Saturday, November 8, 2008

Reasons: IV. The Transcendent Nature of Human Love

In response to a friend who asked, I recently wrote an essay entitled "Reasons for My Belief". The full essay can be found by clicking here. This post is the fourth in a series in which I single out the five evidences from the essay. The earlier post did not allow for comments. As I repost sections, I am seeking readers' comments. So, please, join in the discussion ...

My dictionary defines transcendence as “that which is beyond or above the range of normal or merely physical human experience.” The Latin root suggests the twin ideas of climbing and crossing. As I use the word here, it speaks of a level of reality that is above us and beyond us crossing our physical, empirical reality. Our experiences intersect this “transcendent” reality when no material causation can be found for them. In my experience of human love, I find just such a transcendent quality.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn called mutual affection, which, among all living things, he found unique in humans, “the highest achievement they can aspire to.” Human love has inspired poets and artists through the ages. Plato told us why: “At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.” Even Einstein chimed in on the transcendence of human love when he said, “Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.” (Okay, that one was just for fun. But he did say that!)

Perhaps one of the best know quotes on love came from the physicist/philosopher, Blaise Pascal: “The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of.” This scientist who spent a lifetime in the realm of reason found in human love something that reason could never explain.

I agree. Some biologists will insist that they can find evolutionary paths that lead to the ineffable wonder of human love. But I doubt their accounting. Something so indescribably sublime cries out for an explanation beyond a few molecules bouncing around in the brain. Emotions and sensations on a much lower plane would have sufficed to ensure the propagation of the species. So whence the high joys of human love, especially marital love? These highest of human joys cross over into the realm of eternity, and give the human soul a sense of connectedness to something, or Someone who transcends the physical. That is my experience.

48 comments:

Isaac Gouy said...

Something so indescribably sublime cries out for an explanation beyond a few molecules bouncing around in the brain.


'Clubbers who take the "love drug" ecstasy really might be "loved up". Studies in rats suggest the drug causes a brain surge of oxytocin - the hormone that helps bond couples, as well as mothers to their babies.'
Ecstasy really does unleash the love hormone


'... in nonhuman animals, we're supposed to call it "pair-bonding" rather than love. But if you watched a mated pair of prairie voles together, their behavior would look a lot like love to you. The prairie vole... stays with the same mate for life (which is unusual, since only 3 to 5 percent of mammals are monogamous). Both parents care for the offspring, and prairie voles that lose their mates typically refuse to take another partner.
...
Two neuromodulators, oxytocin and arginine vasopressin (AVP) ... Infusion of either neurotransmitter into the brain causes pair-bonding to occur after a short exposure to the partner, even if the pair has not had sex.

... scientists have succeeded in converting the promiscuous meadow vole to monogamy by experimentally inducing expression of the AVP receptor ...'

"Welcome to your Brain" p126

Isaac Gouy said...

... evolutionary paths ... Emotions and sensations on a much lower plane would have sufficed to ensure the propagation of the species.

Similarly someone might suggest that a less gaudy display than the Peacock's tail would have sufficed to ensure the propagation of the species - wouldn't that show some misunderstanding of evolution through natural selection?

Roger said...

"Similarly someone might suggest that a less gaudy display than the Peacock's tail would have sufficed to ensure the propagation of the species - wouldn't that show some misunderstanding of evolution through natural selection?"

Or perhaps a critic would misunderstand what certain observations imply.

Providing a potential correlation between brain state and what the OP is describing doesn't do much to chip away the point he (or so I feel) was making. Nor do comparisons to drugs or anthropomorphized ideas of vole rats. Describe every correlated material process in the brain while undergoing these kinds of feelings, reflections upon them, and wonders at them - and still wonder, and an important potential implication, remains.

It may be worth considering why.

Cliff Martin said...

Isaac,

You infer that I am building a case for immaterial explanations for the high joys of love. But my case does not rest on immaterial causation. If all sensations, emotions, and ecstatic joys find a source in the firing of synapses and neural chemistry, I remain in awe of the transcendence of human love, a transcendence that powerfully suggests to me an ultimate transcendent Source, even if that Source designed matter and chemistry to accomplish his ends.

Isaac Gouy said...

