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7/27/09

James Randi - the Amazing Atheist, part 2 of 2

Let us continue our observation of James Randi devolving from rational skeptic to emotive besmircher.

Part 1, Part 2

Next we note the manner in which James Randi addresses the Christian God.

This is a God also that requires to constantly be praised, constantly praised like a petulant child. He wants to constantly be praised, and bowed to, and kneeled to, this sort of thing and, and be feared. Greatly feared because, look what he can do, he can do anything!
According to what I’ve been told about this, this particular deity. I’m talking about the Christian God now. This is a petulant child. Wanting constantly to be catered to, worshipped, kneeled down to all the time. I don’t like this God at all.

Even if James Randi felt that he had to critique the Biblical concept of God his words and tone betray more raw and irrational emotion than they demonstrate the rationale of an honest skeptic and researcher. Secondly, his statements are peppered with criticisms based on an anti-supernatural bias.

Christians should keep in mind something that may happen when the general topic of God’s existence is being discussed. If the atheist begins to besmirch the Bible and the character of the God it presents the Christian can point out that even if the Bible is not the word of God and is utterly unreliable in every way, this would not mean that God does not exist—it would only mean that one particular theology is inaccurate.

Let us note something that Jason Gastrich touched upon which is that praising, catering to, worshiping and kneeling down to God is not simply a one sided act done to a needy God who is in need of an ego boost. Human beings tend to seek something higher than themselves to look up to, to praise, to cater, to worship and to kneel to. This generally comes in the form of a deity or in some impersonal higher plain or spirit within or in the case of atheism; nature worship. In the case of atheism it may also be philosophers, professors, scientists or simply whom they behold in their mirrors. If God exists praise and worship is rightly offered to Him. If humans are going to praise and worship they ought to offer it to the proper object. Moreover, exactly what is wrong if a side effect of praise and worship is human fulfillment? After all, Richard Dawkins claims the same, and more, of atheism.

Now I will offer the confessions of an introvert as a metaphor for understanding whether or not God is a needy petulant child or even that He created humanity because He was lonely and lacked something. I am an introvert; in my youth I thought that I could get girls to like me not by talking to them but by withdrawing and looking lonely. As it turned out they would think it looks like he wants to be alone. But when I got older I realized that, as an introvert, I did not “need” friends. That is to say that I never chose my friends based on who was there for me when I need them. This is because as a pretty extreme introvert I did not “need” them. If I had a problem I dealt with it by myself. I chose my friends on the simple basis of whom I enjoyed being with, they were not truly required so serve any need.
I understand that some would claim that my apparent “need” for enjoyable people demonstrates that something was lacking in me and that I did require companionship. Well, maybe you do not know what being an extreme introvert is like. Then again, there may very well be some validity to that criticism after all, I am a mere mortal and do enjoy the friendship of various personages.
However, I think that it is problematic to take God’s anthropomorphic descriptions of His own “emotions” and make a one to one analogy to our own emotions. For one, our emotions are affected by many things to which the God of the Bible is not subject such as: misunderstandings, chemical imbalances, the influence of pharmaceuticals, prejudices, depression, etc., etc.
Moreover, the God of the Bible is a triune being, a Trinity, and thus has never, ever, for all of eternity lacked relationship (this was detailed in this post).

Now, we will point out what is perhaps the epitome of James Randi’s abandonment of rationale for full-fledged emotionally charged outbursts:

I know that they’ll also say they’re gonna pray for me, this is the most condescending, patronizing thing that I hear anybody say and I get very angry when I hear it. So please don’t tell me you’re going to pray for me….
I’m getting really tired about this, ah, this, this patronizing thing ah, and I’m, I’m, growing more and more impatient with it all the time. People are going to pray for me and to bless me

Let us momentarily grant that Christians are as ignorant, diluted, superstitious and irrational as James Randi thinks that they are. Is he really incapable of understanding that what people are saying to him in stating, “I’m going to pray for you”? He could take it to mean I give you my best, or I wish you the best, or good luck, or I’ll be thinking about you, or I love you so much that I want things to go well for you, etc. He could take it to mean any number of well meaning sentiments but he chooses to be “very angry” about people wishing him well. What more is there to be said?

