Hiding, Not Seeking

“The atheist cannot find God for the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman.” -Francis Thomson

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19 comments on “Hiding, Not Seeking

  1. David K says:

    “The atheist cannot fine God for the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman.”

    http://atheism.about.com/od/atheismasrebellion/a/Atheists-Like-Thieves.htm

    • therev2011 says:

      Thanks for the link. I did read it, but I found the analysis wanting and somewhat desperate sounding.

      • Drexus says:

        Please provide your evidence on your assessment.

      • therev2011 says:

        Evidence of it’s inadequate analysis- the attempt to argue that thief/policeman analogies are inherently hateful.

        Evidence of desperate analysis- multiple paragraphs written trying to dissect a random metaphor, and several follow up replies on my blog.

      • Drexus says:

        Grade 6 English: provide evidence to support your statement (clause).

        Your first remark offered a second claim — still without evidence.

        The claim “I found the analysis wanting…” was answered with what? In grade 6 English, I would ask you to rewrite your rebuttal with proper sentence structure without sentence fragmentation. Else, your rebuttal is without teeth — because you didn’t answer the question.

        With writing skills like this, one wonders why religious people are so illiterate.

      • therev2011 says:

        Drexus, You’re going to have to do a lot better than that by way of tone for me to even consider engaging with your position.

        Is it really true that you couldn’t make sense of what I wrote? Honestly? Really? C’mon. Let’s have a serious discussion. But I won’t have one of these kinds of discussions.

        Let’s start here. What didn’t you understand about what I wrote?

  2. therev2011 says:

    I should clarify: desperate in the sense of taking a analogy meant to speak of an atheist ‘s vested interest in the “God” question, and find some way to make the very idea of atheists having a vested interest sound, as the article says, “hateful.”

    • David K says:

      A thief is not looking for a policeman, an atheist is not looking for a god.
      Why should an atheist look for something they have no belief in. The same point can be made of Buddhist and any other religion/worldview that do not have a belief in a god.

      • therev2011 says:

        Thanks for the interaction.

        Usually the atheists I meet say (with good intentions) that they are at least open to hearing arguments for God’s existence, and will weigh the evidence objectively and neutrally. And in that sense, open to the hypothetical possibility of faith.

        The point of the analogy, at least as I hear it, is that nobody weighs the evidence with pure objectivity. There is too much at stake in the question.

      • Drexus says:

        Your description fits an agnostic, or a scientific atheist. An atheist does not believe the earth is < 10,000 years old. That’s a massive hurdle to overcome for many. There’s far too much evidence the universe is billions or years old.

        If you want pure objectivity, ask yourself this: Since religion is a social construct, would God exist if religion didn’t?

        If you want pure evidence based science, it’s called science. There’s no subjective science or scientific proof from debate — only scientific proof from evidence.

        To many, empirical evidence from fossils buried hundreds of thousands of layers down in the sediment of the Grand Canyons is question enough when the layers don’t add up.

      • therev2011 says:

        Alright this is interaction that I can get behind 🙂

        You are right about the agnostic/atheist distinction. In my judgment pure atheism is a very difficult position for philosophical reasons, thus agnosticism is a better stance.

        As to the question of age of the earth, I see your concern. I, personally, reject a universe that is less than 10,000 years old, not only because it is scientifically problematic, but in terms of Scripture exegesis it is unwarranted. Usually the ‘6,000 year old earth’ viewpoint is argued by adding up the years in the biblical genealogies and saying, ‘I guess that is how old the earth is.’ The only problem is that is a very presumptuous read of the genealogies because a) The Bible is a book about redemption, not science–so the question of how old the earth is, is of no interest to any biblical writer. b) As a matter of historical genre, it was common in ancient histories to gap generations in genealogies-potentially many generations.

        So, I am open to a very, very old earth.

        I’ll also confess to not being a fan of the word “religion,” it’s like the “one size fits all hat” that doesn’t fit any head correctly (including the Christian head, if you follow that).

        As to evidence for God’s existence, the first hurdle you and I would need to clear is establishing the nature of God. As Christians have said, historically, God is “pure spirit” which means he cannot be measured naturalistically. Which means making science the proving ground to know God is problematic from a Christian view point (even though far too many Christians have tried to make science the proving ground).

