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Thanks Martini and ADP, I'll look for it at my library :D

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I found it at my local library. After reading it, I purchased it on Amazon anyway. Great reference material.

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I haven't read much of it yet, good so far. Plus I did read the bit of it selected by Christopher Hitchens for The Portable Atheist (My copy of God: The Failed Hypothesis has a forward by Hitchens as well)

It's good so far, and that other section was excellent.

Will it change ones beliefs, atheist or theist? Unlikely. But I think most of these books are best suited as extra tools for the rational atheist, extra strings in our bow. They give us better means of confronting the religious canards and claims we face. We all know the Argument from Design (etc.) is a flawed argument, but can you say how, and can you argue the point well?! That is what these books are best at doing. And this one looks to be a most excellent addition to that arsenal. Especially because Stenger attacks it head on from a scientific perspective, and as we know this is the area the biggest attacks on reason and for religion are coming from - from Creation science, and its stealth spawn Intelligent Design Creationism.

And as a bonus (more than a mere bonus really) they teach you a bit of real science as well :)

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I haven't read much of it yet, good so far. Plus I did read the bit of it selected by Christopher Hitchens for The Portable Atheist (My copy of God: The Failed Hypothesis has a forward by Hitchens as well)

It's good so far, and that other section was excellent.

Will it change ones beliefs, atheist or theist? Unlikely. But I think most of these books are best suited as extra tools for the rational atheist, extra strings in our bow. They give us better means of confronting the religious canards and claims we face. We all know the Argument from Design (etc.) is a flawed argument, but can you say how, and can you argue the point well?! That is what these books are best at doing. And this one looks to be a most excellent addition to that arsenal. Especially because Stenger attacks it head on from a scientific perspective, and as we know this is the area the biggest attacks on reason and for religion are coming from - from Creation science, and its stealth spawn Intelligent Design Creationism.

You seem pretty well versed in arguments against theism. I'd like to know if God: The Failed Hypothesis tells you anything significant you don't already know. I was very reluctant to read The God Delusion because I already considered religion to be irrational and I generally avoid books which promote views that I already agree with. I'd always rather challenge my views than confirm them. But in the end I enjoyed God Delusion thoroughly. It was unexpectedly provocative, Dawkins' robust stance on the topic surprised me, and I found both the clarity of his arguments and his insights into genetics to be very thought provoking. I suspect God: The Failed Hypothesis would fail to have the same effect as I would be familiar with most of the arguments it contains. But please let me know if you think otherwise!
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Posted · Report post

Will do :)

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Any results? :P

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Any results? :P
Heh; yeah, only finished it yesterday.

It's not a long book but I've been busy (those mammoth posts over at the RD forum don't right themselves :P - kidding, sorta - work and stuff)

Okay: It's a good book; he lays it out very clearly. Although an accomplished professor of Physics, astronomy AND philosophy he doesn't get too "sciency" or mired in techno-babble. He keeps it clean and clear, while getting his point across admirably.

The book takes a scientific perspective - No NOMA (Non Overlapping MAgisteria) for him - and examines how God measures up in those areas he, or his interaction with us, the world and universe, should be reasonably expected to be detected. Note, I and he DO mean God here; The one with the Capital "G" - the Abrahamic one or any like him. This is not a refutation of the hypothesis that some kind of god thingy could be out there, but against specific claims that a certain type of God does (any kind worth worshiping or believing in). It is very much a science book - It postulated the various God hypotheses (arguments, claims etc.) and examines how they measure up to rational scientific scrutiny.

I have read a whole bunch of these types of arguments and books - including; The big four:

The God Delusion

God is Not Great

The End of Faith

Breaking the Spell

Plus numerous more, and quite a bit on science and philosophy which happen to deal with these kinds of questions. So except for the Kalam Cosmological argument refutation, and the "Why is there something rather than nothing" explanation - Which I had already read as an excerpt in The Portable Atheist. Nothing really wowed me as such. But the whole is a real eye opener, as he raises and rapidly demolishes almost every argument for the God Hypothesis!

Well worth a read I would say>

Enough from me:

1. See for yourself:

God: The Failed Hypothesis - Summary of Arguments

(This is from his own University of Colorado website.) As you can see; he addresses a lot of stuff! Including The argument from Design, The First cause, fine-tuning arguments, Dualism (mind/body), the problem of Evil, and the "3O" concept (Omniscience, Omnibenevolence, Omnipotence." Plus alo t more like the efficacy of prayer, morals, revelation, prophecy.

2. Take a look at this review from Skeptic.com:

Conspicuous by His Absence

Oh also note: The Paperback has a forward by Christopher Hitchens, and a "Postscript to the paperback edition" that is not found in the original hardback, where Stenger addresses points raised from the Hardback release. ;)

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While most of the arguments in the 'Summary of Arguments' are good, I have to argue with a few of them. The Worship one, the Physical/Nonphysical and the Transcedent/Omnipotent one don't make much sense to me

edit: after reading the review, and your recommendation, it looks great :D Thanks for bringing this book up

Edited by unreality
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I found this video very awesome and amusing :P

This video is even better, by the same person:

Edited by unreality
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10:06 til the end on the second one ftw. :D

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Oh, you've opened a can of worms there, ADParker. I feel like reading Stenger's book now, not so that I can feel more confident in my atheism but so I can pick holes in it. Don't you think Stenger tends to miss the point quite a lot of the time?

Those links reminded me of his counterargument to the kalam cosmological argument you posted a while back (arguing against the "whatever begins to exist has a cause" premise):

"But neither quantum mechanics nor any other existing theory - including Bohm's - can say anything about the behaviour of an individual nucleus or atom. The photons emitted in atomic transitions come into existence spontaneously, as do the particles emitted in nuclear radiation. By so appearing, without predetermination, they contradict the first premise."

Subatomic events are of course unpredictable, but they occur with probabilities that are determined by previous conditions and thereby caused. If causality doesn't exist at the atomic level, it doesn't exist at all, and this is a pretty unconvincing argument for the nonexistence of causality (which would imply utter chaos).

Surely more to the point would be the fact that causality is an aspect of space-time, and that applying it beyond the bounds of space-time is meaningless (as is applying it at the point of the Big Bang, where the curvature of space-time is such that normal rules go right out the window).

Enough from me:

1. See for yourself:

God: The Failed Hypothesis - Summary of Arguments

(This is from his own University of Colorado website.) As you can see; he addresses a lot of stuff! Including The argument from Design, The First cause, fine-tuning arguments, Dualism (mind/body), the problem of Evil, and the "3O" concept (Omniscience, Omnibenevolence, Omnipotence." Plus alo t more like the efficacy of prayer, morals, revelation, prophecy.

Now I haven't read all of this, just enough to ascertain that the first section "Types of Impossibility Proofs" is largely the kind of empty verbal sophistry that usually characterises pro-theist argument (the All-Virtuous Being bit reminds me inescapably of St Anselm). Why sanction such forms of debate by engaging in it yourself?

Then the "Argument from Evil" section muddies the waters with its tacit acceptance of the existence of evil (making counterarguments by freely adopting abitrary interpretations of what that might be). To be honest I stopped reading at this point because I'm afraid I might spend all day picking it apart and I've got better things to do. I can't help but feel that if I were a theist reading all that, I'd be completely unconvinced.