At one point in the interview Jason Gastrich told James Randi about a time in his life when he was suffering serious problems with his vision. Jason Gastrich expressed that he prayed to God about the situation and that his vision was restored. James Randi asked just how restored vision could be attributed to answered prayer. He stated that perhaps it was changing peanut butter brands that cause the restoration of his vision.




Atheists disregard supernatural stories that have some validity to them and simply tell naturalistic stories that have no validity to them. Notice that while we may not be able to prove that his vision was restored due to an answered prayer all that James Randi can offer is virtually an infinite number of possible reasons for the restoration. Perhaps it was new peanut butter, or 2½ glasses of water per day, or the alignments of the planets, or pineapple and anchovies on the same pizza, etc. In other words, while on the surface James Randi’s response may seem validly skeptical we note two further points.

Apparently, someone could tell James Randi that their cancer was brought to remission due to chemotherapy and he would ask them if they had recently changed peanut butter brands. Doctors could conduct experiments that sought to ascertain whether chemotherapy caused the cancer to remit or not. But could they prove that it was not the peanut butter, or chemotherapy plus peanut butter, or chemotherapy plus patchouli incense? Another favorite pseudo-skeptical response to spontaneous healing is claiming psychosomaticism. This response may or may not be valid, although it surely is a convenient evidence-less answer.

Again, we may not be able to prove miraculous healing by answered prayer. But we have gotten a window into the mind of a person who has a strong faith based belief in materialism. C. S. Lewis, a former atheist, offered the following response to David Hume’s arguments against miracles:
Now of course we must agree with Hume that if there is absolutely ‘uniform experience’ against miracles, if in other words they have never happened, why then they never have. Unfortunately we know the experience against them to be uniform only if we know that all the reports of them are false.
And we can know all the reports to be false only if we know already that miracles have never occurred. In fact, we are arguing in a circle.[1]


The atheist presupposes that no miracles occur and so no claim of a miracle can be valid. The Christian can take a more liberal view in believing that while some claimed miracles are hoaxes or misunderstandings, some are valid. Ultimately, atheists commit this same logical fallacy when dealing with the issue of God’s existence. Since God does not exist there can be no evidence of God’s existence and since God’s existence has not been evidenced then God does not exist. No one has had an experience with God because God does not exist and since we know that God does not exist we simply dismiss all claims to experiences with God as illusionary, mistaken, hoax, etc.

Incidentally, if someone’s vision problems were healed by a miracle from God they could really care less than an atheist is unsatisfied with the lack of evidence—they are just busy praising God for the healing.

For years James Randi has put forth a front of unbiased interest in evidence, reason and experimentation. Yet, we find that mere minutes into a discussion with a Christian, the veneer falls away and the emotionally driven prejudice is fully exposed.

Let us pray for him.

[1] C. S. Lewis, Miracles (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1947), p. 123

30 comments:

  1. There is a very big difference between chemotherapy and prayer. While you may never be able to prove that either one is responsible for a recovery in a given instance, chemotherapy has been demonstrated to work in general, whereas intercessory prayer has been demonstrated to have no effect at all. Prayer = Peanut Butter.

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  2. This blog's owner probably doesn't have an active sexual life. Too bad.

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  3. In general prayer is used as an altruistic form of good will and chemotherapy is a poison that helps kill you.

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  4. Paul the Prayer warriorJuly 28, 2009 at 8:13 PM

    God answers all prayer, some people just refuse to take the answer No for an answer. If someone prayers for an event and it happens No matter how improbable the Naturalist says Naturalism explains that ! If the prayer is not answered yes the Naturalist says Naturalism "Explains " that also!
    Atheists assume all pain and Cancer are meaningless sufferings and Jesus should have ended all pain when he came to earth and proven atheists are correct that pain is useless and meaningless, since he did not that shows God doesn't exist. I will pray God heals these atheist mental amputees! It will take a Miracle though.

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  5. Peanut butter intervenes in all affairs, some people just refuse to take the answer No for an answer. If someone opens a jar of peanut butter for an event and it happens No matter how improbable the anti-peanut-butterist says anti-peanut-butterism explains that! If the event is not brought about the anti-peanut-butterist says anti-peanut-butterism "Explains" that also!

    All hail the mighty peanut butter!

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  6. We also understand the mechanism by which chemotherapy works--attacking cells that divide rapidly. As for prayer, we don't have even a vague sense of how it might work. The laws of the universe are changed by having atoms teleport from one place to another?

