Showing posts with label Reasoning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reasoning. Show all posts

The Believers Reasoning Scheme

A fallacy is an argument (aka pattern of reasoning, reasoning scheme, argument scheme) that appears valid but upon analysis is shown to be invalid or misapplied. The phrase "Anything is possible" is an example of one of those reasoning schemes that seems valid but is not. Anything is not possible. This article will discuss why an appeal to possibility should be considered for refutation on its face. It will then go on to discuss the effects this fallacy has in a dialogue. Finally it will discuss the process of sound reasoning, and introduce the phenomenon I call the Believers Reasoning Scheme.

What Is The Difference Between A Perception And Knowledge?

Or, "What is the difference between private personal experience and knowledge?". I know this may sound like a stupid question to some, but it seems that it is pivotal in the "Disregarding Established Knowledge..." discussion. In my view, considering inaccessible personal experience to be of the same value as established knowledge is untenable.

Disregarding Established Knowledge Is Bad, UnKay?

Its simple,
If your beliefs are not consitent with established human knowledge, then they probably are not justified. In that case, other people are not justified in believing what you say about them, and furthermore you have no reason to expect anyone to believe you.

Nonpartisan Media Discussing Failed Arguments For God

Over at The Fallacy Files, the article The Arguments That Failed discusses the Boston Review Article God; Philosophers Weigh In by Alex Byrne. Both demonstrate the problems with Anselm's "Ontological" Argument, The Design Argument and The "Fine-Tuning" Argument.

Christians Must Be Agnostic

The Use Or Intent Of Information Does Not Determine Its Quality
Over at Sophies Ladder, Jeff says
"Reliability, on the other hand, I take to mean “can be dependably used” and so, obviously, reliability relates to the purposes intended."

Reliability is not an IDQ dimension, however it clearly is important. But the use of the information does not determine its quality. Poor quality data can be used to make a living with. Its called Fraud. Information can be presented in such a way as to be persuasive whether it accurately represents real world states or not.

Blaming The Victim
Is the Bible reliable – not as a history or science book – but as a conveyor of information regarding the transcendental, spiritual realm? How can one ever know? There is nothing to compare it to, nothing to triangulate (aka cross-check) it with. That is really the point of all my IDQ articles. Using the information in the Bible, the Christian remains agnostic about God whether they realize it or not. For example Jeff brings up Jesus' encounter with Nicodemus.
“How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” he asks. Jesus chastises him for not knowing any better than to be so literal. “You’re a master of Israel and you don’t know these things?”

This is completely ambiguous and, additionally, lacks nurturing. Can anyone be blamed if they don't understand something that is presented ambiguously? Generally, teachers are held accountable if the students don't comprehend the information. In a small percentage of cases, the student has some individual difficulty that prevents them from grasping the information whether its ambiguous or not. When that is the case, the student is not chastised. In all cases, principle dictates that more attention is given to the student, until the student can comprehend the information. From the text it doesn't seem likely that Nicodemus was being deliberately difficult, it seems that the material was exceptionally difficult for Nicodemus, and, as we can see, it is of poor quality because it demonstrates the IDQ flaws of Incomplete Representation and Ambiguous Representation. Simply stated, Jesus did not explain himself clearly. Simply stated Nicodemus is being blamed for not understanding. Is the material impossible to convey in words? Considering how common the phrase "Born Again" is, when clearly explained, it can be "understood" by some. But Jeff says
In the case of the Bible, it is likely that it’s not possible to speak plainly, given the subject matter.

If God Engineered Us, And If We Don't Get It, It's Not Our Fault
Alright, I'll stipulate that "it is not possible to speak plainly given the subject matter" for the sake of argument and I'll point out that if the material necessary to be comprehended to obtain salvation is too complicated for our minds, then, since God supposedly engineered us, he is solely responsible. But he has another option. Being all powerful and the creator of all things gives him the option of implanting the knowledge directly in the brain. There's no excuse for the material to be unobtainable, incomprehensible unless it was of poor quality.

Getting Burned is All You Need To Know About Fire
At this point Jeff tries to build the case that
There is something very small about a concept if it can be contained in words alone.

additionally he goes off down a slippery slope. He asks
Why do we shout for joy or turn to music to express ourselves, if words alone can suffice?

but he seems to ignore the fact that plenty of understanding goes on without shouting for joy or turning to music. The theory of General Relativity and String Theory can be explained in words alone, it takes a long time, and a lot of words, but it can be done. I know because I understand them and can explain them. I can also explain how schizophrenia is produced by a genetic mutation, and how human behavior is affected by that. I can also explain the History of the concept of the Soul starting with Orpheus. In my opinion someone who says that a thing is indescribable doesn't understand it well enough to talk about it.

Data Abstraction
Jeff goes on to reference John 21:25 where Jesus says that the world cannot contain the books necessary to express the Logos. That's fine, but using data abstraction, I don't need to know how fire works or how my computer works, or how the elements in my steak marinade combine for me to benefit from them. Likewise I didn't need to know how the Logos worked for more than thirty five years as a Christian to appreciate it. When I realized that the Jihadists were right when they said that it looked like their prayers were answered and Allah guided those planes into the towers and that, to me, it looked like God was ignoring the prayers of those people jumping out of the towers I decided to stop using a double standard for my religion. I started to "cross-check" Christianity.

Circular Reasoning And Shooting Yourself In The Foot
Jeff's reasoning is circular. There is nothing to Triangulate his data except with such things as the Bible, his personal experience, the personal experience of other Christians, the personal experience of non-christians and Science. Unfortunately the more data we accumulate to triangulate with, the weaker Jeffs case gets. While Jeff continues to minimize the importance of the text of the Bible and emphasize the importance of the inner dwelling of the Spirit, he keeps using Biblical texts to support his case. The problem is that he is weakening his own case by minimizing the information in the Bible.

