Monday, July 27, 2009

Freethinkers and Brights

A common label used by atheists to depict their style of thinking is the term “freethinkers.” I gather that the use of the term bears the meaning of being those who are liberated from the presumed archaic supernatural beliefs of all varieties.


However, at first glace the term connotes the idea of being released from a bound way of thinking to thinking more freely and broadly about the world. It seems to suggest that thinking for the Freethinker flows more freely to consider more possibilities than the limited view of the supernaturalists.


If Freethinking is more accurately described in the first paragraph that simply the old way of looking at the world has been replaced with a new more correct way and thus one is free of the old and embarking on the new, then, while I disagree with the premise, I accept the accuracy of the term. To put it another way, I understand why the term is used in that context even though I disagree that one needs liberating from supernaturalism as I don’t see naturalism as a more true view of the world.


If the second paragraph also contains the meaning of the use of this term in that the atheists believes they can see more broadly about the world than the theists then please consider the following. If, however, I was incorrect and the term is not used in this manner at all then simply ignore the following.


I cannot speak for all theists, nor all Christians, but I am going to speak as I usually do as a Christian and briefly compare and contrast the idea of freethinking between my worldview and that of an atheists/naturalist.


As a Christian I can look at the world and find something true and valid in any worldview, religion, or non-religion. For instance, I see nature as really there just as the naturalist does. But I also agree with the theists and spiritualists out there that a supernatural world also exists. I see a reality to spirituality like the Buddhist does. I see a God who is there and speaks to His people like the Jewish people do. I agree with the witchdoctor that there really is a dark power that he taps into. Thus, I find it difficult to see one who sets themselves apart from all the religions of the world and holds only to naturalism as a free thinker.


I am not advocating pluralism. I do not accept that opposite truth claims are equally true. The world’s religions have many opposite truth claims, however, there are things we have in common and things that I can see as mostly true, or somewhat true, or having a little truth, but a lot of distortion of that truth.


I would imagine though that a worldview that can see truth in more places would be more freethinking than one that only sees truth in naturalism and sets itself apart from the thinking of most of the world. Even the emerging term “Brights” depicts a mentality that naturalist/humanists/atheists are more intelligent than those who are not thinking their way. I’m not convinced that mentality is purposeful, I hope it is not. But I think the use of the terms gives the need for consideration of what exactly is being professed.


I’m not offended by the terms, but I wanted to analyze them a little. Maybe you all can tell me more about the use of these terms and what they mean to you.

100 comments:

GCT said...

Your analysis is incorrect. You do not, actually, gain more directions of thought from assuming that the supernatural exists and then shaping your thoughts around that assumption. It is by shedding assumptions that one becomes more freethinking, not by taking on more and more.

Also, being able to find "truth" in all worldviews is called being credulous. Simply because someone might see truth in the idea of invisible pink unicorns doesn't make them any more freethinking than any other theist.

And, yes, "Brights" was an unfortunate choice of terms, if only because so many people would assume that they were saying that all religionists were not bright, and would take it as an insult.

Karla said...

So I am correct that by the use of the term freethinking it is implied that freethinkers do think more open mindedly, per se, about the world?

Also, theists do not posit any invisible pink unicorns.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I call myself a free thinker because I refuse to make truth claims about the unknowable.

GCT said...

"So I am correct that by the use of the term freethinking it is implied that freethinkers do think more open mindedly, per se, about the world?"

Freethinkers, strictly speaking, are people who reject doctrine and dogma, especially of the religious variety.

"Also, theists do not posit any invisible pink unicorns."

I see virtually no difference between IPUs and what other theists actually do posit, including what you posit.

Karla said...

GCT "I see virtually no difference between IPUs and what other theists actually do posit, including what you posit."

That makes these discussions difficult when you liken the existence of God to an invisible pink unicorn. The one has huge implications for how we see the world, the other is rather meaningless.

Karla said...

Mike said "I call myself a free thinker because I refuse to make truth claims about the unknowable."

Including atheism I gather?

Don't you need to stand on something to deny other things?

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I've never said God doesn't exist, only that I don't recognize him in any of the evidence or anything that I've experienced.

Karla said...

Mike. Exactly. What do you stand on then? Not theism or atheism it seems.

Your turn. lol.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I stand on what I know to be true within the limitations of my own experiences and information gathered from sources I have found to be trustworthy.

Karla said...

Which is what?

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Many things, but none of which are set in stone.

CyberKitten said...

I actually find the term 'Bright' quite insulting..... It implies (or infers) that everyone else is... well, dim......

The way I think of Freethinker is someone who will make us his/her own mind up on the subject - whatever that particular subject is - and not simply sign up to whatever ideology or theology that is doing the rounds at that particular time. Its someone who is willing and able to think outside of the box and has a strong enough character to stand up to any opposition and ridicule coming their way. They're evidence and reason driven rather than driven by authority or numbers of belivers. They are independently minded and have no problem being in a minority - even if its a minority of one.

Karla said...

Cyber with that definition do I qualify, in your opinion?

CyberKitten said...

I have no idea - it would depend on how you arrived at your beliefs/conclusions..

GCT said...

"That makes these discussions difficult when you liken the existence of God to an invisible pink unicorn."

In terms of explanatory power and evidence, there's no difference.

"The one has huge implications for how we see the world, the other is rather meaningless."

Oh really? Didn't you know that the unicorns will impale you with their horns for eternity for not obeying their wishes during your lifetime?

"Don't you need to stand on something to deny other things?"

No, I don't actually, unless you consider standing on reason, logic, and evidence to be "standing on something." But, somehow I don't think that's what you meant.

So, let's look at an example. If you make a claim about something that I find to be ridiculous, I don't have to make a counter claim in order to state that your claim is ridiculous. For instance, you might claim that Mt. Rushmore was made by aliens in a single night. I don't need to counter with who actually did it and how long it took to say that I think your assertion is invalid and absurd and that I don't believe you are correct.

