Sunday, October 04, 2009

Sunday Quote: Kai Nielsen on Theistic Proofs

"To show that an argument is invalid or unsound is not to show that the conclusion of the argument is false.... All the proofs of God’s existence may fail, but it still may be the case that God exists."1

- Kai Nielsen

See also William Lane Craig's debate with Kai Nielsen: transcript here.

1 Kai Nielsen, Reason and Practice (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), 143-44.

43 comments :

Lee said...

Yep… God is an unfalsifiable claim.

This would worry me, but not the theist it seems?

Since here it almost seems that you are proud of this fact

Lee

Brian said...

Lee, it seems to me you are missing the point of this quote. Could you explain what you think he is saying?

Ranger said...

Obviously, the intent of the quote is to say that even if all the theistic proofs are dead wrong, God could still exist.

This seems to go hand in hand with what many theists (particularly of the Reformed persuasion) would say. There argument would be that proving God through reason would imply that there is something more ultimate in reality than God's existence (i.e. reason). Therefore, most reject all proofs and state that the transcendent God can only be revealed.

Now, Lee is trying to take the quote out of its context and make another point. He's trying to say that even if all theistic proofs fail...people can still believe, because faith in theism isn't solely based on reason, and is therefore unfalsifiable.

I agree. Claims of ultimate reality are almost always unfalsifiable from our perspective. To the naturalist, naturalism is unfalsifiable. There can be millions of claims to a miracle, and claims of God's direct revelation to mankind, but the naturalist will always say that these claims can be explained naturally...even if we have no natural explanation currently.

For the most part, I'm a evolutionary creationist, but against my natural inclination recently read Meyer's "Signature in the Cell." I found it fascinating (even if I don't yet agree) and have been following the response to it. At the University of Oklahoma, Meyer recently was at a screening of Darwin's Dilemma. Before the presentation of the film, Meyer gave a presentation as did an evolutionist professor. What I found fascinating was that when asked if there was any fossil or set of fossils that could disprove evolution in the Q&A, the professor said no. Thus, from his perspective something non-ultimate as evolution was unfalsifiable.

We all have plenty of unfalsifiable beliefs, including our most basic beliefs. Having an ultimate belief that is unfalsifiable shouldn't be concerning to anyone. If someone believes that they have good reasons for continuing to hold to such an unfalsifiable belief, then they shouldn't be concerned about continuing in that belief at all. I believe that I have all sorts of reasons to continue believing in God (from logic, experience, history). Thus, the fact that the belief is unfalsifiable doesn't disturb me in the least.

Ranger said...

Let me clarify one point before Lee jumps on me for mischaracterizing him (definitely not my intention as I truly respect Lee):

By saying that naturalism is unfalsifiable, here's what I mean. Jerry Coyne recently said that he would believe if a 100-foot Jesus appeared to him risen from the dead.

Other atheists will say that they would believe if they looked out the window and saw "Jesus is Lord" written in the stars and were able to confirm it with their friends.

Here's my point...if either of those things happened, I don't believe the naturalist would change their mind. Maybe super=Jesus was a giant japanese robot, maybe you were deluded or hallucinating, maybe this is proof that we all live in a computer simulation. Maybe the "stars" out the window are part of an elaborate optical illusion from a local Republican campaign office to get the liberals to "get religion" and join the Republican cause. Maybe there are simply natural causes for these highly improbable events.

The problem with the very things that many naturalists say would convince them otherwise are that they are simply "gaps." Yes, the atheists who rant and rave about "God of the gaps" arguments will often offer up a gap for what would make them believe. Thus, if one is consistent in their skepticism, they will not believe no matter what evidence is presented them...and thus, naturalism is unfalsifiable.

I hope that clarifies my point...and I hope Lee would think I'm being honest to true skepticism.

Leslie said...

Lee, you realize these same words could be spoken of your own existence? Yet I assume this doesn't worry you. In fact, one might even consider you proud of the fact that people can't prove you don't exist.

Bruce said...

I think this quote is pointing out that you need some positive argument for Atheism to get beyond agnosticism even if you somehow manage to knock down the positive arguments for Theism.

Saying that knocking down positive arguments for God's existence is not enough to warrant Atheism is not the same as saying that God is unfalsifiable, such a quote leaves open the possibility of positive arguments against God's existence.

Lee said...

Hi all,

Don’t have much time this evening – work to do (even at home)

Brian asked: “Could you explain what you think he is saying?”

Ranger replied ”[Lee is] trying to say that even if all theistic proofs fail...people can still believe, because faith in theism isn't solely based on reason, and is therefore unfalsifiable.

Good enough :-)

Therefore, most reject all proofs and state that the transcendent God can only be revealed.

I would say that (in my opinion) some theists (like William Lane Craig) try and use reason to prove God to themselves and others – but ultimately, even if (when) their arguments fail, they will still believe in God - just reject they arguments.

They have faith :-)

Claims of ultimate reality are almost always unfalsifiable from our perspective. To the naturalist, naturalism is unfalsifiable.

A bit of a red herring – we can both agree on the natural, so there is nothing to prove to anyone in such a discussion.

The claim of the supernatural however is very, very different.

For the most part, I'm a evolutionary creationist, but against my natural inclination recently read Meyer's "Signature in the Cell." I found it fascinating

Not sure what an “evolutionary creationist” is – I assume this is a Christian who accepts evolution… good for you :-)

As for Meyer, not read the book in question – but everything I have read (and heard) from the ID crowd is misleading nonsense.

Happy to discuss it – any time.

Lee said...

cont'

What I found fascinating was that when asked if there was any fossil or set of fossils that could disprove evolution in the Q&A, the professor said no. Thus, from his perspective something non-ultimate as evolution was unfalsifiable.

The professor was wrong – find a fossil of a woolly mammoth with teeth marks from a T-Rex and evolution has a serious problem.

However the professor is ‘right’ in his confidence that no such fossil will be found – the theory of evolution is so strong.

It would be like thinking that one day, if you drop an apple it will fall up.

So if a single such fossil was found, (like a single observation of an apple falling up) it would be ‘discounted’ as a mistake somehow… this much is probably true.

However start finding 3, 4 and 5 such fossils from around the world – the theory of evolution would have been shown false.

Game over.

On an aside – it is well known that the current best theory for gravity is wrong, but no one is crying for ‘equal time’ in the physics classroom.

So, just proving the theory of evolution wrong - does not mean "God did it" by default.

