Antony Flew’s Conversion to Deism

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The prominent philosopher, Antony Flew, has famously converted to deism (Flew and Habermas, 2005).

Professor Flew was, also famously, a participant in a debate (reprinted, for example, in (Pojman, 1987)), wherein he argued that nothing can falsify a firmly held religious belief. Professor Flew, who claims never to have “attacked belief,” (Ostling, 2005) has evidently changed his mind and is now a deist. (No, he did not convert to theism, and he rejects the Abrahamic God; his belief is far closer to deism, however much Gary Habermas stresses theism in the interview.)

Professor Flew’s religious belief is his own concern and is unobjectionable inasmuch as it does not require denial of established facts. It is a pity, though, that Professor Flew, who admits he is “unable to keep up with the [scientific] literature,” has based his change of heart in large measure on the writing of Gerald Schroeder and on the concept of intelligent design (Wavell, 2004).

Intelligent design theory is not testable and is based on very dubious propositions (Young and Edis, 2004). I will not discuss it here.

Gerald Schroeder’s works are beyond dubious: they are wholly unscientific and distort both science and scripture to support a preconceived old-earth creationism. My colleague, Mark Perakh, and I have independently discussed various of Mr. Schroeder’s opuses and found them wholly without merit. I will not repeat those discussions but rather will provide references below.

I wish that Professor Flew had read Mr. Schroeder’s work more carefully or had consulted critical references to Mr. Schroeder’s work before pronouncing Mr. Schroeder kosher.

References and bibliography.

Carrier, Richard, 2004, “Antony Flew Considers God - Sort of,” The Secular Web, http://www.secweb.org/asset.asp?AssetID=369. The article, Flew, Antony, 2001, “Sorry to Disappoint, but I’m Still an Atheist,” The Secular Web, http://www.secweb.org/asset.asp?AssetID=138, apparently no longer represents Flew’s views.

Flew, Antony, and Gary R. Habermas, 2005, “My Pilgrimage from Atheism to Theism: An Exclusive Interview with Former British Atheist Professor Antony Flew,” Philosophia Christi, Winter, in press. Available at http://www.biola.edu/antonyflew/fle[…]nterview.pdf.

Ostling, Richard N., “One of the World’s Leading Atheists Now Believes in God, More or Less,” Boulder Daily Camera (AP release), 10 December 2004, http://www.dailycamera.com/bdc/reli[…]9922,00.html.

Perakh, Mark, 1999, “Not a Very Big Bang about Genesis,” http://www.talkreason.org/articles/schroeder.cfm.

Perakh, Mark, 2000, “O Bolshom Vzryve i Knige Bytiya (About the Big Bang and the Book of Genesis),” Vremya Iskat, no. 3, pp. 94-114 (in Russian).

Perakh, Mark, 2003, “Intelligent Design for Dummies,” The Skeptic (Australia), vol. 23, no. 4, Summer 2003, pp. 22-27.

Perakh, Mark, 2004, Unintelligent Design, Prometheus, Amherst, N. Y., Chapter 10, “Not a Very Big Bang about Genesis.”

Pojman, Louis P., 1987, Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology, Wadsworth, Belmont, California, pp. 359-364.

Wavell, Stuart, 2004, “In the Beginning There Was Something,” Sunday Times (London), Dec 19, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/.

Young, Matt, 1998, “The Bible Code: Did God Write the Bible? Or Was It a Computer?” Rocky Mountain Skeptic, March-April, 1998, pp. 1, 4-6. Available at http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung/BkRevs.htm.

Young, Matt, 1998, “The Bible as a Science Text,” Rocky Mountain Skeptic, November, pp. 2-4. Review of The Science of God, by Gerald Schroeder, Free Press, New York, 1997. Available at http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung/BkRevs.htm. See also “Correction and addendum,” Rocky Mountain Skeptic, September, 1999, p. 2, at the same URL.

Young, Matt, and Taner Edis, eds., 2004, Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism, Rutgers, New Brunswick, N. J., http://165.230.98.36/acatalog/____1147.html.

35 Comments

Flew has himself commented recently on the spate of articles about his ‘conversion.’

Here’s a comment from the RATIONALIST INTERNATIONAL (India) site.

“I have not changed my views”

Antony Flew informs Rationalist International

By Sanal Edamaruku

On 16th December 2004, Professor Antony Flew, British philosopher, well known rationalist, atheist and an Honorary Associate of Rationalist International, telephoned me and informed that the wild rumours about his changed views are baseless. He expressed surprise over the confusion some people have spread and asserted that his position about the belief in god remains unchanged and is the same as it was expressed in his famous speech “Theology and Falsification”. “I find no new reason to change my views”, Professor Flew said.