Karla said...

GCT, question then for you. If atheism doesn't make positive assertions about the world what does it contribute to the marketplace of ideas? If it is only standing against other things and never assenting to anything how is it valuable to society?

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

"If atheism doesn't make positive assertions about the world what does it contribute to the marketplace of ideas? "

This is the brick wall we atheists keep running into.

Atheism contributes nothing for it is simply the acknowledgment that we do not believe in a God.

Lets pretend Zeus is real, but you don't believe in him.

Does the following make sense?

"If your lack of belief in Zeus doesn't make positive assertions about the world what does it contribute to the marketplace of ideas? "

Karla said...

Mike, if atheism contributes nothing because nothing positive is asserted, why do some atheists suggest that religion contributes nothing when we are giving positive contributions to why the world is the way it is and how we can find hope and restoration?

GCT said...

"Mike, if atheism contributes nothing because nothing positive is asserted, why do some atheists suggest that religion contributes nothing when we are giving positive contributions to why the world is the way it is and how we can find hope and restoration?"

Religion contributes nothing because it is based on faulty assumptions, lacks evidence, and is irrational and illogical. I doubt that you would claim that the idea that glubnerblub will help you vishurtate is a "positive contribution." Yet, it's a positive statement about some sort of belief. It's the same with religion. Even though it's a positive statement about a belief (and requires evidence) it is not a statement that lends itself to knowledge about the world. In short, religion doesn't actually tell us anything about "why the world is the way it is" or "how we can find hope and restoration," because it's all made up.

As for how atheism contributes, it's a casting off of irrational and illogical shackles that allows us to think and actually learn about "why the world is the way it is." That's what freethinking is about.

Karla said...

It does say something about the world and is a worldview, but you don't see it as a valid worldview.

That's very different than saying there is no contribution to how we see the world.

Marxists give contribution to the marketplace of ideas, but I don't agree with it. I can't say there is nothing meaningful said though. And I'm sure I could find parts of the thinking that have some merit.

CyberKitten said...

mike said: Atheism contributes nothing for it is simply the acknowledgment that we do not believe in a God.

Indeed.

GCT said: As for how atheism contributes, it's a casting off of irrational and illogical shackles that allows us to think and actually learn about "why the world is the way it is."

Very true. Atheism is like a breath of fresh air after being in a stuffy room for centuries. It is a ray of sunlight on a cloudy day. It is the laughter of a child in a graveyard. Atheism opens your eyes because the illusion of God no longer blinds you to the real world.

Karla said...

If atheism only questions the idea of God's existence and demands evidence of it, but does not assert positively His non-existence, how has anyone even the atheists been freed from such "illusions?"

Also it seems on one hand atheism does not give contribution and on the other it does by freeing us from what you guys call false hopes and ideals?

GCT said...

"It does say something about the world and is a worldview, but you don't see it as a valid worldview."

Speaking about Xianity I assume...what does it say about the world that we can agree with? IOW, what can we say that we know from religion? You claim that religion tells us "why the world is the way it is," but you can't follow through. You keep saying that, but never deliver the goods. (You also claimed that religion tells us "how we can find hope and restoration," but you can't support that statement either.)

"That's very different than saying there is no contribution to how we see the world."

I assume here you are speaking of Xianity? If so, go back to my example in my last comment. What does that contribute? How is Xianity different?

"Marxists give contribution to the marketplace of ideas, but I don't agree with it. I can't say there is nothing meaningful said though. And I'm sure I could find parts of the thinking that have some merit."

I'm sure you can, because we don't live in a strict capitalist society. Even so, Marxism is taken from real world evidence and speaks to real world conditions. Religion does not do this.

"If atheism only questions the idea of God's existence and demands evidence of it, but does not assert positively His non-existence, how has anyone even the atheists been freed from such "illusions?""

By using logic and reason. You should try it some time.

"Also it seems on one hand atheism does not give contribution and on the other it does by freeing us from what you guys call false hopes and ideals?"

Atheism by itself does not contribute. Throwing off the shackles of dogmatism as atheism does, however, allows for contribution. Look at science, the best and only method we have to discover how the world works. Only by throwing off the dogma of religion have we been able to make advances.

Karla said...

GCT, I have talked about why the world is unjust when we have an idea of what justice ought to be and why there is a gap between that "ought to" reality and the present reality.

I have talked about how the world can be restored to the Kingdom it was designed to be. You read my post, so you should have seen me address this many times.

I contend that we don't have to agree a worldview is true to see that it is offering something to the marketplace of ideas. It can make a contribution that isn't a good one, or is even a false one, but still be an offer from that worldview of the answers to the world's problems. Disagreement with that offer doesn't mean it didn't happen or that it had no evidence.

Counselors, when helping people communicate effectively, usually advice them to avoid using absolute words like "never" or "always." For example, constantly saying I never give evidence or never follow through isn't true and it doesn't help foster conversation.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: If atheism only questions the idea of God's existence and demands evidence of it, but does not assert positively His non-existence, how has anyone even the atheists been freed from such "illusions?"

As I've said *many* times before - and not only here - Atheism is simply a skeptical approach to the God question. Nothing more. It is not a philosophy, world view or ideology.

It is probably *part* of those things for people who would describe themselves as Humanists or Naturalists (or even Scientists). Atheism itself cannot set you free. You also have to be *very* skeptical of all supernatural phenomena. Indeed you should be skeptical of all belief systems and ideologies.

karla said: Also it seems on one hand atheism does not give contribution and on the other it does by freeing us from what you guys call false hopes and ideals?

A disbelief (or lack of belief) in God is only the seed. It *can* grow into something of significance or it can remain a seed. It is the growing that counts - not the seed. That's only the beginning.

cl said...

