Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Burnee links for Wednesday

National Secular Society - BBC Trust rejects Thought for the Day bias complaint
I missed this TftD when it aired, but the BBC demonstrates its persistent active blindness on this issue.

NeuroLogica Blog » The Second Law of Thermodynamics – Again
Next time creationists make this argument, send them to Steve Novella's article.

▶ Introducing WildCat - YouTube

This robot looks like something out of Star Wars (but probably noisier). I want one of these, but smaller and battery-powered electric rather than petrol, in a kit-version — with a Raspberry Pi at its core.

First they came for the T shirt manufacturers… | Robinince's Blog
Banning Jesus and Mo tee-shirts is ridiculous. There's no right not to be offended, and in this case the offence might even be imagined.

Damian McBride's war on evidence-based policy
James O'Malley is concerned about evidence. And some bloke.

Ancient Confession Found: 'We Invented Jesus Christ'
This is probably nonsense.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Presuppositionalism is dead in the water

In this week's Atheist Experience TV call-in show, hosted by Russell and Lynnea Glasser, the fundamental presupposition of "presuppositional apologetics" was shown to be utterly without foundation. I agree with Duane Davis — who posted a link to the show on Facebook — that this is "the most elegantly simple take-down of the worldview question I have ever witnessed."

http://youtu.be/5AUZDXlys5s


Duane Davis also transcribed the essential part of the exchange (beginning at about 18 minutes in), as follows:
Seth: "I believe if you reason from any other worldview you ultimately will always end up binding yourself and contradicting yourself."

Russell: "Prove it."

Seth: "Well, tell me what your worldview...describe what your worldview..."

Russell: "No, no, no. You said EVERY OTHER POSSIBLE worldview, so that means I shouldn't HAVE to give you a specific worldview because you've categorically ruled them ALL out. That's a pretty neat trick."

Lynnea: "I've got a good world view."

Seth, "Okay, go for it."

Lynnea: "I created the universe by traveling back in time."

Seth: (Incredulously) "YOU created the universe by traveling back in time? That's your worldview?"

Lynnea: "Yes. Can you disprove that?"

Seth: (laughing)"...Um, can you prove that you can travel back in time?"

Lynnea: "I don't need to. I just need to prove that the contrary is not correct" (echoing an earlier statement Seth made).

Russell: "Yeah, and I assume she's right."

Seth: "So the contrary of...the contrary of..."

Lynnea: "You're laughing because you cannot disprove it and you are stalling for time."

Seth: "Okay...uh...so you are saying that your worldview is that you can travel back in time..."

Lynnea: "Yes, I already did it."

Seth: "...and contrary to that is untrue...?"

Lynnea: "Yeah. Can you prove that that did not happen?"

Seth: "Okay, well let's start with the laws of logic. In your worldview can you account for fact that the laws of logic are universal, invariant, transcendent, and apply everywhere?"

Lynnea: "Unless I choose to suspend them." (Call back to Seth's description of miracles.)

Seth: "Well, that's not what I said earlier. What I said specifically was that God could not lie, so there's no way you could..."

Lynnea: "Well, I'm not God. I am myself. So, I can lie."

Seth: "So you CAN lie, then."

Lynnea: "I CAN. I'm not, though."

Seth: "So, you're a finite, lying sinful human being, of course I distrust what you say."

Russell: "She didn't say she was finite and sinful. She just said she can lie if she wants. That actually makes her able to do stuff that God cannot do. So she is (in unison with Lynnea) 'more powerful than God.'"

Seth: (laughing)

Lynnea: "...And I traveled back in time and I made the universe. And I can understand if your limited brain can't accept it."

Seth: "Well, let me take the worldview that I'm going to guess that you actually adhere to..."

Lynnea: "Whoa, hold on. You didn't prove it wrong."

Seth: "...You're an atheistic, evolutionist who believes that essentially all there is is matter and motion and that's it for the universe, right?"

Lynnea: "NO! I just told you what I believe."