        Historically, Christians have argued the evidence for God’s existence is found in the wonder one feels when looking at the universe (general revelation), but more clearly and definitively in revelation God has made within history, and was seen by eye-witnesses (see 1 Corinthians 15).

      • Drexus says:

        Here in lies the issue: The to claim “The Bible is a book about redemption” is non-sequitur to it’s social value over those without belief in it’s writings. Social sustainability isn’t contingent of such an interpretation. For if it were, redemption would be equivalent to sustainable development of sociality.

        If no validity is offered in science from the bible, then what possible value does the bible offer given science = reason?

        The interpretation as labelling the bible specific to redemption — is a subjective claim, a claim that can be argued and debated. As a result, unanimous consensus is impossible. Further, to marginalize the claims of the bible enough that someone is open to “very, very old earth” is interesting, yet counterintuitive to many. This suggests you’re partially agnostic, for the bible offers no movement in it’s writing — only its interpretation continues to evolve to suit the current needs of theists.

        To establish the nature of God is untenable to the existence of God. For this implies a subjective interpretation of biblical claims to then find and weigh the best possible argument of the likelihood of said existence — contingent of only a single source of data: the bible itself. So no, it’s categorically impossible to validate a claim going down that path. In this respect, It’s surprising how many people miss this critical point so completely. Many argue the existence of God — and turn to scripture as their proof. This is no different than someone saying “I’m the smartest person in the world — because I said so in my book.” Sorry, we require more data other than a single source.

        Any subjective offering supporting a claim is categorically incompatible in resolving absolute truth. Thus, the subjective descriptions of one’s feelings has no bearing, or even probability of evidence supporting the existence of God. This is like saying the waves on the water make me feel like God is near — and that’s my evidence.

      • therev2011 says:

        Thanks for your response.

        You said: The to claim “The Bible is a book about redemption” is non-sequitur to it’s social value over those without belief in it’s writings. Social sustainability isn’t contingent of such an interpretation. For if it were, redemption would be equivalent to sustainable development of sociality.

        Obviously, as a moral and sentient agent you have the freedom to reject my claim that “the Bible is a book about redemption.” But at least within Christian social circles, that claim has been/is/will be essential to our hermeneutics of the Bible. And, even if you reject it, that hermeneutic won’t be changing.

        You said:If no validity is offered in science from the bible, then what possible value does the bible offer given science = reason?

        Well, again… I thought I answered that when I said that the Bible is a book about redemption. That’s it’s value. But also as a side note: science =/= reason. They are related but they are not the same.

        You said: The interpretation as labelling the bible specific to redemption — is a subjective claim, a claim that can be argued and debated. As a result, unanimous consensus is impossible.

        It is no more subjective than your claim that the Bible teaches that the world is less than 10,000 years old. So, if my comment can be dismissed as pure subjectivity, by that standard, so can yours. But quite frankly so can anything. It seems you are arguing that anything over which there can be debate and disagreement is utterly subjective, and lacking in truth content. That does not ring true with empirical reality.

        In science, there is heavy debate about any number of issues (string theory, the relationship of the quantum realm to Einstein’s general theory of relativity, the existence of the multi-verse). In politics, it is nothing but debate, but that does not render the topics less meaningful. If anything, the debate recognizes (rather maturely, I might add) that truth is always complicated.

        FWIW, I do embrace elements of the post-modern critique of modern hermeneutics, but not to the point of saying interpretation is utterly subjective. In fact, empirical data tells me that it is possible for societies to recognize and agree on criteria for interpretation of texts and to recognize a meaningful degree of objectivity in their interpretation (i.e. nobody thinks Gone With the Wind is about space aliens. Nor would they say that a person is mired in narcissitic subjectivism to say that the book is set during the Civil War and Reconstruction in the south). Personally, I think a better topic would be for us to weigh the evidence of the text for the claim “The book is about redemption,” rather than follow post-modern deconstructionism to its inevitably impoverished logic conclusion.