Which is a shame because I don't doubt there are a few sound arguments floating around in those muddy waters somewhere. Seems to me that Stenger has adopted the approach of slinging every atheist argument he could find into one place without bothering to vet them for relevance or validity. Is it just me who thinks that?

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It's not just you, I thought the same thing. I said something similar in post 108 (just much less wordy :P) of how many of the arguments on that web page made little sense. Like you, if I was a theist I would not be convinced

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This video is even better, by the same person:

UR, I hope you posted this as a joke. You are a very intelligent man, I will be very disappointed if you found this clip at all enlightening. I watched it, and found it so utterly stupid that I can't believe that dude even bothered to make it becuase it just makes him look like the uneducated, irrational one. Anyhow, here are the questions he asks and my answers to each:

1. Why won’t God heal amputees? First of all, GOd never says in the Bible "I won't heal amputees." As to why no amputees that I know have not been completely healed I say this: Find me an amputee that earnestly believed and prayed that God would regenerate his leg (or whatever amputated part) and I might consider reasoning through this utterly ridiculous question. On the other hand, I bet you big money that any praying amputee has grown closer in his relationship with God through their trial.

2. Why are there so many starving people in the world? Uh…because there’s a lack of food…and those of us with wealth are too selfish and unwilling to care for them. What exactly does this have to do with God…other than he created the world and he also created people?

3. Why does God demand the death of so many innocent people in the Bible? From the time of the very first sin committed by eve, God made us aware that “the wages of sin is death” All of the scripture listed in this video is from the Old Testament and part of the ‘old law.” You’ll find NOTHING along these lines in the New Testament because Jesus’ death paid the penalty for once and for all.

4. Why does the Bible contain so much anti-scientific nonsense? All of the “cases” the narrator gives and claims to be anti-scientific nonsense he doesn’t bother to prove by science that those things could not have happened. Beyond that, this question is ridiculous because God is not bound by the scientific properties he created like you and I are…He’s God, he can do whatever he frickin’ pleases! C’mon, give me something that actually makes me want to listen to this doofus!

5. Why is God such a huge proponent of slavery in the Bible? Notice how he basically rushes past this argument and doesn’t even bother to post the verses in print? I looked each one of them up and they are totally bogus. No wonder he doesn’t care to go into this argument any further. All these verses talk about is how slave owners should treat their slaves humanely and how slaves should work as if for the Lord…just as the Bible says EVERY man should work as though he is working for the Lord. So I guess that includes slaves…duh! This argument is like saying “Why is the History Channel such a huge proponent of slavery” because they did a single documentary on it. They acknowledge that slavery exists and so does God…he never tells ANYONE EVER to take slaves…in fact, he tells the slaves that he will rescue them and guess what? He does!

6. Why do bad things happen to good people? Because there is sin in the world, period. This argument comes down to free will and God explains that man has been given free will, so…sin happens (and so does nature, for that matter.) I’d be glad to expanded if need be (actually, I think I already posted on this in the theist thread.)

7. Why didn’t any of Jesus’ miracles in the Bible leave behind any evidence? Okay, this is just dumb. People drank the wine. The leper and the blind man and Lazarus eventually died. If you want to know the truth…Jesus’ miracles caused hard-hearted men to believe in the Messiah. These same men became his most zealous followers and wrote the books of the New Testament…the Bible, being proven to be an authentic historical set of documents IS evidence. Not to mention the fact that billions of people believe in Jesus and his miracles to this very day (despite the goofy arguments given by whoever created this video) wouldn’t you consider that evidence of a miracle?

8. How do we explain the fact that Jesus has never appeared to you? Did this guy even bother to look at Scripture and the story of Jesus? Before Jesus ascended to heaven he said he would return again at the End of Days. As far as I’m aware the days have not yet ended…could be why he hasn’t shown back up. On the other hand, who says he hasn’t appeared to me? Can you prove that he has not? Truth be told, I once had a dream where Jesus stood before me and I fell prostrate before him just from witnessing his holiness. He leaned down and touched my shoulder and told me not to be afraid. That was THE most vivid dream I have ever had. It was so real that I woke up crying (from awe and joy.) To this day I believe that Jesus spoke to me through that dream. Prove to me that I’m wrong.

9. Why would Jesus want you to eat his body and drink his blood? Okay, here we go again…Jesus never said that literally. At the “last supper” Jesus passed around wine and bread and told the disciples that those things were to represent his body that would be broken and his blood that would be spilled. They were to partake of it to honor Christ’s sacrifice for us and so that it would symbolize that Jesus had become a part of them. These questions are just soooo stupid!

10. Why do Christians get divorced at the same rate as non-Christians? Again, sin happens. The Bible says that we ALL sin and that there is NO ONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE. Just because people believe in Jesus does not mean that they are completely impervious to sin and are exempt from the influence of society. It is a sad statistic, but it does not prove that God doesn’t exist.

Again, I shocked that you even bothered to post such an obviously ignorant film. If you are trying to prepare youself with refutes against the claims of the Bible you may want to use better discression in the material you choose.

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UR, I hope you posted this as a joke. You are a very intelligent man, I will be very disappointed if you found this clip at all enlightening. I watched it, and found it so utterly stupid that I can't believe that dude even bothered to make it becuase it just makes him look like the uneducated, irrational one. Anyhow, here are the questions he asks and my answers to each:

1. Why won’t God heal amputees? First of all, God never says in the Bible "I won't heal amputees." As to why no amputees that I know have not been completely healed I say this: Find me an amputee that earnestly believed and prayed that God would regenerate his leg (or whatever amputated part) and I might consider reasoning through this utterly ridiculous question. On the other hand, I bet you big money that any praying amputee has grown closer in his relationship with God through their trial.

So why are there amputees in the first place? What's the point? Is it a punishment for something they did in a previous life? (throwin' a bit of Buddhism/karma at you :P) or what? I'm just curious what someone, such as you, would say. Are they being tested? How do they "pass"? Or can we just not comprehend God's Amazingly Infinitely Complex Mind that Sprung From Nowhere? I'm not trying to cause an argument (I know, weird :D), I am genuinely interested in your opinion on why some people are disabled [i'm speaking disabled FROM BIRTH, not after they've lived some]

2. Why are there so many starving people in the world? Uh…because there’s a lack of food…and those of us with wealth are too selfish and unwilling to care for them. What exactly does this have to do with God…other than he created the world and he also created people?

Interesting - so you believe that God does not interfere with the world to change the course of events?

3. Why does God demand the death of so many innocent people in the Bible? From the time of the very first sin committed by eve, God made us aware that “the wages of sin is death” All of the scripture listed in this video is from the Old Testament and part of the ‘old law.” You’ll find NOTHING along these lines in the New Testament because Jesus’ death paid the penalty for once and for all.

4. Why does the Bible contain so much anti-scientific nonsense? All of the “cases” the narrator gives and claims to be anti-scientific nonsense he doesn’t bother to prove by science that those things could not have happened. Beyond that, this question is ridiculous because God is not bound by the scientific properties he created like you and I are…He’s God, he can do whatever he frickin’ pleases! C’mon, give me something that actually makes me want to listen to this doofus!

