Whence cometh reason?

Can atheists Trust the truth detecting ability of their own minds?

By that I mean; In a theistic universe we are given reason to trust that our senses are capable of accurately detecting the world around us because we hold to the notion that they were properly designed to operate in the environment in which we employ them.

The naturalistic alternative here is that our senses simply evolved through random chance and mutation towards an undirected end. In this case we simply cannot reasonably trust our senses, much less our cognitive abilities to understand the world we find ourselves in. In this model, we might as well be protoplasmic lumps in a cosmic vat that is manipulating our synapses into forming sensory perceptions of a purely artificial environment.

“Fittest” does not entail the production of true beliefs. I think this can be made abundantly clear by simply pointing out how many animals (and humans) posses faulty or flat out false beliefs and who nevertheless manage to survive and thrive.

I believe Idiocracy makes this point quite clearly. (Welcome to Costco, I love you.)

One example would be how easily animals are trapped in the wild. Sure, some figure out the traps and manage to avoid being caught or eaten, but only for a while. If the production of true beliefs were integral to the survival of the species or a criterion of “fittest” in the evolutionary sense of the word we should expect that animals today would not be so easily overcome by traps designed in the stone ages.

Another example would be human malice, greed, evil, etc. According to philosophical naturalists like Sam Harris our collective morality has grown up because it is somehow evolutionarily beneficial. That is contributes to “the survival of the species”. However if this were true then we should expect fewer and fewer systems propagating false beliefs such as obscure cults, Scientology, etc.

No one, to my mind, doubts that natural selection is a mechanism that operates in the world we find ourselves in. We are merely want to point out that what natural selection “selects for” is still hotly debated even among the Darwinist crowd1, and nevertheless not aimed at the production of true beliefs (and to my mind no naturalist has ever tried to make the claim that it was either).

The fact is also that evolution must be seen as random in order for it to avoid the sticky implications, if a system existed, of a guided evolutionary process. You can’t have your cake and eat it too, though many like Dawkings try, either evolution is thoroughly random or else it is guided. And not merely guided by a system that conveniently “selects for” what we, at the end of the process, deem to be evolutionarily beneficial. That is not scientific observation any more than it is wishful thinking or blind faith (which is why many like myself make no distinction between Darwinian evolution and other systems of faith).

At any rate; I believe this, the inability to ground or explain the origins of our cognitive faculties, will ultimately be the Achilles heel of Darwinian evolution.

Well, along with the sheer lack of evidence, massive changes in the underlying theory, and general disagreement on rather large details such as the definition of evolution, selection, and qualifications of “fittest”.

However if you can’t even lay a proper epistemic framework I don’t see how you can reliably build anything at all. Without a proper ground for our cognitive facilities we might as well be howling at the moon for who’s to say we are any better off cognitively than our ancestors?

  1. In fact, there is a rather large debate as to whether it is even legitimate to claim that natural selection “selects for” anything as such would entail guided as opposed to unguided evolution. []
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45 responses to “Whence cometh reason?

  1. If atheists cannot trust the truth detecting abilities of their own minds, then neither can theists. Theists do believe that their senses are capable of accurately detecting the world based upon the supposed word of god, contained within the bible. However, the word of god, contained within the bible, could have been falsified by those who wrote it; and yes, it has to be from what is contained in the bible, for believing we were created by a superior being does not constitute "properly designed to operate in the environment" in and of itself. That would be an utter assumption, at best based upon logic of the very mind in question. We could have been designed to operate "almost" properly, just for the sake of observing how we overcome the obstacles thereby presented, etc. Who knows? But this is with no information besides "we were created by a superior being."

    • "Could have been falsified" does not provide a sufficient defeater for the entire system's foundational premise that we were created with epistemic faculties properly tuned to the world around us. You see, the difference is that under a philosophically naturalistic view of things there is no reason to expect our epistemic faculties are properly attuned to our environment at the outset.