Seth: "No...okay, if..if you want me to engage in this seriously, you have to have to tell me what your actual worldview is. Is that your worldview? You basically say that God doesn't exist and ..."

Lynnea: "Why do you think that is not my worldview?"

Seth: "Because I have common sense." (laughing)

Lynnea: "Because you have what?"

Seth: "Common sense."

Lynnea: "What does that have to do with whether it's real? Why are you applying common sense or reason to a thing..I mean...you need to start out with the belief that it's true. You can't reason yourself into it."

Seth: "Well, what I'm saying is that if you if you adopt any non-Christian worldview, eventually, if you reason it out consistently it just collapses..."

Lynnea: "Mine doesn't."

Seth: "An example would be, if somebody says there is no truth, there is no absolute truth I would simply ask, 'okay, is that statement absolutely true?'"

Lynnea: "You're saying every other worldview, but I just GAVE you one that doesn't. And you are ignoring that."

Seth: "Well, I would simply ask then, 'what confidence do I have at all that YOUR claims about that reality the world are authoritative?'"

Lynnea: "Mmm."

Russell and Lynnea: "Yes, that's a really good question."

Lynnea: "And that's how someone who's an atheist, like Russell, would approach the Christian worldview."

Russell: "Yeah, that's how someone like I, who don't think I created the Universe, would approach claims about the Bible. I would say, why would I think the Bible was authoritative to begin with? Why would I share in your unreasoned assumption that the Bible is authoritative unless we could get to some kind of other means of understanding it that way?"

Lynnea: "Even if it WAS 'INTERNALLY CONSISTENT and could not be contradicted.'"

Russell: "Yeah."

Seth: "Okay, I might go after it this way. I mentioned earlier Henri Poincare's book Science and Hypothesis. When he talk about science, he mentions a fact that is obvious but it's one of those things you don't often think about it. As far as science goes, he mentions the fact that all scientists, no matter how knowledgeable they are, always deal with a finite number of facts."

Russell: "That is true."

Seth: "So if you are going to make claims about how the Bible can't possibly be true because then..."

Russell: "I didn't say the Bible couldn't possibly be true. No one here ever said the Bible can't possibly be true. We just said basically what you said. Why would we accept it as authoritative?"

Seth: "Well, because it was written by God." (laughs)

Russell: "And why would I think that?"

Seth: "Again, because if you go after any other worldview, like.."

Russell and Lynnea: "Whoa!!"

Russell: "What about hers?"

Lynnea: "You're so rude. What's wrong with my worldview that you keep trying to ride it out?"

Seth: "Well, how... How would you prove to me that you can travel through time?"

Russell: "Don't need to."

Lynnea: "Don't need to. I already did it. It happened."

Seth: "Well, *I* want proof of it."

Russell: "Well, now you know what our objection is to assuming the Bible is true."
I think we're done here.

Monday, 7 October 2013

God's not dead, he just doesn't believe in confirmation bias

Last night I got caught up with the latest Unbelievable? podcast. It was billed as "Evidence, atheism and the case for God" featuring Rice Broocks, who has written a book titled God's Not Dead. From his description this tome sounds like a standard apologetics portmanteau covering various arguments and evidences for the existence of the Christian God.

Opposite him was atheist David Beebee, a listener to the show who had read the book and who politely stated that he found it unpersuasive. In fact it was politeness all round, including Broocks' physicist-in-tow Brian Miller. Justin Brierley acted as neutral host and it was all very civil (which — along with last week's show featuring Keith Ward and Michael Ruse — made for less stressful listening than the previous two Unbelievables).

Rice Broocks is an American preacher, so he has the apologetic delivery honed to a fine art, and Brian Miller had clearly mastered the exposition of his subject. In contrast David Beebee wasn't the most articulate of atheists, but he made an excellent point about Broocks' double standards with regard to evidence and the acceptance of consensus. The point must have struck home, because neither Broocks nor Miller answered it. So Beebee repeated it later in the show, and still they didn't answer it. It was probably the only point he needed to make; he stuck to it, and it appeared to expose a crucial flaw in the book's reasoning.