> Describe every correlated material process in the brain while undergoing these kinds of feelings, reflections upon them, and wonders at them - and still wonder, and an important potential implication, remains.

Sorry, I can't make sense of that sentence.

Isaac Gouy said...

> You infer that I am building a case for immaterial explanations...

No.

> ... a transcendence that powerfully suggests to me ...

Suggests to you, or serves as confirmation for your prior faith?

Roger said...

"Suggests to you, or serves as confirmation for your prior faith?"

Says the pot to the kettle.

By the way, Cliff, I'm new to your blog - great insights and explanations. Just one more reason why, however much it gets some in a huff, the suspicion of a mind being at work behind our universe is eminently rational - and science only highlights as much.

Cliff Martin said...

Roger,
Thank you for your comments. I appreciate your thoughtful contribution here.

Isaac,
I appreciate your thoughts as well. You are correct that some of the evidence I am offering here serve more as confirmations to a prior held faith. Sort of like finding evidence to support a hypothesis. As I clearly state in the full essay, the deepest evidences for me are personal and admittedly subjective. What I am trying to do in these posts is to determine (with your help) the quality of more objective evidence supporting faith. such evidence is not conclusive. I am only suggesting that it is adequate to leave even a skeptic like yourself with the suspicion of a Creator.

Isaac Gouy said...

cliff > What I am trying to do in these posts is to determine (with your help) the quality of more objective evidence supporting faith.

When our concern is "evidence supporting faith" we've already given up on "objective" and settled for post-hoc rationalization.


cliff > the deepest evidences for me are personal and admittedly subjective

Presumably they are the ones that actually matter to you, and the five here could be swept away without unsettling your faith?

Cliff Martin said...

Isaac,

You write “When our concern is ‘evidence supporting faith’ we've already given up on ‘objective’ and settled for post-hoc rationalization”

Who exactly do you mean by “we”?

You write “Presumably [the deepest personal & subjective evidences] are the ones that actually matter to you, and the five here could be swept away without unsettling your faith.”

No, you presume wrongly. If I found no corroborating evidence in nature for the Creator, if nothing in the cosmos supported my faith, I would most assuredly lay my faith aside. The Bible tells me that I will find evidence for God and his creative work in this material world. So, to test my faith, and to validate those Biblical claims, I go on a search for evidence. And my search has been rewarded ... not with absolute proof, but with what is for me strong evidence nevertheless.

Tom said...

Let's flip it around. If love is transcendent, then is hate also? Some people would say so -- "The Devil made me do it."

I suppose you could argue that hate is natural and love is the divine rescuer. That is a tenet of Christianity, after all, that we are all sinners albeit for God's grace. The thing is, love is across all humanity, and apparently even prairie voles. Is love just a freebie God bestows on everyone because He's just got so much of it, it is overflowing? Or is there something to monogamy and attraction that helps our species survive? Perhaps genetic expression of oxytocin and arginine vasopressin (AVP) were selected for because it gave poets the ability to procreate and broaden the gene pool, whereas before it was just the hunters that got all the cave-babes. ;-)

Isaac Gouy said...

> Who exactly do you mean by “we”?

You, me, tom, Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all who come across your comments.


> No, you presume wrongly.

Please note that I asked a question which I thought possibly presumptuous - the question mark seems to have been lost in quotation.

> ... if nothing in the cosmos supported my faith ...

I asked specifically if "the five here could be swept away without unsettling your faith" - you haven't answered that specific question.

> So, to test my faith, and to validate those Biblical claims, I go on a search for evidence.

Do you search for evidence that would refute or evidence that would confirm?

Cliff Martin said...

Isaac,

1) I have never given up on objective evidence. Not sure what you point is there.

2) I apologize for the inadvertent omission of the question mark in my citation. But it would have made no difference in my response. You did not ask me a straight up question. You stated a presumption in the form of a question. Punctuation aside, the presumption that I would never abandon faith even if no evidence were found is an incorrect one.

3) I look for evidence supporting the hypothesis that the God of the Bible is real. I do not even know where to look for evidence that would refute such a theistic claim. Do you? There may be evidence to refute specific arguments or theistic "proofs". They merely refine the arguments, or cancel some. But evidence for a negative (that is evidence that there is no God) does not exist. Or do you have some?

