Dear “The Truth”

Dear “The Truth”

As you know, you recently placed this comment in one of my posts:

“There is no God, but good plan. Just be, you know, nice. By the way, you stop existing after death, there is no soul either.

Sorry for the spoiler!

And yes, I do know.”

I realize that it’s unlikely that you ever make it back here to my blog.  But I figured I’d give it a try.

I want you to know that I feel bad for you, but I actually find the whole thing a little bit funny.

It seems like maybe you are having some trouble figuring out just who you are and what you want to be.

I agree with you, that it’s a good idea to be nice.   But I’m wondering how your comment models that behavior… being nice.  It seems like if you truly believe it’s nice to share the truth with people, and if you believe that the truth is that there is no God, then you’d try and spend a little more time being persuasive about it.  Your message doesn’t really give me much in the way of reasons to think that you might be on to something. 

Further, it seems like telling me that I’ve got a good plan must be intended as sarcasm.  And to be honest, it strikes me as rather bitter sarcasm at that.  It certainly seems strange after the whole “be nice” thing.

It was nice of you to apologize for the spoiler, but the truth is,  I think maybe you and are watching different movies.   My “movie” has an ending I’m quite excited about.

Usually, it’s we religious folks who get blamed for being pushy and irrational.  And sometimes, this blame is quite deserved.

But this is a case where you wandered into my blog and decided to share some opinions that really didn’t have much to do with the post at all.  Of course, if I’d had a major issue with your comment I would have simply deleted it.  I want to be clear on this point: it’s o.k. with me if you did that.  But I’d like to ask you, “The Truth”  How would you have felt if I wandered onto a blog sharing atheistic beliefs where the post made a quite specific point, and my comment was just sort-of a vague sharing of basic Christianity?

Part of the reason that I posted this is that I do hope that you’ll come back and I wanted to give you a natural place to do it.  (I have written some other posts that would be more logical places to debate theism versus atheism… but it’d probably be pushy for me to suggest that you ought to hunt around on my blog for them.)  I’m not afraid of disagreeing with people.  Maybe we can learn something from each other.

You’ve given me a little bit to work with in that brief couple sentences you left.  So I’ll pose a few questions for you:

#1) If there is in fact no God, does “the truth” even matter?  As limitied and finite beings, will we ever even arrive at it and recognize it for what it is if something greater than wiser than us isn’t helping us along?

#2) Is there any real reason to being nice if there is no God?  I can see why appearing to be nice might be beneficial sometimes, but when the chips are down and the lights are off, why should we be nice at all in a world without God?

#3) If in fact there is no soul, how would you account for the differences between what is detectable by science and what is observed from within our personality?  More specifically: Science might be able to trace a certain synapses firing with certain brain activity… But there’s no good reason to think that we’ll ever be able to analyze those synaptic firings in such a way that we’re finding out what someones thoughts are simply by looking at the biological artifacts. 

#4) If there is no soul, how do you account for the existence of so many constructs which aren’t related for biological survival?  I have no problem with the Neodarwinian account of how we phyiscally evolved, but do you seriously hold to the evolutionary accounts of how art, altruistic love, religious impulses, the universality of conscience and taboos against muder, nudity, and incest?  And if you do hold to the evolutionary accounts, whose do you hold to?  And how do you explain the neodarwinism has had a fairly easy time explaining physical structures but can’t arrive at the most fundamental agreements in explaining how these cultural constructs arrive.

I realize that this debate has been going on for milenia.  But each of these was a can of worms that you opened in some part in your response.  I hope that you (or someone like minded) will try and explain how you see these things.

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

7 thoughts on “Dear “The Truth””

  1. I’m not ‘The Truth’, but I thought I’d take a stab at answering the questions anyway.

    #1) If there is in fact no God, does “the truth” even matter? As limitied and finite beings, will we ever even arrive at it and recognize it for what it is if something greater than wiser than us isn’t helping us along?