"Freethinkers, strictly speaking, are people who reject doctrine and dogma, especially of the religious variety." (GCT)

This is a biased definition of freethought, which holds that individuals should neither accept nor reject ideas proposed as truth without recourse to knowledge and reason.

"I actually find the term 'Bright' quite insulting..... It implies (or infers) that everyone else is... well, dim......" (CyberKitten)

I agree, but I find other people's arrogance silly, not insulting.

"..I find it difficult to see one who sets themselves apart from all the religions of the world and holds only to naturalism as a free thinker." (Karla)

I agree. I define myself as a freethinker, and freethinkers need not be atheist. Even members of specific religions can be freethinkers, if they handle their epistemology correctly.

"I would imagine though that a worldview that can see truth in more places would be more freethinking than one that only sees truth in naturalism and sets itself apart from the thinking of most of the world." (Karla)

I agree.

"..constantly saying I never give evidence or never follow through isn't true and it doesn't help foster conversation." (Karla, to GCT)

Correct. Such tends to create inaccurate caricatures, and this often has very negative repercussions for the apprehension of truth. I'm surprised at how many people seem to debate with utter disdain for language.

Lastly, I like how you backed Mike up as far as he was willing to go (and that's in a spirit of rational rigueur and good faith, Mike, not at all meant to create conflict or "jab" at you). Many atheists (not necessarily saying you, Mike) are fond of trying to protect themselves from scrutiny by hiding behind the "I'm just denying your beliefs" petard. I've noticed that when I challenge an atheist to state their beliefs positively, many are less than willing to accept.

Still, it's easy to play the atheist's game, you know. All believers have to do is frame our beliefs negatively and say that we don't believe in metaphysical naturalism, then stubbornly maintain that we don't have to support our lack of belief.

GCT said...

"GCT, I have talked about why the world is unjust when we have an idea of what justice ought to be and why there is a gap between that "ought to" reality and the present reality."

Yes, you've presented your personal opinions on this many times. I fail to see what it has to do with the topic at hand.

"I have talked about how the world can be restored to the Kingdom it was designed to be. You read my post, so you should have seen me address this many times."

Yes, I've seen you assert this over and over without evidence many times. I fail to see what it has to do with the topic at hand, unless you are simply giving an example to support my argument.

"I contend that we don't have to agree a worldview is true to see that it is offering something to the marketplace of ideas."

Offering something to the marketplace is quite different from offering something based on logic and reason and evidence. Again, go back to my comment before, "I doubt that you would claim that the idea that glubnerblub will help you vishurtate is a "positive contribution." Yet, it's a positive statement about some sort of belief. It's the same with religion. Even though it's a positive statement about a belief (and requires evidence) it is not a statement that lends itself to knowledge about the world."

"It can make a contribution that isn't a good one, or is even a false one, but still be an offer from that worldview of the answers to the world's problems."

Is it making a contribution if it is false or made up? If I claim that the answer to all the world's problems is to yterbiate, am I making a contribution?

"Disagreement with that offer doesn't mean it didn't happen or that it had no evidence."

Being able to provide no evidence means that it had no evidence. You don't get a free ride.

"Counselors, when helping people communicate effectively, usually advice them to avoid using absolute words like "never" or "always." For example, constantly saying I never give evidence or never follow through isn't true and it doesn't help foster conversation."

Yet, it's an accurate assessment. Where is your evidence of god?

cl said...

"Where is your evidence of god?" (GCT)

You don't believe God exists. There can never be "evidence for God" accordingly, and anything presented will be filtered through that bias.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

"You don't believe God exists. There can never be "evidence for God" accordingly, and anything presented will be filtered through that bias."

That's quite a judgment, CL.

I'm sure Paul didn't believe in Jesus, but something happened to change his mind. If God exists any of us could find ourselves on our own personal road to Damascus if God so chooses.

CyberKitten said...

cl said: You don't believe God exists. There can never be "evidence for God" accordingly, and anything presented will be filtered through that bias.

So.... before *any* evidence for God can be accepted you already have to believe in Him? But if you already believe why do you require evidence? And if you don't already believe... how can you move to belief without any evidence? How do non-Christians *normally* become Christians?

Are you not simply saying that:

You believe that God exists and any evidence presented will be filtered through *that* bias......

Karla said...

Cyber you don't have to believe in God to follow the evidence and your heart and find Him. But if you posit His non-existence absolutely it will be difficult to accept any evidence to the contrary as viable.

For instance, I have such a strong foundation of evidence and experience for God that I am pretty rock solid about that. However, I still grant that there is evidence people can use to make a case of His non-existence, but it hasn't overwhelmed the evidence I have affirm His existence.

Still I can't honestly say there is no evidence for atheism any more than an atheists can honestly say there is no evidence for theism.

Both have merit, but in my opinion one is a more viable worldview and takes into account more about the world than the other.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Cyber you don't have to believe in God to follow the evidence and your heart and find Him.

Except that I am unaware of any evidence that points me in that direction - and as my heart is a clump of muscle for pumping blood around my body I tend not to let it influence my decisions much....

karla said: But if you posit His non-existence absolutely it will be difficult to accept any evidence to the contrary as viable.

But I don't... It is indeed possible that God exists (as I've said on a number of ocassions). I just think that the likelihood is very low indeed. None of the evidence I have been presented with so far had made me even think about changing my mind on the subject. It is, in my opinion, *far* from compelling.

karla said: Still I can't honestly say there is no evidence for atheism any more than an atheists can honestly say there is no evidence for theism.

I certainly do not know of any compelling evidence for theism. What I have seen presented as such is often not what I would call evidence at all.

karla said: Both have merit, but in my opinion one is a more viable worldview and takes into account more about the world than the other.

Atheism is not a world view. It is a skeptical response to the God question. You are confusing Atheism with Naturalism - which *is* a world view and about the best explanation we have of things so far....

Ali P said...