Christians Must Be Agnostic About The Things They Do Not Agree On
Unless Christianity can value each others information equally, they must remain agnostic on the topics they do not agree on. The topics they do not agree on get to the fundamental tenets of Christianity. Since that is the case, Christians must necessarily be agnostic about a large percentage of the things they think they know. They must be Agnostic.

Christianity is a disorganized mess and it has all the symptoms of an organization that needs their data cleaned up using the principles of IDQ.
But I think that would be its undoing, and I think that Christians know that intuitively, and that the biological algorithms for comfort and self-preservation kick in to preclude them from committing to the inference from the Data.

With help from John, Prup, an Ed Babinski article, and Sconnor, here are a list of some disputed topics within Christianity.
And following that, I listed the staggering number of Christian Denominations.

- Evolution or creationism?
- Being Born Again?
- Trinity or no?
- Arianism
- The disputes that drove the creation of Protestants.
- Denominations of Protestants
- Denominations of Catholics
- War between Catholics and protestants
- Holy Spirit male or female?
- Holy Spirit is a person or not?
- Salvation, faith or works
- Baptism
- Infant Baptism
- Hell is real and fiery or not?
- Purgatory
- Snake handling
- Once saved always saved?
- Where do Suicides go?
- Speaking in tongues
- Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit
- New covenant theology
- The 'two natures' in Christ.
- The Ordination of Women
- The attitude towards gays
- The various parts of the Bible that seem to be later additions, such as the 'story of the woman taken in adultery' and the 'Great Commission' that ends Matthew, etc.
- The Rapture
- Slavery
- Biblical inerrancy
- Christendom
- Papal Infallibility
- Double Predestination
- Just War Theory
- Penal Substitution
- God as a Male
- Sin
- Unforgivable Sin
- Second coming has already happened
- The point in time that the holy spirit indwells and fills you
- Gifts of the spirit given to everyone or different people at different times
- 'pre-Nicean' controversies

List of Christian Denominations from Wikipedia
1 Catholicism
1.1 The Catholic Church: Churches in communion with the Bishop of Rome
1.2 Other Churches that are Catholic, But Who Are Not In Communion With Rome

2 Eastern Churches
2.1 The (Eastern) Orthodox Church
2.2 Western-Rite Orthodox Churches
2.3 Other Eastern Orthodox Churches
2.3.1 Assyrian Church of the East
2.4 Oriental Orthodoxy
2.4.1 Oriental Orthodox Communion

3 Anglicanism
3.1 Anglican Communion (in communion with the Church of England)
3.2 Independent Anglican and Continuing Anglican Movement Churches

4 Protestant
4.1 Pre-Lutheran Protestants
4.2 Lutheranism
4.3.1 Presbyterianism
4.3.2 Congregationalist Churches
4.4 Anabaptists
4.5 Methodists
4.6 Pietists and Holiness Churches
4.7 Baptists
4.7.1 Spiritual Baptists
4.9 Apostolic Churches - Irvingites
4.10 Pentecostalism
4.11 Oneness Pentecostalism
4.12 Charismatics
4.12.1 Neo-Charismatic Churches
4.13 African Initiated Churches
4.14 United and uniting churches
4.15 Other Protestant Denominations
4.16 Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

5 Messianic Judaism

6 Restorationism
6.1 Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement
6.2 Southcottites
6.3 Millerites and Comparable groups
6.3.1 Sabbath Keeping Churches, Adventist
6.3.2 Sabbath-Keeping Churches, Non-Adventist in north Pennsylvania
6.3.3 Sunday Adventists
6.3.4 Sacred Name Groups
6.3.5 Other Adventists
6.3.6 Bible Student Groups
6.4 Anglo-Israelism

7 Nontrinitarian Groups
7.1 Unitarianism and Universalism

8 Religious movements related to Christianity
8.1 Manichaeism
8.2 The New Church also called Swedenborgianism
8.2.1 Episcopal
8.2.2 Congregational
8.3 New Thought
8.4 Christian mystery movements

9 Ethnic or syncretic religions incorporating elements of Christianity

10 Christianism

Information and Data Quality (IDQ)
* Journey to Data Quality, from Amazon
* Data Quality Assessment
* Beyond Accuracy: What Data Quality Means To Consumers
* Anchoring Data Quality Dimensions in Ontological Foundations

IDQ Applied To The Bible
1. How Accurate is the Bible?
2. Applying Data and Information Quality Principles To The Bible
3. Applying IDQ Principles of Research To The Bible
4. Overview of IDQ Deficiencies Which Are Evident In Scripture
5. Jesus As God From IDQ Design Deficincies
6. "Son of Man" As Jesus From IDQ Deficiencies
7. IDQ Flaw of Meaningless Representation In The Bible

* "Triangulation", University of California, San Francisco, Global health Sciences
* "Triangulation", Wikipedia

IDQ Applied
* National Transportation Safety Board information quality standards
* Thank Sully!

* IDQ Flaws Relevant To The Holy Spirit
* Cooking The Books To Avoid IDQ Principles
* Accuracy In Detecting The Spiritual Realm Using "Triangulation"

Religion As A Logic Puzzle

Here is a logic puzzle. You are walking down a road to a town. You come to a fork in the road. Standing there are two men. You already know that one of them always lies and one of them always tells the truth. What one question can you ask one of them that will give you the information you need to choose the right road?

The answer is "which road would he tell me to take?" and when you find out, you go the other way. Now lets add three more liars for a total of four liars and one truthful. At this point, it becomes unsolvable. How can you determine who is telling the truth and who is not?