    Naturalism doesn't explain things. Naturalism is an assumption we must make to have any chance of explaining things. An explanation, though, requires a lot more than just a coincidence of events. If opening a jar of peanut butter coincides with an improbable event, the peanut butter does not explain the event, because: a) the experiment is not repeatable and b) we have no workable hypothesis for how opening a jar of peanut butter would have any effect.

    Do you want to demonstrate that prayer works to a Naturalist. It's EXTREMELY easy. All you have to do is show that it works better on average than a coin flip. People have tried to do this and they have failed.

    And yes, cancer is meaningless suffering. If I gave someone cancer and said, "It's for a higher purpose. Some good will come of it down the road.", you would not accept that explanation and you would call me evil. And yet you worship a god that you believe does that very thing.

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  7. Naturalism has never been something we have to assume in order to explain things, considering the fathers of most sciences were religious and christian more often then not. History absolutely refutes the idea that naturalism is needed. Galileo wasnt a naturalist fighting religion like atheists love to believe. Gregor Mendel wasnt a naturalist. Isaac Newton wasnt a naturalist. Neither was Kepler, nor 40% of modern scientists. Francis Collins leader of the human genome project isnt a naturalist and you cant call him a creationist either as a cop out.

    Naturalism is pure philosophy nothing more and it is bad philosophy at that. Naturalism does not equal science.

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  8. @Bebo

    About your coin flip experiement remark, what would that prove anyways? First off, God has a will and is not going to come and change reality at your every beck and call, but that's a whole other story.
    But, let's tackle it from another perspective. Say I prayed that you flip 1000 tails. Now let's say that you did indeed flip 1000 tails. Would you be convinced? Probably not, you'd probably say it was a trick coin or the wind was shifting or you'd describe it with the naturalist's two favorite words: "luck" and "coincidence". Yet if you flipped 999 tails then flipped 1 head on the last shot, you'd automatically say, "See, no God!" In fact, any "experiment" that you believe would confirm God, even if it went perfectly towards the pro-God conclusion, you could and probably would try to find any explanation to deny the results.
    But I say let's all live and let live. If you don't want to believe in healing and not get healed, then go ahead. I'll just be over here believing God is still in the healing business and receive mine.

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  9. Even Dawkins said that it's possible for a Statue of the Virgin Mary to wave if all the molecules in it suddenly moved in the same direction all at once & reversed themselves. He also said that it would be astronomically improbable. How improbable? It would take you a billion times longer than the lifespan of the universe to write out the number.

    But he also said if he saw such a thing he wouldn't conclude it was a miracle only that is was "lucky".

    Thus according to Dawkin's own standards "showing that prayer works better on average than a coin flip." proves nothing.

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  10. "...raw and irrational emotion..."

    Raw, perhaps but hardly irrational. Revulsion at those loathsome characteristics of the Abrahamic God is really only sane. Ignoring those characteristic or somehow thinking that those characteristics are laudable is what is irrational.

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  11. >Raw, perhaps but hardly irrational.

    I reply: 100% irrational.

    >Revulsion at those loathsome characteristics of the Abrahamic God is really only sane.

    He has no loathsome characteristics accept in your imagination.

    >Ignoring those characteristic or somehow thinking that those characteristics are laudable is what is irrational.

    I reply: So it's irrational to ignore characteristics of God which don't exist appart from your subjective self-serving characterizations?

    Yeh...gotcha.

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  12. "He has no loathsome characteristics accept in your imagination."

    Well, we ARE talking about a fictional character, after all, so in one sense all of His characteristics are imaginary. However, as a fictional character that has had his actions and motives written about quite explicitly - many of those actions (and implicitly, His Character) are, indeed, loathsome.

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  13. @jc1873

    Thanks for the reply. I'm surprised by how much you purport to know about me based solely on my defense of Naturalism. It's true that I do not believe in the supernatural, but you're wrong to think that my skepticism is so entrenched that I would reject overwhelming evidence of the supernatural. The fact is, I would be greatly swayed by even a little bit of evidence of the supernatural. To prove it, I am willing to participate in the following experiment:

    You choose a coin. It can be as biased or unbiased as you'd like it to be. You pray to your god to make it come up heads as often as possible. We flip it 30 times and record the number of heads. You then pray to your god to make it come up tails as often as possible. We flip it 30 more times and record the number of tails. If the number of correct flips is higher than 42/60, I will give $10,000 USD to the Christian charity or church of your choosing. If the number of correct flips is 42 or less, then you have to give a $10 to atheist bus ads.