      • Of course not. You are absolutely right. What it does do is point out that such a premise is based entirely upon faith in the bible's accuracy (due to the *possibility* of falsification), faith in the integrity of the divine entity, etc. That being said, if faith is sufficient "reason to trust" in a theistic universe, then it is equally sufficient "reason to trust" in an atheistic universe. I went to great lengths to address the issue from the potential perspective of an atheist already, in terms of grounds for faith, etc. Atheism doesn't necessitate an incapability of possessing faith, it just means lacking belief in gods.

        • Faith is not a reason in itself. It is rather the conclusion one makes (right or wrong) given a premise, proposition, or some data.

          "Atheism doesn't necessitate an incapability of possessing faith, it just means lacking belief in gods."

          Atheism makes a definite claim as to the existence (or lack thereof rather) of any God (not just "gods"). In other words, atheists posses just as much faith, if not more so, than anyone else and therefore carry a burden of proof to validate their claims just like everyone else. There are no epistemic free lunches.

          • Well, if faith is not a reason in itself, then I'm not quite sure what is. Exactly what concrete knowledge does a theist have access to, that an atheist doesn't, that gives him reason to trust that his senses are capable of accurately detecting the world around him? You said that you "hold to the notion that they were properly designed to operate in the environment in which we employ them," yet I'm unaware of any concrete evidence you have to justify holding to this notion that precludes atheists from holding to it as well.

            Also, in regard to atheism, you are simply incorrect. I've explained this before, but I will do so again. This time, I'm going to provide you with a multitude of reliable sources that support my claim.

          • How can faith be a reason in itself? Faith is merely trusting in something. It is that something that requires a reason to establish a warrant for trust in it. In the case with atheism (and this topic in particular), we need to have a reason to think that random mutations have provided us with senses that are geared towards the production of true beliefs as opposed to senses that are geared primarily towards survival in order to propagate one's genes. There is a pretty big difference between the two chief ends.

            This is not to say that atheists are brain-dead or have no logical arguments. However it does show that atheists have no basis for their epistemological system and as such it fails to get off the ground at the outset.

          • Yes, faith is trusting in something; trusting in something is reason to believe what it says; therefore, faith is a reason to believe what something says.

            I'll state my entire point one final time, and then if you still disagree, I'll just have to agree to disagree.

            I'm not actually sure what gives a theist reason to "trust," since you still haven't given me an example, but let's just say you're going to cite a holy book. You read the holy book, observe your surroundings, conduct whatever research you wish to conduct, gather data, listen to your elders, etc. and come to the conclusion that the holy book is accurate enough to merit placing trust in it, so you have faith in it. We already established that faith is merely trusting in something. Faith is also a conclusion you've reached, as you stated.

          • In other words, "a premise, proposition, or some data" is sufficient reason to have faith in the accuracy of the holy book. If it isn't, then faith isn't a logical conclusion. Having faith in the holy book means that you trust in the holy book. Consequently, having faith in (trusting in) the accuracy of the holy book is sufficient "reason" to believe what the holy book says. You can't cite the holy book as your "reason," because without faith in (trust in) the accuracy of its contents, you can determine nothing from it. You can't cite the collected data you used to reach the decision to have faith, since that is only sufficient to show that there are some accuracies in the holy book; this evidence in no way verifies the entire content of the book. If it were possible to verify the entire content, you wouldn't need to have "faith" in the holy book.

          • I think you are missing the point. Theists do not (or should not rather) place their faith in "the holy book". No, rather "the holy book" constitutes a truth claim. A proposition that is either true or false. In that respect it can and should be evaluated along the lines of any other truth claim or proposition. In my case I have found that the Bible constitutes the most accurate account of human history ever found and in it I am told of a man named Jesus who lived, died, and rose again. From this evidence, which is comprised of multiple independent eyewitnesses, I am led to believe that the most plausible explanation is that Jesus really did exist, lived a sinless life, died a horrible death on a cross, and rose again after 3 days. Thus, faith in Jesus is warranted, rational, and well evidenced.

