Christian Medical Comment

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Christian Medical Comment

#1  Postby Galactor » Jun 09, 2012 8:15 am

I came across a blog of a medical doctor, Peter Saunders, who is christian and has posted an article entitled "Twenty questions atheists struggle to answer: How theism does better on the first six".

Putting to one side just why "atheists" have difficulty answering the questions and others don't, you have to wonder whether people are in their right mind.

The man is supposedly well educated, but thinks that he has not had a good answer in the last forty years to the question of why there are suddenly large cities in the world from three thousand years ago and that this is troublesome for atheists.

Please feel free to wade in and harangue.
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Re: Christian Medical Comment

#2  Postby Ihavenofingerprints » Jun 09, 2012 8:23 am

I got to #1 and stopped reading. No one knows "what caused the universe to exist", or if that question even makes any sense. Seriously, what a load of fucken bullshit.

You may as well ask atheists "what is the exact value of Pi" and parade around when they can't answer. Just because you have provided a shitty and illogical alternative doesn't make you right, let alone prove the existence of anything FFS.
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Re: Christian Medical Comment

#3  Postby chairman bill » Jun 09, 2012 8:34 am

Assuming this doctor has an intelligent insight into what he's doing, then he would be a deceitful, mendacious, lying little shit. I suspect he lacks that sort of insight, and it just not that bright. His arguments are nothing new, and of a kind with the sort of bollocks people like ispoketoanangel might spew up over the forum.
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Re: Christian Medical Comment

#4  Postby Doubtdispelled » Jun 09, 2012 8:47 am

Ha ha ha....

Having told us that atheists believe...
Both physical and biological complexity (including both the universe and human beings themselves) are simply the product of chance (random processes) and necessity (the working of physical laws) over time.

He then goes on to say...
So, theists believe that, in addition to chance and necessity, the universe was also the result of intelligent design.

My bold, but his italics.

The cognitive dissonance must be immense, and I think it's hilarious that he finds it necessary to bolt that bit on, as though theists can no longer claim, without looking totally stupid, that goddiditall despite what science can prove to the contrary.

I think someone should report him to the Spanish Inquisition.
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Re: Christian Medical Comment

#5  Postby byofrcs » Jun 09, 2012 9:01 am

I'm going to extract the 20 questions and then answer them from my POV (secular humanist+methodical naturalist). As a guess everyone here should be able to do this to a reasonable competence. I'll post them later.

Twenty questions atheists struggle to answer is a bit silly because I suspect that 99% of the population would have problems with these questions e.g. the linguistics, the abiogenesis problem and fine tuning argument are very different disciplines.

1.What caused the universe to exist?

2.What explains the fine tuning of the universe?

3.Why is the universe rational?

4.How did DNA and amino acids arise?

5.Where did the genetic code come from?

6.How do irreducibly complex enzyme chains evolve?

7.How do we account for the origin of 116 distinct language families?

8.Why did cities suddenly appear all over the world between 3,000 and 1,000BC?

9.How is independent thought possible in a world ruled by chance and necessity?

10.How do we account for self-awareness?

11.How is free will possible in a material universe?

12.How do we account for conscience?

13.On what basis can we make moral judgements?

14.Why does suffering matter?

15.Why do human beings matter?

16.Why care about justice?

17.How do we account for the almost universal belief in the supernatural?

18.How do we know the supernatural does not exist?

19.How can we know if there is conscious existence after death?

20.What accounts for the empty tomb, resurrection appearances and growth of the church?
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Re: Christian Medical Comment

#6  Postby Ihavenofingerprints » Jun 09, 2012 9:07 am

Another thing here is the blatant disregard for the burden of proof. Atheism has nothing to do with this. If he thinks "Yaweh" is a satisfactory answer to all of those 20 questions, he must show why. If successful he wins a nobel prize and proves anyone who doesn't follow his religion is wrong. If he can't give satisfactory reasons, his pet theory is thrown out with all other crackpot nonsense.

End of story. Atheists don't need to answer shit.
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Re: Christian Medical Comment

#7  Postby Galactor » Jun 09, 2012 9:24 am

I added my own question to the list.

Here's another question that plumbers and carpenters can't answer:

"why do people get diseases"?

I have never heard a satisfactory answer to that!

That is, until a theologian explained to me that disease was a result of man's fall.