    I am serious about this challenge. I can get a cashier's check. We can write up a contract--whatever you like. And this offer doesn't just apply to you, but to any other believer in the power of prayer reading this. If you're interested, please say so, and we'll work out the details via email.

    You're right that if all the coin flips go the right way, I would not necessarily believe in the Christian God instantly. But I would believe in the power of prayer, which would be a big change from my current worldview. With some additional evidence, I may eventually become convinced that the intervention of the Christian God is the best explanation for the phenomenon.

    Now I will purport to know something about you. I expect that you will not take me up on this offer, because you don't think that it will go your way. You made your excuse evident from the start: God has a will and does not perform tricks at our beck and call. But have you ever asked "Why not?"?

    The Bible is intended to be God's communication of his will to us. Therefore, according to Christianity, God's will is comprehensible, even if it sometimes requires interpretation. For example, embryonic stem cell research is not explicitly mentioned in the Bible but many claim that we can figure out how God feels about it from interpreting scripture. So why would God not want the experiment to go in the direction of demonstrating the power of prayer and convincing a nonbeliever to at least reevaluate his position? It would not remove free will, because, as you said, I could still choose to reject the God explanation. So why would a god who wants to be in loving communion with us not want to give us just a little bit of something to make the skeptics come to believe in him?

    Perhaps the best explanation is that God does not exist at all.

    Let me know if you want to help God get an easy $10K.

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  14. apropos methinks: http://atheism.about.com/od/whatisgod/p/AbuserAbusive.htm?nl=1

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  15. Sorry Bebo but as I already explained from Dawkin's own standards "showing that prayer works better on average than a coin flip." proves nothing.

    BTW nice straw man argument.

    While we are at it why don't we try proving the existence of the Andromeda Galaxy by using an electron microscope.

    Let me know how that works out for ya.

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  16. >The Bible is intended to be God's communication of his will to us. Therefore, according to Christianity, God's will is comprehensible, even if it sometimes requires interpretation. For example, embryonic stem cell research is not explicitly mentioned in the Bible but many claim that we can figure out how God feels about it from interpreting scripture.

    I reply: Of course you DO realize at best that is an argument against the Reformation doctrines of Sola Scriptura or the Perspicuity
    of Scripture?

    For those Christians like myself who happen to be Catholic or for Eastern Orthodox Christians this is a meaningless argument since we believe Scripture must be interpreted with Tradition & by the Holy Church.

    This does not disprove the existence of God or the Divine Inspiration of the Bible.

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  17. Let us continue our observation of James Randi devolving from rational skeptic to emotive besmircher.
     
    Just what do you think you're doing, Mariano, when you constantly try to link* atheism & "darwinism" with Hitler and antisemitism, and your implication that atheists "indoctrinate" kids, while ignoring the fact that every culture and religion in history does that to some extent. I ask you: What form of child-rearing would you not consider to be "indoctrination"?

    For that matter, does telling your children of hellfire if they don't believe your mythology count as "indoctrination" compared to what the Camp Quest people do?

    Then, from that same "article", there's the implication that atheism leads to hopelessness...

    Then there's your complaints that atheists are putting up bus ads/billboards "trying to look smart" instead of doing anything to help people out, while dismissing the fact that xians have churches and signs all over the place which you have no problem with? Or the fact that you try to demonize the American Humanist Association for asking for donations when, again, you xians, as well as all sorts of other organizations also ask for donations to keep going?



    *In that link, along with various cherry-picked quotes, you have: Jerry Bergman, teacher of biology, genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, anthropology, geology, and microbiology at Northwest State College:. Is this the same Jerry Bergman, who, among other things, was caught misrepresenting something about Nebraska Man.

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  18. @BenYachov

    Dawkins has no particular authority over matters outside of biology/zoology, so his views on miracles aren't important to me. Even if the experiment I outlined would not persuade Dawkins, it would persuade me.