            So you see, "the holy book" is not an end in itself, but rather a means to an end. I do not put my faith in "the holy book" but rather in the one "the holy book" points to.

          • So if you hold to the notion that you should trust in your senses, and if it stems from a holy book, it either belongs to the part of the holy book that requires faith to accept, or it is part of the book that is supported by scientific, observational data. If it is part of the former, then the reason you hold to the notion is because you have faith; if it is part of the latter, then there is no reason atheists should be unable to have the same trust, since it is evidenced by scientific data! So, you can't say that your reason for believing this notion from a holy book is due to the fact that you've collected some data that supports certain parts of the book's content, for this says nothing about the remainder of the content; unless of course this causes you to have "faith" in the remainder of the content, in which case FAITH is your reason for believing it, and the evidence is the reason for having faith.

          • And like I said, if you've got some evidence that supports your aforementioned notion, then atheists should have no problem accepting this notion on its evidential merits. If it all has nothing to do with a holy book, then you'll have to show how faith in a god or gods can lead a theist to accept this notion, and then show how this acceptance isn't actually based on faith.

            So what my point has been is that if having faith is sufficient reason for a theist to trust in his senses, then it should be sufficient reason for an atheist (albeit the faith would be placed elsewhere).

          • I find it interesting that you treat these two ends as mutually exclusive. Your claim that theists can trust the truth detecting abilities of their own minds appears to reside in the fact that:

            "In a theistic universe we are given reason to trust that our senses are capable of accurately detecting the world around us because we hold to the notion that they were properly designed to operate in the environment in which we employ them."

            Then you say, "In the case with atheism (and this topic in particular), we need to have a reason to think that random mutations have provided us with senses that are geared towards the production of true beliefs as opposed to senses that are geared primarily towards survival in order to propagate one's genes."

          • Well, it seems to me that senses geared towards survival could be reasonably assumed to properly operate in the environment in which they are employed, otherwise they would not be very effective at increasing your survival rate (you could claim that faith exists here, and I wouldn't disagree with you. Fortunately, if faith is sufficient for a theist, then it's sufficient for an atheist). Therefore, using your above reasoning, one could trust that his senses are capable of accurately detecting the world around him. It appears as though your initial point is theists can trust the truth-detecting abilities of their minds because they "are given reason to trust that our senses are capable of accurately detecting the world around" them, therefore atheists should be able to trust the truth-detecting abilities of their minds, as well.

          • Atheism, which includes all atheists, is an absence of belief in gods. Now, there are several "flavors" of atheism, which is where many get confused. Many atheists simply do not believe in any gods, yet do not necessarily deny the possibility that a god or gods exist; they can be collectively referred to as "weak" atheists. There are other atheists who DO in fact make a definite claim as to the existence of any god; they can be classified as "strong" atheists. Unfortunately, the claims of the minority, or even majority, do not constitute the position of the doctrine. To be honest, even if you wished to state that MOST atheists deny the possibility that any god exists, I would not argue with you. The fact of the matter, though, is that atheism ITSELF does not make this claim.

          • "Atheism, which includes all atheists, is an absence of belief in gods."

            This assumes that atheism is the default cognitive state. I would argue quite the opposite. What we are left with is a conundrum wherein we must explain why we A. have formed the positive belief for the existence of a supernatural being (theism) or B. why we have formed the negative belief that there is no supernatural being (atheism). Even if you were to take the soft atheistic stance that it is more likely that there is no god, you are still left with a burden of proof to substantiate your claims. I know most atheists would like to think that they have no burden of proof and that it is wholly up to the theist to make a positive case for what the atheist thinks is an addition to "the natural state of man" but that is simply a red herring designed to shirk a valid and weighty burden of proof.