5. Why is God such a huge proponent of slavery in the Bible? Notice how he basically rushes past this argument and doesn’t even bother to post the verses in print? I looked each one of them up and they are totally bogus. No wonder he doesn’t care to go into this argument any further. All these verses talk about is how slave owners should treat their slaves humanely and how slaves should work as if for the Lord…just as the Bible says EVERY man should work as though he is working for the Lord. So I guess that includes slaves…duh! This argument is like saying “Why is the History Channel such a huge proponent of slavery” because they did a single documentary on it. They acknowledge that slavery exists and so does God…he never tells ANYONE EVER to take slaves…in fact, he tells the slaves that he will rescue them and guess what? He does!

6. Why do bad things happen to good people? Because there is sin in the world, period. This argument comes down to free will and God explains that man has been given free will, so…sin happens (and so does nature, for that matter.) I’d be glad to expanded if need be (actually, I think I already posted on this in the theist thread.)

7. Why didn’t any of Jesus’ miracles in the Bible leave behind any evidence? Okay, this is just dumb. People drank the wine. The leper and the blind man and Lazarus eventually died. If you want to know the truth…Jesus’ miracles caused hard-hearted men to believe in the Messiah. These same men became his most zealous followers and wrote the books of the New Testament…the Bible, being proven to be an authentic historical set of documents IS evidence. Not to mention the fact that billions of people believe in Jesus and his miracles to this very day (despite the goofy arguments given by whoever created this video) wouldn’t you consider that evidence of a miracle?

8. How do we explain the fact that Jesus has never appeared to you? Did this guy even bother to look at Scripture and the story of Jesus? Before Jesus ascended to heaven he said he would return again at the End of Days. As far as I’m aware the days have not yet ended…could be why he hasn’t shown back up. On the other hand, who says he hasn’t appeared to me? Can you prove that he has not? Truth be told, I once had a dream where Jesus stood before me and I fell prostrate before him just from witnessing his holiness. He leaned down and touched my shoulder and told me not to be afraid. That was THE most vivid dream I have ever had. It was so real that I woke up crying (from awe and joy.) To this day I believe that Jesus spoke to me through that dream. Prove to me that I’m wrong.

I agree with your assertions in 3 through 7, provided that you are looking at it from a god-exists viewpoint, you can still throw aside the majority of those questions without too much rationalization. But as for #8, I hate to say that it was probably just a dream :D But clearly your mind is very pro-Jesus, which is where the dream came from. Often the dreams that are most vivid occur during REM sleep (if I remember right) while the other less-vivid 'dreamy' dreams occur in other circadian periods of the sleep cycle

9. Why would Jesus want you to eat his body and drink his blood? Okay, here we go again…Jesus never said that literally. At the “last supper” Jesus passed around wine and bread and told the disciples that those things were to represent his body that would be broken and his blood that would be spilled. They were to partake of it to honor Christ’s sacrifice for us and so that it would symbolize that Jesus had become a part of them. These questions are just soooo stupid!

Actually, the flesh-eating (couldn't help myself, sorry :P) was adopted from an earlier pagan religion, just like the date of Christmas (the man Jesus was born sometime earlier, the date of Christmas was adopted from the pagan holiday Yule [i think it was Yule] so as to make the conversion easier from paganism to Christianity), but as to WHY you would eat Jesus, I agree that it's a stupid question. Religions have all kinds of quirky reasons for various rituals (especially Catholocism). It's a dumb question to ask why when he could've looked it up in the Bible

10. Why do Christians get divorced at the same rate as non-Christians? Again, sin happens. The Bible says that we ALL sin and that there is NO ONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE. Just because people believe in Jesus does not mean that they are completely impervious to sin and are exempt from the influence of society. It is a sad statistic, but it does not prove that God doesn’t exist.

I agree. What do divorce rates have to do with anything? Other than proving (to some extent) that God does not meddle with the affairs of mere humans

In response to your overall point, some of the questions were pretty decent, I think. I'm not saying all of them were, but it should have at least made you think a little. Anyway, thanks for posting in this thread, I know it must've taken a little bit of bravery, knowing the types of responses that ADParker will unleash on you :D

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Oh, you've opened a can of worms there, ADParker. I feel like reading Stenger's book now, not so that I can feel more confident in my atheism but so I can pick holes in it. Don't you think Stenger tends to miss the point quite a lot of the time?
Well as I have read it ;) - not judging a book by its cover and all that :lol: Would say that overall it is pretty good, and well worth a read. But yes on occasion he does seem to miss the point a bit (sometimes it is only an apparent misstep, others I would say he actually makes one)

The biggest two disappointments I found (I wouldn't say "problems" - some were some weren't really) were:

1. Most of his arguments seemed far too brief - as if he glossed over it and moved on. This becomes rather apparent when you consider how many points he tackles and how short the book is!

2. I found myself often filling in the religious replies and comebacks to his arguments immediately - I could see immediately how a theist could counter him - but again he had moved on.

Don't get me wrong, in most cases he made good points, just not something that would baffle many serious religious apologists for long. Although to be honest; the serious apologists couldn't be swayed with absolute proof anyway, and their all too ready counter arguments would be fallacious as always :rolleyes: It would have been interesting to see him tackle them as well however. Although a number could be found elsewhere in the book of course, if you put in the effort.

But it should be noted that the aim of his book - spelled out at the beginning and at multiple points throughout - and again in the Postscript he felt the need to do so once again in response to criticisms of the Hardback: He was arguing against God (like the Abrahamic versions) not all gods, and more importantly he was arguing in each case against particular versions/characteristics of God. For example in the Prayer answering section he was refuting the Prayer-answering-God Hypothesis. And in those sections in which that section was contained he was arguing against any God of a similar sort. In other words: If your God has these characteristics, here is why it fails to be a viable hypothesis. Now if he has these characteristics... And so on.

He repeatedly had to assert that his arguments did not, could not, and it was never his intent to, refute all possible god-hypotheses. I think he did a good job at what he intended. But it may not have been what a lot of readers were expecting, so they came away disappointed, it happens.

Those links reminded me of his counterargument to the kalam cosmological argument you posted a while back (arguing against the "whatever begins to exist has a cause" premise):

"But neither quantum mechanics nor any other existing theory - including Bohm's - can say anything about the behaviour of an individual nucleus or atom. The photons emitted in atomic transitions come into existence spontaneously, as do the particles emitted in nuclear radiation. By so appearing, without predetermination, they contradict the first premise."

Subatomic events are of course unpredictable, but they occur with probabilities that are determined by previous conditions and thereby caused. If causality doesn't exist at the atomic level, it doesn't exist at all, and this is a pretty unconvincing argument for the nonexistence of causality (which would imply utter chaos).

Surely more to the point would be the fact that causality is an aspect of space-time, and that applying it beyond the bounds of space-time is meaningless (as is applying it at the point of the Big Bang, where the curvature of space-time is such that normal rules go right out the window).

Actually there are a couple of important points of note here:

The fact is that at and before the Big Bang event all known physics falls apart (and a lot goes on there; that is why the fact that our insights only reach back to something like 10-43 seconds after the Big Bang is actually a significant period of time to be missing! - that time means nothing to us , it is the Planck time, but at that point a lot could have happened in such a minuscule period of time.) So we really have no bloody idea what was happening back there. It seems that time and the three spatial dimensions emerged from that Bang, perhaps causality did as well.