    I proposed that prayer works as follows: a believer sincerely asks for an outcome and if that outcome is in-line with God's will, then he will select that outcome to occur. If this is a straw man characterization of prayer, then I ask you to come up with a better characterization. To date I have never heard an explanation of prayer that would allow us to discern whether it works or not.

    To answer your question, I did NOT know that what I said about man's ability to understand God's will from reading the Bible is a subject of dispute between Catholics and Protestants. What does "interpreted with tradition" mean? How would you use tradition to help understand an issue like human-animal hybrids, which were not even dreamt of by the early church?

    Nothing will ever disprove the existence of gods, but by investigating claims like "prayer works" we can at least debunk the supposed evidence in support of the existence of gods. If you don't believe that your god answers prayers, then you're right that what I have said does no damage. But if you do believe that your god answers prayers and that means something other than my "straw man" interpretation, please explain. Otherwise, put a meager $10 where your mouth is and take my challenge.

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  19. >Dawkins has no particular authority over matters outside of biology/zoology, so his views on miracles aren't important to me. Even if the experiment I outlined would not persuade Dawkins, it would persuade me.

    I reply: On the contrary it is part of his thesis in THE BLIND WATCHMAKER: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design. So IT IS within his professional discipline & he does claim some legitimate academic authority for it. (One could response to it by looking at the arguments of Wiker & Witt in A MEANINGFUL WORLD but you would have to come to Theistic conclusions at the end).

    >I proposed that prayer works as follows: a believer sincerely asks for an outcome and if that outcome is in-line with God's will, then he will select that outcome to occur. If this is a straw man characterization of prayer, then I ask you to come up with a better characterization. To date I have never heard an explanation of prayer that would allow us to discern whether it works or not.

    I reply: I find it humorous how you are giving lip service to the idea of God as an autonomous intelligence while at the same time practically treating Him as THE FORCE or more specifically a force of nature with predictable results. In experiments on intelligent beings one does need to obtain their permission to participate for practical & ethical reasons. Did you get God to agree to participate in your “experiment”? Ethics aside how can you perform an objective behavioral experiment on an Omniscient Being? Also this smacks of the goofy approach used by Victor J. Stenger in GOD:THE FAILED HYPOTHESIS. As Philosopher Eric Reitan correctly pointed out this at best amounts to “weak falsification”(example: Nothing I’ve seen in these woods amounts to the existence of a wild boar. Ergo there is not a wild boar in these woods).

    Yours is an irrational silly argument EVEN IF God does not exist.

    Also God Wills from Eternity (& He is by nature Timeless)any classic traditional theologian Catholic, Protestant, Jewish or Islamic will tell you that. So he CAN’T per say ever change his mind. When we pay to him for certain “things” we must recognize said “things” fall into three categories. Things which God will NEVER give us no matter how much we Beg & invoke the Name of Jesus. Things God will give us even if we never ask and Things God will ONLY GIVE us on the Condition we ask for them. The later is an example of answered prayer & it is done with the final purpose of us learning to depend on God. NOTto treat God as THE FORCE or COSMIC SANTA CLAUS which seems to be the end you have in mind.

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  20. >To answer your question, I did NOT know that what I said about man's ability to understand God's will from reading the Bible is a subject of dispute between Catholics and Protestants. What does "interpreted with tradition" mean? How would you use tradition to help understand an issue like human-animal hybrids, which were not even dreamt of by the early church?

    I reply: God didn’t (according to the beliefs of Catholics & Orthodox Christians) give us a Divinely Inspired Book Alone as the sole authority to discern His Will. He gave a living Church with Authority to bind & lose & He gave us Bishops who passed down the interpretations of the Apostles & are guided by the Holy Spirit. Thus I know according to Natural Law as it has been upheld & developed within the Church & by the Authority of that same Church that human-animal hybrids are a crime against nature.

    >Nothing will ever disprove the existence of gods,

    I reply: Category mistake! The question of God is metaphysical, philosophical & logical. It is not directly empirical. Even witnessing a real live miracle doesn’t count as direct empirical data or evidence.

    Also it is a false claim that the “disproof” of the existence of the Classic Theistic God is some sort of Universal Negative. If you claim there exists somewhere a Four Sided Triangle. I don’t have to travel to every point in the vast Cosmos (or even every other Cosmos if you believe in a Multiverse) & fail to find it to prove you wrong. Nor do I have to waste time challenging you to produce evidence for the existence of the Four Sided Triangle. I just have to show the concept of a Four Sided Triangle is contradictory, illogical, incoherent & therefore impossible.