Now Imagine we replace the town with Heaven, and replace the men with a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Jew, a Christian and a Muslim and add a road for each. How can you determine who is telling the truth and who is not? All you can do is just pick a direction and go. That doesn't seem like something that was set up by the supreme intellect in the universe. That strategy violates the principle of minimizing as much uncertainty as possible to increase the likelihood of a successful outcome. That is a strategy that wasn't thought out very well.

Fun With Fallacies: Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor

Which fallacies are the good cardinal guilty of and why?
...he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme why he thought it was dangerous to be governed by reason alone. He said that "supposedly faithless societies" ruled only by reason were like those created by Hitler and Stalin, ripe for "terror and oppression". Full Story

These are the ones I identified in the course of five minutes. Can you identify any others?

* Part to whole Comparison fallacy - If its true that societies created by Hitler and Stalin were "supposedly faithless", that doesn't mean that all "supposedly faithless" society are like Hitler and Stalins or that "supposedly faithless societies" necessarily will end up like Hitler and Stalins.

* Faulty Analogy - Hitler and Stalins societies had more going on in them than just being "supposedly faithless".

* Causal Oversimplification - Ignores qualifiers that made Hitlers and Stalins societies "ripe for terror and oppression".

* Unrepresentative Sample - Stipulating that the two examples are valid, two bad examples are not enough examples to show a trend that "supposedly faithless" societies are likely to be "ripe for terror and oppression".

* Special Pleading - Because not only "supposedly faithless societies" were ripe for "terror and oppression". I know that a few in the catholic church leadership over the centuries have quite a bit of blood on thier hands.

* Appeal to Consequences - Simply asserts that "supposedly faithless societies" are "ripe for terror and oppression" without saying why.

* Appeal to Emotion - Trying to evoke strong negative emotions in relation to a society ruled by "reason alone"

* Non-Sequitur - Because I don't think that any rational person would say that Hitler "governed by reason alone". In my view, Hitler was a little insane.

Faulty reasoning in leadership is scary.

Its also interesting to note that his motivation to respect atheists seems to be driven by his "concern about the increasing unpopularity of the Christian voice in public life".

Hone your skills over at the LSAT Logic in Everyday Life podcast.

The Devil Is In The Details

This is a kind of commentary and overview of my observations after participating here for a year.

Reasoning is a discipline. There are several heuristics you can use for reasoning that speed up the process, but the process depends on the quality of detail and evidence you introduce into the process. I solve problems for a living. My bread and butter depends on how well I provide solutions to other peoples problems. I became an atheist after I started using the tools that contribute to my success to my personal philosophy. My religion.

Stephen Toulmin, Richard D. Rieke and G. Thomas Goodnight all talk about spheres of influence or reasoning. The concept goes that there are schemes of reasoning that are more successful depending on the field they are applied in. For example you don't use the same reasoning schemes in critiquing art that you use to convict criminals or determine a drug is safe for use. However, there have been plenty of artists and writers that have discovered and investigated, in their own way, concepts that have been incorporated into science. The most notable ones are that Natural Philosophy has a relationship to Science, the exploration in literature of Human Behavior and Psychology has a relationship to modern day Cognitive Sciences. Artists discovered the Golden Ratio as a perspective that just "looked good" and it was later described in mathematical terms and has a relationship to Architecture.

Religion is and always has been a philosophy about life. A way of thinking about life. This is what it has in common with art, music, law, medicine and science. Dealing with the questions of life. Since all these disciplines share this commonality, and since we know there is overlap, the principle of science can be used to investigate religion.

Christianity depends on the Bible. What is the bible? It is scripture. Where did this scripture come from? That is the question. It says it came from God. But applying the principles of Science, Law and Medicine to this question necessitates another form of validation, or another form of ID. Something to verify that it is what it says it is.

This is where looking at the details comes in. Looking at where these scriptures came from. Tracing the source. Doing this will take you from textual criticism, to sociology, to psychology, to biology, to paleontology, to archeology, to philosophy and not in that order.

Most of the arguments that Christian use here are some kind misrepresentation or misunderstanding of the world. They are referred to commonly as "straw man" arguments. Their philosophy is outdated, needs an upgrade, it doesn't represent an accurate picture of the world. They need new information. Decision making depends on new information. People should change their minds according to assessment of new information. It shouldn't be discouraged or looked at as being indecisive or wishy-washy, it should be demanded! It should be a virtue!

Solving peoples problems requires looking at the details and following the evidence. It requires suspending the tendency to follow authority, tradition and personal bias and instead use logic and inference. We should depend less on authority, consensus and tradition and more on principle, inference and strong criteria for evidence.

In my mind, to Debunk Christianity, or Break the Spell, requires people to follow George Santanaya's advice and don't forget the lessons of the past. Learn about the past, learn about where we came from, find out where those Virtues first appeared, find out where that "let your light shine" came from, find out which god was the first to die and go to hell and come back and have a son, how most of the kings in antiquity were sons of gods or gods incarnate or somehow related to gods.

People need to take the principles they use in the practical application of living their lives and apply it to their religion. When this is done, it brings to light how silly eternal punishment is compared to rehabilitation or just scrapping everything and starting over. How silly it is punish other people for the 'sins' of another group. How silly a human sacrifice is, or just a sacrifice to appease a god is. How silly it is to depend on premises that have no precedent and then create a philosophy of life around it. Just try to plan and execute a project using premises without precedent, and see how successful you are.

Here are some hints to Debunk Christianity. Apply your practical principles to your religion. And do your homework. Find your heritage.

Look up syncretism, sumeria, mesopotamia, ancient egypt, indus valley, harrapas, the axial age, greece, minoans, phoenicians, canaanites, hittites, fertile crescent, hellenism, Byzantium, trade between the indus valley, sumeria and mesopotamia, and follow the water, and pay attention to ancient peoples whos culture and religion idealize life as a journey. Key word "Journey" as in spiritual and economic and trade. Learn about World History between 40,000 bce and 500 ce. Learn about what was important to those people. Learn about their religions.