Cliff Martin said...

Isaac,

To your specific question, I asked specifically if "the five here could be swept away without unsettling your faith". That is a fair and reasonable question, and I will try to answer ...

Aside from personal experience and more subjective evidences, these five comprise the evidence which I find most compelling. If all five were to be proven false, and no other similar kinds of evidence could be found, I suppose I would become agnostic. But I would likely be an agnostic in search of God as opposed to many agnostics who seem to find the notion of God abhorrent.

Isaac Gouy said...

cliff > You did not ask me a straight up question.

If there's a question mark I really am asking for clarification.

Presume I am trying to understand and make sense of your comments.

In this case I'm trying to understand if those "deepest evidences" ("the deepest evidences for me are personal and admittedly subjective") would for you be sufficient in themselves - would they?

Isaac Gouy said...

cliff > I look for evidence supporting the hypothesis that the God of the Bible is real.

I wouldn't presume to know which "God of the Bible" you are talking about, or for that matter what exactly you mean by "real".


cliff > But evidence for a negative (that is evidence that there is no God) does not exist.

You know that the problem of evil is frequently cited as evidence against a particular kind of God, so I'm puzzled that you "do not even know where to look for evidence".

Cliff Martin said...

Isaac,

I'm trying to understand if those "deepest evidences" ("the deepest evidences for me are personal and admittedly subjective") would for you be sufficient in themselves - would they?

If they were all I had, and I found no reasons for belief outside of my own subjective experiences, and those of trusted friends, then I would seriously question my faith, and would probably abandon it. Part of my faith is that I expect to find corroboration in nature ... just as I do.

You know that the problem of evil is frequently cited as evidence against a particular kind of God, so I'm puzzled that you "do not even know where to look for evidence".

The problem of evil is just that ... a problem. And as others have noted (David Bentley Hart), it is only a "problem" for theists. It is not evidence against the existence of God. At any rate, I have dealt with the theodicy problem in series of earlier posts; and what is a problem for some is not problem for my faith.

No, I would have no idea where to look for evidence against the existence of God. Just as I would not know where to find evidence against the flying spaghetti monster, or leprechauns. And isn't that the point of those laughable examples: that theism is non-falsifiable?

Tom said...

As Hawking also poetically asks, "What breathes fire into the equations..." We really don't know what it is about spikes in the brain, this symphony of chemical reactions, that gives rise to perception, interpretation, and meaning. Really, what is it about chemical reactions that could make something painful or feel good?

Rather than concentrate on love, I think it's all part of the same naturalistic processes, so if you say there is love and pleasure, the same means accomplish pain and hate. This, then, causes us to go round and round with theodicy, especially if the deity that created this system has a particular care about what we believe about it/him and is continually involved with us.

Isaac Gouy said...

cliff > The problem of evil is just that ... a problem.

Isn't the reason that it is "a problem" precisely that it can be taken as evidence against a particular kind of God?


cliff > I have dealt with the theodicy problem in series of earlier posts

Obviously it's going to come up again if you ask for comments on "5) the existence of evil"

Isaac Gouy said...

cliff > ... isn't that the point of those laughable examples: that theism is non-falsifiable?

No, that point is 'inability to disprove does not prove' - inability to disprove the existence of the flying spaghetti monster does not prove it exists.


cliff > Part of my faith is that I expect to find corroboration in nature ... just as I do.

cliff > No, I would have no idea where to look for evidence against the existence of God.

If you can seek evidence for the existence of God in nature then why can you not seek evidence (evidence not proof) against the existence of God in nature?

Would a claim for an omnipotent God that did not allow suffering even be non-falsifiable?

Cliff Martin said...

Isaac,

Would a claim for an omnipotent God that did not allow suffering even be non-falsifiable?

Such a claim would indeed be falsifiable. But however one reads the Bible, it is clear that the God of Christianity has not disallowed suffering in this cosmos. The "problem" for a Christian apologist is to understand how and why a good and compassionate God might allow suffering. Christianity teaches that he not only allows it, but willingly participates in suffering. When I consider that God is a God who suffers, it changes the picture for me.