"any more than an atheists can honestly say there is no evidence for theism."

I'm pretty sure that if I believed there was any evidence for theism, I wouldn't be an atheist any longer.... yet to find any though.

Karla said...

It appears we have different meaning for the word "evidence" . . .

Let's check dictionary.com . . .

ev⋅i⋅dence
  –noun

1. that which tends to prove or disprove something; ground for belief; proof.

2. something that makes plain or clear; an indication or sign: His flushed look was visible evidence of his fever.

3. Law. data presented to a court or jury in proof of the facts in issue and which may include the testimony of witnesses, records, documents, or objects.

I think we are both using it's proper definition but you guys are using #1 and I am using #3.

I see evidence as data presented to prove the case such as personal testimony, testimony of witnesses, records, documents, history, arguments etc.

You guys seem to be saying if the data/evidence doesn't lead you to my conclusion it isn't evidence at all because it has failed to prove my point in your opinion.

I, on the other hand, am saying that the date has been presented, thus evidence has been given, but you don't agree that it points to my conclusion.

Evidence can be given without the recipient agreeing to the conclusion.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Evidence can be given without the recipient agreeing to the conclusion.

Evidence can also be given without the recipient agreeing that it actually *is* evidence.

For example:

Personal testimony of your 'relationship with God' is not evidence of God.

Morality is not evidence of God.

Love is not evidence of God

Life is not evidence of God.

The Universe is not evidence of God.

...and so on.

What you sometimes put forward as evidence is actually nothing of the sort I'm afraid.

Karla said...

So I could just as easily say:

Your life experiences are not evidence of naturalism.

Morality is not evidence of naturalism.

Love is not evidence of naturalism.

Life is not evidence of naturalism.

The Universe is not evidence of naturalism.

-------

So where would we go from there?

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

"Your life experiences are not evidence of naturalism...So where would we go from there?"

Wherever you like. I think some might look at you funny though, since we all agree the natural world exists.

Karla said...

Agreed that the natural world exist, but digress on the point that that's all that exist.

GCT said...

CK: "So.... before *any* evidence for God can be accepted you already have to believe in Him?"

This hits the nail precisely on the head! In order to have "evidence" for god, one must first beg the question. But, gaining "evidence" through illogical means does nothing to help your case and invalidates the "evidence." This is why theism is illogical and irrational, because it necessarily relies on logical fallacy to proceed.

What theists need to do is to present a case where certain phenomena are shown to logically lead to some external (to the universe) entity.

Karla,
I'm seeing you complain a lot about how we are being unfair for not accepting that you have evidence, but I don't see you actually presenting a case for evidence. You can claim that you are speaking about definition #3, but even that falls well short of the mark (and why would you intentionally use a different definition than the rest of us?) You can claim that you have personal testimony, but you have to realize that that testimony is also gained through shakey grounds as it is all based on hearsay and begging the question.

"But if you posit His non-existence absolutely it will be difficult to accept any evidence to the contrary as viable."

I believe that no one here does that, and I further believe that we have all informed you of this multiple times (I know I have multiple times at least). So, to have you repeat this strawman is...well, you should be embarrassed.

"For instance, I have such a strong foundation of evidence and experience for God that I am pretty rock solid about that."

Based on what?

"Still I can't honestly say there is no evidence for atheism any more than an atheists can honestly say there is no evidence for theism."

Strictly speaking atheism is a denial of the positive assertions of theism. It may very well be that there is no evidence for atheism so much as there is no evidence for and much evidence against theistic positions (specific and general).

"Both have merit, but in my opinion one is a more viable worldview and takes into account more about the world than the other."

Ah, relativism from a Xian...it's so refreshing.

GCT said...

"Agreed that the natural world exist, but digress on the point that that's all that exist."

That the natural world exists and it's all we have evidence for is a pretty strong indication that naturalism is pretty well supported.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Lets scale back for the sake of discussion. Forget God for the time being. Lets think about dryads aka
tree nymphs. Dryads are basically the spirits of certain trees and are said to sometimes take form and wander around.

Now the naturalist and the believer in nymphs look at the same evidence, but where the naturalist only sees what she considers natural phenomenon the believer in nymphs sees, well, nymphs and nymph activity.

Wind blows through the branches and the naturalist enjoys the nice breeze and the peaceful sound, while the nymph believer hears the voice of the nymph singing, etc.

Neither of them denies the reality of the tree, but one of them attributes things to the tree, the naturalist sees them as anthropomorphizing the tree. Now if the tree actually took it's humanoid form and wandered around in plain view then the naturalist would be forced to admit that there was something more, but the something more would just be another species.

I saw a cartoon recently. I can't find it now, but I'll describe it. It had two completely empty panels, under one it said roughly "How a theist sees God" and under the other it said "How an atheist sees God."

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

And what should show up in my RSS feed right now, but...

Atheists and Christians Agree

Karla said...

GCT "That the natural world exists and it's all we have evidence for is a pretty strong indication that naturalism is pretty well supported."

The problem is naturalism isn't supported without a metaphysical cause.

Karla said...

Mike "It had two completely empty panels, under one it said roughly "How a theist sees God" and under the other it said "How an atheist sees God."

Mike if you really think that is a good analogy of the two then I don't think you understand the Christian position. Are you saying that is an analogy of how atheists see it?

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Have you visibly seen God?

Karla said...

Mike, no. I have felt Him tangibly and seen His miraculous works.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Well, that's the only point the cartoon is making is that we both visibly see God the same way.

You call your feelings God and I call mine endorphins.

You see miracles, and I have yet to be convinced that you are truly witnessing miracles.

Karla said...

Mike could you take a stab at how an arm grows out an inch and a half before my eyes upon my husband telling it to grow in Jesus name and that my mother in laws arms are even where they were not before? And remember that I saw her tell and show numerous people who knew she had a short arm and saw that it was not short and stared at her in amazement.