Professor Antony Flew discusses the atheism of a rationalist, based on the impossibility to verify or falsify the religious claims about a god, in his short paper “Theology and Falsification”, first published in 1950. Since then this paper was reprinted more than forty times in different places, including translations into German, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Welsh, Finnish and Slovak. During the conversation with me, Professor Antony Flew expressed desire to publicise this paper as it represented his views till this moment. “There is no change”, Professor Antony Flew asserted. “Some people argue that I changed my views. It is simply not correct.”

More grist for the mill! Cheers, Dave

I had forgotten about the Rationalist International source, or I would have cited it too. It is, however, completely at odds with the two press releases, the Habermas interview, and (Carrier, 2004), so I am inclined to discount it.

A brief comment to Matt Young’s posts wherein he discussed Schroeder’s book. This is not about the merits of Schroeder’s opuses (which have been discussed in detail in my and Matt’s essays referred to by Matt) but about Matt’s assertion that Schroeder “teaches at Weizman institute.” Weizman insitute is a prestigious research center in Israel (btw three of its scientists have won the Nobel prize this year)so the affiliation with Weizman institute is an impressive item on anybody’s resume. In fact, though, this reference is incorrect. Although Schroeder constantly points to his affiliation with Weizman, he is neither “teaching there” nor had ever done so. Many years ago Schroeder was temporarily employed for a only couple of months at Weizman institute in some apparently low-level position. This brief episode had not left any record of any research conducted by Schroeder at Weizman and no scientists at Weizman seem to have any recollection of Schroeder’s work there. No surprize here: the contents of Schroeder’s books reveal his egregious lack of understanding of simple notions at the level of college physics course coupled with his equally ridiculous misreading of the Scriptures. In fact, for many years Schroeder has been a lecturer at Aish HaTorah seminars. This is a religious organization whose goal is to induce unobservant Jews to return to the fold. Schroeder makes his living as a propagandist for Orthodox Judaism. Listing the venerable Weizman isntitute as his alleged affiliation only emphasizes the level of intellectual integrity of that pseudo-scientist whose piffle had so much impressed the philosopher Flew.

For additional discussion try news groups, http://groups.google.com/advanced_group_search

for instance talk.origins

messages with word flew

group talk.origins

You might want to restrict the search to this week.

Mr. Mark Perakh “No surprize here: the contents of Schroeder’s books reveal his egregious lack of understanding of simple notions at the level of college physics course”

He does have a PhD from MIT in physics.

The Rationalist International piece is from an old batch of rumors concerning Flew’s conversion from early 2001.

It is from the secular web.

http://www.secweb.org/asset.asp?AssetID=138

It is irrelated to Flew’s recent conversion to some form of deism based upon ID arguments.

I think the interesting point here is not the conversion of Flew per se, but how the ID movement will use this as a rhetorical tool.

“Even the GREAT atheist philosopher could not deny the intellectual merits of intelligent design. Teach the contraversy!”

The Rationalist International piece is from an old batch of rumors concerning Flew’s conversion from early 2001.

It is from the secular web.

http://www.secweb.org/asset.asp?AssetID=138

It is irrelated to Flew’s recent conversion to some form of deism based upon ID arguments.

I think the interesting point here is not the conversion of Flew per se, but how the ID movement will use this as a rhetorical tool.

“Even the GREAT atheist philosopher could not deny the intellectual merits of intelligent design. Teach the contraversy!”

Michael Wrote:

Mr. Mark Perakh

This is funny given the rest of the post.

Foolish me. I saw the Rationalist International name and immediately assumed it was the old piece from RI that had been circulating around the internet, where this is a new one. It still is quite questionable given its conflicts with other reports, but not what I foolishly wrote it was before reading it over.

(Sorry for the previous double post)

Re: comment 12139 by Michael. Dear Mr. Michael:

We all know that Schroeder has a PhD degree from MIT (his PhD was on radon concentration measurements more than 30 years ago). So what?

Among his pearls are such laughable assertions as that masers shoot atoms, that kinetic energy is proportional to velocity, that weight and mass is the same, that a frame of reference can be attached to photons, that heat energy spreads over increasing volume, that a constant rest energy of a particle is equal to the variable energy hf where f is de-Broglie wave’s frequency, etc, etc, etc.

For any one of such statements a college freshman would get an immediate F.