Neither does it disprove the 'fact of evolution' merely the current explanation.

We all have plenty of unfalsifiable beliefs, including our most basic beliefs.

Maybe, but I try to open for all my ideas to be falsified – but it isn’t easy to think of the experiment that would prove reality is wrong.

I could be a brain in a jar – but how do you go about proving that false?

I believe that I have all sorts of reasons to continue believing in God (from logic, experience, history). Thus, the fact that the belief is unfalsifiable doesn't disturb me in the least.

Your belief comes with ‘baggage’… and you cannot falsify it – this is different to my ‘brain in a jar’ example.

Your belief affects how you live your life, the ‘meaning’ you find in your life - does it not?

I just ignore that fact that I could be a brain in a jar and get on with it.

That’s the difference I see.

So, I would personally be worried about your particular unfalsifiable idea (Is this Pascal’s wager in reverse?)

Other atheists will say that they would believe if they looked out the window and saw "Jesus is Lord" written in the stars and were able to confirm it with their friends.

Good enough for me… I say something similar all the time.

If tomorrow evening I could see the ‘far side’ of the moon from Earth – I would know some ‘miracle’ had occurred over night (it is would not be natural).

Whatever caused it would be a god to me.

Here's my point...if either of those things happened, I don't believe the naturalist would change their mind.

Maybe some, but not this atheist… I give you my word on that.

It is true if the ‘extreme sceptic’ is to be consistent – they will not believe in anything (not even if they saw it with their own eyes)

However it is wrong to think all people who call themselves sceptic are so extreme (or indeed if any really are this extreme).

I’m not – and I do not know anyone who is personally.

Lee

Lee said...

Hi Leslie

you realize these same words could be spoken of your own existence? Yet I assume this doesn't worry you.

I think I have addressed this with my ‘brain in a jar’ example. Tell me if I need to expand on it.

In fact, one might even consider you proud of the fact that people can't prove you don't exist.

I do not think we can prove anything does not exist – you have turned around what I have said.

I was talking about falsification, nothing to do with trying to prove a negative.


Lee

Lee said...

Hi Bruce,

I think this quote is pointing out that you need some positive argument for Atheism to get beyond agnosticism even if you somehow manage to knock down the positive arguments for Theism.

If someone makes an unfalsifiable claim and they have not provided any good evidence for their claim – I feel I am being more than reasonable to reject their claim – without evidence or reason.

Or do you go about your life just believing everything you hear?

And I do not need to make a ‘positive argument for atheism’ – since there is no claim.

If you wish to claim that there is a theistic God – then it is you that has made that claim, so the burden of proof is with you.

Not me to falsify it.

The analogy I like to use is this – if I was to claim that I can fly by just flapping my arms up and down, will you believe me?

You cannot prove I am wrong can you (since I will make it an unfalsifiable – trust me) … so you should believe me right?

Of course not… if I cannot provide any proof for my claim, you will reject me as a loony. You do not have to provide any positive argument against my power of flight since you have nothing to disprove.

OK, on to the theistic God and atheism.

To short cut all the usual weak (and invalid) arguments the theist normally presents – let’s assume for sake of argument that I am a deist (thus removing the first cause, fine tuning, and design argument off the table I think)

Now, your claim for theism… how do you want to move me from desist to theist?

It’s your claim – and I have conceded a lot already to make it easy for you.

OK, off you go… tell me your best argument for your theistic God.

I think you are left with proving Jesus and the resurrection if I am not mistaken. How do you prove a miracle happen in history? Not my problem… not my claim

Lee

Ranger said...

Lee,
Thanks for the response. Three quick notes and then to the meat of our discussion:

1. I think evolution is something of a red herring in these discussions as well, since the truth of it says nothing about the existence of God (whether in deistic or theistic forms)...I don't think you'd disagree. Furthermore, I don't think you and I are going to find much to disagree about in that regard.

2. The comment about most not trying to prove God's existence was in regards to Reformed theologians/philosophers, ala Plantinga (Notre Dame) or Wolterstorff (Yale). They both believe that some of the arguments for God's existence are good and some fail, but that neither can be used to "prove" God, as makes God contingent on a created logic. Bill Craig isn't Reformed, so it didn't really apply to guys like him.

3. The traditional theistic arguments do not "fail." They may not be convincing to you, or others, but some are clearly sound arguments. For instance, Maydole's MOA (modal ontological argument) is clearly sound, but you may not find it convincing. Maybe it's not intentional, but when you say they "fail" it seems to imply that you find them unsound. Philosophers with skills much better than anything you and I will ever obtain would disagree that they are unsound.

Anyways, back to your claim about what would cause you to believe in a god. You said, "If tomorrow evening I could see the ‘far side’ of the moon from Earth – I would know some ‘miracle’ had occurred over night." That's exactly the type of claim that is very commonly made by friends of mine who are agnostic/atheist.

The problem is that the claim shows something about the arbitrariness of belief in a naturalistic worldview. If the moon spun around today and in a couple hours as I look out into the Malaysian sky and you look out into the Australian sky (or is it New Zealand?), we see the backside of the moon, why wouldn't we simply apply your dictum in regards to evolution. You said, "just proving the theory of evolution wrong - does not mean "God did it"" So why wouldn't we just assume that there was something natural that we had not yet discovered about the physical "laws" of the universe.

If it happened multiple times going back and forth, it would only confirm to many that it was merely a natural event that we don't have knowledge about yet. Maybe it would simply prove Hume right about induction, and our assumptions concerning the consistency of physical laws have always been wrong.

Ultimately, believing in a god based on the moon turning around is simply a "god of the gaps," is it not? So, if you're willing to believe in a gap such as the moon turning around, then why deny all other gaps? I believe I've had religious experiences that transcend the natural realm. I think these experiences are a good personal proof of the existence of a god. You would surely disagree, seeing it simply as something that has a yet unexplained natural explanation...but why should you disagree when gaps arguments seem to be the only way to penetrate the naturalistic worldview (from the perspective of a naturalist)?

I hope that makes sense, and I really look forward to seeing how you will respond when you get the chance.

On a separate note, to move the deist to theist and then to Christian the progression might be to use the moral argument (since they believe that there is a god who at least could provide a standard), or the modal ontological argument, since it argues for a maximally great being. I see no way for the deist to get around the modal ontological argument, since the only controversial claim is the first premise "It is possible that a maximally great being exists." Honestly though, I'd just continue to love them and pray that God would reveal Himself to them in a personal way that they wouldn't simply write off as a gap, haha.