          • It only assumes that atheism is the default cognitive state if you believe that "an absence of belief in gods" is the default cognitive state. In stating that this assumes atheism to be such, then it appears as though you are claiming "an absence of belief in gods" to be the default cognitive state. If you would argue the opposite of atheism being the default cognitive state, then you would argue that theism is the default cognitive state. But since you've expressed the view that "an absence of belief in gods" is the default state, this doesn't make sense.

            "B. why we have formed the negative belief that there is no supernatural being (atheism)."

            Again, a misrepresentation of "atheism." This is strictly "strong" atheism.

          • The "soft" atheistic stance is NOT that it is "more likely that there is no god." The soft atheistic stance simply states that one lacks belief in gods. To have a belief is simply to consider something to be true after an examination of evidence. If you were to ask me whether I believe you will catch a cold between now and a year from now, I would have to say no. I do not believe you will, but I do not believe you won't, either. I simply have no belief in the matter. The problem is, I have no idea what your immune system is like, I have no idea how many people you are usually around at work (if any), I have no idea how many people your family is usually around, etc. I have almost nothing to examine because I know practically nothing about your life.

          • However, I could say that I think it's more likely than not that you will catch a cold between now and a year from now, simply because most people catch at least one cold a year. However, to claim that the statement "you will catch a cold in that time frame" is either true or false would simply be disingenuous of me. Hence, it would actually be possible to be a soft atheist, yet consider it more likely that there is a god.

          • Let's look at a definition and at a prefix, for a better understanding.

            Theism: the doctrine or belief in the existence of a God or gods

            Now, if we look at the prefix, "a-", we find that it simply means "not, without." If we apply the prefix to the definition of theism, then we get: without the doctrine or belief in the existence of a God or gods. Hence, all "atheist" really means is that one is without belief, or does not have belief. Atheism in no way makes a definite claim as to the existence of any god.

            Here are several reliable sources that detail just what atheism truly is, as well as one discussing the differences between true "atheism" and "agnosticism." I actually detailed this in my post way back, as well, but I figure that also went in one eye and out the other. =P

          • Atheism is objectively defined (http://bit.ly/clXDLh)” target=”_blank”> http://bit.ly/clXDLh)” target=”_blank”>(http://bit.ly/clXDLh) as "2 a : a disbelief in the existence of deity b : the doctrine that there is no deity"

            So yes, atheists do, by definition, make an absolute and objective claim as to the existence (or possible existence in the case of agnostics/soft atheists) of a deity.

          • I'm glad you posted this definition; it is in fact, objective. And right there, you have the soft atheist definition, and the hard atheist definition. Disbelief is simply the act of disbelieving, which is simply: "to hold not worthy of belief: not believe." This is the transitive verb, which is what we are using. To disbelieve simply means to not believe. If you consider the existence of gods "not worthy of belief," then you cannot have a belief that the gods exist, OR that they do not, for this is simply a negative belief as to the existence of gods. In effect, we must consider the definition as prohibitive of both positive and negative beliefs. Therefore, you get "lack of belief in gods," soft atheist. And when soft atheist exists, you cannot say that "atheists do, by definition, make an absolute and objective claim as to the existence (or possible existence in the case of agnostics/soft atheists) of a deity," for this is a misrepresentation of the soft atheists.

          • As I stated before, if you are to provide a definition for atheism, it must be one that defines ALL atheists, not just a specific portion of them. Would you agree if I said that theists follow the Koran? What about Christians? What about Jews?

          • Most of these articles, again, assume that atheism is a default epistemic position. The attempt to mince words in defining it as "lack of belief" doesn't really change the fact that atheism is making a positive claim for the non-existence of a deity which is subject to the same burden of proof (actually more so, but that is another discussion) as a theist.

            What amuses me is that most atheists try so hard to claim a position that requires no proof, evidence, or substantiation. Could it be because atheists know that they posses no real valid reasons for believing the way they do?

          • Again, they only assume that atheism is the default epistemic position if you assume that a lack of belief in gods is the default epistemic position. Since you've made this claim about their assumptions regarding atheism, I'm going to assume you do believe that a lack of belief in gods is the default epistemic position. Glad to hear it.