Likewise, when referring to Genesis, he claims that Yaval and Yuval were the father and the grandfather of Tubal-Cain while it is clearly stated there that they were Tubal- Cain’s half brothers, etc, etc, etc. (Read the sources referred to by Matt Young).

His PhD testifies not to his supposed qualification but rather to the holes in the educational and degree-awarding systems.

Perhaps Dembski’s multiple degrees have the same significance as that of Schroeder.

Cheers, Mark Perakh

I read the Flew did not convert to deism. What I read was that Flew recognized that he came to realize that ultimately, a belief in atheism requires the same “leap of faith” that belief in a God does.

He did not convert to deism, but just said that neither atheism or deism was proveable nor could these be disproved.

Steve:

>>He did not convert to deism, but just said that neither atheism or deism was proveable nor could these be disproved.

This just goes to show the problem with Flew’s position. The term “belief in atheism” is an oxymoron; atheism is the lack of belief. Using the above reasoning, one could justify believing in (as well as rejecting the disbelief in) unicorns and pixies. Atheism bears no burden of proof. Thiests are the ones, claiming as they do the existence of a magic universe-creating being, responsible for proving the existence of said being. Until they do so successfully, refraining from belief in such a being is an eminently rational default position. That is to say, untl God’s existence is proved, atheism is rational and theism is irrational (or at best, “rationally-challenged”.)

The situation is the same with science and evolution. Scientists claim evolution is the mechanism that best explains biodiversity. Unlike the theists, however, science has met its burden of proof quite handily.

I’m personally quite disgusted with Flew’s wishy-washiness on this issue. He seems to be telling theists one thing (“I’m a deist now!”) and atheists another (“No I’m not!”). He should quit dissembling and state his position clearly.

Martin:

Your position about the second part of my note is clear and makes sense.

But regarding the first part, I think instead of the word ‘belief’ it mught be more appropriate to say, mindset or thought structure; one being atheist and another theist.

Yes, the burden of proof is on the theist, if God can be proved using the scientific method and I do not think this is possible.

All people have to come to a point of decision on this at some time, hence the term “belief.” though I agree it may not be quite the best term for the ahteist.

..I am a deist myself and I freely admit that there is an element of emotional and hence not 100% rational thought involved in believing in God. One should lean towards the rational, but to deny or exclude the emotional element in such a choice is a mistake; and unproveable! More theists need to be intellectually honest about this.

Yet, since we all have emotion as well as some intellect, such a choice is not outside the ‘boundaries’ in which we live. In an odd way, since the choice of believing in God is made within our human limits that includes both intellect and emotion, one might argue it is a more “scientific” and “macro fact-based” choice (mostly but not totally TIC).

But, I mention this dual aspect in reaching a decision as part of the reason why the word ‘belief’ is used. Nobody makes a decision either way like this based on 100% rationality. After the decision is made the atheist may come to believe they have ‘reached’ the purely rational position since they do not have the burden of proof.

Yet the very foundation of this thinking ignores the word ‘possibility.’ So that an atheist does not have to prove God’s existence is 100% true but only insofar as the statement itself goes. But ignoring the word ‘possibility’ even though God cannot be proved is not 100% rational and correct. Unproveable ‘possibility’ is the one reason why I have read there are more agnostic scientists than there are atheistic.

The theist who is honest that God cannot be proved scientifically and the agnostic view are the only truly honest positions that I see.

I think Flew is in the agnostic camp now although I think he is intimidated in admitting this openly thus the “quibbling” you spoke of.

I think Professor Flew’s position is very clear - he is now in essence a deist. He can be accused only of changing his mind, not waffling or inconsistency (unless you think changing your mind is somehow inconsistent).

The discussants about atheism seem not to agree on the meaning of the term. In his splendid book Natural Atheism, David Eller defines an atheist as someone who does not believe in God, rather than someone who denies categorically that God exists. If you accept Eller’s definition of atheism, then the burden of proof is entirely on the theist.

In my earlier article, “Social Darwinism and ‘The Political Brain,’” http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archi[…]/000568.html, I noted Antonio Damasio’s demonstration that you cannot make a “purely rational decision”; all decisions require emotional involvement.

If the emotional involvement is too strong, then each side will see the other as biased or dogmatic, rather than merely having reached a different conclusion. Still, if you want to be scientific, you have to try to get past your emotional involvement as much as possible and not accept certain propositions, such as Gerald Schroeder’s propositions, just because they are congenial (or, the flip side, not accept them because they are not congenial).

It is hard, however, to see how extreme forms of theism, such as biblical literalism, are anything but emotional, at least when they are embraced by scientifically literate people. Thus, it is a surprise to find a skeptical philosopher such as Professor Flew so profoundly influenced by a biblical literalist such as Mr. Schroeder.

