Open Thread: Contributions Invited!

And warmly encouraged…

This site is a little quiet these days. I know it is the middle of the Summer holiday season and the impact of Covid has been devastating to normal life. But I wonder why the site is still receiving around 100 unique visits a day when seemingly fewer of those visitors are adding opening posts or leaving comments.

If anyone has thoughts about what would encourage more participation, exchange of ideas, please let’s hear from you.

God as Author and the Problem of Evil: A Response to Feser

Abstract

In a recent article, Edward Feser argues that the logical problem of evil rests on a category mistake regarding the nature of God and of his relationship to the world, and that a proper understanding of God’s nature and how he is related to the cosmos enables us to resolve this problem. To help his readers achieve a correct understanding of the Creator and his relation to creatures, Feser proposes an analogy between God and the author of a novel: God is “the necessary precondition of there being any natural order at all, just as an author is the necessary precondition of there being any novel at all.” I maintain that there are several fundamental flaws in the “author” analogy which render it useless as a tool for eliminating the logical problem of evil, whatever its other merits may be.

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Are we on rails?

De gustibus non est disputandum

I’m not a philosopher but a couple of issues that have occupied philosophers over perhaps millenia remain unresolved. Let’s call the concepts free will and determinism. Of course a problem that arises immediately as there seem not to be consensus definitions of either concept. They also seem to be linked (in the opinion of many) in that agreeing or disagreeing with one of these concepts entails acceptance or rejection of the other. A frequently encountered strategy is to add an adjective. So we have libertarian free will, strict determinism and so on. Below is a diagram that attempts to summarize the various proposals.

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Attack Ideas – not the people that hold them!

I heard this first at Uncommon Descent from blog-tsar, Dave Springer. I think it is a reasonable aspiration. Do we at TSZ fall short? Is it possible to attack the ideas of Donald Trump without being disparaging about the person of Donald Trump? I’ll admit to a lapse there. But in general, I think contributors support their claims and naked ad hominem seems rare here to me. Please correct me in comments if your mileage differs. Continue reading

Atheists, Agnostics & ‘Skeptics’ for and against the Pseudo-Science of ‘Evolutionary Psychology’

This topic has recently come up in another thread & deserves its own thread, rather than getting lost there.

It started with KN asking CharlieM: “Are there really such ‘Darwinian extremists’ or are you just making them up?”

I responded: “The list of Darwinian extremists in SSH is considerable, not that it’s likely anyone here is even aware of this, such that they could come up with a list themselves.” http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/what-mixture-of-design-and-evolution-is-possible-as-the-idm-collapses/comment-page-24/#comment-279711
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Coronavirus: Evolution vs ID

Another deadly virus is just around the corner: coronavirus, as predicted by evolution…

Since it was predicted, what had been done to prevent it?

We have all sorts of experts visiting TSZ, such as immunologists, population geneticists, biochemists, and the like…

What have they done in this field?  How about ID?

What are you doing personally to protect yourself, and your family,  from another possible epidemic?

I have lived through SARS, wearing full protective gear for many days. My wife was doing initial screening at the hospital entrance, while few months pregnant…

Is same, or worse, yet to come?

The REAL “Problem of Evil”

[moderator’s note: Nonlin.org produced this at about the same time as his “Miracles” post. I delayed this, so that they could be discussed one at a time. I’m now publishing this one.]

[a note to nonlin – if all of your post is one block, it is hard to add a “more” break. Maybe a short introductory sentence as a first block would make that easier]

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Behe and Co. in Canada

This past Friday, I bumped into Dr. Michael Behe, and again on Saturday, along with Drs. Brian Miller (DI), Research Coordinator CSC, and Robert Larmer (UNB), currently President of the Canadian Society of (Evangelical) Christian Philosophers. Venue: local apologetics conference (https://www.diganddelve.ca/). The topic of the event “Science vs. Atheism: Is Modern Science Making Atheism Improbable?” makes it relevant here at TSZ, where there are more atheists & agnostics among ‘skeptics’ than average.

On the positive side, I would encourage folks who visit this site to go to such events for learning/teaching purposes. Whether for the ID speakers or not; good conversations are available among people honestly wrestling with and questioning the relationship between science, philosophy and theology/worldview, including on issues related to evolution, creation, and intelligence in the universe or on Earth. Don’t go to such events expecting miracles for your personal worldview in conversation with others, credibility in scientific publications or in the classroom, if you are using ‘science’ as a worldview weapon against ‘religion’ or ‘theology’. That argument just won’t fly anymore and the Discovery Institute, to their credit, has played a role, of whatever size may still be difficult to tell, in making this shift happen.

A question arises: what would be the first question you would ask or thing you would say to Michael Behe if you bumped into him on the street?

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The challenge to creationism? Dr. Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig

Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig-
is one of my favorite “creationists”,  though similarly to my views, he doesn’t want to be identified with the main stream creationism…I would like to know why…

I don’t think I’m going to persuade this kind and caliber of the scientist to defend his 40+ year work of experimental mutagenesis on plants to defend anything on this crummy blog… So, what we can do, is to quote Dr. Lonnigs papers and public statements on his views on creationism, evolution, and especially the law of recurrent variation.

What is the Law of Recurrent Variation?

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Is Peaceful Science carefully (enough) scripting its politicking with the Freedom From Religion Foundation?

What role does the Freedom from Religion Foundation play in the evolution, creation and intelligent design conversation?