There are also numerous theories that put into doubt that the universe even had a beginning (but is finite), that the universe in unbound etc. That it might not have had or needed a cause.

Also it is postulated (as yet uncertain) that at the quantum level there is no cause and effect at all. You mentioned probabilities - but what you must realise (and it is hard to imagine) is that the science is currently showing that all of these probabilities are real - a subatomic particle is not simply in one set place (and moving in one direction/speed) but we can only determine this as a probability (90% prob that it is at X, 2% at Y... A bell curve probability) but that until measured these particle ARE actually those probability waves! They are spread out (throughout the entire universe!) as a wave function.. Only when measured does the wave collapse to a single 100% point.! Why this is the case is unknown.

One aspect of all this seems to be that it might well be that at the quantum level it might be entirely random and undetermined (liken this to mutations in organisms.) But at the higher levels, with the accumulation of all of these random events etc. Determinism and cause and effect arise (like evolution over generations) they are an emergent property!

All in all one must then consider just what the requirement is here. Formal Logic time:

The Kalam Cosmological Argument is VALID.

That is; the conclusion necessarily follows from the premises.

The next step is to test if it is SOUND.

The way to do this is to test if the Premises are True. Or at least can be rightly accepted as true by all.

The arguments put forward my Victor Stenger, and Cosmology as a whole, puts both premises in very serious doubt. It doesn't matter if we Know they are false or not, or that despite our ignorance of the fact they are indeed all true, all that matters is that they can not justifiably be held as true - not any more. Thus the Argument CAN NOT be held as Sound. The argument thus Fails.

Now I haven't read all of this, just enough to ascertain that the first section "Types of Impossibility Proofs" is largely the kind of empty verbal sophistry that usually characterises pro-theist argument (the All-Virtuous Being bit reminds me inescapably of St Anselm). Why sanction such forms of debate by engaging in it yourself?
I haven't read it right through either; having read the book already and all. I just offered it as it is Stenger's own summary of the book. So you all could use that as a guide to see if you are interested or not.

You didn't give details of the particulars, so it is hard to say much here I'm afraid. But the thing with those arguments , one must consider, is that he is arguing against very particular characteristics, very specific claimed gods. As I mentioned above. I should point out that he at times refers to past efforts, which he; explains why it works still, or adds a bit further, or tries to repair etc.

The "Virtuous" one for example. He makes the argument there, and concludes "Therefore, God does not exist" (also note that he takes this argument from elsewhere , it is not his own - the reference is in the summary) He does this pretty much after each argument. It's like his catch phase :lol:

BUT he means (and explains a number of times) that he means that This particular God - the God defined as All-Virtuous in this case is rationally or scientifically (depending on the nature of the argument) unsupported or unsupportable.

He also points out that most of his conclusions are of the scientific level of finality only - that is; new data could change things. These are rarely mathematical or logical proofs, but scientific conclusions.

Again; he spends some time to accept openly that a dedicated believer could still (easily at times) redefine their God to fit around these arguments - but that god would no longer have the (usually much desired) attribute, as the argument refutes its validity.

Then the "Argument from Evil" section muddies the waters with its tacit acceptance of the existence of evil (making counterarguments by freely adopting abitrary interpretations of what that might be). To be honest I stopped reading at this point because I'm afraid I might spend all day picking it apart and I've got better things to do. I can't help but feel that if I were a theist reading all that, I'd be completely unconvinced.
Right. This one is actually pretty interesting. He admitted right of the bat that this is not a scientific argument (the one in the book, not this brief summary) as such, but a philosophical one. But he felt he should include it for completeness, and as it is such a common and much debated one - the book would seem to have a glaring gap if it wasn't included.

Actually the redefinitions of evil he uses, are not his, but rather those of the theists who try to defend their God-Belief against this charge. He has to tackle this one differently than the rest. And what he is basically doing is simply running over for us the arguments that have been made on the subject , by philosophers and theologians. As I recall.

I think you really have to read the book to get the full picture, and to grasp fully his intent; over all, and at each stage. It is not a step by step refutation of all gods in general or one specific type of god, set from the start of the book. But rather a compilation of many such various definitions and claimed attributes.

Which is a shame because I don't doubt there are a few sound arguments floating around in those muddy waters somewhere. Seems to me that Stenger has adopted the approach of slinging every atheist argument he could find into one place without bothering to vet them for relevance or validity. Is it just me who thinks that?
Well a big part of his aim was to provide a comprehensive summary of as many of the scientific arguments against the claimed versions of God into one place as he could. And on that score I think he did a pretty good job. I would have liked it to be longer and more detailed however, but perhaps that would have turned other readers away, who knows?

Over all I enjoyed it, and think it is worth the read. No one says you have to accept or agree with everything therein - I for instance think the conclusion of the "The Paradox of Omnipotence" argument (the God creating and lifting a stone one) is wrong. - and have argued that in a thread on this very forum actually ;)

In short, agree with much of it or not, it is worth a read at least. But perhaps that is in part because of my philosophy background; one can get a lot out of a work, whether you find it correct, accurate, or not. Descartes' Meditations for example are fascinating and valuable, even though his conclusions are pretty much all rubbish (spotting the tactics used is one good use of it actually.) You can learn as much, if not more, from spotting the flaws in a work than its successes. At the very least the can set you to thinking.

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Anyway, thanks for posting in this thread, I know it must've taken a little bit of bravery, knowing the types of responses that ADParker will unleash on you :D

^ this comment wasn't meant to be an insult to ADP, I love to watch him tear apart theist arguments :D But it's just that he can come off as harsh to someone whose mind isn't totally into the debate, such as what happened last time with him and puzzlegirl ;D

Anyway, speaking of youtube videos, I recently saw one called "How to Convert an Atheist, Part One" :lol: Unfortunately I couldn't find time to watch it

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So why are there amputees in the first place? What's the point? Is it a punishment for something they did in a previous life? (throwin' a bit of Buddhism/karma at you :P) or what? I'm just curious what someone, such as you, would say. Are they being tested? How do they "pass"? Or can we just not comprehend God's Amazingly Infinitely Complex Mind that Sprung From Nowhere? I'm not trying to cause an argument (I know, weird :D), I am genuinely interested in your opinion on why some people are disabled [i'm speaking disabled FROM BIRTH, not after they've lived some]

Why do you think a birth defect is a punishment from God? Our genepool is corrupt. Junk happens. Why does it have to be God’s divine plan for this person to have a defect?

I was born with a heart defect, the doctors told my parents I would not live more than a few weeks and they suggested that they not take me home as they might “get too attached.” Word got around and people from all over prayed for me. Did God heal my heart defect? No. But I lived. That part is cool.

Interesting - so you believe that God does not interfere with the world to change the course of events?
Sure he does…if he wants to. Do you intervene in every instance of injustice that you hear of? Why not? Perhaps he allows those things to happen so that they can bring about something else. Perhaps it doesn’t really make a difference if he intervenes or not. Perhaps he has intervened and you just refuse to see it because it didn’t happen in the way that you think it should have.

I agree with your assertions in 3 through 7, provided that you are looking at it from a god-exists viewpoint, you can still throw aside the majority of those questions without too much rationalization.

