several doctors with whom he consulted on every case, and they very from case to case, and the original doctors of the patents themselves. The patients gave their permission and were happy to provide the medical data on their healing since they were all people who had written to the Kulhman ministry with words of their healing. Not all of them were healed immediately in the meeting. Some were healed latter when they got hom.Naturally no one had a x-ray machine standing by at the faith meeting to crank out results like a x-rox copy, so all of them took some period of time to see the results. Not all of them were toally healed immediately. But all the cases were either terminal or incurable and all of them, within a year, returned to full health and pain free existences.

Dr. Richard Steiner, of the American Board of Pathology, head of department of Pathology Long Beach Community Hospital reviewed several of the slides. William Olson, American Board of Internal Medicine and head of Isotope Department at Long Beach Community Hospital, and several radiologists form that Hospital also consulted on the rest of the cases.

1)Reticulum cell Sarcoma, right pelvic bone.
2)Chronic Rheumatoid Arthritis with Severe Disability
3)Malignant Brain Tumor (Glioma) of the left Temoperal lobe
4)Multiple Sclerosis
5)Arteriosclerosis Heart Disease
6)Carcinoma of the Kidney (Hypernephroma)
7) Mixed Rheumatoid Arthritis with Osteoarthritis
8)Probable Brain Tumor vs Infarction of the Brain
9)Massive GI Hemorrhage with GI shock (instantly healed)
10)Osteoporosis of the Entire Spine

All of these people were totally healed of incurable or terminal states. The one commonality they all have is that they were at some point prayed for by the same person, Kulhman. Let's look at a few examples:

1)Lisa Larios: Cell Sarcoma of the right Pelvic bone.

Larios didn't know she had cancer. She had developed a great deal of pain in her pevis and was confined to a wheel chair, but the doctors had not found the evidence of the tumor at the time her mother took her to hear Kulhman. Yet, when Miss Kulhman said "someone over here is being healed of cancer, please stand up" she stood up without knowing why. She had already started feeling a strange heat in that area and had ceased to feel pain. She went up onto the stage and walked around without pain. She was than "slain in the spirit" which is that odd thing when the healer pales his/her hand on the forehead and the person falls over in a faint. It took some time to receive the next set of x-rays becasue she only learned after the meeting some days latter that she had cancer. Than the next set of x-rays showed vast and dramatic improvement. It would still be some time,almost a year, before her pelvis was completely resorted. But she did return to full health. The Catholics wouldn't except this miracle because it could be confused with a normal remission. The power of suggestion can be ruled out because the heat started before she was called to the stage, and because she didn't even know she had cancer, but responded to a call for healing of cancer. The first dramatic improvement which was immediate within a few days, and walking on the stage is not characteristic of remission. Casdroph has the medical evidence from several hospitals to which she had been taken.

3)Mrs. Marie Rosenberger: Malignant Brain Tumor.

"Three things make this case an exceptionally excellent example of divine healing. 1) medical evidence of the case includes biopsy proof of the malignant nature of the tumor. The slides were obtained from Hollywood community Hospital and reviewed by the head pathologist at Long Beach community Hospital who confirmed the diagnosis of malignant astronomical or glioma class II. 2) When the healing occurred Marie Rosenberger was down to 101 pounds and was expected to die."

The healing began to manifest immediately and by the next morning was evident. She received no further drugs or medication from that point on. 3) The third thing that makes the case good is the long term nature of the healing. Her diagnosis was in 1970 and by the time Casdroph wrote the book in 76 she was still healthy and happy with no sign of the disease since the healing (which was in 1971 one year after the diagnosis).

8)Anne Soults: Probable brain tumor vs. Infarction of the brain.

"This lady's brain abnormality was well documented by the standard diagnostic techniques and she was seen by man specialists. Electroencephalographic study was performed in each of her hospitalizations.The repeat study dated January 6th reported 'abnormal EEG suggesting left temporary pathology, there is no significant change since 12/27/74.'...the clinical impression was that of brain tumor and her symptoms suddenly and completely disappeared following a visit to the Shrine service."

When she went to the service an unknown christian placed his hands on her shoulders and prayed for her. The symptoms immediately vanished and subsequent tests found that the abnormality had disappeared. This is not normal remission. Remission does not mean that the symptoms immediately vanish.

9)Paul Wittney Trousdale:Massive GI Hemorrhage.

Trousdale was a prominent civic leader and builder in California in the early 70s. On December 12, 1973 he was admitted to St. John's Hospital in Sana Monica with massive hemorrhaging which required many transfusions.His wife called Reverend John Hinkle to his bedside, they prayed and he was instantly healed. All the medical values returned to normal and he went on to live a normal and productive life, engaging in athletics and sports. Subsequent examinations revealed no abnormalities.