        Also, you may be right, that there will be ‘hold outs’ that reject the claim that the Bible is about redemption, but I don’t see the relevance of that. People can be wrong, and as you have rightly said, subjectivity does factor into our encounter with reality and texts. Some people’s subjectivity could be off kilter enough that they cannot interact with claims fairly or objectively (example: ask a man who just went through a bitter divorce, if he thinks his ex-wife is a generally kind person).

        You said: Further, to marginalize the claims of the bible enough that someone is open to “very, very old earth” is interesting, yet counterintuitive to many. This suggests you’re partially agnostic, for the bible offers no movement in it’s writing — only its interpretation continues to evolve to suit the current needs of theists.

        No, it flows out of my attempt at an objective reading of the text, which requires me to consult literary genre, cultural setting, and historical background before deciding what a text means. Also, your claim, “only its interpretation continues to evolve to suit the current needs of theists” is ad hoc, and would need ample evidential support… do I detect a hint of good ‘ole Ludwig Feuerbach’s ‘God is a projection of my felt needs’ in that statement 😉

        You said: “To establish the nature of God is untenable to the existence of God. For this implies a subjective interpretation of biblical claims to then find and weigh the best possible argument of the likelihood of said existence — contingent of only a single source of data: the bible itself. “

        I don’t agree. We have to know what we are talking about before we can decide whether it is there or not. If you say “God is a basketball” and I say “God is a unicorn,” and we go in search of these ‘gods,’ you will find yours, and I will not find mine, and it was due entirely to our differing ontologies of God. So, ontology logically precedes epistemology. Otherwise we might make the mistake of using a methodology that is inherently incapable of measuring and evaluating the being in question. It would be analogous to trying to using a fishing net to catch water. Also, for comparative purposes, letting the Bible define the kind of God it says exists is no different than letting the natural world define what nature is. It may be circular claim, but it is necessarily so, and logically appropriate.

        But if I was willing to go down the sociology of religion path that you keep angling for :), I would just point out that the Bible is not the only book or Faith that speaks of God as pure Spirit and not a naturalistic object of the universe. So it is not merely a claim of the Bible. So if the circularity of my appeal to the Bible bothers you that much, just remember others outside the Christian community have observed the same thing on the nature of God.

        You said: Any subjective offering supporting a claim is categorically incompatible in resolving absolute truth. Thus, the subjective descriptions of one’s feelings has no bearing, or even probability of evidence supporting the existence of God. This is like saying the waves on the water make me feel like God is near — and that’s my evidence.”

        To some degree, I agree with your point. A bare appeal to feelings is no argument for God’s existence. If I were to fill out my comments a little more re: wonder at universe, I might says a) I don’t think that the claim that the universe evokes wonder is an irrational feeling. The fact that it is felt by the vast majority of people, including atheistic scientists, suggests it is an appropriate emotion. It is not in the same category as someone waking up one morning and ‘feeling’ they are a jelly donut and not a human being anymore. Yes, saying ‘the universe is wonderful’ is a subjective claim. No, it is not an arbitrary and irrational subjective claim. There are rational reasons a person can say the universe is wonderful. For that reason we don’t stick people in mental health communities because they believe the universe is wonderful. b) I do not believe that the wonderful nature of the universe (attested by nearly every person that has ever existed) can be accounted for in a logically consistent way without appeal to a transcendent Creator (I’m sure that you love that I just said that).

      • Drexus says:

        I’ve not claimed the bible teaches anything. Only religion has extrapolated the earth as being < 10,000 years old. Still, I offer no subjective claims what soever.

        “It seems you are arguing that anything over which there can be debate and disagreement is utterly subjective, and lacking in truth content”

        No. The act of arguing something is not indicative to subjectivity. The existence of an abstract concept as inherently bound by the options of a group is subjective. Because one claims a specific definition as contingent to only personal views is subjective if not including imperial evidence.

        Science is a process to a greater understanding of what’s true. Science does not shelter any hypothesis that can be dismissed from more evidence. Thus, the entropic style of adaptation the body of science grows. The results being: a greater understanding of particle theory, wave theory, quantum theory — ass all tested and verified through experimentation and experience. To that, we learn more about our reality — providing benefits to these new understandings such as advanced telecommunications, medicine, and any other technology that can leverage the way our reality functions.

        Politics is a social construct — that’s all.