Isaac Gouy said...

cliff > Such a claim would indeed be falsifiable.

That claim provided a straightforward example of finding evidence against the existence of a particular kind of God in nature.

If you can seek evidence for the existence of God in nature then why can you not seek evidence (evidence not proof) against the existence of God in nature?

Isaac Gouy said...

Was that not a straight-up respectful question?

Cliff Martin said...

I'm sorry ... I read your question as a rhetorical point.

Again, I do not know that evidence to prove a negative is something we can meaningfully look for. That has been my point all along this thread. Now, if my search for positive evidence comes up dry, I would certainly take that as a strong indication that God does not exist.

So my search is for evidence to indicate theism.

Isaac Gouy said...

cliff > I'm sorry ... I read your question as a rhetorical point.

Then I'll say again -

If there's a question mark I really am asking for clarification.

Presume I am trying to understand and make sense of your comment

Isaac Gouy said...

cliff > Again, I do not know that evidence to prove a negative is something we can meaningfully look for. That has been my point all along this thread.

If I understand correctly the point you have been making all along is - can't prove a negative.

That is a fallacy - can't prove a negative is simply not true.


"I wasn't there!" is a negative statement.

We can prove that negative statement by showing they were not there, they were elsewhere.

We would look for evidence to show they were not there, they were elsewhere.

"[E]vidence to prove a negative is something we can meaningfully look for" and this example is so familiar that we have a name for it - an alibi.


Do you disagree? Do you have other reasons why you cannot seek evidence (evidence not proof) against the existence of God in nature?

Cliff Martin said...

So if we can prove that God is off in some other cosmos, that will prove he is not here? You haven't shown me anything at all, Isaac. Your example of an alibi is positive evidence which in turn proves a negative. Of course. I can likewise prove that today is not Thursday if I can prove it is Monday. I can prove Obama is not in Oregon if I can demonstrate that he is in Chicago. But these examples tell us nothing about finding evidence for a negative. They are like either/or dilemmas. We can prove A is not if we can find evidence supporting that B is.

But it is an entirely different thing to produce evidence of a negative for which there exists no "countering positive". What about producing evidence that there were no WMD in Iraq? Can't be done! Show me evidence that there is no flying spaghetti machine. Tell me where to look for evidence that there are no leprechauns. These are the kinds of negative that cannot be proven, and for which no evidence can logically exist.

Cliff Martin said...

Isaac,

Thinking about your alibi method of proving a negative assertion, I realized that the analogy fits quite nicely.

Since there is no possible way to prove that Jack was not at the scene of the crime, and no place to even start looking for evidence for that negative assertion, the defense attorney turns his attention instead to finding positive evidence that he was elsewhere.

Since there is no possible way to prove that God does not exist, and no place to even start looking for evidence for that negative assertion, I turn my attention instead to finding positive evidence that he does exist.

Does this really not make sense to you?

Isaac Gouy said...

cliff > Your example of an alibi is positive evidence which in turn proves a negative. Of course.

And that single example is enough to show can't prove a negative is false - disjunctive arguments will prove a negative conclusion and conditional arguments will prove a negative conclusion.

cliff > These are the kinds of negative that cannot be proven, and for which no evidence can logically exist.

You are mistaken: the evidence can logically exist, the difficulty is practical not logical.

The difficulty arises from the scope of the claim - a simultaneous examination of every part of a shoe box is a practical proposition, a simultaneous examination of every part of Iraq to arbitrary depth is not.

Isaac Gouy said...

cliff > Since there is no possible way to prove that Jack was not at the scene of the crime...

There are possible ways to "prove" directly that Jack was not at the scene of the crime.

cliff >... no place to even start looking for evidence for that negative assertion

The scene of the crime would be the place to start looking for evidence for that negative assertion - the people who were at the scene of the crime say Jack was not there, the every angle cctv coverage shows that Jack was not there ...


cliff > Since there is no possible way to prove that God does not exist

On the contrary, we've already seen that we can prove that a particular kind of God does not exist - an omnipotent God that did not allow suffering.

When you write "God" you mean a particular kind of God, you make particular claims about God, and those claims may contradict the evidence of nature in a way that proves that particular kind of God does not exist - it depends what you claim about your God.


cliff > I turn my attention instead to finding positive evidence that he does exist.