            What amuses me is that most theists try so hard to claim that atheists adhere to a position that DOES require proof, evidence, or substantiation. Could it be because theists know that they possess no valid reasons for believing as they do, and that atheism is incredibly difficult to discredit without this phony representation?

          • Finally, I even want to present you with a link to a Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry website, where they give a definition of atheism. It is important to note that they state, "Basically, atheism is the lack of belief in a god, and/or the belief that there is no god." They go on to describe "weak" vs "strong" atheism (even referring to the former group as "agnostic atheists," which coincides with the description I gave way back). What's important here is that if atheism made a definite claim as to the existence of any god, then you would not be able to have a "weak" atheist, only a "strong" atheist, for any "atheist" would have to, by definition, make a definite claim as to the existence of any god. What you must say is that "strong" atheism makes a definite claim as to the existence of any god, that way you don't paint atheism with too wide of a brush. You can only say that atheism constitutes a lack of belief in gods; if you are to go any further, you must specify that you're referring to a specific type of atheism.
            http://www.carm.org/what-is-atheism

          • Yes, and if you follow CARM more closely you will see that they point out that this "lack of belief in God" is a positive assertion that, itself, bears a burden of proof (and they further show how atheism utterly fails to bear this burden) and how atheism constitutes a worldview and how it is not a default state of mankind.

          • Whether they choose to assert that this "lack of belief in god" is a positive assertion or not is irrelevant. What's relevant is that they accept the existence of the soft atheist, and all that logically ensues, which effectively discredits your attribution of the "strong" atheistic position to all atheists.

  2. So based upon the bible, which could have been falsified by the men who wrote it, theists believe we were designed to properly work in our environment. Okay. We'll assume for a moment that there are some statements in the bible that are supported by scientific evidence, therefore showing them to be very likely accurate. This is somewhat tricky; for one, just because certain statements in the bible are supported by concrete evidence does not mean that they were known truths when written. Also, evidence can often be interpreted in a myriad of ways depending upon who the interpreter is. Let's alter this and assume that there are some relatively undeniable, by theists and atheists alike, truths in the bible: truths that are strongly supported by mountains of observable evidence and calculations. Does this mean ALL of what is contained within the bible is correct?

    • Theism is not dependent on the Bible so your argument around the Bible is a seperate issue altogether. The conflict here is between philosophical naturalism (atheism) and theism (which comes in many stripes).

      • Oo, I just noticed this one.

        I never said it is dependent upon the Bible. What I said is that theists believe in this notion based upon the supposed word of god, and that the word of god is contained within the Bible. The Bible is simply an example of where certain theists derive the notion that they should trust in their senses. If the Bible is not where this group of theists finds the notion, then please explain where they do find it.

        • Not all theists believe the Bible therefore your argument in regards to where we get our understanding of where our epistemology is grounded is unfounded. It is also, again, presupposing a naturalistic grounds for our epistemology (shame on you btw for once again assuming what it is you are attempting to prove).

          "If the Bible is not where this group of theists finds the notion, then please explain where they do find it."

          Simple. Like you, I would argue that the theist believes their system begins with a properly basic belief. The only difference is that our belief is that belief in God is properly basic. The problem you face is when the question is turned around and you are faced with asking yourself, under a philosophically naturalistic system given a mind that is the product of unguided forces, namely time plus chance, plus matter, how you can be justified or warranted in your belief that your mind is geared towards the production of true beliefs as opposed to the survival of the organism and the propagation of your genes.

  3. Could there have been several truths slyly sprinkled throughout the bible, or even many truths, to therefore lend credence to the non-factual? Of course. To claim that ALL written in the bible is accurate just because SOME of it is–for all intents and purposes–fact would be another assumption. Fact by affiliation is not credible. How were they known truths, though, if they were slyly sprinkled? Well, perhaps god spoke to them; perhaps he did, indeed, tell them. We'll assume god was honest; the men may not have been, at least entirely. You could assume they were, but this is just more of the same old: assumption.