Karla said...

Mike, also I see what your saying, but I don't think you can fill that box with miracles and many testimonies.

Karla said...

** typo correction "I think you can"

Not "I don't think"

Karla said...

Cyber "and as my heart is a clump of muscle for pumping blood around my body I tend not to let it influence my decisions much...."

Cyber by heart I mean the deep inner self not the muscle. In Hebrew "heart" means far more than the muscle that pumps blood.

Also doesn't atheism and naturalism go hand in hand? Are their atheists who aren't naturalists? Or naturalists who aren't atheists?

I am using naturalism in the sense of no metaphysical world existing.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

"** typo correction 'I think you can'"

Sure, sure, it was a typo. :-P

Calling Dr. Freud! ;-)

"Mike could you take a stab at how an arm grows out an inch and a half before my eyes upon my husband telling it to grow in Jesus name and that my mother in laws arms are even where they were not before?"

Are their before and after x-rays showing actual bone length changing? If yes, then I have no idea. If no, then I would guess that something caused her to contract her arm and the healing caused it to expand.

Was it similar to this?

Woman's Leg Growing Out

I know your mother in law wasn't faking, but this sort of thing is easy to fake if there are no x-rays.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: The problem is naturalism isn't supported without a metaphysical cause.

Huh? *What* metaphysical cause?

karla said: Cyber by heart I mean the deep inner self not the muscle.

Funny... when people say heart I think of the muscle. As to the 'deep inner self' I'm coming round to the opinion that the 'self' does not actually exist - but my beliefs on the subject are still a work in progress ATM.

karla said: In Hebrew "heart" means far more than the muscle that pumps blood.

Sorry, you confused me by typing in English - though if you'd typed in Hebrew I'm guessing very few of your readership would've understood a single word. What's Hebrew got to do with anything?

karla said: Also doesn't atheism and naturalism go hand in hand?

No idea. They're linked but they're not the same thing. Atheism could be seen as a sub-set of Naturalism.... I guess.....

karla said: Are their atheists who aren't naturalists? Or naturalists who aren't atheists?

No idea.

karla said: I am using naturalism in the sense of no metaphysical world existing.

Erm..... Didn't you just say: The problem is naturalism isn't supported without a metaphysical cause.

I'm confused...... [looks confused]

cl said...

Mike,

"That's quite a judgment, CL."

Not really, and I would never make it against you, Cyber, or anyone else here. I've "debated" with "GCT" for over a year, and I honestly feel qualified to make the statement I made. As one example, he refuses to explain how we might demonstrate that a certain advance in knowledge came from religion. Well, we can't supply what people won't define. Here's another example:

"That the natural world exists and it's all we have evidence for is a pretty strong indication that naturalism is pretty well supported. (GCT)"

Yet, what would evidence for the "supernatural world" look like? How might we "test" for it? See the farce here?

You also said,

"I'm sure Paul didn't believe in Jesus, but something happened to change his mind."

Correct, and it wasn't a logical argument.

Cyber,

"So.... before *any* evidence for God can be accepted you already have to believe in Him?"

No. One must be open to the possibility. On the basis of the way that he talks to Karla, and on the way he refuses to talk to me, among other things, I do not believe GCT is currently open to the possibility. It's my opinion, I've not slandered anybody, and you can take it or leave it.

Karla said...

Mike there are before x-rays, or at least their were at one time. The injury happened 30 years ago and her wrist was taken out. This is medically documented that there is no wrist, hence the shorter arm. Also the doctor's told her she would never have wrist movement. Wrist movement happened a few months before the arm lengthening. I was there when that happened to--she was just watching a DVD with us on healing listening to the testimonies when she was suddenly able to rotate her wrist for the first time in thirty years. Then months later the arm grew out upon asking Jesus to do it. The doctor from 30 years ago, I'm sure is retired now--if she desired to prove it I would imagine she could go back and find the records and get a new x-ray but considering she doesn't have health insurance presently I don't think she's going to want to pay for an x-ray to convince you guys.

Karla said...

Cyber:

I was saying that 1) naturalism by definition does not include the metaphysical world. 2) it isn't supported without a metaphysical support


Atheism disbelieves in the metaphysical world so it would seem that atheists are naturalists and thus posit a worldview.

Karla said...

Mike, I don't see any evidence of that video being a fake. It was similar, but different. As you agree, she wasn't faking, I've seen her put her arms out with her finger tips touching many times in the days and weeks that followed and they matched up every time. She was even knocking her hand accidentally against things misjudging the distance because it was now longer.

Moreover, my mother has told me many times of the day she sat in a church very skeptical of these kinds of healings -- herself being an RN Nurse. She sat up front with her eyes opened as a man received prayer for his leg to lengthen and she said she fully expected him to shift his weight or some sort of thing. Instead she saw the middle of his leg below the knee lengthen down and upwards like it was pulling out from the center and growing from there down in a way she could visibly and clearly see the growth. It was then after witnessing this sitting on the front row watching with full skepticism she believed in such healings. My mom tells the truth and she has told me this story many many times.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I wasn't saying the video was a fake, I was just saying that it would be easy to fake.

I just find it interesting and honestly a little sad that all these limb lengthenings are occurring all over the place and yet I have never heard of any actual limbs being regrown. It should be a simple task for the creator of all.

I do not mean to make light of the comfort the healees have experienced. I'm glad your mother in law's quality of life was improved, regardless of the source.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: I was saying that 1) naturalism by definition does not include the metaphysical world. 2) it isn't supported without a metaphysical support.

Erm... Don't 1 and 2 clearly contradict each other? You seem to be saying that naturalism doesn't include metaphysics but is actually supported by metaphysics? How can this be?

Can you clarify what exactly the metaphysical support of naturalism is please? You seem to be dancing around the issue.

karla said: Atheism disbelieves in the metaphysical world so it would seem that atheists are naturalists and thus posit a worldview.