We need to allow for a supernatural creator who meddles in human affairs though!

Once we do this, we have an answer that plumbers and carpenters can't provide.

But once we allow for a god, theologians can answer it though!

You see, disease is explained by a creator god who is so magnificent and magnanimous that he decided to give us terrible diseases when we did something wrong that he knew we would do in the first place.

We should add this question to the list!


This man thinks that it is a fair approach to "allow for a creator god" and having done so, the difficult questions are easy to answer. It's as simple as that. Allow for anything, and the answer appears.
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Re: Christian Medical Comment

#8  Postby Galactor » Jun 09, 2012 9:28 am

Richard Carrier has comprehensibly trashed these difficult questions here. Saunders recognises the responses:

wierd christian doctor wrote:The post generated 2,400 page views and 52 comments in a week and ten people attempted to take up the challenge by answering the questions.

Three of these (John Saucier, Kees Engels and Bagguley) posted responses on my own blog whilst seven others (Rosa Rubicondior, Richard Carrier, DoubtingThomas, Dude ex machina, Lady Atheist, Sarah Elizabeth and Dead-Logic) posted on their own blogs.

Of these Richard Carrier and Rosa Rubicondior were the most comprehensive and the former also included extensive cross-references to other material by both himself and other authors. Some opted to answer all twenty questions and others were more selective but all seemed to think they had done a good job. I am grateful to them for their time and effort.


For god's sake man, you've been trounced! Forget the difficult questions. Start reading the answers.
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Re: Christian Medical Comment

#9  Postby mindhack » Jun 09, 2012 9:29 am

wacky medical doctor wrote:...in my experience ...in over forty years of discussion... I am yet to hear any good ones. [atheist responses]

The problem has something to do with his hearing. Poor fellow.
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Re: Christian Medical Comment

#10  Postby chairman bill » Jun 09, 2012 9:38 am

I was going to post this (see below), but lack any of the accounts I need to do so. If anyone would be able to link to this forum from his blog, that might be good. I've shortened the quotes from his blog, for sake of brevity, but you'll easily find the full comment.

First, atheism and theism are mutually exclusive world views which both deserve careful consideration ...
Something of a problem from the off. Various theisms are also mutually exclusive, and in simply setting up a dichotomy between theism & atheism, you make a basic error. It’s not that both can’t be correct, it’s that there is such fundamental disagreement between the various theistic positions too.

Atheists are materialists, believing that
Atheists simply lack any belief in god(s). You can’t assume anything much beyond that. Atheists are not a homogenous whole, all thinking alike. It’s quite possible for atheists to have never considered many of the questions that lead to the positions you assert they hold.

By contrast theists (including Christians, Muslims and Jews) believe that the universe was created by an all-powerful, all knowing, rational, omnipresent, benevolent, and personal God who is both transcendent (separate from it) and immanent (intimately involved with it) ...
No they don’t. Not all theists believe this stuff. It might be true of the Abrahamic religions, but not all theists. This speaks to the false dichotomy you established earlier. The logical inconsistencies in the idea of omnipotence need not concern us here, but I’ll address this if asked.

So, theists believe that, in addition to chance and necessity, the universe was also the result of intelligent design.
Simply not true. You claim to speak for all who believe in god(s), yet I know several people (Pagans of various stripes) who take a very scientifically congruent view on possible cosmic origins, and see gods as an expression of the cosmos, not as progenitors of it. You maybe need to get out more ;-)

Moving on, because I can’t address all the points you make (though if you feel I’ve missed any of import, ask & I’ll happily wade in with a comment or three) …

Third, I challenge atheists (and agnostics) reading this blog not to adopt the view, as a matter of faith, that the atheistic world view is some sort of neutral default position and that the burden of proof lies solely with theists to prove their case.
Did it occur to you that the ‘agnostics’ might be theists or atheists, and in fact, must be one of the other? A/theism speaks to matters of belief/lack thereof, whereas a/gnosticism is to do with issues of knowing. ‘Don’t know’ & ‘Not sure’ are to do with knowledge, not belief. Someone who is asked “Does God exist?” and says “I don’t know” isn’t answering a question of belief, but one concerned with the truth of the matter behind the question. Ask them “Do you believe in god(s)?”, and “Don’t know” becomes a stupid answer – you don’t know whether you believe or not? Really?