  4. Let's even take it a step further. God is real; god created us all, the universe, blah blah blah. The bible was written by men who were truly spoken to by god, who witnessed acts of god, whatever. They didn't make a single thing up. They were completely honest men, the first and last, might I add. Okay, great. Truth now? Not necessarily. Problem here is with god himself. Who/what says god was telling the truth? The bible? Written by men? Last time I checked, any living man is capable of being fooled, and by much less than an all-knowing, all-powerful "divine" being; especially one who created him and knows his weaknesses. So, the fact that god told these guys he was telling the truth is obviously not solid gold.

  5. Maybe he didn't even tell them; maybe they just did what we all do so well and made an assumption: divinity=honesty. Knowledge, power, and abilities (even if inconceivable by man) say nothing about honesty and integrity. If we look, many humans have enormous power, knowledge, and capabilities relative to other humans/species/etc., and they're certainly not all honest…not even mostly honest, at that. The "notion" that god is good and honest and all that is just pure assumption when it comes right down to it. It's blind faith that our god would be good, that what god said, assuming he said it, is the truth. I'll also add that it would be a bit more comforting (for most people, myself excluded) to know that our creator wasn't some maniacal fiend, but rather a kind, honest, "good" being.

  6. So when it comes right down to it, theists BELIEVE that they were properly designed to operate in this environment. However, a belief is a belief, not fact. So, can they "reasonably" trust their senses based upon a pure belief? On faith? If they can, then atheists can trust in their senses based upon the belief that their senses are accurate; they can "have faith" in their senses. Faith based upon what? Well, for one, our senses validate each other to some degree. I can see something, feel it, smell it, taste it, etc. Either this object is really here, or all my senses are all misleading me in perfect unison and in perfect cooperation. This is at least as much to base faith on as the words of a book written by people thousands of years ago; although, with the way "faith" works, it's arguable if you need to base it on ANYTHING to justify having it or not.

  7. Now, the problem I see with the naturalistic option there is that it assumes senses are unreliable due to the means by which they were developed. Why is this? Also, to say that they evolved towards an undirected end is more clever than true. The mutations may have been undirected themselves, but through the process of natural selection, beings with increased senses (both quantitatively and qualitatively) will doubtlessly thrive more than those with less. The more senses to alert you to dangers and show you the way to food sources, etc., the more likely you are to survive, and maybe even pray on those with less. So we have, in effect, unguided mutations that are in fact either "accepted" or "rejected" by the environment, leading actually to a very directed development of senses. The important differentiation to make here is between the mutations and the senses: random, directed by natural selection. True beliefs are not genetic, mind you, so natural selection would not be able to directly influence the propagation of some beliefs over others, only heritable variations.

  8. Beliefs are contingent upon observations, experiences, and knowledge passed down; these are, in effect, contingent upon some form of intellectual capacity. This is how evolution has allowed us to have “beliefs.” Also, note that what Sam Harris says is different from what you say. He speaks about collective morality, while you speak of beliefs. Unfortunately, two people can hold radically different beliefs while still being equally moral; collective morality can exist amongst people with high level differing beliefs (such as religion), as they share the fundamental understanding that respect for others, a bit of empathy (even if primarily out of self-interest), loyalty, and a few other things are important. Don’t believe me? I could present to you some very, very immoral Christians who share lots of beliefs with some very moral Christians; the same examples are available among atheists. I don’t think we need to delve into examples here to understand that sharing beliefs says little about morality.

  9. Cognitive abilities are roughly the same. Scientific experiments have already provided evidence that Chimpanzees possess superior intelligence compared to many other species of animal. According to several studies of primate cognition:

    "They have been found to make tools and use them to acquire foods and for social displays; they have sophisticated hunting strategies requiring cooperation, influence and rank; they are status conscious, manipulative and capable of deception; they can learn to use symbols and understand aspects of human language including some relational syntax, concepts of number and numerical sequence; and they are capable of spontaneous planning for a future state or event."