Thanks for the discussion Lee, have a good night.

Jonathan West said...

Maydole's modal argument falls at its first step

In Step 1 as described in the link above, proposition P3 cannot be derived from assumption M2 as is claimed.

Assumption M2 is "If a property A is a perfection and the property B is a necessary condition for A, then B is a perfection."

Proposition P3 is "If not being supreme is a necessary condition, not being supreme is a perfection."

Note that M2 describes 2 properties A and B, where one is a necessary condition for the other, whereas P3 is describing a single property. Therefore P3 is not a specific case of M2 but is in fact a new assumption all of its own.

Can I suggest that you look a little more critically at proofs that reach the conclusions you want them to reach. Science makes the progress it does because scientists refuse as far as possible to engage in this kind of wishful thinking.

Bruce said...

"Or do you go about your life just believing everything you hear?"

I try to have an open mind engaged in critical thinking. It is my view that skepticism is not the ideal default position as it is predisposed to rejecting claims and so minimizes the number of times which you will accept true claims as true. It also undermines itself as to be consistent the skeptic should be skeptical of his skepticism.

This does not mean I will consider seriously every claim, certain claims I will consider unlikely immediately based on factors intuitively noticed such as obvious ad hockness and the like. Such factors are my positive reasons for considering a claim unlikely. To get beyond agnosticism the Atheist needs positive reasons for his views also.

"And I do not need to make a ‘positive argument for atheism’ – since there is no claim."

Leaving aside the question of defining Atheism, consider yourself apart from that label. Do you yourself believe that God does not exist? If so, that is a belief, and needs something positive to justify it. If there isn't any good positive reason for it, then why gamble the soul on one of the least promising (in terms of happiness and eternity) belief systems in existence.

Brian said...

I am always amazed at the discussions that can come from just one little quote!

Lee, you seemed to accept Ranger's comment as representing you here:

He's trying to say that even if all theistic proofs fail...people can still believe, because faith in theism isn't solely based on reason, and is therefore unfalsifiable.

I agree that people can believe in God even if it isn't based on reason. People can also believe atheism is true even if it isn't based on reason. But how does that make either the theism or atheism unfalsifiable? Lee, I can sympathize with you for thinking that perhaps belief in God is unfalsifiable. But the facts themselves are falsifiable in principle.

Bruce said: I think this quote is pointing out that you need some positive argument for Atheism to get beyond agnosticism even if you somehow manage to knock down the positive arguments for Theism.

That is what I take the quote to mean. I think that it is a legitimate thing to say. At best, all you prove if you "defeat" theism arguments is agnosticism. Someone may see absence of evidence as evidence of absence, but I don't see how that cold be a logical deduction in this case.

Lee said...

I am always amazed at the discussions that can come from just one little quote!

Sorry

Lee said...

Hi Ranger,

Thanks for your reply – its good to get into a meaty discussion.

I will apologise in advance if sometimes I might take a few days to respond. My work load and family life has it moments when I just do not have the time for the internet.

A quick response first to your quick notes...

1. I think evolution is something of a red herring in these discussions as well, since the truth of it says nothing about the existence of God (whether in deistic or theistic forms)...I don't think you'd disagree.

Yes and no :-)

It is a red herring if we are discussing ‘any old god’ (which maybe we are at the moment) however accepting evolution as a fact does say something about God. (Just ask any young earth creationist)

Let’s place this on a back burner for now – for another discussion.

They both believe that some of the arguments for God's existence are good and some fail
...
The traditional theistic arguments do not "fail." They may not be convincing to you, or others, but some are clearly sound arguments


All that I have seen fail in one way or the other – if there was a good argument for God, then why are there so many non-believers? :-)
(The argument from non-belief perhaps)

However, this seems to be the point of our discussion – are they really sound arguments for God - so lets get into the meat and gravy of your comments and I will be able to expand on my views.

For instance, Maydole's MOA (modal ontological argument) is clearly sound, but you may not find it convincing.

I will have to look up Maydole’s MOA – but all ontological arguments I have read to date are merely trying to wish something into existence via circular reasoning (a logical flaw right there).

These have been along the lines of “think of the most perfect being, well if you can think of the most prefect being it must exist – else, it is not the most perfect being”

This is clearly not a sound argument, so could you provide a link to the specific argument you are talking about – I find it hard to believe that any such ontological argument was ‘clearly sound’.

Maybe it's not intentional, but when you say they "fail" it seems to imply that you find them unsound.

Let me be a little clearer then.

All the arguments for God I have seen have either been shown to be ‘unsound’, flawed in someway, or do not prove what they are claiming to prove. (i.e. the theistic God)

None of them (of course since I classify myself as a non-believer) have convinced me that God exists as yet. You might say that is ‘just my opinion’, but I am not alone

If I am being unreasonable, then shoot me an argument that isn’t unsound and we can play with that
(Please do not use the first cause or fine tuning as I’ve written enough about those already – or the historicity of Jesus, unless you know how to prove a miracle using the historical method)

So I do not believe in the arguments for God are sound or prove/show anything like they claim to prove i.e. the Theistic Christian God.

None of this disproves all gods.

I do think all this places some boundaries on the type of god/s that can exist but this is a different discussion

Philosophers with skills much better than anything you and I will ever obtain would disagree that they are unsound.

And philosophers with skills much better than anything you and I will ever obtain would agree that they are unsound

That’s the problem with philosophy sometimes... for every philosopher you could present me, I could present another philosophy with a different opinion.

This, in of itself, shows me that the arguments for God are unsound in someway (and why I went to get myself a science degree and not philosophy)

Lee said...

You said, "If tomorrow evening I could see the ‘far side’ of the moon from Earth – I would know some ‘miracle’ had occurred over night." That's exactly the type of claim that is very commonly made by friends of mine who are agnostic/atheist.

What wise friends you have :-)

The problem is that the claim shows something about the arbitrariness of belief in a naturalistic worldview. If the moon spun around today and in a couple hours as I look out into the Malaysian sky and you look out into the Australian sky (or is it New Zealand?)

Melbourne sky – so it is cloudy

we see the backside of the moon, why wouldn't we simply apply your dictum in regards to evolution. You said, "just proving the theory of evolution wrong - does not mean "God did it"" So why wouldn't we just assume that there was something natural that we had not yet discovered about the physical "laws" of the universe.

I could answer this is several ways...

Firstly, I said this is an event which I personally define as a miracle, if I observe a miraculous event I said I would believe in god as being the likely cause to this event.