In the analogy that would mean finding positive evidence that Jack was at the scene of the crime - you switched from defense to prosecution attorney :-)

To follow the analogy you should turn your attention to finding positive evidence that would logically contradict the claim that God exists and thereby prove that God does not exist.

Cliff Martin said...

Isaac,

You keep making non-points, i.e.:

"You are mistaken: the evidence can logically exist, the difficulty is practical not logical.

The difficulty arises from the scope of the claim - a simultaneous examination of every part of a shoe box is a practical proposition, a simultaneous examination of every part of Iraq to arbitrary depth is not."


So searching a shoe box is practical. Searching Iraq is not. What exactly is your point? How practical is searching a Universe?

Isaac Gouy said...

cliff > You keep making non-points...

Mistakenly thinking that "no evidence can logically exist" for that kind of negative statement was one of your supports for the fallacy can't prove a negative.


cliff > What exactly is your point?

You've said categorically that:

"... evidence for a negative (that is evidence that there is no God) does not exist."

"... I do not know that evidence to prove a negative is something we can meaningfully look for. That has been my point all along this thread.

My first point has been to demonstrate that evidence to prove a negative is something we can look for, and in fact do look for in commonplace situations.

Do you now agree that "evidence to prove a negative is something we can meaningfully look for"?

Cliff Martin said...

Do you now agree that "evidence to prove a negative is something we can meaningfully look for"?

Not at all. Please show me how a meaningful search for evidence that God does not exist can be launched. And, please, do not divert the discussion into "evidence against a certain kind of God." Just evidence against the existence of any kind of supernatural Creator. Where should we look? Or, for that matter, where will we mind evidence for the non-existence of the flying spaghetti monster?

Isaac Gouy said...

Do you now agree that "evidence to prove a negative is something we can meaningfully look for"?

cliff > Not at all.

How interesting!

Do you agree that finding positive evidence that would logically contradict the claim that 'Jack was at the scene of the crime' and thereby prove that 'Jack was not at the scene of the crime' is an example of finding "evidence to prove a negative"?

Cliff Martin said...

Isaac,

I'm growing weary of arguing in circles! Of course, alibis can prove a person was not at the scene of the crime, because a person cannot be in two places at once; and so we go in search of POSITIVE EVIDENCE to support a POSITIVE ASSERTION that Jack was in fact at the bowling alley and not at the scene of the crime. Short of that POSITIVE PROOF of a POSITIVE ASSERTION, there would be absolutely no way to prove that Jack was not at the scene of the crime. (Or, I keep asking you, tell me where we would look!!)

If there is no POSITIVE (get it, Isaac ... do you understand the difference between positive and negative in this discussion???) ASSERTION which logically rules out another possibility, there is no way to approach discovery of evidence to prove a negative. Again I say, you have shown me nothing!

Please, can we leave the alibi argument aside? It has not one single thing to do with the question of God's existence.

Yes, it is incorrect to say that negatives can never be proven. I get that. You have clearly elucidated two exceptions to the rule. 1) A positive proof of alibi proves a countering negative (which, of course, has nothing to do with the question of God). and 2) Where it is practical to do an exhaustive search, (as in the case of the shoe box) it is possible to prove a negative (which again has nothing to do with the question at hand, the cosmos being somewhat larger than a shoe box).

You asked if I thought evidence of a negative (presumably you are referring to my searching for evidence that would disprove God's existence) could be "meaningfully looked for" and I say "No". And I have asked you to show me where one would begin such a search. Other than trying to win a silly argument about whether negative assertions are provable (okay ... technically speaking, YOU WIN!), you have not said one substantive thing relative to the question of whether I should or how I could mount a search for evidence disproving God's existence.

Isaac Gouy said...

cliff > Short of that POSITIVE PROOF of a POSITIVE ASSERTION, there would be absolutely no way to prove that Jack was not at the scene of the crime. (Or, I keep asking you, tell me where we would look!!)

I respectfully answered with direct positive evidence for a negative conclusion examples - "the people who were at the scene of the crime say Jack was not there, the every angle cctv coverage shows that Jack was not there ..." [November 18, 2008 1:11 PM]


cliff > Other than trying to win a silly argument about whether negative assertions are provable ...