Beebee's point was this: In God's Not Dead Broock accepts evidence and consensus when they support what he believes, but denies it when they don't. I think it's unlikely Broocks and Miller haven't heard this criticism before, and equally unlikely they didn't understand Beebee's point — he made it more than once, at different times in the programme. But they dodged it every time.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Krauss and Craig in Australia

When I heard that Lawrence Krauss was going to debate William Lane Craig again, I was confused. Why would Krauss agree to this, given what happened last time?

Anyway, the videos of the three sessions are now available, so I decided to watch them. Unbelievable? also featured Krauss and Craig, subsequent to the debates, but I decided to postpone listening to the programme until I had seen all three debates. I had misgivings about Unbelievable? having Craig on, as host Justin Brierley has in the past given Craig an unopposed platform to badmouth his debating opponent. At least this time Krauss was, I assumed, giving his side of the encounters.

http://youtu.be/-b8t70_c8eE


As for the debates, I began with the first one, in Brisbane. Krauss spoke first — the format was to be an opening statement from each participant, then a moderated discussion, followed by Q&A. Not long after Krauss began, I thought I got a sense of why he had agreed to participate. It seemed it was payback time, with Krauss calling out Craig for his dishonest tactics (even though — this being the first debate of three, and this the opening statement from the first participant — we hadn't yet heard anything from Craig).

The topic was "Has Science Buried God?" — Krauss said yes, science has buried gods, plural, and gave reasons, but he also attacked Craig for misrepresentation of science, and for lying about the Dawkins and Krauss film, The Unbelievers.

In Craig's opening statement he made the odd claim that theology provides the foundation for science. He put up a slide listing "Assumptions Undergirding Science". Among these were laws of logic, the orderly structure of the physical world, the reliability of our cognitive faculties in knowing the world, and the validity of inductive reasoning. This is thinly disguised presuppositionalism. Anyone who has had dealings with presuppositional apologetics will recognise it immediately. But the fact that Craig was using a presuppositional argument to support his claim that science has not buried God lends credence to Krauss's contention that Craig is being dishonest. In Five Views on Apologetics, edited by Steven Cowan, Craig wrote:
Where presuppositionalism muddies the waters is in its apologetic methodology. As commonly understood, presuppositionalism is guilty of a logical howler: it commits the informal fallacy of “petitio principii,” or begging the question, for its advocates presuppose the truth of Christian theism in order to prove Christian theism.
So Craig is on record as decrying presuppositionalism as not a useful apologetic — and here we have him using it when it suits him. In a debate, it appears, Craig will use whatever will fit his current purpose, no matter if he believes it's true, or if it's already been refuted a thousand times. If it will help him "win" a debate, then it's all dubious theological grist to his apologetic mill. To those who have heard Craig debate a few times, this will not be a surprise.

As if to illustrate his pragmatic debating ethos, Craig offered a quote from Stephen Hawking: "Almost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the big bang." Aside from the neutrality of the quote — Hawking appears to be stating what he thinks others believe — it seems like a gratuitous and selective appeal to authority, as Craig has previously described Hawking's explanation of the beginning of the universe in The Grand Design as "metaphysically absurd".

As part of Craig's thesis that science has not buried God, he claimed that the big bang theory — that the universe had a beginning — is an example of how science verifies theological claims. He cited Borde, Guth & Vilenkin in this endeavour, as they apparently show that all models of the beginning of the "universe" — whether that's our own universe or any number of other universes in a multiverse — cannot be "past eternal". That is, the universe must have had an absolute beginning. Well, that's what the Bible says! QED! What the implications of the Borde Guth Vilenkin Theorem actually are in respect of the finiteness or otherwise of the universe became a recurring theme in this series of debates — but not, generally, in a good way.