I will be honest about that.
(The problem is what type of god has just been proven, but that is a different question.)

The difference with my example to the ‘usual’ examples the theist point out as events that ‘require’ miracles (i.e. life from non-life, or something from nothing) are that the theist examples are still in the ‘unknown’ realm – I’ve no idea how life comes from non-life, or how universes formed (the theories are pretty good right after though)

It is a bad place to look for a miracle in the ‘unknown’ – how could I recognise a miracle when I do not understand what is going on?

On the other hand, I know rather a lot about the physics of large objects like the moon. To increase (or decrease) its rotation so I can observe from the Earth the previous ‘far side’ would require a LOT of energy. There are no natural means for this... hence it would be a miracle - a god of some kind.

If it happened multiple times going back and forth, it would only confirm to many that it was merely a natural event that we don't have knowledge about yet.

It has not happened once – and I can explain the physics to you why this will never be seen – naturally.

I think you are missing my point – I hope I have made this a little clearer now.

Lee said...

Maybe it would simply prove Hume right about induction, and our assumptions concerning the consistency of physical laws have always been wrong.

I know about induction but there is a difference between a philosopher and a scientist.

There are some physical laws I am willing to risk/bet my life on - they have been proven so well. (I am assuming you have flown in a plane – so you have trusted physics with your own life as well)

So philosophically Hume might be right – but it isn’t how I live my life, and so when I tell you I would change my position if I saw a miracle, I will.

Please don’t tell me a philosophical reason why I shouldn’t :-)

Yes the physical laws do not have to be the same tomorrow as there are today – however, science works so I get over it. Call it a faith if you like, but it is one we can probably agree on.

Ultimately, believing in a god based on the moon turning around is simply a "god of the gaps," is it not?

Erm... No, it would be a miracle as I understand it and that would be good enough for me :-)

It’s funny – you are arguing that I should not believe in miracles even if I thought I saw one?

I thought that was my job – trying to convince you that you might be mistaken that you have ‘seen God’?

Are you a closet atheist?

Maybe you are the prophet Richard Dawkins trying to test my faith :-)

So, if you're willing to believe in a gap such as the moon turning around, then why deny all other gaps?

Care to name some of these gaps – and we shall agree not to look for miracles there.

It is because I am NOT ignorant about the physics of large bodies that I know how to recognise a miracle as I described – something that breaks the known laws of physics.

I know what it would take to move the Moon and to change its rotation... I do not know what it takes to get from non-life to life, for example.

Simple really. Make sense?

Lee said...

I believe I've had religious experiences that transcend the natural realm.

Just a minute... can I throw Hume at you now as you did with me?

How do you know it was a miracle – how did you eliminate all possible natural explanations? :-)

I will believe you that you had such an experience – I might not believe your interpretation of the cause though, I would need more information.

A little story for an analogy – far better to discuss someone else’s experience on a topic away from religion to highlight common ground.

My mother-in-law thinks... sorry, “knows” that her dead mother spoke to her over the telephone once.

I believe her - I believe she really believes that she heard her dead mother over the telephone. I have no reason to doubt that.

I do not however believe the dead talk over telephone – spot the difference?

Why? Because I have no personal experience of such things or have any knowledge of a mechanism to how this could happen.

The simplest solution is that my mother-in-law was just mistaken – however honest the mistake or strong her feeling.

I cannot disprove my mother-in-law’s experience, she actually might be right in her conclusions but she has not found a way to convince me that my simplest solution is wrong.

What do you think? Mistaken or miracle?
(Note: Tricks of the mind is not where I would be looking for miracles BTW)

You would surely disagree, seeing it simply as something that has a yet unexplained natural explanation...

You have not told me what the experience is, so I can only speculate.

but why should you disagree when gaps arguments seem to be the only way to penetrate the naturalistic worldview (from the perspective of a naturalist)?

The gaps argument?

If the moon changes it rotational speed over night (as I mentioned) this is more than ‘just a gap’ – it’s the breaking of known physical models/laws.

It is the fact that this knowledge is NOT a gap in our current understanding that makes it a miracle.

‘chance’ would not explain the observation of seeing the ‘far side’ of the moon tomorrow night.

Lee said...

On a separate note, to move the deist to theist and then to Christian the progression might be to use the moral argument (since they believe that there is a god who at least could provide a standard)

Do you want to try the moral argument now?

The moral argument used by William Lane Craig is special pleading – so is ‘unsound’.

He states that there are ‘objective moral values’ and then says “and deep down we all know it”.

It is an assertion... objective morals have not been shown to exist, WLC just wishes he can call Hitler a naughty boy.

Can special pleading be any clearer?

It is also a little circular, since I will agree that to have absolute/objective moral values (as WLC is defining them) requires a God – if you have a God, you have objective moral values. They are all tied in together.

Maybe you know a better version of the moral argument that is sound?

or the modal ontological argument, since it argues for a maximally great being. I see no way for the deist to get around the modal ontological argument, since the only controversial claim is the first premise "It is possible that a maximally great being exists."

The deist already accepts a god – why isn’t this the “maximally great being”?

As I said before, I am not convinced by the argument – why is existence seen as a great virtual? A ‘must have’? Also, as you probably know, you get use the same logic/reasoning to try and wish anything into existence… which is clearly silly.

Also, wouldn’t the ‘problem of evil’ show that no perfect god exists in our universe? Any flaw in the universe would be an argument against the ontological argument of a perfect God would it not?

Honestly though, I'd just continue to love them and pray that God would reveal Himself to them in a personal way that they wouldn't simply write off as a gap, haha.

God could do reveal Himself to me and the billions of other non-believers (I say billions since most of the population does not believe in the Christian God)

It would be easy for Him to do it... I am open to a bit of divine revelation for example that could come from prayer

This is the second example of “what would change my position” I normally provide to the theist is “divine revelation”

Lee said...

Running out of time tonight..

+++++++++++

Hi Bruce

Do you yourself believe that God does not exist?

A god might exist, but I have not seen any good argument or evidence to believe the claims made by the believers.

To be clear - I do not believe the claims made by the theist, I am a non-believer – an atheist perhaps depending how we agree to define the term.

If so, that is a belief, and needs something positive to justify it.

If I made a claim that there is no God – then indeed you will be right, I need to back it up.

I’ve made no such claim. I cannot prove that a God does not exist.

I do not think this makes me an agnostic – since I have looked at the arguments and rejected them. I have not said, and will not say, it is 50/50 that there may or maynot be a God.