No. Atheism (sounding like a broken record here) is *not* a world view. It may form *part* of a world view but is not a world view on its own.

Also it is perfectly possible not to believe in God and yet ask advice from and indeed worship your dead ancestors. Such people would be atheists but *not* naturalists. I'm sure that there are atheists who believe in ghosts. There are probably atheists who believe in souls. As long as they don't believe in God they're atheists. Such a belief doesn't necessarily stop them believing in other supernatural beings.

Personally, I don't believe in anything supernatural but I doubt if I'm the archetypal atheist. We are generally a varied bunch.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

"Erm... Don't 1 and 2 clearly contradict each other? You seem to be saying that naturalism doesn't include metaphysics but is actually supported by metaphysics? How can this be?"

I'm guessing what she means is there would be no natural world without a creator. Everything that is must have been created, except for God of course, he has always existed.

GCT said...

Atheism and naturalism are not the same thing. As CK points out, some atheists do subscribe to supernatural woo. Also, some naturalists do subscribe to deistic concepts of god.

Naturalism does not need the support of the supernatural, and Karla is indeed dancing around that statement, as she is unable to back it up. I fully expect she will use the erroneous argument that everything has to have a cause, so therefore the universe was caused and that cause must be supernatural. Numerous problems with this have already been pointed out to her, but I predict that she was going to use that argument anyway.

I would also like to see Karla take on Mike's example of the Dryads and show us how the tree moving could be causally and logically linked to Dryads in order to constitute evidence for them.

Finally, to clear up the record with my dealings with cl...

I don't debate with cl, and he can say all he wants that it's because I'm unwilling to entertain the possibility of god, but he has no idea if that is so, which is ironic because he often complains about others making similar statements about him. Actually, to be more precise I shouldn't say that he has no idea if that is so, because he has an idea that it is not so, in that I've said it is not so many, many times on this forum and others where he stalks me, but he says it anyway.

The reason I don't speak to him is because he's a known liar (I've documented his lies on daylight atheism as well as my own blog), a sophist (as I pointed out to CK on this blog), and generally only trying to provoke. Oh, and he made threats towards me on my own blog after he had been disinvited to comment. As I've stated before, the threats were pretty innocuous, but they were there all the same, and I have held to a strict diet of not feeding that particular troll anymore, no matter how much he lies or tries to provoke me.

Karla said...

Mike, I have heard of actual limbs being regrown. I haven't argued for that because I haven't seen it, nor known someone who has experienced it. Since I am speaking to a very skeptical group I try to keep my testimonies to those that are actually mine or those of someone very close to me whom I trust. So even though I trust others outside that circle, I usually won't ask you guys to, so I don't report on things I have read in a book or heard a testimony about that doesn't fall into something I can personally vouch for.


But really Mike if you don't think my story a fraud as you seem to trust me to some degree and think that I ought to be able to tell if my mother-in-law was faking and you don't think she was. That leaves something that isn't medically possible. Even if you don't want to accept the source I attribute it to, I think we can agree to that extent that it isn't something that just happens by some fluke.

Nevertheless, I think I've gotten away from why I brought it up in the first place and I'm not sure why that was at the moment.

Karla said...

Cyber,

Mike is correct. I was giving the definition of naturalism and then explaining why I thought it didn't hold up.

Naturalism is the view that only nature exists -- no metaphysical reality needed. (ie no God exists)

My response to that worldview is that nature needs a metaphysical cause (God) because nature had a beginning.

GCT, notice the argument isn't that everything that exists needs a cause, but that everything that has a beginning needs a cause. Something needs to bring it into existence if there was a time that it did not exist because something that doesn't exist can't bring itself into existence. Something else had to be there to bring it into being.

As a supernaturalist, I believe in the validity of the natural world and it's metaphysical cause.

Cyber does that clear things up for you? I apologize for being confusing, it wasn't intentional.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: My response to that worldview is that nature needs a metaphysical cause (God) because nature had a beginning.

But that doesn't follow. Life began on Earth at some point in the past - about 3.5 to 4 billion years ago. So there was a point when there was no life here (for quite a long time actually). But just because life had a bginning - it does *not* follow that any cause must have been metaphysical/supernatural. It is entirely possible - and I believe reasonable - for life to have a natural cause. Naturalism is not underwritten by supernaturalism. It is only the mistake that life is somehow animated by a divine spark - or some such nonsense - that gives any credence to this view. When you get right down to it we are nothing more than a bunch of chemicals with delusions of granduer.

karla said: As a supernaturalist, I believe in the validity of the natural world and it's metaphysical cause.

...ans as an atheist (and naturalist) I believe you are wrong.

karla said: Cyber does that clear things up for you? I apologize for being confusing, it wasn't intentional.

Yes, I'm clear now. I suspected that was what you meant. Obviously I don't agree with your conclusions....

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

"We are nothing more than a bunch of chemicals with delusions of grandeur"

That should be a T-shirt. ;-)

CyberKitten said...

Thanks Mike.... [grin]

I do, from time to time, come out with some good one-liners....

GCT said...

My prediction has been verified. I think I should form a science of studying apologists.

Karla, it's the same argument, semantic differences aside, and it fails for the same reasons that have been pointed out to you over and over again. Every time you trot out this tired argument, we invariably point out to you why it is flawed. And, you invariably trot it out again as if nothing has been said.

But, we wouldn't want to stop the merry-go-round, would we, so here it is again:
1. It is not demonstrated that everything that has a beginning has a cause (see quantum physics for example).
2. In order to ascribe "cause" to something, there must be a time link from the cause to the caused, but time did not exist before the universe, so claiming that something caused something else before the universe is to speak nonsense.
3. This universe very well could be an outgrowth of a larger meta-universe or the result of infinite bangs and crunches of this one universe, meaning the universe would be eternal and not have a beginning, per se (see above note about time).
4. The universe might simply be eternal (see above note about time).
5. Etc. etc. etc.