Craig's version of cosmology has always seemed to me — a non-cosmologist — overly simplistic. The beginning of the universe entails the beginning of time as well as the beginning of space, which Craig acknowledges, but he conveniently ignores the problem of causation without time. Without time, cause and effect have no meaning, so to say that anything that has a beginning (including space-time) must have a cause, is to talk nonsense. So, the universe had a beginning. Why? It's impossible to know. Craig, however, thinks otherwise, using what he called the Contingency Argument:
  1. Every existing thing has an explanation of its existence (either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause).
  2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
  3. The universe is an existing thing.
  4. Therefore the explanation of the existence of the universe is God.
Apart from the obvious tautology, this argument (originally from Leibniz) has serious flaws right from the start. In the first premise there is the suggestion that something that is necessarily existent is somehow explained by that necessity. But where's the explanation in saying something exists just because it must? The reason that this kind of "logic" is acceptable to theists is that it's what they use to justify God. God exists because he must. Then there's the matter of an external cause. It sounds reasonable, but if you're applying this argument to the existence of the universe the only way it works is if the definition of "universe" is such that it has something external to it. If that's what Craig means, then this argument is of no use because it's not doing what he wants, which is to explain the existence of the Universe with a capital U — the universe that includes everything and therefore by definition it's a universe with nothing external to it.

But the second premise is surely the ultimate hubris: "If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God." This isn't a premise, it's a conclusion. That Craig can put up a slide like this with a straight face is simply astonishing.

Naturally Krauss and Craig both argued about the nature of "nothing", and it was here more than anywhere else in their debates that they consistently talked past each other. Krauss talked about "nothing" as a quantum vacuum, in which particles can spontaneously pop into and out of existence. Craig maintained, rightly, that because the quantum vacuum contains energy fields it isn't nothing. What Craig means by nothing is the philosophical nothing, the nothing-at-all, anywhere, anywhen. And what he's asking is why is there something — anything at all — rather than a state of absolute nonbeing.

But such a "why question" really is — as Richard Dawkins would say — a silly question. It's clear from the outset that this state of absolute nonbeing is not an option. It's not "one of a number of possibilities" — it's the total absence of possibilities. Indeed it's the total absence of anything, and as such it's not even worth talking about. It seems to me that a state of absolute nonbeing is no more than a philosophical concept, and I see no reason to even consider that such a state was ever the case. To ask "Why is there something rather nothing?" is to suggest in the question that "something" and "nothing" are somehow equivalent to each other, as if they are two sides of the same coin — and in Krauss's view they are, if "nothing" is taken to mean empty space. As a cosmologist he directs his efforts to that question, and the physics he talks about is addressing the question of why do we have a universe of galaxies, stars and planets rather than empty space. Craig says that's not the question being asked. But the question, "Why is there something rather than a state of absolute nonbeing?" is nonsensical, because these two are not equivalent. It's like asking "Why is there political intrigue rather than glass-fibre loft-insulation?"

http://youtu.be/V82uGzgoajI


The second debate, in Sydney, was supposed to address this question directly. Krauss delivered a very condensed version of his "A Universe from Nothing" lecture, and showed a slide of an email he had received from Alex Vilenkin which in effect stated that it may be erroneous to state that no valid theory of the beginning of the universe could legitimately posit a past-eternal universe. Krauss also picked up on Craig's use of unsound premises in his Contingency Argument for the existence of God.

When it was Craig's turn he began by clarifying what he meant by "nothing", but as I've already explained, the nothing that is not anything at all is an uninteresting philosophical concept of no practical use, no likelihood of being a description of an actual state, and therefore in my opinion not worth discussing. When certain philosophers say that the question, "Why is there something rather than nothing?" is one of the most crucial questions that can be asked, I beg to differ.