Posted by Steve Cade on December 23, 2004 03:21 AM - “The theist who is honest that God cannot be proved scientifically and the agnostic view are the only truly honest positions that I see.”

You’re setting yourself up for a round of ‘invisible pink unicorns’. I think it is honest to dismiss the existence of any god until evidence is provided; i.e. an atheism that is not dogmatic.

At any rate, that discussion has been held frequently and elsewhere, so I suppose there’s no point in starting it up again here.

Arctic Penguin:

An atheist can make a statement saying the he honestly does not believe in God until God is proven providing he is not dogmatic about it. It is an ‘honest’ statement to make.

He cannot be honest and also say that the probability of God’s existence, though unproven is zero. This means that the agnostic still has the stronger position at least in terms of intellectual honesty and argument.

I am not setting myself up for an argument that says that belief in a God I cannot prove ‘using the scientific method’ is the same as believing in ‘invisible pink unicorns.’

The belief in the 2 is not merely a word game as you make it out to be.

Someone might try to say that we can say whatever we like since words are just sounds; forgetting that words have meaning and convey both thoughts and emotions. ‘Invisible pink unicorns’ is like the ‘word-as-sound’ argument. Atheists know that the idea of God is that of a being (person), someone who can convey thoughts. Discussion about God’s existence is more than just a word game or even a strict philosophical discussion. It can involve a discussion of personality.

God cannot be directly proved, but what could be proved is the effect that belief in God-as-a-person has on the person doing so. Just what would scientific measurements show about the effect ‘an apostle’ or Jesus himself had on his surroundings and others.… There may not be this level of believer these days but some come closer than others and such effects can be measured scientifically. This is not direct proof but it would yield some interesting facts.…

The trouble with these arguments is not that there is no particularly good evidence for the existence of God but that the concept of God is so vague and slippery that it’s hard to know what you’re supposed to believe in, disbelieve in, or even doubt. I guess I don’t even have enough faith to be an agnostic.

Steve Cade writes that an atheist “cannot be honest and also say that the probability of God’s existence, though unproven is zero,” but one can hardly estimate probabilities until there’s an hypothesis. It is hardly enough to hint “that the idea of God is that of a being (person), someone who can convey thoughts.” Do you guys really think that this sort of hand waving counts as identifying what you’re talking about?

By the way, I acknowledge that God talk is highly meaningful to believers in an emotional way just as the bell was highly meaningful to the dogs in a salivary way. Unfortunately, the ringing of the bell does not mean food in the same way that “man” means rational animal. I’m only interested in conceptual knowledge.

Jim Harrison:

I accept the concept of God as a personal being. As we are made in his image, we are like him albeit in more limited ways.

When I speak of possibility or probability of God existing, I am referring to a personal God. Of the major religions, only the Buddhists don’t believe in a personal God.

To say that this is ‘hand-waving’ is just as biased a statement as any I make but I admit my bias. You say you want more definition (a hypothesis) of what we mean by God. Describing him as a personal being is all the definition I can give in a limited forum like this. But we all know what a ‘person’ is and so he is a ‘person’ although with far more capability than we have.

Also, my idea for scientifically measuring the effects seen in highly committed believers is not solely based on emotions and emotional effects / responses.

If Pavlov had continued his bell-ringing experiments for longer periods the dogs would no longer have salivated upon hearing the bell while receiving no food.

We all have conditional responses. There have been discussions arguing that ‘ALL’ actions we ever perform are conditioned responses.

We could not function without them. In fact we would not want to function without them. That God would understand this and use this is not grounds for dismissing the beliefs of a theist though sometimes or perhaps all the time (depending on who won that argument - TIC) the responses may be conditioned.

I like conceptual knowledge too, across a wide range of subjects. Emotional / spiritual responses can also be looked at conceptually and they can also be measured. I would actually like to see the results of such a study and I would want it to be done objectively. Truthfully, if it were done by a group of objective atheists, all the better. I’d still be curious to see the results.

…There have been some unusual things that have occurred in group prayer for example that I would like to see measurements of. I am not speaking of ‘tongues’ or overly emotional groups. I have been witness to some things that defy explanation in group prayer where the people praying were quiet, intelligent, and in a state of deep prayer but not wildly emotional.

If we do our best to put away our biases, anything can be looked at conceptually, even an honest, studied faith.

Sorry. Calling God a personal God tells me exactly nothing about what you’re talking about. You might as well tell me that you can’t say anything definite about god except that he is light green in color.