    That depends on what you mean by ‘truth’. If you’re looking for some absolute, universal truth that we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt, I’d say forget about it. I don’t even think looking for such absolute ‘truth’ is worthwhile. That’s not to say, however, that we shouldn’t do our best to come as close to knowing things for sure as we can. That’s why I and so many others find science fascinating – right now it’s the best tool we have to learn more about the Universe, even if it’s not perfect.

    #2) Is there any real reason to being nice if there is no God? I can see why appearing to be nice might be beneficial sometimes, but when the chips are down and the lights are off, why should we be nice at all in a world without God?

    Short answer: Yes, of course. Long answer: I’m too tired to go into the long answer right now. One major reason is that anyone interested in living within a society needs to play according to that society’s rules. (People also seem to have a number of ‘built in’ moral constraints, but they’re not as universal as a lot of people think; more on that below).

    I’d be surprised if you haven’t heard some atheistic arguments for moral behaviour already, but if not, look them up; they’re not hard to find.

    #3) If in fact there is no soul, how would you account for the differences between what is detectable by science and what is observed from within our personality? More specifically: Science might be able to trace a certain synapses firing with certain brain activity… But there’s no good reason to think that we’ll ever be able to analyze those synaptic firings in such a way that we’re finding out what someones thoughts are simply by looking at the biological artifacts.

    Au contraire, scientists have very recently observed what may well have been a collection of brain cells retrieving a memory, the first time in history if they’re right. While we obviously won’t ever be able to read someone’s thoughts by observing their brain (unless technology goes way beyond what I’d deem likely), I don’t think we’ll forever remain ignorant as to how exactly memories, thoughts and emotions work; hell, we’re already making good progress on those in some areas. I don’t see how our incomplete knowledge should be reason for assuming the existence of the soul or God.

    #4) If there is no soul, how do you account for the existence of so many constructs which aren’t related for biological survival? I have no problem with the Neodarwinian account of how we phyiscally evolved, but do you seriously hold to the evolutionary accounts of how art, altruistic love, religious impulses, the universality of conscience and taboos against muder, nudity, and incest? And if you do hold to the evolutionary accounts, whose do you hold to? And how do you explain the neodarwinism has had a fairly easy time explaining physical structures but can’t arrive at the most fundamental agreements in explaining how these cultural constructs arrive.

    I’m not sure where you’re getting the idea that there’s a universal taboo against incest and nudity; there are cultures in parts of the world where both are perfectly acceptable, to varying degrees. (Nudity in particular ranges all over the place, from being frowned upon everywhere to be allowable in some places but not in others.) This seems like a case of projecting your own values onto the world at large. ‘Murder’ is also a tricky one; some people see certain types of killing as obviously ‘good’ (such as execution) in ways that baffle others (most Europeans would say that execution by lethal injection is barbaric). While there’s a pretty universal taboo against killing random people for no reason, different cultures have very different ideas about what’s right and wrong when it comes to killing humans for supposedly justified reasons.

    ‘Neodarwinism’ (I’m assuming you’re talking about the Neo-Darwinian synthesis, in which case plain old ‘evolution’ is easier to type) actually does go a long way towards explaining why things like language and civilization developed, and the explanations for altruism (obviously there’s debate) are not all that implausible – particularly if you consider that the other ape species exhibit some of the same altruistic traits that we do. However, explaining why and how things like artistic ability evolved isn’t solely a job for evolution, and in fact I’d say it has more to do with anthropology than anything else. That we can’t be sure why or when these traits evolved is no reason to assume that the ‘soul’ exists.

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  2. Thanks for your thoughts, forknowledge. A few responses:
    #1) The person who inspired the post referred to themselves as “the truth” and seemed quite confident in his/her statements. In fact they left no wiggle room at all as far as I could see. It seems to me that you and I are mostly on the same page. I’d say page in terms of looking for absolute truth beyond a shadow of a doubt. (It seems to me that God leads us to a more absolute truth, but in terms of truth found outside God I think we’re in rough agreement.)
    I’ll take a slight objection to your statement about science, “right now it’s the best tool we have to learn more about the Universe, even if it’s not perfect.”
    Just for clarities sake, I’d say “It’s the best tool we have to learn more facts about the physical universe.”
    Science as science can not tell us what to do with the facts it helps us discover; it does not have much to say about issues such as love and beauty; because it is based on experimentation and manipulation, it can only make inferences and not direct observation about the prime mover, if a prime mover exists.