Craig reiterated the Leibnizian Cosmological Argument, claiming that the cause of the universe must be a non-physical immaterial being beyond space and time. There are multiple problems with this assertion. Why must the cause be a "being"? Do we have any examples of non-physical immaterial entities causing anything in the real world? If such an entity is "beyond space and time" how can it have an effect on anything in the real world (which is of course within space and time)? Finally, what does "beyond space and time" even mean, when applied to causative agents? Craig was just using big words to disguise the lack of evidence for his preferred "explanation". Despite what he claimed in the first debate he really was using a "God of the gaps" argument, but dressed up in fancy language.

http://youtu.be/7xcgjtps5ks


By the third debate (Melbourne) I still had no real understanding why Krauss would want to engage with Craig, other than to settle a few scores. Craig began with his usual redefinition of the topic, from "Is it reasonable to believe there is a God?" to "Are there better arguments for God's existence than against God's existence?" This might seem innocuous, but notice the subtle shift in the burden of proof. From having to provide reasons for belief in God — reasons that are compelling enough to show that such belief is reasonable — Craig now only has to provide some arguments for God's existence in opposition to arguments against. His opponent, however, now has to provide better arguments to prove a negative.

Craig used six arguments to show why, in his opinion, it is reasonable to believe there is a God: the Kalām Cosmological Argument; Mathematics; Fine Tuning; Objective Morality; the Resurrection of Jesus; and the Personal Experience of God. We've heard these countless times, and I don't intend to go into them here. Suffice to say, I don't buy any of them.

The debate degenerated into petty arguments about whether Craig really had misinterpreted the Borde Guth Vilenkin Theorem, as Krauss claimed. Craig had obtained a copy of the email that Alex Vilenkin had sent to Krauss, and which Krauss had shown in an edited form. Craig claimed that Krauss had edited out sections favourable to Craig's argument. Krauss denied this. Subsequent to the debates Craig's supporters were citing this as hypocrisy on Krauss's part — Krauss being dishonest while claiming Craig was dishonest. And subsequent to that, Krauss published a joint open email from himself and Vilenkin showing their agreement that Krauss's edited version of Vilenkin's email did not distort its meaning. Petty and distracting, and in my opinion a further indication that Krauss should not have bothered with these debates. Particularly in this last one there were extended moments when Krauss came over as cantankerous, dismissive and constantly interrupting. By the end I still didn't know why he agreed to participate. Perhaps the City Bible Forum offered him lots of money.


When I did get around to listening to the relevant Unbelievable? podcast, I heard Krauss give his reasons for engaging with Craig. Firstly to explain how science works, and secondly:
The other thing that I try and do is counter misrepresentations, not only about science, but about nature, by people who have vested interests, and in this case I agreed to do these because having had interactions with William Lane Craig before, it was clear to me that he misrepresents science completely, in order to try and provide justification for beliefs he has that are just his beliefs, yet he presents them as if with the authority of science, which he certainly — demonstrated in these dialogues and in other cases — he certainly doesn't understand. And I felt it was really important to attack that credibility for people of goodwill who don't know, and they listen and they think "well, when this man is quoting scientists, or he's quoting science, he's doing it accurately" and I tried to show, especially in the first discussion, there's very little accuracy there whatsoever.
Host Justin Brierley interviewed Krauss and Craig separately on his show — though it's not clear whether each interviewee heard what the other said until after the whole programme was recorded. My guess is that they didn't. Frankly the whole thing was pretty tedious, with accusations flying in both directions. Nevertheless Craig still got the last word, characterising Krauss as "incapable of carrying on a civil conversation." As it happens I've met Lawrence Krauss on two separate occasions and he was perfectly charming both times, but the impression left by these debates and the Unbelievable? programme is one of cantankerous belligerence with a score to settle. Craig, on the other hand — in the debates at least, if not on Unbelievable? — came over as patient and forbearing.