Thanks. :D

But as for #8, I hate to say that it was probably just a dream :D But clearly your mind is very pro-Jesus, which is where the dream came from. Often the dreams that are most vivid occur during REM sleep (if I remember right) while the other less-vivid 'dreamy' dreams occur in other circadian periods of the sleep cycle.
I said it was a dream, didn’t I? But if you read the story of Jesus birth you will also see that God came to Joseph in a dream. God gave the prophet Daniel the ability to interpret the king’s dream. God works through dreams on numerous occasions throughout the Bible – old and new testaments. I can give you dozens of examples if you like.

Actually, the flesh-eating (couldn't help myself, sorry :P) was adopted from an earlier pagan religion, just like the date of Christmas (the man Jesus was born sometime earlier, the date of Christmas was adopted from the pagan holiday Yule [i think it was Yule] so as to make the conversion easier from paganism to Christianity), but as to WHY you would eat Jesus, I agree that it's a stupid question. Religions have all kinds of quirky reasons for various rituals (especially Catholocism). It's a dumb question to ask why when he could've looked it up in the Bible

Doesn’t it make sense that Jesus would make references to things that were popular at that time in that culture? If other religions were practicing “flesh-eating” then doesn’t it make sense that Jesus would say “hey, look guys, here’s a better way to do it…” and teach them to do it as a symbolic act of worship and not as a grotesque form of cannibalism.

And I too know all about how Christmas came to be celebrated around the same time as the pagan religions. It was for that very reason that the early Christians chose that date…to, in a sense, neutralize the evil practices that were celebrated that time of year with a celebration of holiness.

I agree that Catholicism has a lot of ritualistic practices that, at one time, were adopted so as to express outwardly the inward reverence of God. Over time, the Catholic church has abandon the reason behind these practices and just made them “what we do.” This is why I am not Catholic…they do not teach foremost the value of a personal relationship with God, but instead claim that if you follow this certain formula of rituals that you purchased a ticket to heaven. That is SO NOT what Jesus taught.

I agree. What do divorce rates have to do with anything? Other than proving (to some extent) that God does not meddle with the affairs of mere humans.

God can speak to a man’s conscience through the holy spirit, but a man ultimately chooses whether or not he wants to commit the sin.

In response to your overall point, some of the questions were pretty decent, I think. I'm not saying all of them were, but it should have at least made you think a little. Anyway, thanks for posting in this thread, I know it must've taken a little bit of bravery, knowing the types of responses that ADParker will unleash on you :D

I just couldn’t let this one slide. ;D I’m not afraid of ADP, he just frustrates me to no end by quoting all of his commentaries and library books. Why should I put more stock in what those people have to say than in what the God of the Universe says. I certainly don’t enjoy being put in the hot seat, it’s not what I’d choose for myself…uh oh, God must hate me! :D

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Anyway, thanks for posting in this thread, I know it must've taken a little bit of bravery, knowing the types of responses that ADParker will unleash on you :D
Not this time. Didn't find much of interest there at all really.

But okay, a comment or two:

UR, I hope you posted this as a joke. You are a very intelligent man, I will be very disappointed if you found this clip at all enlightening. I watched it, and found it so utterly stupid that I can't believe that dude even bothered to make it becuase it just makes him look like the uneducated, irrational one. Anyhow, here are the questions he asks and my answers to each:

1. Why won’t God heal amputees? First of all, GOd never says in the Bible "I won't heal amputees." As to why no amputees that I know have not been completely healed I say this: Find me an amputee that earnestly believed and prayed that God would regenerate his leg (or whatever amputated part) and I might consider reasoning through this utterly ridiculous question. On the other hand, I bet you big money that any praying amputee has grown closer in his relationship with God through their trial.

I remember being pointed to this video long ago (at least a year as I recall.)

<sigh> It's a YouTube video, and as is so often the case with them (unless a capture of another video of course) rather disappointing. It didn't rellay impress me either.

Okay; to the first question: That's a bit of a cop-out. But then the question (around which his whole deal and website revolves) is pretty weak anyway.

The main point of it however is a common one; why is that that all of these reported miracle healings (if you even believe in those things, not all christican sects do) never involve or result in a shred of confirmatory evidence?! We never see a man's leg grow back - just "laying of hands" and "He's healed!!!!" theatrics.

Many instances have been exposed as frauds. And some of the YouTube videos of Benny Hinn for example show the theatrics and dishonesty so often involved.

As such this argument is less an argument against the existence of God (although GIIVideo seems to think it is) as much as against the claims of these practitioners of Miracle Healing - and any version of God that preforms these healings. Brings us back to Stenger and how he argues against, not gods in general, but the God with the attribute X, in this case heals people who have these healing sessions performed on them.

2. Why are there so many starving people in the world? Uh…because there’s a lack of food…and those of us with wealth are too selfish and unwilling to care for them. What exactly does this have to do with God…other than he created the world and he also created people?
Its the age old Argument from Evil problem.

A lot of theists brush this aside as an easy one, as you pretty much did just now puzzlegirl. But serious theologians have been struggling with it for centuries, without ever having come up with a satisfactory answer! Not surprising really; its a tough theological and philosophical puzzle.

Its the problem of getting the concept of the 3O God (omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent) to fit in with the observed fact that there is a great deal of unnecessary suffering in the world.

Victor Stenger put it like this (in the summary mentioned earlier) :

The Argument from Evil

1. It is empirical fact that unnecessary suffering exists in the world.

2. An omniscient model God would be aware of this unnecessary suffering.

3. An omnipotent model God would have the power to eliminate or alleviate at least some of the unnecessary suffering.

4. An omnibenevolent model God would have the desire to eliminate or alleviate at least some of the unnecessary suffering.

5. It follows that a God with the attributes of the omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent model God does not exist.

A God with all three of these attributes does not seem to fit in with this suffering. It would seem that if a God was a 3O one then he would have erradicated such suffering.

Oh by the way, just to clarify. Its worse than the picture you paint; there is enough food in the world - distribution is the problem. So you are correct about that except that the greed and selfishness of the wealthy nations is the sole cause of the problem <_<

3. Why does God demand the death of so many innocent people in the Bible? From the time of the very first sin committed by eve, God made us aware that “the wages of sin is death” All of the scripture listed in this video is from the Old Testament and part of the ‘old law.” You’ll find NOTHING along these lines in the New Testament because Jesus’ death paid the penalty for once and for all.
<shrug> This "old law" thing just seems another cop-out to me - "the OT is too obviously immoral, so let's just push it aside." Forget that Jesus said that he was not here to change the old laws. Nice way to hold to "the Faith" but ignore all of those clearly silly rules though, isn't it?

And I have done to death the travesty of reasoning that is the Jesus the Scape-Goat story :rolleyes:

4. Why does the Bible contain so much anti-scientific nonsense? All of the “cases” the narrator gives and claims to be anti-scientific nonsense he doesn’t bother to prove by science that those things could not have happened. Beyond that, this question is ridiculous because God is not bound by the scientific properties he created like you and I are…He’s God, he can do whatever he frickin’ pleases! C’mon, give me something that actually makes me want to listen to this doofus!
He doesn't go into those details because he is talking to college educated Christians, they should already know better. And realise that (at least) many of the bible stories are fables, not literal facts.