    2) Yes, I am familiar with Atheistic arguments for moral behavior. But I think they all start to fall apart as soon as the moral agent is placed in a situation where he won’t get caught. If one has surety that he won’t be punished that exceeds the potential reward, their is no rational reason not to engage in the bad behavior.
    I’m not making the claiming that most atheists are more immoral than most Christians. (I wish that we did a better job so that we could!!!) But I am claiming that when most atheists behave altruistically they are not doing so for any good reason. (Within their own scheme.)

    3)I’d like to suggest that there is a double standard going on in the debate between theists and atheists. (I can’t say that you personally engage in this double standard.) When theists say “We don’t have the full picture because we are not God.” People say “Well, that’s awfully convenient. That little rhetorical device allows you to explain away pretty much everything.” But those who think science will some day have all the answers then go on to say “Well, science can’t explain that yet, but it will someday.” It seems to me that if one of these rhetorical devices is a foul then the other one is too. Either way, the debator is asking the other side to believe a “method” they don’t particularly agree with is going to work it out in the future.

    #4) The incest/nudity/murder trio was a group that was identified by sociologists as being essentially universal. What counts as nudity or murder or incest is obviously quite varied. But prohibitions, according to these sociologists, exist in some form across all cultures.
    In the west, we would consider someone wearing nothing but a g-string to be essentially naked. Many indiginous people consider this to be fully dressed. It seems to me that the operative question is, “Would the indiginous person run around without the g-string?”
    I suppose that one could take the position that the sociologists were wrong, and these specific traits are not universal. One could even take the stance that there are no cultural universals. Rather than predict where this might go I’ll let you tell me if you hold any of those positions and take it from there.

    I wrote “Neodarwinism” because some people on either side of the debate play a shell game with the term evolution. They count anything that demonstrates a slow change as proof of evolution. I was referring to the specific beliefs that posited a synthesis of Darwin’s and Mendel’s work as the mechanism behind that slow change.

    I could agree that that if evolution alone were at work we might expect some form of culture to arise.
    Language is a pretty tricky one. We appear hard wired to learn language in a manner that is quite hard to explain evolutionarily.
    But I think the toughest areas for evolution to explain are going to be “art, altruistic love, religious impulses, and the universality of conscience” not culture in general or language more spefically.
    Though these are questions some what in the domain of anthropology and sociology, if these answers don’t refer to the biological evolution that was going on we’d end up with a rather schizophrenic world view, if we rely on science alone.

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  3. 1) What we decide to do with scientific discoveries isn’t really what science is supposed to do. Our opinions on, say, space exploration can be informed by science, but the scientific, but few would suggest that the decision to launch a satellite or not should be formed via the scientific method. However, I submit that such a decision is not actually a discovery of anything new about the Universe (physical or otherwise); when it comes time to actually explain facts or discover new ones, it’s science we turn to.

    I’ve never really known what people actually mean when they talk about ‘love’ and ‘beauty’ in relation to science. What would you expect science to say about these things?

    2) That people do not adhere perfectly to a moral framework does not invalidate that framework (obviously). There are certain things I would do if I was absolutely certain that I would get away with it, but at the same time there are many things that I would not, because I’m aware of the negative effect those actions would have on others.

    However, I think that some theists look at atheistic morality in the wrong way; I’ve come across people who seem to think that atheists formulate their moral systems before they come to the conclusion that God probably doesn’t exist, or even that they come to the conclusion that God doesn’t exist so that they can adhere to atheistic morality. (The latter idea in particular is widespread and completely wrong in the vast majority of cases.) Instead it works the other way around; if I don’t believe that God exists, atheistic morality is inevitable. Some theists go further and say ‘If God doesn’t exist, there’s no reason to act altruistic, therefore God exists.’ This is clearly nonsense. Even if God’s non-existence would mean that humanity has no reason to be altruistic, it would not follow from this that God exists.