At this point one normally says, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree, but I don’t understand you well enough to disagree.

By the way, I ‘m not an atheist because I don’t know what it is I supposedly don’t believe in and I’m not an agnostic because I don’t know what it is I’m supposed to be uncertain about. It is true, however, that religion strikes me as largely irrelevant to a serious attempt to arrive at conceptual knowledge of the nature of things. There are many more interesting questions than the existence or nonexistence of god. Life is too short to worry about something just because it’s sacred to a large part of the human race.

Jim Harrison:

Your 2nd paragraph of mutual-exclusivity shows you do not want to be ‘pinned down’ to any type of definition, conceptual or personal. You ‘wave the hand again,’ probably half jokingly. It is your right. I can take a joke.

I would guess that you do not apply this logic to any other area of thought or life though, even those that are purely conceptual or speculative. I do not force my beliefs on others, so we can agree to disagree, but life ‘on this side’ has rewards, merits and is also very interesting.

It is not true that my description of God as a being having personal qualities tells you exactly nothing. You do know what a person is.

I have never met an atheist yet who is involved in the sciences or math (my former background) who was not proud of the fact that they were atheists. So I think it may be a little disingenuous to say that the concept of God’s existence is hardly worth thinking about. They think about it a lot although in the opposite way.

Those who base their belief in theism OR deism on a probability argument – ie, that the NATURAL origin of life would be extremely improbable – make a couple basic errors.

First, they presume that the level and kind of complexity (including so-called “irreducible complexity”) seen in living things could NEVER have arisen from natural processes alone (ie, without intelligent DESIGN by some supernatural being). Anyone who buys into this argument should look at the work of Stephen Wolfram done on complexity (A New Kind Of Science). The level and kind of complexity that can be produced using very simple rules and iterating the steps a large number of times is nothing short of astonishing. Genetic or “evolutionary” programming (based on darwinian selection) also produces extremely complex systems that can perform a task very efficiently. Neither Wolfram’s examples nor genetic programming require any kind of design (intelligent or otherwise).

Second, those who base their belief on the probability argument effectively equate IMPROBABILITY with IMPOSSIBILITY. Even the most unlikely event is in principle POSSIBLE. Most (intelligent) people, if DEALT a royal straight diamond flush in poker, would not throw it down and say “I want a re-deal. This can’t be real” – even though the probability of being dealt this hand (or ANY specific hand) in poker is exceedingly small.

To call God personal would indeed tell me something if I knew what sort of entity you claim possesses this attribute. Or should I construe “Person” as a noun? In that case I’m back to being puzzled because persons are human beings, and God, presumably, is not a human being.

You’re free to think of me as an atheist if you like—I don’t think of it as an insult—but it really isn’t accurate. The point of my comments was to suggest that there are other and more interesting points of view than either “believer” or “unbeliever.” Religious individuals remind me of people who think that everybody is always talking about them—think of all the Creationists and I.D. folks who actually think that biologists developed the theory of evolution to shoot down the book of Genesis.

By the way, in denying the importance of the existence of God, I was not suggesting that religion is unimportant. Indeed, I’ve studied the history and sociology of religion all my life, not only because of its obvious political and cultural significance but because it is a product of human group psychology operating in a vacuum and therefore a window on human nature.

.

Jim Harrison Larry

I appreciate the feedback / input and the reference to Wolfram’s work. I will try to address both letters with this one.

Regarding probabilities.…, I never said I believed because of this point. But if I were a proclaimed atheist, this would be an area that would ‘bother’ me.

I will address a little on possible views of God using a few thoughts based on an article I read about Wolfram’s book. I read this article in its entirety today, http://www.kurzweilai.net/articles/[…]?printable=1 by Ray Kurzweil. I have not read Wolfram’s book but this article has given me some thoughts so I will pass them along.

God does want faith. Faith is related to free will and he does not want to take away our free will. So, any proofs of God would only be tangential, but many tangents describe a full circle. Maybe Wolfram’s work ultimately can provide these tangents.

First, maybe God is ‘whoever he wants to be.’ But for our purposes, in the universe, we have to know him in terms we are used to.

So, whether God has somehow put all of himself into the creation or not, I cannot answer for sure. I tend to doubt it but it is not really necessary to know this from our view.

As creator, he would have made the rules governing our universe. Being infinite, the rules would be part of him and can point to him but he also encompasses the rules and the universe ‘Measured heaven with a span (hand-width)’ (Isaiah 40;12). This is why I think he did not include all his knowledge, entirety etc. in the creation of the universe.