It is simply ludicrous to think that the universe is less that 10,000 years old - none of the evidence from observable reality supports such a notion, in fact the refutes it time and time again. But apparently ~50% of Americans think it probably was :blink:

Regardless of what a few "Liars for Jesus" claim, the evidence for the Global flood is nonexistent, in fact the evidence clearly says that no such even ever happened! And Noah's Ark? Please!

The living in a whale story? :lol: Its just silly. Whale insides are not like what you see in Pinocchio cartoons!

The whole man from dust, Genesis story is equally ludicrous in light of scientific understanding.

He states that "you" will come up with type of very strange excuse to explain it. Yours seems to be "God can do Magic" (and for some reason I guess chooses to hide the evidence and make it look like something else.)

5. Why is God such a huge proponent of slavery in the Bible? Notice how he basically rushes past this argument and doesn’t even bother to post the verses in print? I looked each one of them up and they are totally bogus. No wonder he doesn’t care to go into this argument any further. All these verses talk about is how slave owners should treat their slaves humanely and how slaves should work as if for the Lord…just as the Bible says EVERY man should work as though he is working for the Lord. So I guess that includes slaves…duh! This argument is like saying “Why is the History Channel such a huge proponent of slavery” because they did a single documentary on it. They acknowledge that slavery exists and so does God…he never tells ANYONE EVER to take slaves…in fact, he tells the slaves that he will rescue them and guess what? He does!
I just wrote a bit on Christianity and slavery which takes a rather different perspective:

Divine Servitude

(A bit off topic, but I only wrote it yesterday so it sprang to mind.)

I think the problem people really have here (although they often confuse it) is that it is now commonly recognised that slavery is abhorrent, not simply wrong. Yet God in the bible, if we are to believe that it is supposed to present a universal and timeless truth, seems to have no particular problem with it. It seems quite okay in the OT, he even seems (barring the game of twisting every damn word to make the bible say what one wants it to say) to suggest his "chosen people" take certain people as slaves at times. The NT and Jesus seems a little better, but still speaks as if Slavery is okay, but offers demands on how slaves are to be treated better, but also that slaves should treat their masters well as well (be good little slaves now) and especially obedient and good to "Christian" slave owners. The problem we face of course is the realisation that this kind of talk implicitly accepts slavery and Christian slave ownership! It's an area of real concern for those who honestly want to be good Christians and maintain trust in their own (God given) moral reasoning - the clash seems overwhelming to some.

Glad I don't have that problem (anymore.)

6. Why do bad things happen to good people? Because there is sin in the world, period. This argument comes down to free will and God explains that man has been given free will, so…sin happens (and so does nature, for that matter.) I’d be glad to expanded if need be (actually, I think I already posted on this in the theist thread.)
He glosses over it far to readily anyway.

Oh and it looks like I touched on a bit of that in my linked post on Divine servitude as well. ;)

7. Why didn’t any of Jesus’ miracles in the Bible leave behind any evidence? Okay, this is just dumb. People drank the wine. The leper and the blind man and Lazarus eventually died. If you want to know the truth…Jesus’ miracles caused hard-hearted men to believe in the Messiah. These same men became his most zealous followers and wrote the books of the New Testament…the Bible, being proven to be an authentic historical set of documents IS evidence. Not to mention the fact that billions of people believe in Jesus and his miracles to this very day (despite the goofy arguments given by whoever created this video) wouldn’t you consider that evidence of a miracle?
That is all internal, hardly evidence. That it says in the story that Jesus turned water into wine (Miracle) and the people drank the wine (evidence!) is hardly convincing is it?

And who says that the Holy bible is "an authentic historical set of documents"?!

And no the Appeal to Popularity certainly won't cut it! That people believe it is evidence for nothing. People believe all kinds of rubbish, and you know it.

Look at Scientology, its huge!

How about the Cargo cults of the Pacific (John Frum esp.)?

Then we have UFOs, all manner of conspiracy theories (who destroyed the Twin Towers this week?)

Not to mention innumerable Gurus (complete with mystical powers, some "witnessed by thousands") and so on!

In fact it seems that multitudes of people believe in something passionately, its more likely to be hokum than reality!

8. How do we explain the fact that Jesus has never appeared to you? Did this guy even bother to look at Scripture and the story of Jesus? Before Jesus ascended to heaven he said he would return again at the End of Days. As far as I’m aware the days have not yet ended…could be why he hasn’t shown back up. On the other hand, who says he hasn’t appeared to me? Can you prove that he has not? Truth be told, I once had a dream where Jesus stood before me and I fell prostrate before him just from witnessing his holiness. He leaned down and touched my shoulder and told me not to be afraid. That was THE most vivid dream I have ever had. It was so real that I woke up crying (from awe and joy.) To this day I believe that Jesus spoke to me through that dream. Prove to me that I’m wrong.
Yup, sound like a dream to me. so what? Not surprising when subjected to a lot of religious rhetoric etc. One is basically primed for experiencing such 'delusions'.

No need to prove that you are wrong. The burden of Proof is not ours now is it? IF we are to buy it then we need solid evidence and/or reasoning to support it. But then you call it a dream yourself, so hardly impressive. A lot could be said on the psychology of the human mind, but that is too a huge subject.

9. Why would Jesus want you to eat his body and drink his blood? Okay, here we go again…Jesus never said that literally. At the “last supper” Jesus passed around wine and bread and told the disciples that those things were to represent his body that would be broken and his blood that would be spilled. They were to partake of it to honor Christ’s sacrifice for us and so that it would symbolize that Jesus had become a part of them. These questions are just soooo stupid!

10. Why do Christians get divorced at the same rate as non-Christians? Again, sin happens. The Bible says that we ALL sin and that there is NO ONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE. Just because people believe in Jesus does not mean that they are completely impervious to sin and are exempt from the influence of society. It is a sad statistic, but it does not prove that God doesn’t exist.

9. Yup, but tell that to a Catholic. And why not try to take a Eucharist out of a Catholic Church some time :rolleyes:

Protestants of course don't, in general, take that bit of the bible literally (and why would they, its inane.) so this one is directed at a particular sub-set of Christians only.

10. Yeah, an overly simplistic, and again too specific, approach at the Morality canard. The claim by come theists that without religion we would have no basis for our morals. "If you don't believe in God, where do you get your morals from?"

No, it doesn't prove God does not exist. What it does do is put into doubt the veracity of any claims that Christians are more moral than non-Christians or even...gasp...atheists! Or that all morality is derived from the Holy Bible (or Christianity or Religion.)

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^ this comment wasn't meant to be an insult to ADP, I love to watch him tear apart theist arguments :D But it's just that he can come off as harsh to someone whose mind isn't totally into the debate, such as what happened last time with him and puzzlegirl ;D

Anyway, speaking of youtube videos, I recently saw one called "How to Convert an Atheist, Part One" :lol: Unfortunately I couldn't find time to watch it

No offense taken at all unreality :D

Please realise folks that I have come (been invited actually) from another forum in which debate and argument, especially of a atheist/theist nature, is both rigorous and direct. We don't pussyfoot around or hold back. We keep it civil and most importantly rational. And that is how I approach any argument and claim. I am also a philosopher by nature (and education) especially focused on Logic and Reason, so this is something I take very seriously. I will not "play it down" so as to avoid hurt feelings and the like. I am never deliberately mean or aggressive, but I will make any rational argument no matter how much one might not like it. That is how good critical reasoning gets done.