It's a shame, because Lawrence Krauss is right, and William Lane Craig is wrong.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Skepticule at The Book of Mormon

How did Skepticule's Three Pauls like The Book of Mormon? Find out by listening to this episode of the Skepticule podcast (not safe for those of a puritanically unsweary disposition):

http://www.skepticule.co.uk/2013/09/skepticule-054-20130831.html


And here are some pics (including Piccadilly Circus on the way to the Prince of Wales Theatre):

DSC_0090eDSC_0094eDSC_0096eDSC_0098eDSC_0100eDSC_0102e

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Some reviews wot I wrote, "way back"

Just a quick post to alert those who might be interested — I've set up a page of links to my reviews for The Fix Online, which was part of the TTA Press publishing empire. I wrote these mostly in 2008, but alas The Fix Online is no more. Thanks to the Wayback Machine, however, the text is still available, though mostly unformatted.

Incidentally the links to the podcast fiction I reviewed in my column "From the Podosphere" seem to be working, so if you're looking for some science-fiction audio, some fantasy audio or some horror audio to while away some hours (or scare you silly) check out what I liked and give it a try.

Click here to go to the page.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Jason Lisle doesn't know everything (and neither do I)

Jason Lisle, presup creationist, has a blog. He recently posted an article espousing the "How do you know?" tactic when dealing with unbelievers. His egregious assertions, I felt, deserved similar treatment:
September 7, 2013 at 6:57 am
The Christian worldview alone makes it possible for us to answer these questions and have genuine knowledge. This is because knowledge stems from the nature of God (Proverbs 1:7, Colossians 2:3).
How do you know this?
[Dr. Lisle: God has revealed it in His Word. Did you not read the verses?]
How do you know the words are true?
[Dr. Lisle: If they were not, it would be impossible to know anything because there could be no justification for those things necessary for knowledge. And it is possible to know some things.]
Paul S. Jenkins says:
September 21, 2013 at 9:22 am
“If they were not, it would be impossible to know anything because there could be no justification for those things necessary for knowledge. And it is possible to know some things.”
It’s possible to know things without justification.
[Dr. Lisle: In logic and philosophy, knowledge is actually defined as "true, justified belief." So it is impossible to have knowledge without justification. You can have beliefs without justification, but not knowledge.]
For example, I know that I am thinking (whatever “I” might be defined as), and I’m certain of that — it’s self evident.
[Dr. Lisle: How do you know that? How do you know that you are the one doing the thinking? If you cannot even define "I" then how can you be certain that "I think?"]
Also, I know that I don’t know everything, and I’m certain of that too.
[Dr. Lisle: How do you know that you don't know everything? Unless you know everything, how can you be certain that what you think you know is actually true, and therefore "known?" By the way, I agree with your belief that you don't know everything. But I maintain that you can't really know even that without relying upon Christian principles.
This is also self evident (that is, the contrary is impossible).
[Dr. Lisle: You are asserting that it is impossible to know everything? How do you know that? How do you know that there cannot be a Being who knows everything?]
In those two examples, my certain knowledge is independent of anything other the existence of the entity referred to as “I”,
[Dr. Lisle: Two problems: (1) You don't have certain knowledge of the two examples you gave - at least you haven't yet explained how you do. (2) You claim that even these examples are dependent on the entity referred to as "I." But how, on your own worldview, do you know that "I" (you) exist?]
therefore it is false to say that it depends on the truth of particular words of scripture (or anything else, for that matter).
[Dr. Lisle: God claims that knowledge begins with Him (Proverbs 1:7). Indeed He is the truth (John 14:6) and all knowledge is hidden in Him (Colossians 2:3). Apart from God, apart from the truth of the Christian worldview, we couldn't know anything at all. We've seen this demonstrated in many conversations on this blog. Unbelievers just cannot rationally justify those things necessary for knowledge, such as the reliability of senses, or the properties of laws of logic.]
I didn't see Lisle's final responses immediately, but when I got around to addressing them he had closed off comments on his blogpost. So I didn't get a chance to counter-respond, and his action in arbitrarily guillotining all comments has resolved me not to comment on anything else he writes on his blog.

Nevertheless, the weakness of his final responses needs pointing out.