God is more than iterative computations but math is also a part of who God is. If all things in the universe could be finally figured out in a mathematical way, this does not preclude the existence of God and it dos not limit him to ‘only’ being this. Again, we are on the inside.

In my former background as a teacher and programmer I was aware that what seems complex is really an aggregation of simple things or processes.

So, now from our perspective anyway, perhaps God is both simple and complex. ‘God is love’ may be the more simple way of describing God and ‘God is Creator’ the more complex. Perhaps the Bible has had it right all along with these descriptions.

A bit of an aside but regarding Wolfram’s thought about free will; “So even though our decisions are determined, there is no way to predetermine what these decisions will be” (from internet article). — The logical outcome of this statement then means that, if choices are predetermined although not known beforehand, then all atheists are both correct and incorrect and all are theists are both correct and incorrect since their decisions are ‘predetermined.’ This tells me that in this one area anyway Wolfram’s conclusions still need more revision.

Scientists may use the scientific method when doing research but there are other methodologies that can be used to find truth. These methodologies are not totally unlike the scientific method in that at least they are step-by-step; Wolfram’s cellular automata if you will. When we look for a spouse, hopefully we are using at least part of the thinking areas of our brain. But no matter how we approach this, there are step-by-step methodologies used. These are less precise than the scientific method but they still work when properly applied. The methodology of finding God-as-person will by necessity have to employ some of the same.

From the article I read it seems as if Wolfram’s work is still a work-in-progress. Even his title “A New Kind of Science.” Bears out that it is a foundational work. Once refined more perhaps it will be possible to run algorithms to show a God-like influence. 1 Corinthians chapter 2 says that accepting a Savior by faith goes against the grain of natural thinking. Once the work is refined further, perhaps algorithms could be introduced to show the effects of an external God. Perhaps simulated human choices on a ‘Class 6 or 7 Automata’ will show that accepting God by faith is indeed “unexpected.” Perhaps 1 Corinthians 2 could be proved this way sometime in the future. This might not prove God exists but it would point tangentially to him.

Once Wolfram’s work is more complete perhaps other ‘faith tests or choices or God tests’ could be introduced. So, the proofs will be tangential, but again many tangents can describe a full circle.

I believe in the God of the Christian Bible for many reasons. It makes the most sense to me when comparing it to other major religions. The idea of a personal God makes sense to me too; this is how we live our lives generally. I accept by faith that he has revealed himself in a way that is understandable to me but also understandable to lets say a 5 year-old child. This makes sense for a God who says he loves me. But even if I were equivalent to 10 times the intellect of our top minds and I were able to arrive at a mathematical / algorithmic solution to the universe’s mysteries, I could not be sure that God was not bigger than this so I would still be a believer. So, in that way I do hold to what, from perhaps our perspective only, seem like ‘thin’ probabilities. But this is not the foundation I used to come to believe.

But in a more practical everyday life type-of-way, God is love is a necessary starting point. It is simple really but we have to start with the simple. Maybe Wolfram’s work (although not totally refined yet) bears this out to some degree.

As I said, he is whoever he wants to be if he is God. But, for practical purposes from our perspective he is a person although one much greater than us. But as a person he can both give love and receive love. So, it is a simple test but it does take a step of faith. The methodology used has to be the type we use when relating to people. It may not be the scientific method but it is still step-by-step. It is still simple to more complex. It concurs with the methodologies we use to govern all of our lives except for those relatively few hours when someone is actually using the scientific principle in research.

Maybe in a few years, others will be able to build on Wolfram’s and others work and at least get the ‘outline of God’ when higher class automata are more well defined. For a good percentage of people in this field, this would be very exciting work.

A bit of an aside but regarding Wolfram’s thought about free will; “So even though our decisions are determined, there is no way to predetermine what these decisions will be” (from internet article). —- The logical outcome of this statement then means that, if choices are predetermined although not known beforehand, then all atheists are both correct and incorrect and all are theists are both correct and incorrect since their decisions are ‘predetermined.’ This tells me that in this one area anyway Wolfram’s conclusions still need more revision.

Well, the point of the book was to begin a research program, so he certainly needs more work, but not as you imagine. Your ‘logical outcome’ does not follow from his statement.

Steve:

Perhaps. My observation was not done to be critical and the rest of my note shows I was supportive. Maybe someone else will read it and it will give them an idea for more refinement even if I did not hit the nail on the head. I sat down for a night of some after-supper enjoyment. I’ll look into it more.

Steve:

I do understand that what I said about Wolfram on the fact that both possible outcomes of choice for a theist and atheist actually point to the possibilities of free will. Either person could go the other way while they are still alive.