That video (this one?

) is from an atheist giving his opinion on what types of things would persuade him to become a believer.
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Well as I have read it ;) - not judging a book by its cover and all that :lol: Would say that overall it is pretty good, and well worth a read.
Yes and I guess I shouldn't get into debating the merits of the book itself without reading it, though frankly I'm not sure if I could do with the exasperation, if that summary of arguments is anything to go by.

2. I found myself often filling in the religious replies and comebacks to his arguments immediately - I could see immediately how a theist could counter him - but again he had moved on.
This to me is the heart of the problem - It's better to omit 10 valid arguments than use one bad one (bad meaning either invalid, weak or beside the point). It undermines all that he is saying, and from your comments on the book that would be a pity. It seems like a worthy endeavour to approach the individual hypotheses made about God and refute all of them. But that Summary of Arguments presents Stenger as being unworthy of the task. Several of these take the form:

1) People believe that God caused X

2) We lack evidence that X is caused by God

3) Such a God does not exist

These kinds of glaring logical flaws completely undermine any sense that Stenger is making. Such an argument proves neither that God did not cause X nor that God does not exist. A theist reader needs only to identify the illogicality of the argument to dismiss it, strengthening their faith as a result. There's not even any need for it. If Stenger would simply stop short of making conclusions that the argument does not support, he'd have useful points to make.

Apart from undermining the point he is trying to make, Stenger's approach does nothing to promote the cause of science and reason. His "scientific arguments" rely on vague terminology and assumed premises. Taking the All-Virtuous Being as an example:

God is (by definition) a being than which no greater being can be thought. Whose definition? St. Anselm's? What does "great" mean?

Greatness includes the greatness of virtue. Why? You might as well say that greatness implies existence.

Therefore, God is a being than which no being could be more virtuous.

But virtue involves overcoming pains and danger. Says who?

Indeed, a being, can only be properly said to be virtuous if it can suffer pain or be destroyed. This is complete presumption.

A God that can suffer pain or is destructible is not one than which no greater being can be thought. According to the definition of greatness Stenger has adopted (which includes virtue and thereby destructibility), this is not true.

For you can think of a greater being, one that is nonsuffering and indestructible. Another definition of greatness?

Therefore, God does not exist.

The argument relies on the fact that two properties which could both be called "great" conflict with each other. It's completely daft, and the other impossibility proofs are no better (I just singled out that one because it came first).

Theism isn't the disease. The disease is unreason, theism is just a symptom. But Stenger seems to have missed that point too, and this is what concerns me. Judging by what I have seen of his work his seems to be as happy to apply an unreasoned argument as a reasoned one. [EDIT: and, what's worse, dress it up as scientific reason]

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I just couldn’t let this one slide. ;D I’m not afraid of ADP,
Good :D I'm a nice guy, really I am.

he just frustrates me to no end by quoting all of his commentaries and library books.
<Shrug>

By "quoting commentaries" are you referring to me quoting others? Well that is simply expedience, and useful as they so often have done the work for me (and are better writers to be honest.) Without the specifics that frustrate you I can't really elaborate all that much. But Sometimes when I write something I think "Hey, So and So said something like that as I recall,and said it so well - let's find the quote, as an aid to explaining what I am trying to say." Or recognise something as closely related to something else I once read (just did that when someone gave a definition of Faith actually - his wording suddenly reminded me of Plato's definition of the Soul of all things! And it proved to be a useful recollection :D ) None of them are intended as appeals to authority or anything I assure you. I am sure you are quite capable of disagreeing with David Hume (or whoever) as much as you are with me ;)

And I don't think any of them have been "library books" - they are all mine, brought and paid for ;)

Okay that was a bit of a tease wasn't it? :blush:

They are simply offered suggestions of further reading if you (or anyone reading) are interested. Some of the things we have talked about deserve and require entire books (and sometimes more than one) to explain things even close to adequately. And each of the books I have suggested are bloody good in their own right as well.

That is hardly all I do though is it? Remove all of them and there is enough to stand up on its own I think.

Why should I put more stock in what those people have to say than in what the God of the Universe says.
The immediate response of course is: Well they are actually real, not just imaginary friends.

But seriously; you aren't relying on what God says are you? You are relying on what some people ~2-3 thousand years ago in the Middle East claim that God said (not to mention the filtering effects of canonisation, translation & re-translation etc.) And probably (I was) by what certain Authority figures (parents, preachers...) tell you God says and means.

At least in the cases I offer, you can be fairly sure (and can verify for yourself) that they really are the ones who said it. And you are not expected to accept them are true without question either.

And once again, I never tried to imply that you should take their word for it just because I quoted them, I just used their quotes as aids to further express what I was trying to say.

I certainly don’t enjoy being put in the hot seat, it’s not what I’d choose for myself…uh oh, God must hate me! :D
Fair enough - I love it myself. I think my understanding of a great many things, not least of all my own ignorance, has been broadened by such efforts. As too has my skill in logic and reasoning. And that journey, as always, continues.

It is in rigorous discussion (argument and debate) that the real reasoning gets done, and it is through "being put in the hot seat" that one can best shed oneself of flawed and sloppy thinking, poor reasoning and poorly reasoned beliefs, thoughts and assumptions.

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Yes and I guess I shouldn't get into debating the merits of the book itself without reading it, though frankly I'm not sure if I could do with the exasperation, if that summary of arguments is anything to go by.
They are a fair summary of the kinds of things he tackles I think, but not of the actual arguments he makes in the book.

This to me is the heart of the problem - It's better to omit 10 valid arguments than use one bad one (bad meaning either invalid, weak or beside the point). It undermines all that he is saying, and from your comments on the book that would be a pity.
Actually the problem I was referring to specifically was that theists can just make a new argument in response (an equally bad one) and I would have liked him to address those as well. I think he generally does a fine job up to the point he chooses to go. And does pretty much destroy a number of such claims as scientifically and rationally worthless.

It seems like a worthy endeavour to approach the individual hypotheses made about God and refute all of them. But that Summary of Arguments presents Stenger as being unworthy of the task. Several of these take the form:

1) People believe that God caused X

2) We lack evidence that X is caused by God

3) Such a God does not exist

These kinds of glaring logical flaws completely undermine any sense that Stenger is making. Such an argument proves neither that God did not cause X nor that God does not exist. A theist reader needs only to identify the illogicality of the argument to dismiss it, strengthening their faith as a result. There's not even any need for it. If Stenger would simply stop short of making conclusions that the argument does not support, he'd have useful points to make.

Apart from undermining the point he is trying to make, Stenger's approach does nothing to promote the cause of science and reason. His "scientific arguments" rely on vague terminology and assumed premises.

Actually it is most often like:

1) One form of God believed in has this property (answering prayers for instance)

2) All efforts to see if this property is plausible or evident, based on these things we should reasonably expect to find if it is the case, have failed, and in some cases the contrary has been found instead.

3) A God with this attribute does not exist.

As I said he uses this kind of phrase (3) all the time, but points out what he means by it quite well (at least I got it pretty readily.)