You will find, the Devil is in the Details, but so is your solution.

Lee's Rejoinder To "Atheism is not rational".

Brian asked me to comment on a link that asserts that Atheism is not Rational. My rejoinder follows. This started as an email and I hastily posted it to get it on the table.
I cannot afford the time to defend this as well as I should, but if any one wants to take me to task on it, there will be ample time in the future. I'm hoping that it is coherent enough that it won't need much defending.

My rejoinder to "atheism is not rational".
First lets look at what is considered rational.
Rationality is a process that uses logic and logic makes inferences from data. Inferences are correlations and experiences between objects or things whatever you want to call them. The more correlations and dependencies in a relationship between two objects the more inferences we can make about them until we can get to a point of some 'understanding' where we can make accurate predictions about it.

A large part of that process is the criteria we use for data and evidence.

As I see it, the whole debate between Christians and atheists calling each other irrational boils down to the criteria for evidence.

So now lets look at Atheism. Atheism is not subscribing to the authority of a god.
Show me what is irrational about this viewpoint.
I do not know if there is a god,
therefore I do not act like there is one
therefore I am an Atheist.

Now what is the definition of atheist? I think some want to include anti-christian or anti-religious activity in the definition but that is unwarranted.

I do not know if some crystals have healing power,
therefore I do not act as if they do,
therefore I am not a person that 'uses' crystals.

What is irrational about that?

Lets look at Christians.

- Christians assume god inspired the bible. Christians don't agree on how much inspiration that means, but some of them think it was so much that he helped write the bible in some fashion. Indeed I argue, that if a Christian does not take this position to attribute some "quality assurance" then there is no warrant to giving the bible any more authority than the Hindu Upanishads or Bagavadgita, or Islamic Quran.

Here are four assumptions that Christians must make to get Christianity off the ground.

1. Assume god exists to get him into position to help write the bible.

2. Assume that all other scripture purported to come from a god is false.

3. Assume God is the first cause when there is no precedent for any 'first cause' or "spontaneous existence"

4. And assume that the soul correlates to consciousness but does not use the brain and is not affected by any consciousness altering brain trauma. At that point why infer any correlation to consciousness at all?

Now to make these the result of a rational process, they need to follow the rational process. They are a conclusion, based on using the principles of logical inference about the relationships of data/evidence. How many correlations do the data have outside the sphere of Christianity? Not as many as the data that atheists have for their world view. How is a conclusion sound if it is based on an assumption? It is not.

There is an alternate hypothesis to how the universe got here that is based on empirical observation and inference that is consistent with the laws of physics as we understand them. Thats a lot of correlation. We can see that larger more complex things depend on smaller simpler things. This principle spans every category you can think of. It is a sound principle with many correlating examples in unrelated fields. That is its strength. Correlations across categories. It is used to make accurate non-supernatural or non-metaphysical predictions about things.

Atheists do not ascribe to any of those assumptions, and we have more strict criteria for our evidence. Our strict criteria for evidence are comparable to the strict criteria used in science and law. If you use the Christian criteria for evidence in science and law, it wouldn't work very well. Just look at how much regard the four gospels are given by Christians, and then think about how you would feel if you were convicted on testimony as uncorroborated as that.

Atheists do not make any of those assumptions. One can assert that atheists do make all kinds of assumptions till they are blue, but those are PRESUMPTIONS. They depend on Evidence in some way. And once again our criteria for evidence is different than Christians. So if the Christian wants to say that Atheism is irrational, they are saying that it is derived outside a rational process. This argument can just as easily be turned around on the Christian.

So obviously a Christian can say anything she wants to about Atheism, but she cannot say it is irrational without convicting herself.

When We Doubt, God Can Only Blame Himself

Applying a sound principle to God, if you take your car to an expert and the work doesn't meet your expectations, then you have doubts about the expert don't you? That's normal.

As I've said before, if god is going to buy off on being called trustworthy, Just, merciful, omnipotent and omniscient in the bible, he is compelled logically to act that way. If not then since we are rational animals and he knows that and he knows what that entails, then it is incumbent on him to act in a way that doesn't betray those labels of being Trustworthy, Just, Merciful, etc because he can reasonably expect to create doubt in us. This doubt would be a result of reasoning about him with the only facilities we have at our disposal which he provided. Therefore, if he's going to refer to himself in that way and expect us to believe him, then a reasonable expectation can be made that he would act that way.

If god acts in a way that causes us to doubt, he has no one to blame but himself because he supposedly made the architecture that makes up the 3 pounds of meat in our heads.

Is it too much to ask for someone to do what they say? Is it too much to ask that someone walk the walk instead of talk the talk? What Would Jesus Do? What did Jesus say he would do?

He didn't come back in the lifetime of the Apostles and good luck getting a prayer answered when its crunch time.

Like Sheep Among Wolves.

Lets think about that for a minute. What happens to a sheep when it's surrounded by wolves? Chances are It won't survive. Now lets bring that analogy a little closer to home. What happens if we threw a cat in among dogs? Chances are it won't survive.

Why would we throw a sheep in among wolves or a cat in among dogs? To get the sheep or cat to depend on us? To trust us? I wouldn't, but thats just me. The atheist with no moral compass.

If the sheep, cat or us get shredded is it because we didn't trust enough? Trust presumes that there is something to trust in. Some way out. But when bad things happen to us, its not Gods fault.

Everything happens for a reason.

Its a result of Mans Sinful Nature.

And everything works for the greater good.

So lets pray for help, faith, tolerance. Sometimes the answer is no. And everything happens for a reason.

So who's reason is it? How did we get to be among wolves?