As for the burden of proof issue – it lies with those making a positive claim about the way things are. It absolutely lies with those making claims of god(s), not with those lacking such beliefs & making no claims for how reality is. You assert God, someone else asserts Odin or Quetzalcoatl. So you lot provide the unambiguous, incontrovertible evidence for your gods. If they don’t exist, there is no evidence, so asking an atheist to provide the evidence is pointless. You lot assert the existence of one or more gods, so you produce the goods please. Trying to handwave away the responsibility to do so, is not good enough.

Oh, and logical fallacies are logical fallacies, and it’s fair to point them out in respect to an argument another is presenting. ‘Appeals to authority’ is one of those logical fallacies.

Start instead with the admission that theism is a plausible, internally consistent world view ...
The trouble is, theism isn’t a monolithic thing, but is multivarious & diverse. So we’ll need to narrow things down a bit. Shall we stop with the theism/atheism bit, and instead agree to discuss one form of theism? Let’s take Christianity as that form. I’m happy to comment on Islam, Hinduism, Asatru, Wicca, Voodoo and others, but given the diversity of views inherent in so many different belief systems, hopefully I can be forgiven for focussing on just one. And here’s the thing, Christians will most probably claim that Asatru isn’t plausible, & the Muslims will be pretty much antipathetic towards Wicca. So none of your ‘proofs’ will prove theism, because theism isn’t one thing to be proven, and theism doesn’t, indeed can’t explain phenomena better than atheism, partly because atheism makes no claim to explain, but also because the various theistic traditions make competing claims themselves. So let’s stick to just one. Christianity it is.

So, to your questions … Available space to post means just one at a time.
1. What caused the universe to exist?
I don’t know. I don’t even know whether it did have a cause. Maybe it’s always been around, albeit in a different form to that we know of. Maybe it caused itself. I think physics has managed to explain all the way back to a few microseconds after the massive expansion of spacetime we call ‘The Big Bang’. We really don’t know beyond that, though there is a good amount of scientifically informed speculation. Contrary to your claim about virtually all scientists, amongst cosmologists & astrophysicists, virtually all will say “I don’t know”, and a few might follow up with, “but I’ve got some ideas that may be worth kicking around.”

Your case thereafter seems to be a variant on the Kalam Cosmological Argument, which has been done to death, and dismissed numerous times, but let’s deal with it anyway.

Given that all known things which began to exist have a cause it seems reasonable to assume that the universe itself had a cause. But unless we are to believe that the universe somehow pulled itself up by its own bootstraps, this cause must have been extrinsic to the universe (space-time continuum) itself.
You offer no good reason to assume the universe had a beginning, and therefore need of a cause, let alone one to challenge the idea that the universe was indeed self-caused. Assertion doesn’t cut it.

Anything extrinsic to the universe must be both immaterial, beyond space and time and must have unfathomable power and intelligence. Moreover, it must be personal, as it made the decision to bring the universe into existence, and decisions only come from minds.
Extrinsic to the universe – well, if we took a multiverse theory, there are lots of extrinsic things, but if we take the universe to be all that there is, then by definition, nothing is extrinsic. But for sake of argument, let’s say that there is … unfathomable power & intelligence do not logically follow. Moreover, there is no compulsion on anything outside this universe to be personal, nor to have made a decision to bring the universe into being. It could be the result of impersonal, unintelligent compusive action. No need for minds or anything else.

It is therefore not unreasonable to believe in the existence of a timeless, spaceless, immaterial, powerful, intelligent, personal Creator of the universe.
Well, whether or not it is unreasonable, there certainly is no compelling reason to do so. It is certainly no less reasonable than belief in all manner of unevidenced things. It doesn’t make it true though, and it does suggest an unwillingness to be humbly say, “I don’t know”.
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Re: Christian Medical Comment

#11  Postby Galactor » Jun 09, 2012 11:44 am

Ihavenofingerprints wrote:Another thing here is the blatant disregard for the burden of proof. Atheism has nothing to do with this.


He's not having any of that from the off.

Third, I challenge atheists (and agnostics) reading this blog not to adopt the view, as a matter of faith, that the atheistic world view is some sort of neutral default position and that the burden of proof lies solely with theists to prove their case. Let’s not have any of the usual allegations of ‘meaningless questions’, ‘God of the gaps’, ‘appeals to authority’ or the mockery, ridicule and ‘face-palming’ that often accompanies any attempt by theists to advance their case.