10) Delores Winder: Osteoporosis of the Complete Spine.

"Mrs. Delores Winder presents us with an unusual case of severe, chronic, disabling pain secondary to Osteoporosis, which her physicians tried to relieve by five different spine operations. The patients symptoms had begun early in 1957. By 1962 she had worn a full body cast or brace of some sort...although at the time of her healing she was in a light weight full body plastic shell. Although she did not believe in instant miraculous healing she attend a lecture by Miss Kulhman in Dallas on August 30. 1975.She was miraculously healed beginning with a sensation of heat in both of her lower extremities.She has been resorted to full health, wears no barce or support, takes no medication and has completely normal sensations in the lower extremities. This is unusual becasue the spinathalamic in the spinal cord had been interrupted on both sides, and in such cases the resulting numbness is usually permanent."

The real problems that I have with atheists and they way they deal with prayer is they can't bring themselves to modrate the criticism. It's either out and out mockery or they feel they have to totally accept. They don't seem to regard keeping their mouths shut until the evidence is really good as an option. They also make no effort to understand the point of prayer. they can only deal with the surface level. They can't make the effort to understand what prayer is and thus undestand why the answers are not rationalizations, but they only want to focus on one thing, the surface level, did you get what you want? it never occurs to them that's not the point of prayer. I will deal with these factors and more next time.

*one study has been disproved. Wirth the study on invetro, Wirth himself has been proved to be a fraud. That's where atheists argue guilt by association. I've seen them try to invalidate the studies that Wirth wasn't even connected with.


Monday, May 26, 2014

The Games Athiests Play: Accusing Christians of Playing Games; another lesson in Atheist Brainwashing

  photo gja0299l.jpg

One of the game atheists play the most is accusing Christians of game playing. This is the ploy used on a Blog called Godless in Dixie, the article, "the Games Christians Play: Three Common Examples..." This article is making the rounds of message boards and blogs, being quoted quite a bit. Perfect example of how they brain wash. They give their guys this model to go by so whenever they see a Christian arguing this way, they know it's game playing thus they are brain washed with the inoculation not to pay attention to Christian arguments. It's another version of poisoning the well.

He (apparently just goes by sceen name "godless") begins by inoculating the atheist catechumens in avoiding Christian arguments by referencing "confirmation bias." Becuase there is a psychological tendency to conform our views all atemptes of the enemy to affirm their view are just this rationalization called "confirmation bias." Of course that's not true of atheist evidence, that's valid scinece.

Confirmation bias happens when we preselect for our attention only those data which support the beliefs we had before we even began our quest to find the truth.  As long as we can find quick and easy ways to dismiss and ignore all data which contradict our preconceived ideas, we will find that the remaining “evidence” perfectly supports whatever we thought from the very beginning.
sound advice. That's why he's going to give you three examples of Christian game playing. Hey that's not his confirmation bias. That's true scientific fact that Christians play games. Of cousre atheists don't play games they just expose Christian games. So the first example:

Claim 1:  If you pray for X, it will happen.

Anyone who teaches you that, if you pray for X, X must happen, is an idiot. I find it hard to believe that anyone says that. I never heard anyone brash enough to make that actual claim. Even people I know who claim to have miracles coming out their ears, people who have miracles happen every day they get of bed in the morning don't say that. No one says "if you pay it must happen."

I was taught to inform the critics of my faith that you can’t view God like he’s Santa Claus, beholden to each of us who asks for a pony, for a raise, or for whatever our selfish little hearts desire.  For shame!  I was taught to make people feel guilty for thinking they can ask God for things.  The only thing is:  That’s exactly what the New Testament tells us to do.  Jesus instructed his followers to ask for things.  He didn’t guilt them for suggesting such; in fact, it was his idea.  But Christians quickly forget that and rush to bury that fact under a plethora of qualifications and ad hoc provisions.
What he's saying is Christians soft peddle the hard core faith statements of the Bible so you wont be disappointed. Then that's a betrail of the Bible while the Bible is BS becuase it betrays reality becasue there are no answers to prayer. Of cousre that doesn't make the Chrsitians wise to soft peddle those statements it makes them game players. What's obviously happening is that he just can't understand balanced teaching. Most atheists are not subtle thinkers. He's not doing this to find truth, he doesn't give a rat's ass what the truth is. He's doing this to beat the enemy whom he hates. He doesn't care what they really mean by it. The point is balanced teaching is to be preferred and that's the only fair way to think about it. That's not game playing it's just trying to moderate with wisdom the understanding of texts form foreign time, culture, language.