Taking the All-Virtuous Being as an example:

God is (by definition) a being than which no greater being can be thought. Whose definition? St. Anselm's? What does "great" mean?

Greatness includes the greatness of virtue. Why? You might as well say that greatness implies existence.

Therefore, God is a being than which no being could be more virtuous.

But virtue involves overcoming pains and danger. Says who?

Indeed, a being, can only be properly said to be virtuous if it can suffer pain or be destroyed. This is complete presumption.

A God that can suffer pain or is destructible is not one than which no greater being can be thought. According to the definition of greatness Stenger has adopted (which includes virtue and thereby destructibility), this is not true.

For you can think of a greater being, one that is nonsuffering and indestructible. Another definition of greatness?

Therefore, God does not exist.

Who says this and that? Well actually {Walton 1999, reprinted in Martin and Monnier 2003, pp. 35-44.} did ;)

At least that is who he attributed it to at the end of that in the summary. This is a summary remember, of course he is not gping to dot all the "i"s and cross all the "t"s. That would amount to him printing the entire book again!

The argument relies on the fact that two properties which could both be called "great" conflict with each other. It's completely daft, and the other impossibility proofs are no better (I just singled out that one because it came first).
They are all only summaries though. "You want details? Read the book." I think is the intent there ;)

Theism isn't the disease. The disease is unreason, theism is just a symptom.
YES! Absolutely, how many times have I said that very thing! (This is me agreeing with you, not questioning you.)

But Stenger seems to have missed that point too, and this is what concerns me. Judging by what I have seen of his work his seems to be as happy to apply an unreasoned argument as a reasoned one.
No, there is some good reasoning, from a scientists perspective, keeping largely to the science wherever possible and reasonable to do so, which I found rather refreshing and different from all other "popular atheist books."
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1) One form of God believed in has this property (answering prayers for instance)

2) All efforts to see if this property is plausible or evident, based on these things we should reasonably expect to find if it is the case, have failed, and in some cases the contrary has been found instead.

3) A God with this attribute does not exist.

Even put like this, you cannot imply 3 from 1 and 2 (unless 2 contains positive contrary evidence). You can only state that there is no reason to support the notion that such a God exists. That's the problem as I see it, certainly within the summary of arguments he misrepresents the arguments by making deductions beyond what is evident.

Who says this and that? Well actually {Walton 1999, reprinted in Martin and Monnier 2003, pp. 35-44.} did ;)

At least that is who he attributed it to at the end of that in the summary. This is a summary remember, of course he is not gping to dot all the "i"s and cross all the "t"s. That would amount to him printing the entire book again!

When I said "Says who?" I meant it rhetorically. It doesn't matter who says it really. All we can conclude from it all is that what Stenger thinks ultimate greatness would be is incompatible with what someone else thinks is ultimate greatness, or virtue, or whatever. It's a completely bogus argument. OK, so maybe it's just a summary of a longer argument, but since the argument relies intrinsically on arbitrary notions of how great God is, what greatness is, what virtue is, and so on, adding detail to that would perform as much function as polishing a turd, so to speak. Ditto for all the other impossibility "proofs".

Clearly my comments refer only to the summary of arguments and not the book itself. Though if the book is so much better it baffles me why Stenger should write the summary of arguments so as to misrepresent himself so woefully. If and when I get round to reading the book I'm sure I'll have a lot more to say on the matter. But in debates such as atheism vs theism people seem to get so wrapped up in taking sides that they forget about whether what they are saying is 100% correct. Which is a fatal error in our case since critical self-examination and the valuing of reason is key to atheism (not to mention important generally). That's why, if I see a pro-atheist argument that doesn't quite stack up, I will attack it with twice the vigour I would if it were pro-theist.

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Even put like this, you cannot imply 3 from 1 and 2 (unless 2 contains positive contrary evidence). You can only state that there is no reason to support the notion that such a God exists. That's the problem as I see it, certainly within the summary of arguments he misrepresents the arguments by making deductions beyond what is evident.
Yeah, that is why he points out what he means by his so oft used conclusion "God does not exist." He says this in the summary from the chapters section for instance:

The following are the scientific arguments that from the main part of the book. Note that these are not meant to be formal, deductive arguments, but rather arguments "beyond a reasonable doubt."

As you have surmised, even then it rings more true for some of his arguments than others.

Some, I think, appear to nail it, others only demonstrate that a claimed deductive argument does not hold up as sound, and thus that the hypothesis is not a good one. A hypothesis can be said to fail if it has no supporting evidence or rationale, it need not be proven false or anything.

As far as I am concerned the God Hypothesis is a failed one (so far) because it has no evidential or rational support, all of the arguments are fallacious in one way or another. Even If it were ultimately true that God existed, the hypothesis as it stands is an abject failure.

When I said "Says who?" I meant it rhetorically. It doesn't matter who says it really. All we can conclude from it all is that what Stenger thinks ultimate greatness would be is incompatible with what someone else thinks is ultimate greatness, or virtue, or whatever.
Yeah, I know. I was playing a bit there. For some reason most of his "proofs" in the summary, esp. the first section (before the chapter by chapter bit) are just those of others, which he uses as a basis. None his actual arguments from there are offered.

Clearly my comments refer only to the summary of arguments and not the book itself. Though if the book is so much better it baffles me why Stenger should write the summary of arguments so as to misrepresent himself so woefully. If and when I get round to reading the book I'm sure I'll have a lot more to say on the matter. But in debates such as atheism vs theism people seem to get so wrapped up in taking sides that they forget about whether what they are saying is 100% correct. Which is a fatal error in our case since critical self-examination and the valuing of reason is key to atheism (not to mention important generally). That's why, if I see a pro-atheist argument that doesn't quite stack up, I will attack it with twice the vigour I would if it were pro-theist.
I do much the same. A bad argument is a bad argument. And if it is for something I think is valid I will step in and try to correct the error (point out the flaw and offer a better argument if I have one) Better that than let it slide for them only to be caught out by "the enemy." And as erroneous as it is, imply in the minds of listeners that our entire position is likewise flawed.
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I certainly don’t enjoy being put in the hot seat, it’s not what I’d choose for myself…uh oh, God must hate me!

Fair enough - I love it myself. I think my understanding of a great many things, not least of all my own ignorance, has been broadened by such efforts. As too has my skill in logic and reasoning. And that journey, as always, continues.

It is in rigorous discussion (argument and debate) that the real reasoning gets done, and it is through "being put in the hot seat" that one can best shed oneself of flawed and sloppy thinking, poor reasoning and poorly reasoned beliefs, thoughts and assumptions.

I think you misinterpretted my joke. If it truly bothered me to be put in the firing line then I would avoid these types of threads at all costs. What I was trying to say is that even though life isn't always as perfectly orchestrated as we'd like it to be doesn't mean that God hates us (kind-of like the whole amputee statement.)

Of course, as I'm sure you are all perfectly aware, your arguments are as convincing to me as mine are to you; so you'll forgive me if I don't bother to answer to many of them. I just like to check in every once in a while to see what you all are talking about and what new "evidences" you've adopted (more to strengthen my convictions than anything.) But, I also know it's not the Jesus-Freaks like me that you're trying to convince (or "educate" or whatever the prefered term is), it's the swing votes. I guess in this area we all share the same objective. :D

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