I read the article and not the book so it was a hunch but I wondered about including the time right to the point of where life ends and death ‘begins.’ I was thinking about that point. At that point since both are predetermined how can either position be considered right or wrong for either one of them? Therefore every position is possible at that one instant. Prior to that moment in time it would point to free will.

Steve Cade: God cannot be directly proved, but what could be proved is the effect that belief in God-as-a-person has on the person doing so. Just what would scientific measurements show about the effect ‘an apostle’ or Jesus himself had on his surroundings and others . … There may not be this level of believer these days but some come closer than others and such effects can be measured scientifically. This is not direct proof but it would yield some interesting facts . …

Jim Jones and David Koresh come to mind. I don’t see how a preacher being charismatic would constitute proof, direct or indirect, of the truth of their preaching, unless you are talking about actual miracles. The complexity of human psychology is well-established. The reality of miracles is not.

… There have been some unusual things that have occurred in group prayer for example that I would like to see measurements of. I am not speaking of ‘tongues’ or overly emotional groups. I have been witness to some things that defy explanation in group prayer where the people praying were quiet, intelligent, and in a state of deep prayer but not wildly emotional.

A bit vague there, I don’t know what specifically you are talking about since you give no details. I could mention the effort by John Hagelin and his TM meditation project to lower the crime rate in Washington D.C. This (coincidentally?) corresponded with an unprecedented murder rate in that city, and won Hagelin an Ig Nobel prize: http://www.improb.com/ig/ig-pastwin[…].html#ig1994

Then there are the healing power of prayer studies. Well-designed, well-run studies such as that done by the Mayo Clinic have found no effect. www.mayo.edu/proceedings/2001/dec/7612a1.pdf

The two studies initially thought to be well-run that have found favorable results were either definitely fraudulent (Elisabeth Targ http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/[…]p;topic_set=) or strongly suspected of fraud (Columbia University study http://www.time.com/time/columnist/[…]2245,00.html)

As for comment #12372, you spend much time telling us what God is like, although you haven’t established his existence.

Getting back to your original comment, what does the agnostic believe while he is waiting for knowledge? What is his/her default position? How long should an atheist have to wait for the evidence which continues to fail to appear before deciding, non-dogmatically, that it probably isn’t going to appear?

I have never met Flew, but I resent his (reported) decision because 1) It was made for poor reasons. He was convinced by an argument that is logically fallacious, backed up by examples that are inaccurate and misleading, and not well-regarded even within its own field and 2) Now it will be parroted by every anti-evolution idiot such as Phillis Schlafly

arctic penguin:

An agnostic says that he cannot rule in or rule out the existence of God since direct proof with certitude cannot be guaranteed either way. The atheist does not have to wait at all to agree with such a position. I think that if one is speaking from believing in or proving God ONLY using the scientific method, such a position is obvious.

For the sceintific method, there are no controls that can be devised for a proof / test of God’s existence.

What a person can do is draw many inferences; tangential proof as I call it above. Some of these inferences could be in the forms of cause and effect in many different ways covering many differnet aspects of life and thought. Some could even be in the form of scientific experiments that could be repeated. But ultimately belief in God himself comes down to a choice by faith. I mention this above as well.

The reason why I did not establish his existence is because I admitted in an earlier post, and here, that such direct proof is not possible. I made the point to say that there are other methodologies used to come to such a conclusion. If one chooses to believe in God, when drawing inferences from many perspectives, subjects, a personal God makes the most sense.

I was not referring to charisma or healing when talking about measuring the effects of prayer. Even if wat I mentioned were proven true, such results would be another tangential proof of God’s existence. But it would still be interesting to see the results. Write again if you are really interested.

Consider these five statements:

A. There is a God; that is, an intelligent being who is responsible for the creation of the universe as we know it, and who remains involved in the events of the universe. (Theism)

B. There is a God; that is, an intelligent being who is responsible for the inception of the universe as we know it, though His involvement in the universe since the creation is uncertain. (Deism)

C. There is no God of the kind posited in A or B. (Atheism)

D. There may or may not be a God of the kind posited in A or B, but I choose not to believe in Him. (Modified atheism)

E. There may or may not be a God of the kind posited in A or B, but His existence can never be proved or disproved. (Agnosticism)

I suggest that “none of the above” is a falsifiable hypothesis. That is, if you accept that A and B are unfalsifiable, then C is unfalsifiable as well; it simply denies what A and B assert.

Neither D nor E is falsifiable, by design. D is merely a more roundabout way of saying C. The operative part of D is “I chose not to believe,” which is the same as saying “there is no God,” as in C.