The God, as defined by most Christians is highly unlikely.

Don’t believe me? Then please make a positive claim about your God and I will show where you have gone wrong. :-)

Does that sound like an agnostic?

I still do not need to make any positive argument for my non-belief. Unless you feel you have to make a positive argument against Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot, alien landings, the moon hoax, the invisble blue unicorn etc etc etc

If there isn't any good positive reason for it, then why gamble the soul on one of the least promising (in terms of happiness and eternity) belief systems in existence.

Is this Pascal’s Wager?

If God does exist, how do you know you are following the correct one, the right way?

How do you know that it is not my deeds in this life, rather than belief in gods, that will be rewarded by this God (assuming one exists for a moment)?

More importantly, how do I fake belief – and do you think I could fool this God with it?

Pascal’s Wager is silly.

Oh, and any evidence to believe in a soul? What actually IS the soul and when did it get ‘created’?

Thanks

Lee

Ranger said...

Hey Lee,
Thanks for the response! One of these days I'm going to come down to Australia...I've only lived in Malaysia for six months, but I'm already sick of the constant heat and humidity.

As for evolution, I'm neither a young earth creationist, nor know many, so I don't deal with their arguments as often as some of you skeptics do. I'm not even sure what types of arguments they make, so I hate to bore you and not bite on that discussion.

Furthermore, I have no desire in arguing for the soundness of various philosophical proofs, so I didn't mean to take it down that path. I read your posts on the cosmological and teleological arguments awhile back and wouldn't want to waste ours or anyone else's time going back and forth (neither of us have enough time to spend too much time bickering over things that we know in advance wouldn't be resolved!).

Ultimately, I think you are an interesting guy, who enjoys these discussions, and is honest about where you stand. I've come across many skeptics who are inconsistent about their beliefs, and care more about defending their lack of belief than about trying to be reasonable or logical (for balance, I know just as many Christians with the same problems). You're not that way, so I thought I'd try to pick your brain a little on what it would look like for you to accept a miracle claim.

That was the reason for my hyper-skepticism (I'm not the Dawkins in disguise, haha), because I wanted to see what type of evidence it would actually take for a pretty die-hard skeptic to change their mind about a miracle claim.

Thanks for offering an enjoyable response that was honest and reasonable about what it would take to change your mind.

Lee said...

Hi Brian

I agree that people can believe in God even if it isn't based on reason.

Yep, and if reason fails – many will still believe, on faith.(Or at least, this is what they say - you tell me)

People can also believe atheism is true

I do not understand this statement – William Lane Craig says it a lot.

“I believe my non-belief is true”?

Maybe...

Can you explain what you mean by it please?

But the facts themselves are falsifiable in principle.

How do I falsify this ‘fact’ in principle?

At best, all you prove if you "defeat" theism arguments is agnosticism.

If I defeated the arguments for the Loch Ness monster, will this then leave me agnostic about the Loch Ness monster?

Lee

Brian said...

I do not understand this statement – William Lane Craig says it a lot. “I believe my non-belief is true”?
Maybe... Can you explain what you mean by it please?


The question is: do you affirm the statement "there is no God?"

How do I falsify this ‘fact’ in principle?
Note: I am talking about the difference between if a person allows his beliefs to be falsified (will anything be allowed to prove them false in his own mind) VS. the fact of the matter (one way or another) being falsified.

I am arguing here that there are cases on both sides (theist or atheist) who will not allow their belief to be proven wrong - that is to say, for them nothing can count against their belief. It is in THAT sense of the word that you could say that it is unfalsifiable.

However, when it comes to the question of whether or not the actual truth of the matter can be falsified, that is of course falsifiable. This can be done through showing the concept of God incoherent, or self-contradictory. Or you could provide a sound argument against his existence, showing that such a being could not possibly exist. This IS falsifiable - but just because it is not a material entity and you cannot falsify it using physical tests (like the Loch Ness Monster) does not mean it is unfalsifiable.

If I defeated the arguments for the Loch Ness monster, will this then leave me agnostic about the Loch Ness monster?
You tell me. The method of falsification is different. But if by this question you are implying that God is in the same category as the Loch Ness Monster, you are both assuming what you are trying to prove and making a category mistake.

Bruce said...

"The God, as defined by most Christians is highly unlikely."

This is a belief and a claim, and is not the same as a lack of belief. It would seem from your own statements that you believe claims cary a burden of proof, requiring justification and the like, so on your own view you need some positive argumentation for this claim.

To be honest though, I am concerned that maybe you are thinking too much along the lines of argument and rebuttals, so that you aren't so much listenening to what others are saying as you are looking at things as arguments and trying to figure out good rebuttals. I could be way off, but consider if this is the case, if it is then try to look at what folks are saying outside the prism of arguments and rebuttals.

For instance, yes what I said at the end of my last post was a variation of pascals wager, but I wasn't offering it so much as an argument as I was hoping to make you more keenly aware of the importance of what is at stake with these issues and so hopefully you will treat them more seriously than you might an exercise in debate. Also I was hoping to get you to see how little Atheism has to offer you, especially when compared with certain other views. Particularly worth noting if there are no persuasive reasons to embrace it. To be fair, you might already be aware of these things very keenly indeed, and so have been taking the discussion more seriously than you might a discussion on less weighty matters. I don't know.

Don't fake belief, do what you can to cultivate true belief in what is true. It is written in the Bible, "Those who seek shall find", I think that may apply here. Become an authentic seeker of the truth of these things if you are not already, it is more than worth it.

To answer your last point, I think people who believe that the loch ness monster doesn't exist probably have positive reasoning behind that belief even if they are not consciously aware of it. I myself am a bit agnostic when it comes to bigfoot, perhaps leaning torward the view that it doesn't exist.

Lee said...

Hi Ranger,

Thanks for reading and getting involved in a discussion with me – I appreciate it.

I like to think most atheists are open to changing their mind on the topic of gods – at least, everyone I converse with are not 100% certain there are no gods and so there is a hint of doubt (however small).

There may be atheists out there that are not open to change so no evidence or argument will change their view that there are no gods.

To those I am in agreement with the theists here – they have a religious/faith position and need to back up their assertions (and they will not like that being said at them)

Thing is though, I do not believe such atheists exist (** no true atheist fallacy coming up **)

To know for certain there are no gods is to claim to know everything there is to know about gods– since they are claiming to be able to prove a negative on a universal scale and making a positive claim that are no gods.