    3) It would be more correct to say that scientists claim ‘Science can’t explain that yet, but someday it might be able to’, if they go that far at all. I’m reading The Ancestor’s Tale at the moment, in which Dawkins points out that only the most hopeful researchers believe it will be possible to say for sure exactly when language first evolved or what kind of language it was; he himself thinks we’ll probably never know anything about the latter. The problem many scientifically-minded atheists have with theists is that they’ll tell you they’re absolutely sure that God exists in the first place, but with no satisfactory justification (from the atheist’s point of view). They’ll then go on to confidently ascribe attributes or even opinions to God, building one assumption (or outright guess) on top of another. This is very, very different from the scientific model, in which that kind of situation would be a hypothesis or pure speculation at best.

    In short, the double standard doesn’t exist in principle, even if some people do impose a double standard on the situation.

    4) I think that there are cultural universals, such as families preferring to live in fairly basic child/parent/extended family units, but I think that it’s a mistake to overstate just how universal they are. For example, the basic family unit where I live is very different to the basic family unit in most Islamic or Asian countries, and the family structures in some of those countries seemed bizarre to me the first time I was exposed to them. In this case there clearly is a universal practice of living in family units, but to say that the North American/Western Europe family unit is the norm all over the world would be an overstatement. (Ditto for any other standard, obviously.)

    Any explanation for where our capacity for art or the like came from is of course always going to be speculative unless we invent a time machine or find some new line of evidence hitherto unknown to us, but evolution must play a part. (Note that I don’t think altruistic love is difficult to explain from an evolutionary viewpoint at all, even if that explanation would be very difficult to actually prove.) At a certain point, however, I think cultural aspects become more important than evolutionary ones. For example, once our brains and bodies developed enough for abstract thought and actions to be possible, I’d say the development of art or religion is more in the realm of anthropology than strict biological evolution.

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  4. Thanks for the time and thought put into your replies.

    1) In fact, your exactly right. I wouldn’t expect science to have anything to say about love or beauty. Nor would I expect science to be able to determine what I should do with the facts it uncovers.
    Science does an amazing job of uncovering a series of facts. It’s generally better at unocvering ones some how related to the physical aspects of the universe.
    My point is in response to the sentence
    “That’s why I and so many others find science fascinating – right now it’s the best tool we have to learn more about the Universe, even if it’s not perfect.”

    I think that a parade of facts about the physical universe are not sufficient for us to live our lives. Science does not and can not be the only source of a world view.
    I guess what I’m ultimately objecting to is the claim that science is the “best” tool. It’s certainly necessary. But there are other equally necessary tools in putting together a coherent, plausible view of the universe.

    2) My issue is not one of whether or not people comply with a moral view. You were quite kind in not making the obvious point that Christians have a pretty lousy track record of moral behavior.

    My issue is whether or not the people who violate the moral code are behaving in a hypocritcal manner.
    Suppose an aquiantance left his wallet on the counter. The aquantaince is rather flaky. He never keeps track of how much money is in there.
    I have lots of reasons for not stealing from that wallet. (I’ll outline them if they are unclear.)
    I’m not sure that an atheist does. The whole idea that society only functions when we all follow rules is really predicated on the idea that the person is caught. If our flaky friend doesn’t know that the money is gone society continues as before.
    Again, I’m not claiming that atheists typically do act in this way. I am claiming that I haven’t heard a convincing account for why they don’t act this way.