The argument fails, and you should really stop using it, because it makes you look rather dishonest.

Karla said...

Cyber: "We are nothing more than a bunch of chemicals with delusions of grandeur"

Mike: "That should be a T-shirt. ;-)"


If that's true there is no reason to value life -- if the minority gets in the way of the majority they are expendable. That is if we are just a bunch of chemicals. . .

However I hear you all speak about championing the rights of the weak, defenseless, minority, etc.

I see a contradiction between these ideas.

Karla said...

"It is absurd for the Evolutionist [Naturalist] to complain that it is unthinkable for an admittedly unthinkable God to make everything out of nothing, and then pretend that it is more thinkable that nothing should turn itself into everything." GK Chesterton

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

"I see a contradiction between these ideas."

Karla, that's the one thing that scares the heck out of me about some theists. They can't find value in life without their magic book telling them what it is. They can't be moral without their magic book. I've seen some theists go so far as to say their faith is on the only thing that keeps them from committing awful acts.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

..."that nothing should turn itself into everything." GK Chesterton

Proving how little he knew about physical cosmology, abiogenesis, and evolution, then again perhaps he was a product of his times.

Karla said...

Mike said: "Karla, that's the one thing that scares the heck out of me about some theists. They can't find value in life without their magic book telling them what it is. They can't be moral without their magic book. I've seen some theists go so far as to say their faith is on the only thing that keeps them from committing awful acts."

I haven't spoken of the Bible, but only of God. I am talking about the morality that is known to all man regardless of whether they have ever read a Bible. It looses it's support if there is nothing it rest upon.

Say you raise a child to believe that humans are nothing more than a collection chemicals. Well, so are ants. We step on ants when they bother us and sometimes when they don't. Why can't we dispense with humans too?

How does this philosophy justify treating each others right. And for that matter how does it tell us what is right? How does "right" even gain any meaning? How does "awful acts" gain meaning. Is it "awful" to step on an ant? Is it "awful" to hunt animals and eat their flesh? I assume your not a vegetarian, correct?

Karla said...

Mike: Proving how little he knew about physical cosmology, abiogenesis, and evolution, then again perhaps he was a product of his times.

Scientists today say that there was nothing there before the Big Bang. No-thing. Nothing. Some do posit a multi-universe -- but this is speculation. And would also have a beginning, the beginning would just be farther removed. The eternal universe idea was dispensed with a long time ago.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

"Why can't we dispense with humans too?"

Well, God has ingrained this morality in us so it shouldn't matter what we teach children, right?

"I am talking about the morality that is known to all man regardless of whether they have ever read a Bible. It looses it's support if there is nothing it rest upon."

Like human sacrifice, which has been accepted in several cultures in human history.

I'm not sure what being a vegetarian has to do with anything. Clearly we have not evolved as herbivores, but some do choose to live that way to a certain extent.

We've gone over the morality thing before. You say it comes from God, we say it comes from society. We are at an impasse.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

"...but this is speculation"

Until we invent time machines it is all speculation.

Karla said...

Okay, we don't have to go there again. I am, however, still trying to understand how you guys get from humans are " a bunch of chemicals " to we ought not harm those chemicals. . .

Karla said...

GCT "Well, God has ingrained this morality in us so it shouldn't matter what we teach children, right?"

BTW, I was asking from your point of view. But your statement doesn't reflect mine.

Just because we know we ought not kill doesn't mean we can't be educated in a fashion that removes that knowledge. Also, someone can also do something they know not to do.

My question is why ought someone value a bunch of chemicals?

If you want to just think on that instead of answering here that's cool too.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Do you need to be told to love a child, to find a kitten cute, like the smell of flowers, love the sounds of music, be awed by a mountain vista? We care for things that are familiar to us. That's why it's so easy for people to hate those unfamiliar to them, to dehumanize other classes or races of humans, heck to even divide people into classes and races.

I love those collections of chemicals around me, why do I need a reason? I'd much rather someone love me because they are drawn to me than love me because God told them to.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I must be frustrating you since you attributed my quote to GCT. ;-)

GCT "Well, God has ingrained this morality in us so it shouldn't matter what we teach children, right?"


I said that, not GCT. ;-)

You said "I am talking about the morality that is known to all man regardless of whether they have ever read a Bible."

and then "Say you raise a child to believe that humans are nothing more than a collection chemicals. Well, so are ants. We step on ants when they bother us and sometimes when they don't. Why can't we dispense with humans too?"

So your question is if morality doesn't come from God then what's stopping us from committing atrocities? That's a good question considering the societies that don't worship anything close to the Christian god and yet haven't committed atrocities.

And I would say nothing is stopping us from that. We've seen in our lifetime people reduced to animals in the eyes of others. Watch Hotel Rwanda or anything about the Holocaust, these atrocities were all committed by people tat supposedly have God's law written on their hearts.

Karla said...

Sorry for that blunder Mike. Your not frustrating me.

You said "I'd much rather someone love me because they are drawn to me than love me because God told them to."

Agreed. I love because God first loved me and I have experienced His love which enables me to love with His love and not love just because I should. His love is in me. When you have relationship with God you are no longer to strive to follow laws but to have that internal reality become an external reality naturally. So I love because I really do love and not because I ought to.

Does that make sense? I am not asking if you agree, but if you see what I am saying?

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I understand your position, Karla. I used to share it. :-)

CyberKitten said...

karla said: I am, however, still trying to understand how you guys get from humans are " a bunch of chemicals " to we ought not harm those chemicals. . .