When we pray what is there to pray for? What is there to hope for? God already knows doesn't he? He threw you in there among those wolves didn't he? And its for the greater good. Everything that is happening to you is the result of mans sinful nature. God already knows what you want, He already knew what the result would be. Why do you think your prayer is going to change his mind when everything happens for a reason, and it is for the greater good and Its caused by mans sinful nature anyway? You have some responsibility for what is happening to you. What you are going through must be part of Gods plan. If you get stuck and the only way out is to burn to death or jump 100 floors to your death, remember God is a strong tower, and this is happening to you because you were thrown in like sheep among wolves, everything happens for a reason, it happens for the greater good and it is the fault of mans sinful nature, and you need to pray for faith and strength to withstand the fear and pain of falling or burning to death. Trust in Jesus, he's stronger than the tower you are stuck in.

In the next second whatever happens to you is part of a chain reaction of evil that people do to each other. It is an infinite regression of evil deeds and consequences. You may be the innocent victim, but are you sure there is not something you could have done differently to avoid this? What happened to you is not someone else's fault, you share the responsibility with whomever is doing you harm. It is a recursive loop of evil actions and consequences right back to the beginning, so don't expect god to get you out of this, you did it to yourself.
* You were thrown in like a sheep among wolves
* The bad thing happened for a reason, and
* its not Gods fault,
* it is the fault of mans sinful nature
therefore, there is a correlation between the reason and mans sinful nature.
* therefore it happened because that is what you would expect to happen to a sheep among wolves.
* therefore since it doesn't make sense to throw us in like sheep among wolves without a way out, Jesus is the way out.
* So pray about it, but remember, sometimes the answer is no.

Just like it would be if there was no God and everything happened by Chance. What Was Jesus Thinking?

Here's a praise prayer that I used when things went south.
"Thank you Jesus for not completely squashing me like a bug."

Analyzing A Typical Well-Meaning Christian Response.


An anonymous commenter wrote this to me in response to my article that God is an accessory to Child Abduction.

Lee, I sympothize with you that it seems that you are hurting and are trying to find someone to blame for something that has happened. I will pray for you!

I'm trying to find someone to blame? The blame falls where it resides, on chance, or whichever individual does something harmful, or me, but it doesn't automatically default to me as much as Christians will tell me it does.

God is not to blame for things that happen. He sees things that we don't so to say that there isn't a reason for even the most horrible thing to happen you just don't know what the bigger picture is. None of us do.

The other side of this logic is that the Christian doesn't know that there IS a reason. Since we neither know that it is true or that it is not true, all we can say is that we don't know. When we don't know we are agnostic. When we choose one belief over the other without a reason other than it makes us feel better, we are biased. So go ahead and say it. Lee you are biased. However I have demonstrated that I can overcome my bias because I was a Christian once.

Another aspect to this logic is that if there is a reason, who's reason is it? It must be the reason of whomever is in control. That would be God. For Gods reason horrible suffering happens. Then, if we do something to try to interfere with this horrible suffering, then we are interfering with Gods reason. We can make one of a couple of assumptions, that it is a test for us, or a test for the sufferer, or we don't know what is going on, so by interfering, we are acting out of ignorance which may be mucking up gods reason. Sounds silly doesn't it? There's no reason, just chance.

Here is the fundamental flaw in Christian reasoning. It is the starting point for a hasty conclusion that leads to a slippery slope that can only be justified using special pleading and the sliding window of criteria.

An assumption must be made that God exists to get him into a position to help write the Bible.
1. Christianity is built on an assumption that God exists and he helped write the Bible
2. and Christian faith is built on the bias of wishful thinking that the assumption is true obviously because it makes them feel better
3. With ambiguous evidence when viewed in the light of confirmation bias, maintains the good feeling about their assumption.

So my suggestion is that you stop blaming God for all the sick and despicable things the MAN does in this world and start looking at how to either correct the problem or how to help yourself deal with what has happened. It maybe hard and you may need some counseling.

I need the counseling? Am I really that bad off? You don't need counseling? I may need some counseling and you do not. Does it make you feel better to think that I'm that bad off?
If God made it so that a tumor in the frontal cortex will make a man act on pedophiliac tendencies (true story) then god didn't design the brain very well. If god designed the brain such that a malfunction in the Limbic system will create a psychopath, then god didn't design the brain very well. If god designs us such that we get worked up so much with religious fervor that we kill people over it, then he's got a problem in his design. Granted these are all extreme examples, but less extreme examples are seen in the behavior of Christians every day and throughout history. It wouldn't be a big deal except that they think they have the moral advantage. Even Christians get cranky from lack of sleep and get depression and panic attacks and sexually aroused at an odd moment occasinally.
The other option is that God didn't have anything to do with any of it.

Again, I will pray for you.

Thanks I appreciate the sentiment. Thats the equivalent of saying "Good Luck" or "I wish you the Best".
But what makes you think YOUR prayer will make any difference?
1. will it influence god?
2. if it influences god, won't it turn out worse if it was going to happen for the best anyway?
3. does he not know already?
4. doesn't he know what you want already?

You don't realize that your prayers cannot logically have any effect at all as long as an omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent being already has a plan.

Think about it.

People Can't Choose To Believe, Therefore Christianity is False.


The Following is a contribution from The Dude in the Atheist RFC for Empirical Evidence... I think it is brilliant.

Christian salvation doctrine clearly stated in the bible dictates that in addition to good deeds, a "saved" follower must, above all else, choose to believe with no doubts. If one does not utilize the "free will" given to him by god and choose to believe, they will be banished to an eternity of hellish suffering upon death. No amount of good deeds over a lifetime will save a person if they do not choose to believe in the biblical god/Jesus.