        “empirical data tells me that it is possible for societies to recognize and agree on criteria for interpretation of texts and to recognize a meaningful degree of objectivity in their interpretation”

        Yes, and the recognized criteria is not present — as no evidence of clear interpretation can reliably offer meaningful data. What you’re describing is a consensus on probabilities pointing to data as erroneous.

        Humans are species of sociality. We adapt to changes in our culture and to the shape our environment as including an every growing global community. The cultural aspects of the bible are specific to a time when human sociality was far less advanced. Thus, the values and compatibility of social function from that time is incompatible to today. This means, the bible (unless rewritten every year with new social guidance) is rigid, locked to an extinct period of human social function.

        With that, these incompatibilities (such as slaves, religious wars, women being offered as prostitutes, etc.) do not fit today. Thus, the social value offered is unsustainable. To propose a different perspective — an interpretation is needed to make the ancient writings somehow comparable to today.

        You offer no evidence to the existence of God other than to point to the bible you only partially agree with.

        All other implications in detecting the presence of God point to the symptoms of one’s experience, and not to the causal source of these experiences.

      • therev2011 says:

        Drexus,

        We are not getting anywhere. And my biggest frustration is that your answers make me thing you don’t want us to get anywhere. Though I know it’s churlish (sorry), that mentality plays directly into the hands of that comment from Francis Thomson that you loathe so much.

        So let me start here:

        You said: “I’ve not claimed the bible teaches anything. Only religion has extrapolated the earth as being < 10,000 years old. Still, I offer no subjective claims what soever."

        Yes you have. You’ve made several. Here are two that come to mind, if I thought harder about it, I would probably find more:

        1) The Bible teaches the world is less than 10,000 years old. In fairness to you, you tried to say that this is just what religion says. But then you did double back on it, when you said, “You offer no evidence to the existence of God other than to point to the bible you only partially agree with.” What you should of said to maintain consistency was that I only partially agreed with these (vague) religionists you referred to earlier (whose identity I don’t even know). But in saying I “only partially agree with the Bible” you have just made a claim about what the Bible teaches. A claim that I said was wrong, for objective and empirical reasons.

        2) The ethics of the Bible are incompatible with today. You say that at the bottom of your reply, “With that, these incompatibilities (such as slaves, religious wars, women being offered as prostitutes, etc.) do not fit today.” That statement implies that you have made a claim about what the Bible teaches on a variety of issues.

        So, this is going to be a problem for our discussion. Not so much that you don’t recognize immediately when you’ve made a claim that needs additional support, but more than when I point out to you that have made a claim that needs additional support in my judgment, your response is not to give said support but to say that you have made no claim at all. That is, for me, a conversation killer. And one that will lead to me walking away from this.

        You said: “No. The act of arguing something is not indicative to subjectivity.”

        Well, at least we’re agreed on that. See, Drexus, progress!

        You said: “The existence of an abstract concept as inherently bound by the options of a group is subjective. Because one claims a specific definition as contingent to only personal views is subjective if not including imperial evidence.”

        I assume you meant “empirical” evidence, as I don’t know what imperial evidence is (Star Wars? Kidding). If so, depending on what you mean by that, I can make this work. But what is tripping you up is that you are not recognizing that a text does constitute empirical evidence. It makes claims that can be analyzed and evaluated with a measure of objectivity (do you reject my Gone With the Wind meets space aliens illustration from earlier?). Frankly, our back and forth, here is depending on the possibility that texts convey objectivity reality that can be observed and measured. And if you don’t embrace the fact that texts constitute empirical data, let me know so that I can go back to doing something else, because neither of us is currently behaving as those texts don’t constitute empirical evidence.

        You said: Science is a process to a greater understanding of what’s true. Science does not shelter any hypothesis that can be dismissed from more evidence. Thus, the entropic style of adaptation the body of science grows. The results being: a greater understanding of particle theory, wave theory, quantum theory — ass all tested and verified through experimentation and experience. To that, we learn more about our reality — providing benefits to these new understandings such as advanced telecommunications, medicine, and any other technology that can leverage the way our reality functions.