I've seen miracles. I've had miracles, I wouldn't be a Christian today if it wasn't for a miracle based conversion experience. Yet I also know from experience that God will not answer all prayers all the time. In fact James tells us that. Of course "godless" does tell us all of this in a snide fashion like a good little hate monger. He claims that James and Jesus "unequivocally tell us that if we pray for the sick, they will be healed." What it says is: 

James 5:14-15

New International Version (NIV)
14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.

"They forgot to supply the requisite "fine print," is his own poster where they stuck on a bunch of clichés Chrsitians use to soften the blow of not getting prayers answered very often. Of cousre what's so dishoenst about this is James is also the one who tells us that our prayers aren't answered and why. In James Chapter 4:3 he says "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." So he's actually telling us the fine print but this guy is too much the propaganda merchant to admit that. Reflecting balanced teaching fairly would not get him a prize. It would not be effective propaganda. he summarizes the point:

Once you take into consideration this arrangement of excuses, you see that it is impossible to falsify the claim that praying for X will make it happen.  Over the centuries this claim has come to be flanked by rationalizations which ensure that this promise can never be proven false.  Whenever what Jesus and James promised fails to occur, you can simply fall back on one of the following:
  • Your motives were imperfect.
  • It wasn’t God’s will.
  • His answer was “yes, but not yet.”
  • You didn’t believe hard enough.
  • There’s a life lesson you have to learn from this suffering.
  • Shame on you for expecting God to jump through your hoops and perform for you!

We don't have to falsify it. It's faith it's not science. We are not running an experiment to black mail God into doing our bidding. He's using the atheist fortress of facts mentality and their illusion of technique gambit to create the illusion that science explains away prayer. He's saying prayer stuff doesn't make good science. No it doesn't not if you seeks answers to prayer. You can be a scientist latter in other issues but if you are going to seek God's power in your life you can't constantly subject it to testing. That's double minded, it's not trust and it's doubt. He's trying to cast a negative poll over prayer because it's not scientific. There are scientifically based indications of healing. That is not the same thing as getting  a prayer answered.  You have to choose. You can choose again tomorrow. you can turn around and be scientific tomorrow. Now if you want answers to prayer put the science away for now and have faith. you are not trying to falsify prayer.

Claim 2:  God will never forsake you.

Here is where he says one of the stupidest things I've ever heard anyone said:

Once you’ve established that even the worst imaginable injustice, tragedy, or loss may be God’s will for your life, this promise that he will never forsake you becomes utterly devoid of meaning or substance.  The ultimate emptiness of this promise never stops people from feeling that it should somehow comfort them, but for the life of me I cannot see why.  No matter what awful thing you can think of, it can be argued that this, too, is God’s will for you.  So the claim is meaningless.
What did this really say? It actually says whatever doubt you find to not believe God is on your side that must be the case because you thought of it. At that rate no one would be a Christian more than one day. This is the most foolish lie of the pit since Papa Bush: "read my lips no new taxes." Why would it be the case that if you doubt God's good will for your life then the doubt must be true? The nature of doubt is to cross the mind at the most inopportune moment. All this means is that if you find an occasion to doubt God having the doubt proved God is not there. I guess the rationalization is "if God was really for you he would not let you have this doubt." That's of covered in what it means by "having faith." Trust God, that's Christian life 101. They are trying to poison the well and make it seem untenable by teaching you to fear any BS lie that crosses your mind about God's love and support.

Then he fleshes out his argument in a way that makes it seem a bit more substantial. What he's saying after shifting his argument is that whatever exampel of the worst injustice you come up with other Christians will say it's not true and God doesn't want that. No circumstances could ever be thought of under which God would really forsake you. Because other Christians might suggest that God has a reason to go through it justifies and dismisses the fact that God has abandoned you. This is really rich (meaning stupid) becuase all he's saying is people's encouragement can be taken as proof that God will really abandon.. He's mixing with the falsifiability thing. How can I really know that he wont when anything that happens will be rationalized as god's will for the good? So this unanswerable problem is opened to make you always doubt god. The answer is very simple. It's all based upon a bait and switch he substitutes his own version of God's promise for God's promise

We are not doing the falsification thing while we are doing spiritual warfare. The science thing can wait, if our relationship with God is on the line that's time for faith not for making useless scientific hypothesis tests that we dont' need to make. We do not need scientific proof if we have miracles and God's power in our lives. Make your choice which you want. You don't have to give up science, just don't make it a condition of faith. That is just causing you to sour the deal on faith in the name of science. Decide which matters more being scientifically correct of knowing God. That's one bait and switch, substituting scientific falsifiability for real faith. The he is also re-writing God's promises.