The problem with this biblically-stated doctrine is that humans are naturally unable to choose to believe in anything, as belief is the result of biochemical/neurological processing of evidence in the human mind, and how information is processed is biologically unique to every individual. The way an individual processes information is absolutely out of their control - one cannot simply choose to accept evidence, it must be processed and evaluated by the brain, and the result of this processing is either non-belief or belief. Humans are born with specific genetic tendencies beyond their control that dictate how to process information, which can then nurtured or suppressed based on outside factors such as parenting, education, social influences - all of which are not within the control of the individual.

With this premise laid forth, the biblical requirement for salvation based on choosing to believe goes out the window, and thus in my mind dismisses the entire doctrine as jibberish.

Measuring Morality, The Highlighter Test


Since Logic is necessary to understand God, we can apply sound principles derived from reasoning, using logic grounded in experience and evidence to other areas of our lives. We can derive a list of sound moral principles in this way. We can take our list of sound moral principles and apply them to other cultures, other time periods and stories in the bible to see if they meet, beat or break the principles.

In this way we can compare our list of sound moral principles to those displayed as evidence and compare them. In this way we can see what percentage of our list of moral principles are met, and then measure how much our morality matches another. I suggest we all take a highlighter and go to the bible and highlight all the verses that do not match our list of morals and see what we have at the end.

I think Christians will agree that their set of morals don't really come from the bible.

Logic Is Necessary To Understand God


(God Limits Himself) This article is an extension of an article called "God Limits Himself". It is intended to show that principles of Logic are valid and necessary for an inquiry into the characteristics of the Christian Religion. It will be referenced by subsequent articles as a premise for their complex arguments. It intends to show that God (if he exists) has agreed implicitly to use the principles of logic to further our understanding of him.

Our trust in another being, including God, is built on the avoidance of the violation of those principles. Every case in which he violates a principle of Logic is a violation of that commitment. A violation of that commitment results in a violation of the trust. In order to maintain that trust it is necessary to use due care and diligence not not violate principles the trust is built on. In this way God must limit himself to working within the principles of Logic in order to maintain our trust in him.

* The Bible tells us that God exists and that he created all things.
So how were people able create the Bible so that we can look at it and come to know about God and attempt an understanding of Him?

If God wants us to know about him and to understand him he must commit to following rules that will achieve that goal, effectively making the commitment to limit himself.

1. All things have various interdependencies and relationships between themselves.
2. We can observe our environment and when we see that an event reliably follows another event then using a rule such as "when this happens, then this follows", we can create a simple rule that describes it. This rule is called a precedent. It is based on experience. It depends on evidence created by the successful performance of this rule. This becomes a principle and we can add it to a "set" of "rules". This set of rules and principles we call logic.
3. Using this set of rules and principles we can develop another set of rules. By applying sets of rules to create other sets of rules we create a complex set of interdependent rules. One of these sets of rules we call "Reasoning".
4. Using the process of reasoning we can make reliable observations and predictions about our environment.
5. Using reasoning from precedent we can look at the accumulation of successful predictions about our environment and we are able to identify more interdependencies and relationships in the world. The idea that results from the application of these rules is called "inference". When our inference is shown be correct by a successful prediction then we call it "understanding".
6. When we see a phenomena or "sign" we are able to think and recall things that are interdependent and have relationships to it, and make predictions or conclusion about the next event, or its state or past events.
7. These successful rules and processes, when appropriate, can be applied elsewhere with varying success and we call this extending the rules or principles.
8. Applying these rules and processes help us to successfully interact, survive and create memories of rules and processes that we use to understand our world and make further predictions. It creates a complex rule set that we can call our "world view"
9. We can extend these principles to other areas such as communication and language. We can create rules for sets of sounds that we can call words, and using principles that regulate how we use these sounds we can create a category of sounds and rules that we call language.
10. We can extend these principles to a set of rules that we use to represent these sounds and call it writing.
11. We can apply these rules to a series of sounds and apply other rules for representing them using lines and record the proper sequence. This recording can be observed and understood by another being using those same rules and principles. In this way we can transfer information between beings and ensure as much integrity as possible.

Therefore, the bible comes to us by a complex set of rules derived from the extension of sets of simpler rules and our understanding of it as information depends on applying these rules to comprehend the content and to make inferences, conclusions and predictions about it. God must follow these rules if he wants us to know about him and understand him. This knowledge and understanding is necessary to have a "relationship" with him.

Christian apologists appear to agree that logic is necessary to understand God since they use logic and reason to provide apologia for their faith. Logic is necessary to understand God, its use spans categories of people (i.e. Christians and Atheists) and categories of subjects ( religion and science) and God (if he exists) has apparently made the commitment to participate.

The simplest rules of logic are even exhibited to be understood by animals. The algorithm for understanding simple principles of logic seem to be hardwired in the brains of many species of animals. Any one with a pet can tell you anecdotes about smart things their pet has done. Additionally researches have observed and measured in the lab the use of rudimentary logic with fish and some predatory animals. One of the simplest rules of logic is one that can be made using precedent. For example, since the sun has risen every day of recorded history, then the sun will rise tomorrow. Another (lame?) example. Since the stop light changes every minute and it just changed to red at 0700, then if I record how much time it stays red in addition to the time it takes the other lights to change, then I can reliably predict that unless something unexpected happens, the light will turn red at 0746 (for example). Using rules (principles) created from experience and evidence we can create rules (principles) of precedent, and we can describe how we derived the rules and principles. Should the light become irregular or random, it would need to be repaired because it would not be trustworthy since there will be a case when it will be green when it should be red.

God Limits Himself


This argument is intended to provide the warrant (underlying principle) for the Atheist argument that the Problem of Evil negates a perfectly Just, Moral, Benevolent, Good, etcetera, God. It intends to show that the principle or Warrant comes from God himself. This is the first in a series of articles that create a complex argument against the existence of the Christian God.