  10. It is not hard to imagine that IF we evolved from a more primitive version of them (who have also likely evolved to become more intelligent), rather than say an armadillo (lol), that we might have been more likely to develop increased mental abilities rather than body armor. The reason your animal-based example isn't accurate (in terms of why they haven't become smart enough to eschew our traps) is that the ancient genetic bases of most animals are radically different from our ancient genetic basis. If we evolved from radically different species, why would we necessarily evolve the same way? In fact, it would be highly, highly unlikely that we would, based upon the way evolution works (assuming it does). Essentially, evolution occurs because populations vary by the frequency of heritable traits that appear from one generation to the next. These traits are represented by alleles for genes that modify morphology (form or structure), physiology, or behavior.

  11. Thus, evolution is changes in allele frequencies over time. Therefore, dissimilar DNA sequences would logically correlate to relatively dissimilar evolutionary mutations. While humans gained significant intelligence, other species adapted in different ways; therefore, it is likely that most animals did not evolve to become more intelligent the way we did. Likewise, we did not develop tougher skins, stronger venoms, sharper teeth, etc. the way they did. Intelligence is only one facet of evolution. Look at it this way: we have archaeological evidence that shows humans have evolved from the more primitive Neanderthals and such in terms of adult height, adult mass, cranial capacity, etc. Now, all the way back into the Stone Ages we've been getting stabbed and killed by spears, arrows, knives, etc.. However, still today we have not evolved tough skin to resist these pointy objects and are still getting stabbed and killed by the exact same types of tools developed way back in the Stone Ages. Therefore we have not evolved!!! But we have!! This is essentially why the animal trap analogy is wrong.

  12. All in all, this is also how an atheist "might" believe that he was properly designed to operate in this environment: because he is what millions of years of natural selection and mutation have wrought. If this is all not enough for atheists to have faith in the reliability of their senses, then I highly doubt that anything Christians have is suitable justification, either.

    And that whole cosmic vat thing could just as easily apply to theists, if you think about it. Okay, so theists are in the cosmic vat too, but in their artificial environment they may as well be protoplasmic lumps whose synapses are manipulated into forming sensory perceptions of a purely artificial environment that they’ll go to heaven at the end of! None of your religion could be real, in that case (including god). Big deal. You can always look at the whole thing as fake, whatever your views of the potentially artificial world.

  13. Anyway, I think the point is clear. One last thing I found interesting though (besides the lack of evidence, which if you'd like, I could provide plenty of for you, I just felt this was already too long) was that you somehow seem to discredit theories of evolution based upon "general disagreement on rather large details." What's curious about this it that there is plenty of disagreement on rather large details in every religion, namely Christianity. Disagreements about the interpretations of passages in the book that supposedly guides Christian life, disagreements regarding views of the church and its correct role, disagreements regarding whether the Earth is "young" or "old" (both of which are supposedly supported by religious documentation, one side says you need to be a YEC to be a true Christian and that the bible supports this view, the other side says you don't and that it doesn't, you know this debate very well), disagreements on what should be taken literally and what shouldn't (clearly you don't think adulterers should be stoned), and heck, even disagreements on what a Christian is! You don't think those are some "rather large details"?

  14. Especially when you consider that Christians can't even agree on what the definition of a Christian is and exactly what it is the bible says (which they supposedly live by). Even admittance requirements to the Christian church have been “lessened” with things like the Half-Way Covenant and such; so apparently, if the church needs more people, then suddenly individuals who before would not have been admitted on supposed moral and ethical religious grounds, are now allowed in! So I guess morals change with the times, both economic and social, even when it comes to the church. What about all these religious doctrines that have developed over the years that seem to me the equivalent of "disagreement on rather large details" as well as significant changes in underlying religious interpretation (theory).

  15. Sorry about all the posts, but your comment thing only allows very short comments, so I had to break the post up into many pieces.

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