I ask for feedback on this here because it would seem that one of the main ‘partnerships’ at what Dr. S. Joshua Swamidass calls ‘Peaceful Science’ (his description is scientistically utopian, but let’s leave that aside), appears to be mainly a politically convenient one between Dr. Swamidass and an atheist named Patrick, who is a representative for the Freedom From Religion Foundation. If was difficult to figure this out because as a non-USAmerican citizen, that organisation is off my national radar. Continue reading

Hate the sin, love the sinner

Notice. Masterpiece Cookies sells baked goods, not the services of specific artists. There is no guarantee that any particular artist will be inspired to produce a masterpiece that meets your needs and desires. Masterpiece Cookies sometimes enters into contracts with other businesses to fulfill special orders.

Masterpiece Cookies does not mention that it takes no profit on orders that its owner, Jack Philips, finds morally objectionable. In other words, Jack walks the extra mile, and stores up riches in heaven. He does not regard marginalization of sinners by society as an effective means of winning them over to Jesus.

Commemorating May 1

Not even in his worst nightmares could Franz Kafka “imagine” such dystopia – he could only bear tearful witness in slack-jawed dumbfoundment!

Check out this link:

https://www.dailywire.com/news/30050/nyt-celebrates-marxs-birthday-op-ed-happy-birthday-ben-shapiro

Carpe diem I shall seize the opportunity to address any and all “USEFUL IDIOTS”, especially those who are even unaware that they are “USEFUL IDIOTS” aka “Cultural Marxists”.

First of all, let us be clear here: Cultural Marxism is NOT just some misappropriated simpleton “snarl word”, to smear the presumed compassionate and well-intentioned high ideals of the Left, dontchya know. (my gorge rises)

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Moral Judgment and Moral Standards

Consider the following argument:

1. One would be rationally entitled to make moral judgments about the institutions and practices of cultures distant from us in space or time only if one had reliable epistemic access to some transcendent (culture-independent) moral standard against which such institutions and practices could be evaluated.
2. But no one has reliable epistemic access to a transcendent, culture-independent moral standard.
3. Therefore, no one is rationally entitled to make moral judgments about the institutions and practices of cultures distant from us in space or time.


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Is Evil Inevitable?

Dr. Michael Egnor is a well known neurosurgeon and an ID proponent who is affiliated with the Discovery Institute. He has been writing extensively on the theme of religion, such Thomistic dualism, the immortality of the soul, and recently on the prevalence/existence of evil. Here is a quote from his recent article entitled:

Cosmic Fine-Tuning and the Problem of Evil”

“Theism predicts two things about evil: that it exists, and that we are not able to entirely comprehend it. Evil exists because the created universe is not God, but His creation, so it must of necessity fall short of God, who is perfectly Good. After all, if the universe were perfectly good, without evil, it would just be God. If the universe is God’s creation, then it must fall short of perfection, and it must contain evil, understood as the deprivation of good. So Goff is mistaken that theism predicts a perfect cosmos, free from evil. Theism posits a perfect God, and a creation necessarily short of perfection. Theism seems to have gotten this “prediction” quite right, because the cosmos is certainly short of perfection. Theism predicts evil in the world, precisely because God is Good and because the world is not God.” – Michael Egnor Continue reading

Do Atheists Exist?

This post is to move a discussion from Sandbox(4) at Entropy’s request.

Over on the Sandbox(4) thread, fifthmonarchyman made two statements that I disagree with:

“I’ve argued repeatedly that humans are hardwired to believe in God.”

“Everyone knows that God exists….”

As my handle indicates, I prefer to lurk.  The novelty of being told that I don’t exist overcame my good sense, so I joined the conversation.

For the record, I am what is called a weak atheist or negative atheist.  The Wikipedia page describes my position reasonably well:

Negative atheism, also called weak atheism and soft atheism, is any type of atheism where a person does not believe in the existence of any deities but does not explicitly assert that there are none. Positive atheism, also called strong atheism and hard atheism, is the form of atheism that additionally asserts that no deities exist.”

I do exist, so fifthmonarchyman’s claims are disproved.  For some reason he doesn’t agree, hence this thread.

Added In Edit by Alan Fox 16.48 CET 11th January, 2018

This thread is designated as an extension of Noyau. This means only basic rules apply. The “good faith” rule, the “accusations of dishonesty” rule do not apply in this thread.

There are only two sides, and you are on one or the other of them

We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.

— Donald J. Trump

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the involvement of President of the United States in the evil of racism. The counter-protesters in Charlottesville lapsed into evil, to be sure. Meeting violence with violence, they handed their adversaries a huge victory. But their error does not make them the moral equivalent of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and Klansmen. Seizing on their error to construct such an equivalence, as Donald Trump has done, is positively obscene. “Grab them by the pussy” pales in comparison.

For VJ Torley: Christianity’s consistency with Evolutionary Theory, JB Peterson’s Interview

Various creationists and ID proponents, myself included, have raved about the work of elite scholar and clinical psychologist Jordan B. Peterson who connected the rise of Christianity with concepts in evolutionary theory. His recent 2.5-hour interview was profound on many levels. I provide a link to the interview below.

Even though Peterson is an die-hard evolutionist, many ID proponents and creationists have said they were blessed to hear what he had to say. I know I was. Since I know VJ studied the topic of animal intelligence, I thought Peterson’s work might be of interest to him since Peterson ties the rise of Christianity to behavioral and neurological traits he sees deeply conserved in the mammalian kingdom.
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The Mysteries of Evolution: 1. Darwinian evolution is a non-random process

During my research on consciousness I have come across more than a few of the so-called mysteries of evolution mainly uttered by Richard Dawkins who seems to have no problem at all that science has not been able to explain them in terms of evolutionary processes… (More of them in my upcoming posts).

What I’ve found really interesting was Dawkins’ public statements that Darwinian evolution and its main mechanism–natural selection–are non-random.

Really? Why didn’t he say so 40 years ago? Continue reading