It is believed that the bible is revelation from god. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness". In the bible, if he has not authored it himself, he has at least approved of being labeled as Good, Just, Merciful, Reasonable and Trustworthy among other things. Since God has approved of this to be said about himself, he implicitly agrees to behave that way. These are his limitations to his behavior. For example a trustworthy person will act in a way that supports that characteristic and is prohibited from acting in ways that negate the trustworthy characteristic. They are limited by their commitment to be trustworthy.

Goodness, Justice, Morality, Mercy and Reasonableness have a meaning and have characteristics that are more or less consistent between languages such as hebrew, Greek and English, to name a few. So If God has approved of these labels being applied to him, he has implicitly agreed to behave in a way that supports those characteristics. He has in effect limited his own behavior to comply with his self-proclaimed characteristics. If he is trustworthy, he will behave in a way that supports that characteristic. If he is reasonable, he will act in way that supports that characteristic.

Morality has meaning to us, and God has agreed to be Moral, therefore in order to appear Moral to us he must agree to behave in a way that doesn't violate enough moral principles to negate that characteristic.

- God is moral.
- the set of morality as understood by humans contains a set, or subset of moral principles.
- God has properties similar to the set of human moral principles.
- We say god is moral because we compare him to the set of principles comprising the set of morality. Otherwise we have no basis for the comparison.

So now if pick a valid principle out of the set of morality, and see if it can be compared to god, this should be a valid test of Gods similarity to the set of morality that we are comparing him to.

Additionally let’s add these qualifiers.
- We are made in gods image,
- God loved us so much that he have his only son so that none should perish

So how moral is god? How many of our characteristics of morality does god possess? And if we make a list of moral principles, and we compare it to god’s behavior can we come up with a value of "how moral is god when compared to our set of moral values"?

Then if we say that some principles in our set are "universal morals" I'd be willing to bet I could get a consensus that god violates some of those "universal moral" principles. A lot of them have been written about here on DC.

If god Violates a Moral principle he becomes less moral. This affects his trustworthiness in a negative direction.

If we say that it is reasonable to impose this set of morals on a human, and we say that god is moral, then we can say in some respect it should be valid to impose this set of morals on god. If we can't, then saying that god is moral is meaningless, especially, perfectly moral. So if humans cannot possibly be more moral than god, then God must meet or beat any expectations that we can place on a human. For example, If we say that a human is deficient in morality for condoning slavery, then if god does not at least meet that expectation, then he is deficient as well, unless we can say that violating this principle is not an indicator of a violation of this principle or any shortcoming of morality.

On what grounds does god not need to meet this expectation? On what grounds do people need to this expectation? If people need to meet this expectation and god meets or beats our expectations of morality, then he should be expected to do it to. Not just because I say so, but because it is consistent with what he has approved of to be said about himself, of which he says about himself, should be trustworthy.

God As Accessory To Child Abduction


Many people are gathered this season participating in the Christmas Holiday. They share the story of Jesus born in the manger, being held and cuddled by his mother and adored by all his visitors, angels and animals. Children act out the story in churches. Some say that christmas is for the children. These are the children that we see. But every season, there are children that we don't see. Children that are missing. Children that have disappeared and we can only hope that nothing bad has happened to them. Lets say that Tom saw a child being abducted but has decided not to get involved. Is Tom culpable of being an Accessory to the Crime? Is there any obligation in principle for Tom to report this Crime? Tom is an accessory to the Crime. There is at least a legal principle for him to report the crime. Now lets change one word in our scenario and see what happens.

Lets say that God saw a child being abducted but has decided not to get involved. Is God culpable of being an Accessory to the Crime? Is there any obligation in principle for God to report this Crime? God is an accessory to the Crime. There is at least a legal principle for him to report the crime.

Wikipedia - Accessory

In some jurisdictions, an accessory is distinguished from an accomplice, who normally is present at the crime and participates in some way. An accessory must generally have knowledge that a crime is being, or will be committed. A person with such knowledge may become an accessory by helping or encouraging the criminal in some way, or simply by failing to report the crime to proper authority. The assistance to the criminal may be of any type, including emotional or financial assistance as well as physical assistance or concealment.

Here is a link to Child Find of America

When they went missing, God was there in his omniscience, omnipotence, omni-benevolence and his "perfect" Justice. Christians can lay down piles of Rhetoric about God valuing Freewill so much that the he won't interfere with the criminals act, but since this is the case, then he values the criminals freewill more and the subsequent act of the criminal more than the freewill of the victim or the safety of the victim, whom in the context of this article are children.

God Violates the very sound principle of reporting a crime when one has knowledge of it. God is Guilty as accessory to crimes associated with missing children.

So as you are looking at baby Jesus laying in the manger and basking in the joy that your children bring you as they sing, play and open their christmas presents in wide-eyed wonder, think about those children that have had their freewill violated and are missing today. Pray God brings them back home tonight, then lets see how many come back home tonight.

Fruit Of The Spirit And The Problem Of The Heap


This article discusses the Flawed Principle of identifying Christians by their outward characteristics.
The problem of the heap, sometimes called the problem of the Beard is stated something like this. When you drop one grain of sand on another, when do you have a heap? Or if a man lets his facial hair grow out when do you call it a beard?

The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. They are the characteristics that sum up the nine visible attributes of a true Christian life. That's a nice pile of Rhetoric and very appealing to the ego and very convincing if we don't put much thought into it. But each of these in themselves suffer from the problem of the heap as much as they all do together.

Does everyone agree on exactly what love is? When is a person experiencing Joy? What if they drift out of Joy into happiness or just apathy? How much suffering is long-suffering? How much is gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance? If we say that these only apply to Christians, do we really believe that? Aren't there people out there that are not Christians that exhibit these? I think I exhibit them, and some Christian thinkers have admitted their crises in faith. How much faith do they have? Enough to keep their positions that's for sure.