It is absolutely true that God will never forsake you. There is no promise that it wont appear that God has forsaken you. Sorry to break it to you but there are times when it will appear so. It's not a promise that it will always be sunny. You have to take the long term view. God has not forsaken you, it just looks as though he has. In the long term God is there and you see he's there. He will be there when you need him even if you don't know it, but some day you will know he was there. He will get you though and you will be with him in eternity. I just happen know something about thinking God has abandoned you. I had damn good reason to think it: My parents died of heart attack and Alzheimer's, I lost my house. I lost my career and I couldn't make a living, the mentally ill brother that I cared for went more mental because of my parents deaths. I had a real reason to think God left me. I even went around saying God has cursed me. I began driving around looking for jobs finally stopped looking and began shouting "YOU ARE A LIAR!" Latter I realized god was there I was a foolish child I felt real embarrassed but I knew I was forgiven and saw the idiocy I sunck to. I undestand that I just gave in to doubt and fear. That's what this guy is urging you to do. Give in to doubt and fear and become cuncial.
read about my Second Testimony and see what happened.

The first "game" he points out:

 Claim 3:  The Holy Spirit can mold a person’s character and empower him to live a virtuous life.

 Here he's going to turn sin nature against the believer and hook the unwary by their self knowledge that they can't make it in their own strength. In back of that is the implication that "You don't want to be one of those celibate tyes. come on you want to get liaid, you know you are going to do it anyway." He's planting seeds of ratioanlization. Talk about game playing!

As a Christian, I was taught that all virtue comes from God.  I was taught that people are naturally awful and despicable and that the only thing that can enable them to be virtuous is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.  Both of these ideas come from the Bible, not from some later perversion of Christian tradition.  But like the other two, this claim becomes meaningless once you read the disclaimers in the fine print.  Besides the numerous promises that this inner presence will produce a laundry list of virtues (love being chief among them), at one point the Bible even goes on to say things like:
God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
Watch how easily promises like this become meaningless:  When a Christian exemplifies virtuous behavior, they say it was because “Jesus lives inside her.”  But then whenever a Christian displays poor judgment or moral turpitude, this cannot be a failure of God to deliver on his promise. 
 What's illogical about that? It makes perfect sense that if God is real he wont be the cause of our down fall. We don't want to pridefully say "I did this myself becasue I'm so good." Of course he harps upon the self esteem issue: belief in sin is really saying you are no good. Since the studies prove that self esteem is a major factor in atheism he's triggering the self esteem issue. People with low self esteem cant' be honest about their own weakness without berating themselves. Could he really think it would make sense to really believe in God and say "that stupid old God I'm stronger than he is. He can't help me but I can be good in my own?" Does that really make sense? We also don't accept it as "I'm' not good, I'm a piece of shit and I can't do anything on my own." They are always opposed to balanced teaching.

James 1: NASB
12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has [m]been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted [n]by God”; for God cannot be tempted [o]by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin [p]is accomplished, it brings forth death. 16 Do not be [q]deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or [r]shifting shadow. 18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be [s]a kind of first fruits [t]among His creatures

 This whole article is an attempt to indoctrinate the atheist into doubting God and throwing away faith by giving into psychological traps of low self esteem. One knows at the outset that accuzations of game playing usually come from game playing. He is not seeking truth he's seeking to plant seeds of doubt that will produce rotten fruit and result in the root of bitterness of which Hebrews warns.

Hebrews 12: NIV
 14Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. 15See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; 16that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.…

 Selling the birthrate is very appropriate. Esu was sensual and oriented toward the body and the sense and he felt at the moment. He was hungry, thirsty, worn out, and so he gave his birth rite for some beans. This guy would have you give up your place in the kingdom of God and be cast into eternal darkness [1] because at some moment you fear that God is not really on your side. So he wants those seeds to grow in you until they produce a root of bitterness that chokes out the good seed of the word.

Let us remember the advice of Barny Fife: Nip it in the bud. Don't allow seeds of atheist dout to destroy your relationship with God.

[1] I don't believe in hell as eternal conscoius torment. I use eternal darkness as a metaphor for cessation of existence. I also think that before we cease to exist we are judged and we understand why we are outside the kingdom (because we are at enmity with God). Please read my four page article on the subject (see the link above, or here: