Response To DD’s “What Biblical Inerrancy Really Means” Pt. IV

Posted in Bible, Blogosphere, Responses on  | 6 minutes | No Comments →

Here, here, and here, I've responded to DD's post, What Biblical Inerrancy Really Means (WBIRM). DD has responded to those responses, and I think now would be a good time to revisit DD's original post that prompted my responses in the first place. There's quite a lot going on in DD's original post, so let's try to strain the pertinent arguments from his personal opinions. DD makes 4 claims in WBIRM that I feel the need to respond to:

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Response To DD’s Unscientific America

Posted in Blogosphere, Responses, Science, Thinking Critically on  | 3 minutes | 5 Comments →

Hmmm…. I'm not sure, but I believe Deacon Duncan considered my response to his Unscientific America trolling, and deleted it. I suppose time will tell. What is it with atheists and censorship, anyways? Do the dissenters now fear the dissent they were once so fond of championing?

DD's post was about the great American intellectual decline, and of course, he blames religious influence – and only religious influence – for the current problems facing our education system. I've noticed that many otherwise educated individuals erroneously brand religion as the convenient scapegoat for society's ills-du-jour, and for me, such usually comes across as rhetorical stretching, just like when religious individuals blame evolution for society's problems.

I felt DD's argument had a tincture of merit, but was also grossly oversimplified. I figured I might as well post my thoughts somewhere else they be wasted, so my response follows. I'm mostly interested in your thoughts on the great American intellectual decline, but I'd also like to know if anyone can speculate on why this comment might have been deleted.

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The Masoretic-Greek Hypothesis: Strategy

Posted in Bible, Blogosphere, Religion, Responses, Skepticism on  | 4 minutes | No Comments →

First, in light of yesterday's definition of the MGH, I submit that the following describes DD's GH's problem summarized: It includes just enough baseline doctrine for DD to make his case, but not enough baseline doctrine that his Myth Hypothesis constitutes a reasonable basis for rejecting the truth claims of Christianity. In short, DD's disproved DDanity – and among others who've said the same – I don't care.

“…by demonizing those he seeks to refute and ignoring their valid criticisms, DD’s authoritarian approach begins with and proceeds by disagreement in a spirit of hopeless futility that agreement will somehow ensue."

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You Can Lead Atheists To Water, But You Can’t Make Them Think

Posted in Atheism, Blogosphere, Logic, Religion, Responses, Thinking Critically on  | 6 minutes | No Comments →

*Comments are closed on this post because it was moved here.

For the past weeks, I've foregone Rebutting Atheist Universe to debate Deacon Duncan (DD) from EvangelicalRealism over his series, which for some still-undisclosed reason he's titled Evidence Against Christianity. It was bad enough when DD gave Dominic Saltarelli (not arguing as a believer) credit for making the exact same argument three people (all arguing as believers, incidentally) made in the first two weeks of the discussion. It was bad enough when DD denied that his GH was Christianity, yet absolutely refuses to this date to explain why it consists of distinctly Christian pre-conceptions about God. It was bad enough when DD claimed that all people who apply the tools of reason consistently and without bias in biblical exegesis are skeptics. It's bad enough that many of DD's commenters are so on the man's nuts that they can't see clearly and end up focusing near-exclusively on me. It was bad enough when DD eschewed my invitation to one-on-one, real-time debate.

It was bad enough when DD crafted an entire sub-series titled The Loser's Compromise in direct response to his perceptions of my arguments, then denied that the posts were aimed at me. Now, folks – as if it wasn't bad enough already, as if it could get any worse – DD's latest "argument" has left me truly baffled.

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Utterly Disappointed, Or, My Response To DD’s Evidence Against Christianity, Pt. 1

Posted in Bible, Blogosphere, Religion, Responses, Skepticism, Thinking Critically on  | 14 minutes | 90 Comments →

Beginning here, Deacon Duncan of Evangelical Realism (DD) offers a series titled Evidence Against Christianity which compares the predicted consequences of two hypotheses against real-world evidence to determine which hypothesis seems more likely to be correct. The first hypothesis represents how the world should look if God existed and is called the Gospel Hypothesis (GH). The second represents how the world should look if God did not exist, and is accordingly called the Myth Hypothesis (MH).

I see absolutely nothing wrong with DD's approach, and no believer I'm aware of has voiced a problem with DD's methodology. For example, DD says,

One advantage of comparing two hypotheses by measuring their consequences against real-world fact is that this approach allows us to make a clear, functional distinction between honest, unbiased inquiry and mere rationalization. (DD)

I agree. That's all fine and dandy – but there's a catch: When they assume pre-existing premises, hypotheses must be accurate, and I'm not the only one to claim that DD's so-called Gospel Hypothesis is no gospel hypothesis at all.

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MiracleQuest Continues: Retracing Our Steps At DD’s

Posted in Atheism, Blogosphere, MiracleQuest, Religion, Science, Skepticism, Thinking Critically on  | 5 minutes | 5 Comments →

So I'm part of the lovely little soiree about miracles that's been going on over at DD's for months. The purpose of today's post is to strain some of my points from that debate, and eventually I hope to distill them into one concise listing.

When I entered the discussion over at DD's, I just happened to be fresh off the heels of a similar argument, and my first comment criticized attempts to verify miracles without agreed-upon definitions and criteria. More specifically, in the context of allegedly miraculous healing, I asked how we might eliminate confounders such as spontaneous remission and the placebo effect. Commenters John Morales and jim both chimed in at this point.

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MiracleQuest Continues: On Deacon Duncan’s “Unapologetic”

Posted in Atheism, Blogosphere, Faith, Logic, Religion, Responses, Skepticism, Television, Thinking Critically on  | 10 minutes | 33 Comments →

So I was about to hit "post" when I took a break, and found myself randomly staring at a TV that was on. It was that History Channel show called MonsterQuest and now you probably see the significance of the title. The show begins with narration on the nature of different sorts of monsters, you know, Big Foot, the New Jersey Devil, Werewolves, et cetera: "Monsters. Are they real? Or imaginary? Join us as science tries to find out."

That's exactly what's been going on at EvangelicalRealism for the past few weeks now: we've been on a MiracleQuest. Except that MonsterQuest can at least define exactly or near-exactly what it is they're looking for. Despite my stodginess on the issue and the naysayers, I think we'll soon solve these problems of definition and criteria. The more we talk about it, the more ideas get tossed out, the bigger the pile of potentially good ideas grows, and sooner or later we're there.

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MiracleQuest Continues: But How Do You Know You’ve Been Stabbed??

Posted in Atheism, Blogosphere, Epistemology, Faith, MiracleQuest, Skepticism, Thinking Critically on  | 5 minutes | 25 Comments →

"How might we reasonably define a miracle?" asks cl.

"Regrow a limb on video, empty out a cancer ward, levitate a bunch of Christians out of a burning church and I'll be on the road to belief," says cl's opponent.

"I don't mean give me your own particular examples of a miracle," cl says.

"Oh, well what a disputationist and sophist you are!" quips cl's opponent only a little irrationally.

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Trilobytes Don’t Deny Evolution Because Humans Weren’t Around In The Cambrian

Posted in Blogosphere, Logic, Religion, Responses, Skepticism, Thinking Critically on  | 14 minutes | 2 Comments →

The title will make sense later and this post has nothing to do with evolution.

Last month I got involved in a thread which has turned out to be quite productive in my opinion. Although I can't speak for the others involved, I've gained considerable insights into a variety of epistemological arguments and ideas. Miracles have been the topic that have underscored our debate, and we've bantered about the amount of credibility one can reasonably assign to episodes like Zeitoun and Bernadette McKenzie for example. The blog's host, Deacon Duncan (DD), also made a claim he calls the Undeniable Fact, and commenters both here and there have agreed and disagreed with that.

DD devotes considerable thought to the comments which keeps the discussion going and for that he gets good mention. It also helps that he's a good writer. If you have good logic, you don't get good writing for free, so people that have both are fortunate. This related post of DD's is among the better I've read in terms of writing that succinctly and persuasively portrays the inherent dilemmas in miracle claims and the amount of credibility we can assign to them.

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How Would You Define A Miracle?

Posted in Atheism, Blogosphere, Faith, MiracleQuest, Religion, Skepticism on  | 5 minutes | 5 Comments →

In the past few months, via several discussions with a variety of learned skeptics and religious people, I've come to better understand the disparities in our concepts of miracles, and specifically, I've been thinking about how falsifiability and confounders diminish the extent to which an alleged miracle can be considered authentic. It may very well be that proving a miracle is impossible, and on this matter I haven't quite decided yet, but I've certainly concluded that there is a wide range of skeptical positions one might take concerning the concept of miracles, and what we can justifiedly say about them, if and when they do occur.

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome regarding alleged healing miracles is developing a reliable method for excluding confounders of spontaneous remission and the placebo effect. Hitherto unexplained, either of these mysterious phenomena would provide good confounding cover for a genuine miracle, and that's not to say that all instances of spontaneous remission and placebo effect are intrinsically miraculous, either. Some skeptics are fond of claiming that only repeatable, observable, systematic instances of miracles would be sufficient to convince them that they were unjustified in their skepticism. This is sounds more like magic than miracle.

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