    These days the so called New Atheists, it seems, are just to lazy to do that. Or maybe it’s because the Old Guard Atheists have to date failed to do that. What can you do?


    > but by investigating claims like "prayer works" we can at least debunk the supposed evidence in support of the existence of gods.

    I reply: Which STILL as the Philosopher Reitan points out is nothing more than “weak falsification” & the Category Mistake I cited remains.

    >If you don't believe that your god answers prayers, then you're right that what I have said does no damage. But if you do believe that your god answers prayers and that means something other than my "straw man" interpretation, please explain. Otherwise, put a meager $10 where your mouth is and take my challenge.

    I reply: I believe I briefly explained it. You seem to (falsely) conceive of God as a Temporal Being with Super-Intelligence that lives moment to moment like the rest of us & responds to us moment to moment & can even be persuaded to change his mind.

    This is so completely off base. Rather God is an A-Temporal/Timeless/Eternal Being who wills conditionally from all Eternity to give us certain things we ask for only on the condition we ask for them.

    A coin flip experiment will prove nothing since by definition you would need God’s prior agreement to participate in your “experiment” & as Dawkins might argue even if you get a pattern of flips consistent with your personal definition of “poof” it could be dismissed as mere “luck”(however improbable) not divine intervention.

    Speaking as a Catholic the Sun Dancing at Fatima is convincing but your coin tossing even if “successful” to “prove” God is not. Like I said it’s like saying I bet you $100 the Andromeda doesn’t exist since I can’t see it under my microscope.

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  21. BenYachov, in the interest of steering clear of theological debates, which I have never found to be fruitful, let us assume that you are correct that: 1) The Christian God exists, 2) Your concept of him is accurate, 3) The coin flip experiment would prove nothing.

    I would like you to then consider my proposition not as an experiment at all, but simply as an opportunity to give money to a good cause. Would you like to take me up on the offer? Or do you believe that the probability of God's intervention is less than five-hundredths of one percent? Considering that you would be asking for something selfless that would help carry out God's work on Earth, why would you consider the probability of intervention to be so low? What is gained, from God's perspective, for allowing this experiment to favor me?

    Is there anyone with stronger faith willing to give God at least a 0.05% chance of selecting the rationally superior outcome?

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  22. Lol @ Bebo playing devil's role.

    "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, "' He will command his angels concerning you,' and "'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" (7) Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

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  23. >I would like you to then consider my proposition not as an experiment at all, but simply as an opportunity to give money to a good cause.

    I reply: You just for the sake of argument conceded my point that a coin toss would prove nothing even if the Christian God exists. So why should I do it? It proves nothing.

    I think "tremor" said it best. If I'm going to pray to God for something it will be for a genuine need I have (like "Oh God please help me with my three autistic children in the Name of Jesus"!) or I pray to get close to Him. It is blasphemy according to Jesus to simply pray in order to test God. Asking God to reveal Himself to you is valid but it means you ask him to do it on His own terms & you look for the signs.

    Of course in natural terms I have found philosophy, reason & science are the best ways but that's just me.

    > Would you like to take me up on the offer? Or do you believe that the probability of God's intervention is less than five-hundredths of one percent?

    I reply: How can you logically assign a probability value to the behavior of an omniscient, omnipotent & Supernatural Being? Probability is ascribed to natural events that have a measurable degree of probable uncertainty. God is not in that category. God is Pure Actuality (according to Aristotle, Aquinas, Maimonides etc) & contains NO POTENCY so you can't by definition give him a probability value.

    Again it is STILL no matter how you praise it
    no better than challenging me to find the Andromeda Galaxy under a microscope. Reason & science are learned skills. Just because you deny gods doesn't automatically make you rational.
    Your challenge proves that.

    >Considering that you would be asking for something selfless that would help carry out God's work on Earth, why would you consider the probability of intervention to be so low?

    I reply: Again you are making assumptions that are inherently illogical. In essence you are merely repeating your same invalid argument. It's silly especially after conceding my point.

    >What is gained, from God's perspective, for allowing this experiment to favor me?