[Dr. Lisle: In logic and philosophy, knowledge is actually defined as "true, justified belief." So it is impossible to have knowledge without justification. You can have beliefs without justification, but not knowledge.]

Despite Lisle's comment, it is possible to have knowledge without justification. Here's the definition of axiom: "A self-evident or universally recognized truth." If it's self-evident, I don't need justification, or evidence, to support it.

[Dr. Lisle: How do you know that? How do you know that you are the one doing the thinking? If you cannot even define "I" then how can you be certain that "I think?"]

I didn't claim that I was was the one doing the thinking. I merely claimed that an entity designated by "I" was thinking. It doesn't matter who or what that entity is — it is irrefutably thinking.

[Dr. Lisle: How do you know that you don't know everything? Unless you know everything, how can you be certain that what you think you know is actually true, and therefore "known?" By the way, I agree with your belief that you don't know everything. But I maintain that you can't really know even that without relying upon Christian principles.]

Lisle is asking me how I know that I don't know everything. Really? He's suggesting that I could be mistaken about not being omniscient? If I were mistaken about not being omniscient, that would mean I was, in fact, omniscient. But how can an omniscient being be mistaken? I don't think Lisle has thought this through. It appears that he's claiming there is only absolute certainty about everything — omniscience — or no certainty about anything. But I have shown that it is indeed possible to be absolutely certain of something, and I gave a couple of examples. His assertion that knowledge is only possible by relying on Christian principles is just that — an assertion, and he has not shown how he can know that his source for that claim is true.

[Dr. Lisle: You are asserting that it is impossible to know everything? How do you know that? How do you know that there cannot be a Being who knows everything?]

I did not make that assertion. I asserted that it is self-evident that I am not omniscient. I made no assertion about the impossibility of omniscience.

[Dr. Lisle: Two problems: (1) You don't have certain knowledge of the two examples you gave - at least you haven't yet explained how you do. (2) You claim that even these examples are dependent on the entity referred to as "I." But how, on your own worldview, do you know that "I" (you) exist?]

(1) Lisle isn't following the argument. I do have certain knowledge that I am not omniscient — see above. (2) There is an entity that is thinking, else the assertion could not have been made (how is something asserted, if not by an entity of some kind?), and if an entity is thinking, it clearly exists — see Descartes.

[Dr. Lisle: God claims that knowledge begins with Him (Proverbs 1:7). Indeed He is the truth (John 14:6) and all knowledge is hidden in Him (Colossians 2:3). Apart from God, apart from the truth of the Christian worldview, we couldn't know anything at all. We've seen this demonstrated in many conversations on this blog. Unbelievers just cannot rationally justify those things necessary for knowledge, such as the reliability of senses, or the properties of laws of logic.]

Lisle quotes scripture without giving any justification for its truth value, and then just repeats what he said before as if he didn't read the argument. As for "Unbelievers just cannot rationally justify those things necessary for knowledge" — I just have.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Burnee links for Tuesday

How to read and understand a scientific paper: a guide for non-scientists | Violent metaphors
This looks like an awful lot of work. Probably because it's an awful lot of work.

Alas, poor Wallace | teleskopos
Some facts about Wallace, Darwin and established knowledge. As skeptics, we should be more careful about this stuff.
(Via Mark Edon.)

It's not the morphine, it's the size of the cage: Rat Park experiment upturns conventional wisdom about addiction - garry's subposthaven
New evidence: change your beliefs.

Bot & Dolly's Box takes CG into the real world (video)
The possibilities are ... probably unknown at this point. But this short video is highly impressive.


▶ Tim Minchin Occasional Address and Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters - YouTube
Surprisingly inspiring.


Atheism starts its megachurch: Is it a religion now? - Salon.com
Short answer: no. It's great that the Sunday Assembly is expanding so rapidly, and though I'm not likely to attend on a regular basis even if one opens near me, I wholeheartedly support what they're doing.
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