    #3) I think in all sorts of discourse, on both sides of the divide, we engage in lots of different levels.
    I think that people on both sides have varying levels of honesty and awareness.
    For example, up until recently, it was an open question as to whether or not black holes actually existed. (Stephen Hawking had a long-standing bet with some other astrophysist on the matter.)
    Despite the fact that the existence of black holes had not proven, a fair ammount of work had gone into exploring the mechanics of black holes. This is valuable for two reasons: A) it could be that once all that detail work is done, we find out that it won’t work after all. B) if it turns out that they do exist, we have a jump on the research about them. If somebody didn’t believe in black holes, it would be a little odd for them to remark on an article about one specific aspect of there character. It’d be more natural for them to debate it in an article which was more directly adressing the question of whether or not they existed in the first place. Similarly, it’d be odd for somebody who had wrote an article where he’d taken the existence as a given to expect that this would be convincing to somebody who hadn’t bought into that initial assumption.

    It seems to me that theists ought to have the same freedom as the black hole researchers, for the same reasons.
    It’s absolutely right to observe that sometimes theists might cite an argument “proving” the existence of a creator in general and then have them assume that the creator must be Christian.
    Perhaps I’m drifting off topic, though. In your original response you stated “I don’t think we’ll forever remain ignorant as to how exactly memories, thoughts and emotions work; hell, we’re already making good progress on those in some areas. I don’t see how our incomplete knowledge should be reason for assuming the existence of the soul or God.” In your more recent one you state “It would be more correct to say that scientists claim ‘Science can’t explain that yet, but someday it might be able to’”
    My point is that either one of us could play a card which essentially negates anything else the other person could say.
    I could play the God-card. “God knows. We’re limited, fallible, broken sinners. We therefore can’t understand it. The understanding we inherited from past generations is exactly right, even if we don’t understand why.”
    On the other hand, you could play the science-card. “Someday we’ll figure it out through the scientific method. These things we figure out won’t be anything like the paradigm shifts we’ve seen in the past. It’ll be an essential confirmation of the things we already believe to be true.”
    In short, it seems to me that this is the impasse we’re at in terms of whether the lack of scientific understanding as a soul counts for the theist or the atheist.

    I’ll write some more later about culture universality as I see it, but hope you’ll comment on what’s above.

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  5. (These are going to be shorter replies because I’m low on time, but this has already given me ideas for several new blog posts that I’ll probably do over the next few days, so it looks like it’s been worth it, anyway!)

    1) This might come across as playing semantics, but when I originally said that science is the best tool we have to ‘learn more about the Universe’, I was thinking specifically of things like stars, galaxies, the origin of life and its diversity, etc. – things that fall squarely into the realm of scientific enquiry. In that area, science is undoubtedly king, but obviously it’s a different story in what I’m assuming you’re talking about: philosophical, social or ‘implication’ questions (as in, ‘The sun will eventually expand and destroy life on Earth – how should humanity feel about this?’ is not in any way a scientific question, even if it is based on a scientific discovery.)

    2) I would say that any atheist adhering to some sort of secular humanist philosophy would certainly have a reason not to steal from the wallet. I wouldn’t do it because it would leave its owners short of money, which could potentially have disastrous consequences on him or his family (let’s say it’s a stranger’s wallet; I don’t know if the owner is rich or living in poverty). It doesn’t matter here whether I’d be caught or not, because being caught isn’t why I don’t want to take the money; even if the wallet’s owner never notices that the money is missing, the damage is done. I would imagine that your reasons for not taking the money are similar if not identical, but perhaps with a religious justification as well.

    3) As I see it, the major difference here is the assertion of certainty. Physicists can be pretty sure about the existence of something like a black hole based on mathematical models of the Universe, and it makes sense to investigate their potential properties pending confirmation. But only if everyone involved is aware that they don’t know for sure that black holes exist yet, and that future evidence may require all of their work to be thrown out. To use a more contemporary analogy, the Higgs boson is one of the many things that the Large Hadron Collidor will soon investigate. Nobody knows for sure whether it exists, but that hasn’t stopped physicists from describing it in detail. If the LHC doesn’t find it, however, most honest physicists would conclude that it doesn’t exist.