    I reply: You question falsely assumes God has "needs" which is absurd. God doesn't need anything.

    >Is there anyone with stronger faith willing to give God at least a 0.05% chance of selecting the rationally superior outcome?

    I reply: Again God is not The Force so it is an invalid question.

    I'm sorry but this is not a clever or rational argument. At best it is an argument designed to attack the simple faith of 6th graders. Those of us who are adults who have studied some philosophy, some science & logic can only roll our eyes at it.

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  24. >What is gained, from God's perspective, for allowing this experiment to favor me?

    I reply: God if you really exist then allow this Post to appear on the Internet & don't take if off.

    Well what do you know it's a miracle!!!!

    ROTFLOL!!!

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  25. BenYachov,

    Most of the actions that I take are not for the purpose of proving some point. I assume that you are the same. I am simply asking if you think that my offer is something in which you would like to participate, merely for the purpose of helping an atheist's money go to a good Christian cause. Clearly not. However, if I changed the value 42/60 correct to 4/60 correct, I assume that you would perk up and change your mind. You are a rational agent with at least a vague understanding of probability and a set of preferences over future states. I'm just asking you to make a rational decision, based on your beliefs.

    The tool of probability is perfectly capable of capturing uncertainty of belief in future states even when those future states are affected by rational agents. For example, based on polling results, you could make the statement, "I believe that with probability 55%, the Republican will win." Even though voters will vote deterministically in the end,
    we can use probability to capture our uncertainty in the belief states of those agents.

    Assuming that you are rational, you are risk neutral, and you would prefer the outcome in which the church gets $10K over the outcome that I get $10, then it simply follows from the math that you assign a very low probability to God's intervention. The probability may even be as low as 0.

    I'm just trying to figure out why you, as a person who believes in God, believe that the chances of God's intervention are so low. Perhaps it's as simple as what tremor said--basically, that because it is a sin to test God, the outcome would result in my favor instead to teach you a lesson or something like that.

    The problem I have with tremor's response is that because I have conceded all of your points, this bet would not be a test of God. I'm not at all saying that it would be irrational to believe in God if the coin tosses didn't go your way. So, this would be no more of a test of God than praying for your cancer to be cured or praying for the drought to end. There is a preferable outcome, you ask God, if he doesn't do what you ask, you don't let it sway your faith. It's the same deal here--except it's even better because you're asking for something that doesn't benefit you personally, but instead, it benefits God's work on earth.

    Now if you have a problem with gambling, even when you don't benefit personally, that's fine. I can respect that. But if your reason for not participating is because of your belief about the outcome, then I want to know why. Talk of microscopes and Andromeda aren't helping your case. I'll respect your intelligence enough not to point out the myriad differences between your examples and the situation at hand. I'm sure that you are aware of them already.

    It's true that this is a test, but it's not a test of God's existence, power, or will. It's a test of your faith, and so far you're failing. I'm calling you out for claiming that "prayer works" and then living as if it does not.

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  26. >Most of the actions that I take are not for the purpose of proving some point. I assume that you are the same. I am simply asking if you think that my offer is something in which you would like to participate, merely for the purpose of helping an atheist's money go to a good Christian cause. Clearly not.

    I reply: This is clearly a silly stunt. If you want to give money to charity then give. If not well “the poor you will have with you always”.


    >However, if I changed the value 42/60 correct to 4/60 correct, I assume that you would perk up and change your mind. You are a rational agent with at least a vague understanding of probability and a set of preferences over future states. I'm just asking you to make a rational decision, based on your beliefs.

    I reply: Reason dictates it is absurd to apply probability values to the actions of a purely metaphysical timeless being. Just like it is absurd to try to measure a length of time using Kilograms. You keep making the same category mistakes therefore I conclude you just don’t know what you are talking about.

    >The tool of probability is perfectly capable of capturing uncertainty of belief in future states even when those future states are affected by rational agents. For example, based on polling results, you could make the statement, "I believe that with probability 55%, the Republican will win." Even though voters will vote deterministically in the end,
    we can use probability to capture our uncertainty in the belief states of those agents.

    I reply: Do explain how you would use probability to measure the actions of an A-temporal Being? Besides metaphysically if we believed in an Atheistic Universe governed by Super Determinism then all probability measurements would be worthless anyway.