To have such knowledge, wouldn’t they actually be an all-knowing god themselves?

A strange paradox. – but hey, I’m no philosopher so maybe my argument here is unsound.

This is why, for me, the theist fails in their argument against the atheist when they try and shift the burden of proof– they set up a ‘strawman of atheism’ that no one professes to hold and try and force the ‘true atheist’ to defend a position they do not have.

You will hear the likes of William Lane Craig insisting that the ‘atheist’ he is debating isn’t a ‘real’ atheist but is in fact an agnostic... (I wrote a post on this on my blog)

I do not think this mythical atheistic creature exists.

Not even Richard Dawkins says for certain that there is no God.

The atheist Victor Stenger comes closer when he wrote his book “God the failed hypothesis’ but that is only an argument against a particular type of god – again, even he admits that he cannot disprove all gods.

Anyway... all good stuff.

Take care, and thanks again.

Lee

Lee said...

To be honest though, I am concerned that maybe you are thinking too much along the lines of argument and rebuttals, so that you aren't so much listenening to what others are saying as you are looking at things as arguments and trying to figure out good rebuttals

I’m not thinking that hard, just having a discussion – which requires me to read/listen to what the other person is saying.

That said, I could of course misunderstand the point being made by the other person – feel free to put me straight.

And in a debate isn’t rebuttal expected?

If no hard evidence is being provided (and in a debate there usually isn’t) - I can only challenge the argument. If I the argument can be shown to be weak, unsound, or flawed – then I have no reason to believe in the argument or what it is trying to prove.

try to look at what folks are saying outside the prism of arguments and rebuttals.

OK… what is that?

I think (if I read around the arguments) that the theist here believe that their belief in God makes them happy and provides them purpose. An answer to the questions they cannot answer?

Is that correct?

I cannot disagree with that – if it is their/your belief.

However, I am asking why should I believe that?

Maybe I don’t have too… but if the claims of the Christian are correct – if I do not believe them, I could have a red hot poker waiting for me. (Not nice.)

The problem I have though is many religions make similar claims – choosing the right one is important right?

For instance, yes what I said at the end of my last post was a variation of pascals wager, but I wasn't offering it so much as an argument as I was hoping to make you more keenly aware of the importance of what is at stake with these issues

I am aware of the claims of some… makes me wonder what type of God some Christians actually believe in to tell you the truth. Not that this matters – what is true is true, whether I like it or not.

and so hopefully you will treat them more seriously than you might an exercise in debate.

I take this type of debate more serious than most - more serious I feel that many Christians I know. I at least know the arguments for and against which is more than some of my Christian friends and family. I always find it funny when I can quote the bible better than my Christian friends (I really annoyed my mother-in-law once by doing that… all for a bit of fun you understand. The wife hated me for it)

Lee said...

However, have you thought about what you are saying with the Pascal Wager? It seems to me to be that I should believe in your all-loving God, since if I do not, I will be burning in Hell for the rest of my days.

Erm… can you see the contradiction?

Also I was hoping to get you to see how little Atheism has to offer you

Atheism is nothing more than the non-belief in God right? So yes, it offers me little. Nothing in fact. Nothing more than my non-belief in the invisible blue unicorn.

Science and philosophy however offer me so much more… pictures from the HST, music, my children, football, the knowledge of death all enable me to appreciate THIS life and how amazingly lucky I am.

I do not wish for another life unknown.

Enjoy the life we know – rather than wishing for what we don’t know.

On an aside - Do you believe in Heaven and Hell – have you thought what actually that means?

Sorry if I am getting a little deep on you, but you did ask me to take the debate seriously

Don't fake belief, do what you can to cultivate true belief in what is true.

I do not fake belief – that is my point.

Pascal’s Wager is asking for me to fake belief, I say this cannot be done. I also think it is strange to think I could fake my belief and fool God – but that is the argument being made with Pascal.

So it is a bad argument. I hope I have shown that… but I understand why you said it, you believe what Pascal’s does I guess of the punishment awaiting me?

It is written in the Bible, "Those who seek shall find"

Wise words… and I do seek.

However, I also know that the human mind is very good at fooling itself. So we have to be sceptical, and use good reason, good logic and demand good evidence.

If the claims of the bible are true – my belief is that I should be able to reason myself to belief in God.

However, it seems one of us is not doing very well. Either me, or the author of the bible

Lee said...

To answer your last point, I think people who believe that the loch ness monster doesn't exist probably have positive reasoning behind that belief even if they are not consciously aware of it.

I agree… the claim of a massive prehistoric monster living in Loch Ness is crazy talk.

However I do not have to provide positive evidence against it – the fact that large prehistoric monsters are not regularly seen in lochs is all the evidence and reason I need.

It is for the person making the claim that Loch Ness monster exists that have to back up their claim.

So here we agree.

Why do you disagree with me when it comes to the more amazing claim of the Christian God and Jesus rising from the dead?

Thanks for your time.

Lee

Lee said...

Hi Brian

The question is: do you affirm the statement "there is no God?"

No

I do not even know what this God is, He has not be defined - so before we go any further – could you first define positively what this God is?

I am arguing here that there are cases on both sides (theist or atheist) who will not allow their belief to be proven wrong

Then doesn’t this atheist has a faith positive – I say yes (commented on this already to Ranger)

However, when it comes to the question of whether or not the actual truth of the matter can be falsified, that is of course falsifiable. This can be done through showing the concept of God incoherent, or self-contradictory.

Not so sure – if a person has created an unfalsifiable claim or belief – then by definition I cannot prove it wrong.

I may choose not to believe in that claim, but that is all that I can do.

Back to an example that I have used – how do you go about disproving my claim that I can fly by just flapping my arms up and down?

I’m not sure you can do it… especially if I wrap up my claim in “it’s magic”

OK, you do not have to believe my claim – but my point is that you cannot disprove it (neither do you have to for your non-belief in my claim)

Or you could provide a sound argument against his existence, showing that such a being could not possibly exist. This IS falsifiable.

Fair enough… as I have asked before please provide a positive definition for your God and I will give it a go.
(Surely you cannot expect me to disprove something that has not been clearly defined?)

RE: If I defeated the arguments for the Loch Ness monster, will this then leave me agnostic about the Loch Ness monster?

You tell me.

I think you are in agreement that I would not be agnostic about this claim.

Maybe I would be an a-lochnessmonsterist

But if by this question you are implying that God is in the same category as the Loch Ness Monster, you are both assuming what you are trying to prove and making a category mistake.