The virtue of E is that it addresses the issue of falsifiability and comes to a logically (if not empirically) valid conclusion.

Have I missed any possibilities? Do you agree with assessment of the five I’ve listed?

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It seems a lot of people are misquoting Flew’s SUPPOSED about not keeping up with the literature.

http://www.secweb.org/asset.asp?AssetID=369

Richard Carrier states that in private correspondence with him Flew in some way says:

“Flew points out that he has not yet had time to examine any of the critiques of Schroeder. Nor has he examined any of the literature of the past five or ten years on the science of life’s origin, which has more than answered his call for “constructing a naturalistic theory” of the origin of life.”

Without any direct quotes from Flew this is questionable at best. Carrier points out that Flew didn’t give him permission to make quotes but in December 2004 he gets permission and in the update doesn’t expand upon Flew’s supposed ignorance of the literature.

The intellectual dishonesty coming from the evolutionist camp is apalling. The notion that Flew hasn’t been keeping up with the literature is just one shining example.

And you know, even if it’s true, I doubt flew would be very impressed with the RNA World hypothesis which was resurrected (Crick first suggested in the late 1960’s) in the 1990’s and then pretty much thrashed in the last several years because the RNA chemistry that ostensibly led to DNA chemistry doesn’t work at all well in primordial soup conditions. Now what Flew would find “in the literature” is a mad scramble to find a precurser to the “RNA World”.

And of course, the RNA World is “bad science” because it makes no predictions and cannot be proven or disproven because all evidence of any RNA World is lost with nothing at all left behind today as evidence it ever existed except a few ribozymes which in some extreme stretch of the imagination have been cast into the role of evidence.

Sounds like I gotta take a lot of stuff on faith, like the RNA World, from the science community in regard to origins.

So tell me again about ID and natural origins - which is faith and which is science?

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DaveScot:

And of course, the RNA World is “bad science” because it makes no predictions and cannot be proven or disproven because all evidence of any RNA World is lost with nothing at all left behind today as evidence it ever existed except a few ribozymes which in some extreme stretch of the imagination have been cast into the role of evidence.

What Andrea Bottaro said, except to correct “ribosome” in place of “ribozyme” in the first usage RE those structural studies. It is in fact both. The ribosome is a ribozyme.

Here’s some of that “bad science” from the peer-reviewed literature: Do Proteins Predate DNA? Ribonucleotide reductase in the archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus: A critical enzyme in the evolution of DNA genomes? Inhibition of ribozymes by deoxyribonucleotides and the origin of DNA. Catalysis in prebiotic chemistry: application to the synthesis of RNA oligomers

Try your own literature search on “RNA World” for many more.

DaveScot writes

And of course, the RNA World is “bad science” because it makes no predictions and cannot be proven or disproven because all evidence of any RNA World is lost with nothing at all left behind today as evidence it ever existed except a few ribozymes which in some extreme stretch of the imagination have been cast into the role of evidence.

If you’re really into crank science, Dave, you should be aware that “all we have left” to show that men went on the moon are some video images which could have been manufactured in a hollywood studio or in death valley and some rocks that for all you and I know were picked out of a creek somewhere.

Surely you’ve heard that there are some serious educated people who believe that the moon landing was faked. Why don’t you join them? Their controversial proposition merits teaching as well, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t a fake moon landing be the perfect example of scientific hubris and manipulation of the public on behalf of secular humanist ideals (“one giant leap for mankind” remember? why not “we claim the moon for Christianity”?).

DaveScot:

Now what Flew would find “in the literature” is a mad scramble to find a precurser to the “RNA World”.

And of course, the RNA World is “bad science” because it makes no predictions and cannot be proven or disproven because all evidence of any RNA World is lost with nothing at all left behind today as evidence it ever existed except a few ribozymes which in some extreme stretch of the imagination have been cast into the role of evidence.

Let’s run it through a BS to plain English translator to remove some of the spin.

The RNA World theory was compatible with the evidence when it was proposed (explanatory power)

The RNA World theory is compatible with evidence uncovered since it was proposed (predictive power; examples: structure of ribosome, homology of all ribonucleotide reductases, smaller ribozymes, etc)

The RNA World theory, by DaveScot’s own admission, has spurred new research.

As for evidence, DaveScot is forgetting about the molecular fossils found in his own cells.

I don’t see how that justifies the “Bad Science” label. For comparison DaveScot, why don’t you give us a rundown on the literature for research into a precursor of the Creation proposed by ID?

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on December 21, 2004 11:34 AM.

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