What is the difference between them and me? In some cases they are dishonest to themselves, and sometimes to others, at least I don't profess to be a Christian. I would say that if I went back to church and avoided talking about God, nodded my head and smiled politely in a tolerant politically correct kind of way, no one would know the difference. My fruits would look fine to them.

In any case, if Christians make up a third of the population of the world, and these characteristics can be applied to all categories of people, then the defining characteristic must be Faith because in this context, it would be faith in God. So what we really mean to say is that "you will know them because they profess a belief in Jesus".

So now, back to the heap, how much faith in Jesus is enough? And additionally how much faith in Jesus and how much of any of the rest of the fruits are enough? It seems to me that I could disqualify most of the Christians in any given church I walk into using this criteria. So if those that have enough fruit to be called Christians are few, and you don't know how much is enough, then you don't really know if you are leading a true christian life or not.

All this uncertainty about being a 'true Christian' and not appearing like a Christian to other Christians seems to defy reason. I think we could say that using these criteria is meaningless and I wonder, with all things being equal, why be a Christian? Why participate in the protocol? Most Christians in that 30% probably aren't leading a truly Christian life and as a result are as lost as I am. Its a narrow road, many are called but few are taken, is that how it goes? So of the billions of people on the planet since god allegedly made himself known, less than 30% are chosen. What is the point in that? That's a lot of needless suffering for someone to permit, when he set the conditions ahead of time and knew the outcome before he started. That sounds like predestination to me, and in that case, no matter what you do, you are either saved or not, your name is in the book of life or not. So how much is enough, and are you really saved or do you just think you are? Would another Christian say you are a real Christian? How do they know? By your fruits? But don't your fruits seem fine to you? How do they look to your friends?

Children Are Targets Of Nigerian Witch Hunt


Where's the Holy Spirit when you need it?
Link to the news story
This is what happens when you base your beliefs on weak evidence and appeal to tradition and appeal to authority. This is what happens when you don't have firm criteria for good evidence. This is what happens when you don't think for yourself and weigh the evidence. This is what happens when you put your faith in the supernatural. This is the nature of The Beast.

Evangelical pastors are helping to create a terrible new campaign of violence against young Nigerians. Children and babies branded as evil are being abused, abandoned and even murdered while the preachers make money out of the fear of their parents and their communities.......

The rainy season is over and the Niger Delta is lush and humid. This southern edge of West Africa, where Nigeria's wealth pumps out of oil and gas fields to bypass millions of its poorest people, is a restless place. In the small delta state of Akwa Ibom, the tension and the poverty has delivered an opportunity for a new and terrible phenomenon that is leading to the abuse and the murder of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of children. And it is being done in the name of Christianity.

Almost everyone goes to church here. Driving through the town of Esit Eket, the rust-streaked signs, tarpaulins hung between trees and posters on boulders, advertise a church for every third or fourth house along the road. Such names as New Testament Assembly, Church of God Mission, Mount Zion Gospel, Glory of God, Brotherhood of the Cross, Redeemed, Apostalistic. Behind the smartly painted doors pastors make a living by 'deliverances' - exorcisms - for people beset by witchcraft, something seen to cause anything from divorce, disease, accidents or job losses. With so many churches it's a competitive market, but by local standards a lucrative one.

But an exploitative situation has now grown into something much more sinister as preachers are turning their attentions to children - naming them as witches. In a maddened state of terror, parents and whole villages turn on the child. They are burnt, poisoned, slashed, chained to trees, buried alive or simply beaten and chased off into the bush.

Click here to read the rest of the story

Reasonable Doubt That God Is Intentionally Mysterious


[Revised Dec. 11 to provide the "moral of the story" and provide information about "A Code of Conduct for Reasonable Discussants" to enhance clarity.]
Referencing the same article Doctrinal Disagreement to the Glory of God that John did here from the "Parchment and Pen" Blog I want to provide a rejoinder to the theological pile of rhetoric that God is deliberately mysterious and that is why christians can't agree on doctrine.

Heres a little "parable" to illustrate the flaw in the principle that argument depends on. Puzzle lovers, get your pencils out. The solution is embedded in the text of the rest of the article. Give yourself a chance to figure it out before you expand the article.

A steel tower went up in a neighborhood with the following sign on it.
herkiv lmkl zspxeki. hs rsx gsqi amxlmr jmjxc biix.

People debated day and night about what the sign could mean. Then one day people heard a blood curdling scream to find a person dead and badly burned next to the tower. One of the results of the investigation turned up that the sign was encrypted to read "Danger High Voltage. Do not come within fifty feet." The person was at fault because they did not take the time to figure out that each of the letters was offset by five positions. The person died before it could be figured out that the alphabet started at W and ended at V.

Now is it clear why Gods mystery is a silly principle to adhere to?

It was irresponsible and silly not to make the sign easy to understand.
Anything important that should be imparted to another should be clearly stated.

Therefore, it would follow that the supreme intellect in the universe would not do something as irresponsible and silly as making his instruction ambiguous, then it would naturally follow that anything important that needed to be imparted to us attributed to the supreme intellect in the universe that was ambiguous could not really be from the supreme intellect in the universe, and that would mean the bible is man-made and subject to all the problems inherent to man-made texts.

In day to day life as in the study of Argumentation and Informal Logic the Principle of Clarity is essential and is one of a set of rules in a "Code of Conduct for Reasonable Discussants" developed by Frans H. Van Eemeren and Rob Grootendorst and published in their book A Systematic Theory of Argumentation: The pragma-dialectical approach.

"Discussants may not use any formulations that are
insufficiently clear or confusingly ambiguous, and
they may not deliberately misinterpret the other
party’s formulations."