I think you are missing my point. You said if I defeated the arguments for theism that this would make me agnostic – I disagree.

With my example for the Loch Ness Monster it seems (though you have not written it) that you agree with me when I talk of the Loch Ness Monster claim, but not for the claim of God?

What actually is the difference?

Lee

Lee said...

Posted on the wrong thread... insert above somewhere :-)

+++++++++++++++++
Hi Bruce,

RE: "The God, as defined by most Christians is highly unlikely."

This is a belief and a claim, and is not the same as a lack of belief.

It is a belief claim about a belief – yes.

I do not lack a belief about my belief that I do not believe the claims usually made by the Christian with regards to their God of choice. :-)
(Notice I have made no actual claim for or against gods here – merely stated my disbelief in an argument)

You also forgot the very next line when I wrote ”please make a positive claim about your God and I will show where you have gone wrong. “

I am happy to go that extra mile for you… further than I actually need.

Until you define your God I actually have nothing to disbelieve (or indeed believe) in – other than disbelief in the usual (as yet) unproven claims.

Analogy: I do not believe the claims made by people who say they have been abducted by aliens – it isn’t for me to have to prove 100% that aliens have not visited the Earth, I have to show nothing more that it is unlikely. The person making the claim then has the burden of proof with them.

The only claim I am making is that I do not believe the claim.

Do you doubt this belief of mine? If you don’t, then what more do I have to do?

Now over to you to provide some evidence, reason and logic for your claim.

It would seem from your own statements that you believe claims cary a burden of proof, requiring justification and the like, so on your own view you need some positive argumentation for this claim.

See above… if you do not doubt my disbelief in the claim, what else do I actually have to prove?

This does work both ways… I do not doubt that you believe in God however if you want me to believe in your claim it is you that has the burden of proof.

It is you that has made a claim – I have just chosen not to believe it.

Bruce said...

On the pascalls wager discussion, I actually hope that, while some people will suffer after death, I have hope that the second death means that at the final judgement they will be destroyed and cease to exist, ending suffering and any thinking or feeling on their part. I am however not fully convinced that this is the case. There is one verse in particular I have difficulty reconciling with this. I would direct your attention not so much to what you might have to fear about suffering and such, but what you could miss out on. An eternal life of happiness and joy with a loving, infinite God. Also a life without financial or health worries, and continued relationship with others like loved ones who also put their trust in Christ. A life of Joy and happiness that goes on for so long (forever) that it makes all the trials and pleasures of this life seem like but a moment by comparison, if that, in our minds. Thats how I think of heaven, I don't want you to miss out on that.

"Pascal’s Wager is asking for me to fake belief" I didsagree, I think it is trying to shake people out of apathy concerning their eternity, and get them to think seriously about these things with a serious mind and heart. What I put forward was a variation, comparing Atheism with multiple belief systems in terms of pragmatics. I don't think that if you accept the conclusion of the wager you should fake belief, rather you should try to cultivate belief by seeking God with all your heart. The Bible I believe says that if you do this you will find Him. One might try seeking with prayer, by reading the Bible, or reading Christian books. There are many ways one can seek.

"Now over to you to provide some evidence, reason and logic for your claim."

You have more energy for debate than me, I don't feel like entering into a new discussion with you dealing with Arguments for God's existence, especially since you seem aware of them already.

"So we have to be sceptical." As I said before, this is a poor default attitude or position, predisposing one to accepting as few new truths as possible, and it undermines itself: be sceptical about the claim that skepticism is the ideal default attitude for things! Rather try to have an open mind engaged in critical thinking. Consider being equally open to both claims and their negations, rather than automatically leaning towards negations of claims.

Bruce said...

"However I do not have to provide positive evidence against it – the fact that large prehistoric monsters are not regularly seen in lochs is all the evidence and reason I need." So you have just provided what you consider evidence to justify a belief, though you say you don't need to.

"The God, as defined by most Christians is highly unlikely."

"I do not lack a belief about my belief that I do not believe the claims usually made by the Christian with regards to their God of choice. :-)
(Notice I have made no actual claim for or against gods here – merely stated my disbelief in an argument)"

I find it very difficult to see how someone can believe that the first of the two quotations above is not a positive belief and a positive claim against God's being probable. And so it needs justification. A mere lack of belief in God without positively believing that He is unlikely is possible, and so rocks on your definition would be Atheists as well as possibly babies and cats. And maybe people who have never even considered things like God's existence. But you don't have that mere lack, you have a positive view that God is unlikely. Do you really not see the difference between what would truly be merely a lack of belief and the view that it is more than 50% likely that God doesn't exist?

"My belief is that I should be able to reason myself to belief in God." I agree with something you have probably heard Craig say before about God not providing evidence that will be compelling (making them believe) to everyone whose hearts are hardened against the truth, but rather I believe He will bring those who are open to Him to belief. Try to have an open heart and mind if you do not already.

Consider being brave and asking God to make you receptive to Him and His truth and to bring you to trust in Christ if God exists and if you should trust in Christ. I would dearly like to hear that you were willing to pray such a prayer with as open a mind and heart as you could. Surely the importance of these matters is worth the short time it would take! The mere attempt might help you be more receptive to Him and show an oppennes of mind, so be brave and try it if you are willing.

Lee said...

Hi Bruce,

Thanks for the reply - I do not have time tonight to provide a full response... but I will when I can.

I am interested in why you think scepticism is a poor default position.

What is the alternative? Accept everything you are told until you are able to prove them wrong?

That doesn't seem right - maybe you could expand on this point.

Lee

Bruce said...

The alternative I like is to have an open mind engaged in critical thinking.

That means being open to new claims and not being automatically skeptical, but it is different from accepting them blindly when you hear them, first you apply critical thinking to the new claims then decide to move from open minded to thinking something likely or unlikely or some other position like certainty one way or the other.

I think this may be my last comment on this thread, please do consider that prayer suggestion carefully, consider also the possibility that if Christianity is true there is an enemy of your soul who could try to influence you and prevent you from doing things like praying such a prayer. I say this hoping that if that happens you might resist such an influence. Try to pray authentically with an open mind and heart if you do pray. I hope things go well for you.

Lee said...

Hi Bruce,

I think this may be my last comment on this thread

That's a shame, but no worries.

It has been a pleasure talking with you.

Today I have been writing up a response to your comment, but since you have made your last reply, I am not sure if I should post it now.