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  27. >Assuming that you are rational, you are risk neutral, and you would prefer the outcome in which the church gets $10K over the outcome that I get $10, then it simply follows from the math that you assign a very low probability to God's intervention. The probability may even be as low as 0.

    I reply: Son if you want to give money to a good cause then do it. I see no rational reason to dignify your foolish stunt.

    >I'm just trying to figure out why you, as a person who believes in God, believe that the chances of God's intervention are so low.

    I reply: I don’t believe by nature probability values can be meaningfully applied to the actions of God. You keep making Dawkins mistake of conceiving of God as a being whose nature is like ours only “Better” or “Uber”. That is not correct & it renders your criticisms invalid.

    >Perhaps it's as simple as what tremor said--basically, that because it is a sin to test God, the outcome would result in my favor instead to teach you a lesson or something like that.

    I reply: Again you are treating God like The Force. Maybe you should troll Wookiepedia?

    >The problem I have with tremor's response is that because I have conceded all of your points, this bet would not be a test of God. I'm not at all saying that it would be irrational to believe in God if the coin tosses didn't go your way.

    I reply: Then what are we talking about then & why make that challenge?

    >So, this would be no more of a test of God than praying for your cancer to be cured or praying for the drought to end. There is a preferable outcome, you ask God, if he doesn't do what you ask, you don't let it sway your faith. It's the same deal here--except it's even better because you're asking for something that doesn't benefit you personally, but instead, it benefits God's work on earth.

    I reply: You cannot pray with an unethical intention(testing God) for an ethical result. That is not moral. God in his Divine Providence will/has already furthered His work on Earth. He doesn’t need you or me.

    >Now if you have a problem with gambling, even when you don't benefit personally, that's fine. I can respect that. But if your reason for not participating is because of your belief about the outcome, then I want to know why.

    I reply: I dislike foolish irrational arguments. I respect the rational Atheist like Quentin Smith who challenges the possibility of God on the grounds (according to him) an A-temporal being could not act in a temporal continuum. I have no respect for teenagers who challenge God to give them a pony & conclude because he doesn’t have a pony God does not exist. That is about as meaningful as saying my wedding ring keeps away tigers. Why? Well I don’t see any tigers.

    It’s STUPID!!!!!!! Deal with it.


    >Talk of microscopes and Andromeda aren't helping your case. I'll respect your intelligence enough not to point out the myriad differences between your examples and the situation at hand. I'm sure that you are aware of them already.

    I reply: I’ve already shown you are making a category mistake AND I just gave an example of how you could have an Atheistic Universe where probabilities where useless(i.e. SuperDeterminism)..

    >It's true that this is a test, but it's not a test of God's existence, power, or will. It's a test of your faith, and so far you're failing. I'm calling you out for claiming that "prayer works" and then living as if it does not.

    I reply: My Faith tells me that “reason proceeds faith”-Thomas Aquinas.
    Or as St. Paul puts it “Give the reason for the Hope you have within you”. You are judging me faithless according to the standards of the heresy of Fideism. Sorry but I’m Catholic & I don’t believe in faith alone(James 2:24) & I don’t believe in Fideism which was condemned by the First Vatican Council more then a century ago either. Prayer does work as prayer but it is still nothing like Jedi Force Powers.

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  28. I agree with what tremor said:

    "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, "' He will command his angels concerning you,' and "'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" (7) Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

    However, funnily enough, my young daughter and I were playing "flip a coin" and she wanted to win - so she prayed out loud and chose heads 17 times in a row. When she was finished with the game, I flipped the coin again and it was tails. Strange but true.

    When God said to Elijah to challenge the powers of Baal - it was God's timing, not presumption.

    When God chooses to give a sign, that's up to Him. In the meantime, I continue to pray for the sick, see some success but not as much as I'd like but I expect to see more as my faith grows.

    I've seen the things discussed with my own eyes. Trying to postulate that prayer "doesn't work" is irrelevant when those of us who have seen it work have the experience and the rational to "prove" it.

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  29. When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realized God doesn’t work that way, so I stole one and prayed for forgiveness.

    - Emo Phillips

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  30. A critique/refutation of a segment
    of “The Atheist Experience” episode 696#
    http://www.ipertisalithias.gr/index.php/c8/i6/b18#article

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