Just because people are basically bunches of chemicals (I remember in the original Star Trek movie humans being called "bags of mostly dirty water") doesn't mean that they are without value. For example - some of these chemical aggregates are my friends, others I simply want to sleep with... Others still I respect as individuals because I think of myself as an individual & presume they are the same. Human form chemical aggregates are generally interesting and fun to interact with. They add to life being worth living. Their value does not rely on their chemical composition nor on whether or not a mythical diety said that I should value them. They are valuable because all life is valuable - the alternative being death.

Karla said...

Mike "I love those collections of chemicals around me, why do I need a reason?"

I thought you didn't intellectually assent to anything that wasn't supported by reason and logic. Sounds like on this point you are following that muscle that pumps blood.

Karla said...

Cyber I never liked the first Star Trek movie The Motion Picture.

You also sound like you are not giving a reason for why we ought not harm people who are just a bunch of chemicals. But only citing that we do because we love them. As such an ardent lover of reason and logic I would expect you to dig deeper than that and see if naturalism philosophically supports this love for one another.

Just as I told Mike you don't have to write more about it here in the comments, just think about it.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

"I thought you didn't intellectually assent to anything that wasn't supported by reason and logic."

When did I ever say that?

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Cyber I never liked the first Star Trek movie The Motion Picture.

Me neither - I thought it was terrible.

karla said: As such an ardent lover of reason and logic I would expect you to dig deeper than that and see if naturalism philosophically supports this love for one another.

Actually I'm not a huge fan of logic. It is a great way of making mistakes with confidence though! Afterall some people have used logic (or at least tried to use logic) to prove the existence of God - so its obviously open to abuse.

If you're asking me to produce a philosophical statement that underpins the objective value of life I can't do it - because the only thing that makes life intrinsically valuable (IMO of course) is that it stands in opposition to death. I try to value all life for that very reason. Indeed my friends have laughed at me more than once for saving the lives of snails who were in danger of being crushed as they crossed the sidewalk. It's also one reason why I'm a veggie - I can't justify killing and eating other creatures simply because they taste nice. Make of that what you will.

Karla said...

Mike, I guess I confused you with others who have given me that response.

I see above you said "I stand on what I know to be true within the limitations of my own experiences and information gathered from sources I have found to be trustworthy."

I recently asked someone else what their worldview was and they said that which is supported by reason and logic. I need a file for these conversations or something. lol.


Cyber:

I applaud your consistency to live out what you believe, really I do. I didn't realize you were a vegetarian. You really do live in accordance with your worldview. Not many people do that.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I'm with CyberKitteh. Logic, while interesting and sometimes fun can be severely abused depending on the premises one begins with.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: I applaud your consistency to live out what you believe, really I do. I didn't realize you were a vegetarian. You really do live in accordance with your worldview. Not many people do that.

I try to be as consistent as I can be - though I am not beyond a bit of inconsistency and contradiction. I am, afterall, a human being. I recognise that I can be illogical, unreasonable and much else besides from time to time. I may be a great admirer of Mr Spock but I am not even *half* Vulcan [grin].

Karla said...

Agreed Cyber. I like Spock too. It is interesting to contrast Spock and Data, Spock spent most the time trying to avoid his humanity and cling to his Vulcan ancestry whereas Data wanted nothing more to experience humanity and get beyond his logic to something more human. I've heard it said that TOS emulates modernist thinking whereas TNG emulates postmodern thinking.

Karla said...

Mike, is your contention with the existence of God more on the level of needing something you can see, hear, touch, experience the reality of in some way rather than needing a logical intellectual argument?

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Yes, Karla. All the logical arguments in the world can not convince me of something that I don't feel I've experienced.

Karla said...

That's fair. I know it might not have much meaning to you right now, but I do pray for you and the others in this room and that God will make Himself real to you in ways that you see as valid.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Actually it means a lot to me when people pray for me. I don't think it does anything, but it's nice that they are wishing me well.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: I know it might not have much meaning to you right now, but I do pray for you and the others in this room and that God will make Himself real to you in ways that you see as valid.

...and I wish that you see the error of *your* ways @ some point too [grin]

I understand that you mean well, I really do, but I thought you had no interest in our 'conversion'...?

GCT said...

"I see a contradiction between these ideas."

Only because you refuse to admit that we've given answers. I'll also point out that you don't have any answers to your own questions. Your stock "answer" of "goddidit" is neither informative nor explanatory.

'"It is absurd for the Evolutionist [Naturalist] to complain that it is unthinkable for an admittedly unthinkable God to make everything out of nothing, and then pretend that it is more thinkable that nothing should turn itself into everything." GK Chesterton'

Chesterton? Really? He didn't know anything about what he was talking about, and this does nothing to refute the points that I brought up.

"Scientists today say that there was nothing there before the Big Bang. No-thing. Nothing."

This is an outright fabrication.

"Some do posit a multi-universe -- but this is speculation. And would also have a beginning, the beginning would just be farther removed."

Wrong again, as I've already pointed out.

"The eternal universe idea was dispensed with a long time ago."

No, the eternal steady-state universe was dispensed with long ago, which I've already pointed out to you. Dishonesty (whether from you or from the charlatans that you get your ideas from) rears its ugly head again.

Karla said...

Cyber said "I understand that you mean well, I really do, but I thought you had no interest in our 'conversion'...?"

I said it was not the primary goal of my blog. That is to foster understanding between us of what it is we actually believe about the world and why.

As a Christian I always want to see people experience God. So I pray for that, but my primary objective of this blog is not to convert people.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: As a Christian I always want to see people experience God. So I pray for that, but my primary objective of this blog is not to convert people.

So... although its not your *primary* objective... it is still an objective?

Karla said...

It's not a goal of my blogspot. If people come to know God through my writing that is awesome, but for right now my purpose for this site is to foster understanding. People finding God through that understanding would be a greater result than my current aim.

GCT said...

Then perhaps you might want to rethink your policy of repeating refuted arguments and untruths? Do you think that untruths lead to better understanding or that truth does? If the latter, why would you claim what you have about what scientists say about the big bang, etc?