There is 2,000 words that will not see the light of day again.

Oh well.

It was really, really good as well.

I disproved God, and discussed how to make word peace.

Take care

Lee
PS
You did inspire me to write a post on Heaven and Hell though if it makes you feel better. Erm, doubt it - since it is an argument against God. Well, you did ask me to make an argument against God didn’t you?

Brian said...

Lee, as for falsifying things: I would suggest that instead you go after a more tangible line of attack. Study the life of Christ and his claims to be the Son of God. Then study the resurrection. If you can show that the resurrection did not take place, then you can falsify Christianity.

In addition, you can find out more about what Jesus did to save us sinners.

Manawatu Christian Apologetics Society said...

Lee wrote: "That’s the problem with philosophy sometimes... for every philosopher you could present me, I could present another philosophy with a different opinion.

This, in of itself, shows me that the arguments for God are unsound in someway (and why I went to get myself a science degree and not philosophy)


Do you really think this is sound thinking Lee? Your comment would seem to imply that EVEN IF God exists, the existence of contrary arguments would make it impossible to know. I hear similar arguments along the lines of "there are so many religions, therefore there is no one true religion".

Lee said...

Hi “Manawatu Christian Apologetics Society”

Do you really think this is sound thinking Lee?

You tell me :-)

My point was philosophy is just words unless it is shown to have some physical relevance in the universe.

We can both talk about what colour square-circles are without any trouble – but does this have any real meaning in the universe.

The problem in philosophy (and theology) in my opinion comes when two contradictory ideas come along – they both cannot be right, but how do you show which one (if any) is correct.

So, sorry if I wasn’t being clear... I hope my thinking is just a little more sound now?

Your comment would seem to imply that EVEN IF God exists, the existence of contrary arguments would make it impossible to know.

If there is no way to determine which one of these contrary arguments is true (or false) then the arguments are useless. For a person to believe in anyone of them requires faith – to doubt both of them seems reasonable.

So yes, God could exist but indeed it seems we have no way of proving this... not that I have seen.

Take care

Lee

Lee said...

Hi Brian,

as for falsifying things: I would suggest that instead you go after a more tangible line of attack. Study the life of Christ and his claims to be the Son of God.

Is the bible consistent with itself on this matter – is there only one clear interpretation of the bible?

More importantly, I do not have any ‘disinterested’ historical reports referring to Jesus that I am aware of.

To put it another way.

What are your beliefs about the life of Christ and his claims to be the Son of God – and how do you know this? What are your sources, and how do you verify these sources?

If we only have the bible to go on, we should take great care since it is ‘promoting’ an idea.

Just like when we go to purchase a second-hand car, we would not necessarily trust everything the salesman has to say about their ‘good little runner, one careful owner, low mileage, bargain at $15,000’ car they want to sell to me – we would want some independent evidence on their claims surely?

Lee said...

Then study the resurrection.

Historically, the bible for me fails on the first hurdle – the crucifixion.

The bible writes a lot about what was suppose to have happened at this point, the gospels are not consistent on the events, but more importantly no independent historical evidence has ever been presented to me that any of these miraculous events took place. (I keep asking as you know for this – the silence is deafening as they say)

I will accept a person known as Jesus died on the cross, I will accept even that Jesus thought he was the son of god if you like - none of this is important since where is the evidence for 6 hours of darkness, earthquakes and dead saints making themselves known?

If the events that can be tested fail the ‘historical test’ why should I trust the more unbelievable claims with poor evidence? Does this not show the ‘eye witnesses’ (known as the gospels) just a little bit unreliable?

If you can show that the resurrection did not take place, then you can falsify Christianity.

How this makes me laugh (especially after listening to the debate between William Lane Craig and Marcus Borg.) Christians cannot even agree what actually happened, so what am I expected to disproved?

No, you are shifting the burden of proof here and you should know it. I do not need to falsify a claim that has so little going for it and so poorly defined.

However, I will not just walk away from this challenge so quickly.

But let us keep it simple.

First state clearly what you believed happened in and around the time of the resurrection you claim happened (is it as William Lane Craig regularly details or as Marcus Borg believes?) Until the goal posts and fixed and agreed I cannot go about disproving anything (even if that were possible).

Then tell me how you actually know this to be a fact (or likely)

Lee said...

Finally tell me what piece of evidence I could present to you that would falsify your position/claim? (I cannot think of anything in regards to Marcus Borg claims since he does not seem to believe the event ‘literally’ happened, but ‘really’ happened or some other weird idea I do not claim to fully understand. Marcus even stated that showing him the bones of Jesus in the tomb would not disprove his belief in the resurrected Jesus)

Now lets be fair to ourselves, we both know this type of debate has been going on for years – it is clear (surely to both of us) that it has been impossible to disprove the claim of the resurrection of Jesus to the satisfaction of a Christian (by definition?).

Also, it is clear that the Christian been unable to prove their position beyond reasonable doubt.
(I’ve listened to enough debates from your blog to know this much)

Is this a stalemate? Not for me... since I am not making the extraordinary claim, my position of doubt is far more reasonable.

Just as you cannot disprove a claim that there is a teapot orbiting between Mars and Jupiter, this is no reason to believe that there is a teapot orbiting between Mars and Jupiter

Anyway... I would still like to know how you know what you claim to know.

So, over to you to make an argument for your claims – until you do, there is nothing to reject, nothing to believe in.

In addition, you can find out more about what Jesus did to save us sinners.

Have to admit here – I’ve never understood the blood sacrifice thing – putting all of ones sins onto a scapegoat seems a little, pagan?

Neither do I understand what sins were supposed to have been placed on Jesus anyway – this business of Original Sin is alien to me.

Maybe you could explain this for me (or provide a link or lecture)

Thanks

Lee

Chad said...

Hey Lee,

I hope this comment finds you doing well. I wanted to point a few things out. I apologize for my brief comments; however, right now time does not allow for much interaction.

A few things:

1. Brian did provide some of the information you requested above on the F.F. Bruce quote comment section found here:

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=32357047&postID=3694929385731890602&isPopup=true

2. Are you familiar with Gary Habermas's work on the resurrection? I have found it very helpful in the past. You can check out his stuff at www.garyhabermas.com

Here is a sample:

http://www.garyhabermas.com/articles/J_Study_Historical_Jesus_3-2_2005/J_Study_Historical_Jesus_3-2_2005.htm

I hope this helps to answer some of your questions.

Again, I hope you and your wife are well!

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