If it had been generally true that negative conclusions can't be proved you would have had some support for the blanket claim "But evidence for a negative (that is evidence that there is no God) does not exist" and therefore some support for the claim that your search for evidence has been objective.


cliff > ... you have not said one substantive thing relative to the question of whether I should or how I could mount a search for evidence disproving God's existence.

I respectfully spelled-out how the "fits quite nicely" alibi analogy could be applied - "you should turn your attention to finding positive evidence that would logically contradict the claim that God exists and thereby prove that God does not exist."

And we've already mentioned a straightforward example - We both know there are people who find the positive evidence of suffering in the world logically contradicts the claim that an all loving God exists and thereby proves that God does not exist.

Isaac Gouy said...

cliff > And, please, do not divert the discussion into "evidence against a certain kind of God."

We already know that you seek evidence for a certain kind of God - "I look for evidence supporting the hypothesis that the God of the Bible is real".

When I asked - "why can you not seek evidence (evidence not proof) against the existence of God in nature?" - I asked about the same God you seek evidence for, a certain kind of God.


cliff > Just evidence against the existence of any kind of supernatural Creator.

The difficulty here is that the sweepingly general "any kind of supernatural" would include those which by definition left no evidence that they ever existed, let alone created the world - no evidence for or against.

Cliff Martin said...

Isaac,

I’m sure you will agree that none of the examples you have cited (alibi, cctv camera angles, searching shoe boxes) has any relevance whatsoever to the question at hand: searching for evidence that indicate the non-existence of God. Short of winning a philosophical argument that some negative assertions can be proven (I concede your point!), I have no idea why you persist in mentioning them.

I have repeatedly asked you for an approach to a search for evidence to show God does not exist, and all you have provided is a means of casting doubt upon certain presumptions held by some people about the specifics of theology, which is again irrelevant to the larger question at hand Does God exist? The question has nothing to do with our ideas about what he might be like, or what might motivate him, or why he might respond, or not, in certain ways. Certainly, we can find evidence for and against any particular trait which people may presume God possesses. But that has no bearing upon the question of his existence. Do you agree?

There are many varied opinions about the specifics of theology of the “God of the Bible.” I use data from nature and experience to refine my understandings about what he is like. But I do not know how to look for evidence that he does not exist. Nor do you.

Quite obviously, you have no ideas about how one would mount a search for evidence that God (or the tooth fairy, for that matter) does not exist. One could argue that belief in a tooth fairy who leaves dimes under the pillow is absurd in these days of inflation. But how would we go about proving that she does not exist at all? You haven’t a clue, do you? And neither do I. Can we please move on?

Isaac Gouy said...

cliff > Certainly, we can find evidence for and against any particular trait which people may presume God possesses. But that has no bearing upon the question of his existence. Do you agree?

What evidence have you offered for the existence of God that does not depend on particular traits?

- If we did not suppose God to be a “superintellect” specially designing the cosmos with mankind as its fundamental goal and purpose, why would a biofriendly universe suggest God exists?

- If we did not suppose God to be an orderly law giver, why would an ordered universe suggest God exists?

- If we did not suppose God to be an intelligence directing evolution, why would biological complexity or abiogenesis suggest God exists?

- If we did not suppose God to be all loving, why would the notion of transcendent human love suggest God exists?

- If we did not suppose God to be a power of goodness, why would the notion of a power of goodness keeping a supernatural force of evil in check suggest God exists?

The evidence you have offered for the existence of God only acts as "evidence" if we suppose that God possesses particular traits - so those presumed traits have direct bearing upon the question of his existence.

Isaac Gouy said...

And the corollary:

You told us that these are, for you, five of the most convincing lines of evidence for the existence of God:

- if we presume God exists, a biofriendly universe might suggest special interest in mankind as a particular trait.

- if we presume God exists, an ordered universe might suggest orderly law giving as a particular trait.

- if we presume God exists, the biological complexity of abiogenesis might suggest intelligently directing evolution as a particular trait.

- if we presume God exists, the notion of transcendent human love might suggest all loving as a particular trait.