        This is true, but as stated it makes science no different than anything else in the world. Everything learns from experience, and becomes fine tuned with insight (sports, business, warfare, morality, hobbies, relationships, etc). Even something as ridiculous as Christianity, Drex 🙂

        You said: “Yes, and the recognized criteria is not present — as no evidence of clear interpretation can reliably offer meaningful data. What you’re describing is a consensus on probabilities pointing to data as erroneous.”

        Just curious if you say this about all texts, including scientific ones? If not, I think you have an inconsistency on your hands. All it really takes to interpret the Bible correctly are the same tools you are already using to interpret those other texts, particularly and especially narratival texts. The challenge of hermeneutics is becoming self-aware of the tools (that we use each and everyday) by which we draw out the objective meaning from interpersonal communication.

        You said: “Humans are species of sociality. We adapt to changes in our culture and to the shape our environment as including an every growing global community. The cultural aspects of the bible are specific to a time when human sociality was far less advanced. Thus, the values and compatibility of social function from that time is incompatible to today. This means, the bible (unless rewritten every year with new social guidance) is rigid, locked to an extinct period of human social function.”

        Due to the last sentence especially, this sounds like a very narrow cultural imperialism. Or if not that, some kind of ahistorical view of the present. If applied consistently to other previous cultures (which you would need to do for it to no be special pleading), it would mean that future generations can and should reject everything that we think today, due to us being being from a previous culture and time. Which means nothing we are doing is contributing to the human project. It also means that nothing that future generation will do contributes to the human project because generations and cultures after them will regard them as ‘incompatible,’and locked in an extinct social time. I agree that culture differences create complications in interpretation, but I see no reason to believe that it renders learning from other cultures and times as inherently impossible. If it were my above comments explain why that, if applied with pure logical consistency, would actually be the death of humanism and all culture.

        You said: With that, these incompatibilities (such as slaves, religious wars, women being offered as prostitutes, etc.) do not fit today. Thus, the social value offered is unsustainable. To propose a different perspective — an interpretation is needed to make the ancient writings somehow comparable to today.

        Personally, I’d say let’s just start with how that ancient text handles some of those questions. But you already told me ancient texts can’t speak to today, so I guess we’ve hit the brick wall again.

        You said: “You offer no evidence to the existence of God other than to point to the bible you only partially agree with.”

        C’mon, Drex, that’s not true. I said that the spirituality of God is believed by many different Faiths. Also, as I said, I think it is perfectly consistent and logical to say that ontology precedes epistemology. If you disagree with that, then explain why it’s wrong. But one thing you can’t do is pretend I haven’t said anything on that point. Deal? 🙂

        You said: “All other implications in detecting the presence of God point to the symptoms of one’s experience, and not to the causal source of these experiences.”

        Universal human experience suggests there is an objective reality under-girding it.

        So, Drex, we need to get this thing moving. I’m unwilling to follow you down this path of saying this topic can be reduced to sociology and cultural hermeneutics. I believe in objective reality, and I believe that objective reality exists outside of the hard sciences, too. I believe objective reality existence in ancient texts. If you refuse to even consider that point and explore it, let’s end this conversation, because I find this path you are taking us down to be very self-unaware. Sorry, that’s harsh, but it is what I think about the attempt to reduce all non-scientific reality to sociological experiments and exercises in smelling each other’s feet.

      • David K says:

        I’m not your typical atheist 🙂 I started out as a “Christian” but more or less rejected the teachings. I have spent a great deal of time with Buddhist teachings which has led to an academic interest in world religions.

        Sometimes I feel that I am the only objective voice! 🙂 but will admit, I do tend to defend Atheism as there is a great deal of misinformation being spread about it.

        Nice chatting with you.

      • therev2011 says:

        Thanks, David. It’s nice to meet you.

    • Drexus says:

      Interesting. Just like religious scholars, “I should clarify” is a common practice when explaining the bible. What usually follows is a shift from a direct claim to a metaphorical claim. Many can’t wait for Noah’s Ark to be reinterpreted as “well, it wasn’t a literal ark…” — and the creative and subjective interpretation of the “truth” will then follow.

      • therev2011 says:

        “I should clarify” is a common phrased used by lots of different kinds of people when they feel they have been vague or need to be more specific.

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