    Theists generally don’t operate like this; coming at the Higgs boson from a ‘theistic’ point of view would involve asserting that it exists, and then continuing to assert that it exists even after the LHC fails to confirm it, and so on more or less indefinitely. This is why I don’t like using metaphysical explanations except where absolutely necessary; there is no way to tell if such an explanation is correct or not. While God is certainly one way to explain why the Universe exists, I can’t think of any way to check if it’s the right way, and in that situation I’m much more comfortable with saying ‘I don’t know’ than assuming what feels more like a guess than anything else.

    That might represent one major difference between theists and scientifically-minded atheists: whereas theists are comfortable to give a metaphysical explanation for the un-known (or unknowable), atheists will generally hope that science can provide an explanation. If it can’t, they’re left with the unfortunate conclusion that we’ll never know. (This is what a lot of scientists today would say about what happened before the Big Bang.)

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  6. One of the things that can get frustrating about these sorts of discussions is that they can get frustrating. I was originally going to post about the end of your first post… The anthropological issues. My sense is that responding to your more recent comments will be more fruitful, though. So perhaps at some other point we’ll get back to the issue of cultural universality.
    I just noticed (sometimes I’m a bit thick.) that your name is an active link. I’ll click it and check out your blog at some point soon. Anyway…

    #1) I don’t think you’re playing semantincs at all. You and I are in agreement based on what I know understand your position to be. Science probably is the best tool we have for understanding the physical aspects of the universe. I suspect that you and I might differ on how far this goes. For example, I’d consider questions of the existence of the soul to be quite outside science’s area. I’d say therefore that assuming that science will at some point disprove the soul is a very tenuous assumption. I suspect you disagree on both these points and I don’t have much more to say on this subject other than “time will tell.” (I’m not trying to shut you down if you have any more to say on the topic.)

    #2)I think that this is the rub. I think that you’re right. Anyone adhering to many secular humanist philosophy would refrain from stealing the money.
    But the most important question to me, in this case, is did the secular humanist philosophy offer them a compelling reason to avoid doing so?
    It’s my position that when we refrain from stealing we’re actually acting in accordance with something much more basic to our nature than a secular humanist philosophy. Some s.h.p’s might try to accomodate this face about our psychology and attempt to justify our desire to try to be honest. But I think these justifications end up running short.
    To the point:
    On a secular humanist account, why should someone care if there decision had disastorous effects on someone else?
    Further, even if such an account could be supplied, does this mean that it’s o.k. to steal from somebody who does have enough money? My world view tells me no: it is not. Stealing $20 from Bill Gates is still stealing. Can a secular account furnish reasons for why?

    #3) It seems to me that many scientists have operated on assumptions for quite some time before their thesis were proven. The debate around black holes went on for decades before anybody had a clue how this would be proven or disproven. I’m only vaguely familiar with the Higgs Boson so I can’t say whether or not this is true in that case, that the debate is much older than the proof, though I appreciate your citing of a contemporary example.
    I’d go so far to say that the universe has been quite specifically constructed as to confound attempts at decisively answering the question scientifically of whether theists are right or wrong.
    The best way I know to make my point right now is this:
    It’s a bit like science is a metal detector. Amazing at discovering where metal is burried. There is something precious buried. But it is not metal. Perhaps it is a medicine, a cure for cancer.
    If the best tool I had wouldn’t work for finding this treasure, then I’d have to use other tools. Assuming a fairly large beach it would be quite ludicrious to simply randomly begin digging. But if we were dying of cancer it would similarly be ludicrous to sit on the beach with a drink with an umbrella in it. It might be time to wonder if there are any other tools that might be worthwhile in finding the medicine. So perhaps there is a treasure map on the beach. We might be unsure if it is authentic. We would, at this point, have a choice to make.

    I believe that their is a price to be paid by not committing to the digging of a hole in finding the treasure. Further, I believe that the person who actually dug the whole and found the treasure would then get confirmation after the fact that the map he chose was trust worthy.

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  7. Good points all around. While I’d love to delve into a detailed defence of secular humanism (I say that slightly sarcastically; if you’ve ever witnessed such a debate, you’ll know why), I haven’t got the time for it right now. I might get back to you within the next few days, but if I don’t it’s because of lack of time rather than interest!

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