- if we presume God exists, the notion of a power of goodness keeping a supernatural force of evil in check might suggest power of goodness as a particular trait.


Now you tell us - "we can find evidence for and against any particular trait which people may presume God possesses. But that has no bearing upon the question of his existence."

That describes your "five of the most convincing lines of evidence".

By your own reasoning they have no bearing upon the question of the existence of God.

(Are those the footsteps of Thomas Aquinas?)

Cliff Martin said...

Isaac,

I understand your point. It still has no bearing upon what I am trying to do here. You can be satisfied that you have caught me in some of my words, if that is what turns you clock. But, I will try to lay out, in simple terms, my process of thought.

Indeed, I do presuppose the kind of God you describe. I have many subjective and experiential reasons for that presupposition. And we all start with presuppositions. So, I look to nature for verification, I look to see if there is any evidence in nature to support my hypothesis. And, voilà, I find it. As I have stated, if my search turned up no evidence, then I would call to question all those subjective and experiential bases for my hypothesis.

You have never gotten around to my questions. You insist that I look for evidence that God does not exist. Where would I begin a search for evidence that there are no leprechauns, or tooth fairies, or flying spaghetti monsters? Would it matter greatly if we could prove that the flying spaghetti monster was really not spaghetti, but linguine?

Isaac Gouy said...

cliff > You can be satisfied that you have caught me in some of my words...

I took your words seriously - if you've misspoken just correct your words.


cliff > As I have stated, if my search turned up no evidence, then I would call to question all those subjective and experiential bases for my hypothesis.

Your search seems to have turned up no evidence for the existence of God.

Your "five of the most convincing lines of evidence" might suggest evidence for particular traits, but you have told us that evidence for or against particular traits has no bearing on the question of the existence of God.

Where is your evidence for existence - evidence not presupposition?


cliff > You insist that I look for evidence that God does not exist.

I wonder, as I have wondered for two weeks now, why you think it "objective" to take one stance on evidence for the existence of God and a different stance on evidence against the existence of God.

Cliff Martin said...

Isaac,

I wonder, as I have wondered for two weeks now, why you think it "objective" to take one stance on evidence for the existence of God and a different stance on evidence against the existence of God.

Simply because if God exists, I do expect that we might find indicators of this in nature. Whereas if he does not exist, there would be no evidence to demonstrate this. (I have been asking you to show me where to look for two weeks now, and you have drawn a blank.) The only "evidence" that I would expect to find for the non-existence of God is a complete absence of indicators that would favor his existence.

How is this approach non-objective? or what specifically to you object to in this approach?

Isaac Gouy said...

cliff > Simply because if God exists, I do expect that we might find indicators of this in nature.

Then I ask again:

Your "five of the most convincing lines of evidence" might suggest evidence for particular traits, but you have told us that evidence for or against particular traits has no bearing on the question of the existence of God.

Where is your evidence for existence - evidence not presupposition?

Cliff Martin said...

Isaac,

but you have told us that evidence for or against particular traits has no bearing on the question of the existence of God.

I have no doubt that something I wrote somewhere gave you this impression. I do not have time or energy to review all the discussion. So let me rephrase.

I have tried to make this clear already: I begin with the hypothesis that a God who is intelligent and good exists. I turn to nature to see if there can be found evidence that such a God truly exists. I find much evidence to confirm that hypothesis, evidence that satisfies my mind. If I did not, I would reevaluate the hypothesis. I do not know how to make this simpler or more clear for you, Isaac.

Isaac Gouy said...

cliff > I have no doubt that something I wrote somewhere gave you this impression.

You were quite explicit - "Certainly, we can find evidence for and against any particular trait which people may presume God possesses. But that has no bearing upon the question of his existence. Do you agree?"

[November 20, 2008 12:09 PM para 2]

Cliff Martin said...

... and I do not have the time or will for the endless round of clarifications and bungled inferences that would be involved in helping to understand what I meant. Please, instead, accept the statement in my previous comment.

Isaac Gouy said...

Presumably you wish to abandon questions about "the quality of more objective evidence" here: I find much evidence to confirm that hypothesis, evidence that satisfies my mind.

As you don't wish to question whether you should be satisfied there's an end to it.