(original emphasis)

See how he did that? Just shift the onus of burden and you have to start proving why he's wrong as opposed to not right.

The usual allegations are of course, reasonable objections to his arguments. Carrier has slaughtered his questions and their form. He just doesn't seem to realise it.
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Re: Christian Medical Comment

#12  Postby Shrunk » Jun 09, 2012 12:02 pm

Galactor wrote:See how he did that? Just shift the onus of burden and you have to start proving why he's wrong as opposed to not right.

The usual allegations are of course, reasonable objections to his arguments. Carrier has slaughtered his questions and their form. He just doesn't seem to realise it.


Another example of his double standard, in his response to the "fine tuning" argument:

Alternative theories, such as Stephen Hawking’s multiverse theory, are not provable and with a complexity that runs wildly contrary to Occam’s razor’s demand for succinctness and simplicity.


So "Goddidit", is provable? And consistent w/ Occam's razor? The multiverse just poses other naturalistic universes, of which we already know at least on exists. "Goddidit" necessitates adding an entirely different mode of existence, called the "supernatural". So Occam favours the multiverse.

I see he also trots out the hoary old Lewontin quote, and misinterprets it in the same way that all other theists seem to.

Just another half-baked apologist. The fact that he has MD after his name doesn't mean he's any less a dunce.
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Re: Christian Medical Comment

#13  Postby Galactor » Jun 09, 2012 12:09 pm

chairman bill wrote:Assuming this doctor has an intelligent insight into what he's doing, then he would be a deceitful, mendacious, lying little shit. I suspect he lacks that sort of insight, and it just not that bright. His arguments are nothing new, and of a kind with the sort of bollocks people like ispoketoanangel might spew up over the forum.


I am afraid that I can only confirm that he is deceitful and mendacious and a liar - my only hope for his is that he know not what he do.

I took umbrage at his own analysis of question 5. Where did the genetic code come from? He writes:

lying quote-miner for Jeebus wrote:
How then did the sophisticated genetic code arise? Again we have only three possibilities: chance, necessity or design. The genetic code, like language, gives the appearance of being the product of an intelligent mind.

Richard Dawkins has tried to explain how proteins might be assembled using the genetic code by using the analogy of a multitude of monkeys banging away on computer keyboards and eventually ending up writing a Shakespearean sonnet.

The former atheist Antony Flew recounts hearing Israeli scientist Gerald Schroeder referring to an experiment conducted by the British National Council of Arts in which a computer was placed in a cage with six monkeys. After a month of hammering they produced 50 typed pages – but not a single English word. This is because the probability of getting even a one letter word (I or A with a space on either side) is one in 27,000.

The chance of getting a Shakespearean sonnet (‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day’ has 488 letters) is one in 10 to the 690th. Similarly the chance of randomly assembling nucleotides coding for amino acid sequences forming functional proteins is vanishingly small.


The paragraph about Dawkins irritates me because Dawkins has tried to explain how complex things arise using the analogy of monkeys typing away (in chapter three of The Blind Watchmaker) and has provided us with how it works through the introduction of selection. He - Saunders - is quote mining Dawkins to make it appear as though there is no answer whereas it is long since known to us.

What a fucking liar. How can people do that - quote someone misleadingly and utterly misrepresent them and hide the known answer?
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Re: Christian Medical Comment

#14  Postby Shrunk » Jun 09, 2012 12:14 pm

Galactor wrote:I am afraid that I can only confirm that he is deceitful and mendacious and a liar - my only hope for his is that he know not what he do.


He's also -Surprise! - a homophobic bigot.

Just par for the course, naturally. What galls me about him is that he seems to try to use his medical degree to give his lame apologetics the veneer of scientific respectability.
Last edited by Shrunk on Jun 09, 2012 12:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Christian Medical Comment

#15  Postby Microfarad » Jun 09, 2012 12:14 pm

byofrcs wrote:I'm going to extract the 20 questions and then answer them from my POV (secular humanist+methodical naturalist). As a guess everyone here should be able to do this to a reasonable competence. I'll post them later.

Twenty questions atheists struggle to answer is a bit silly because I suspect that 99% of the population would have problems with these questions e.g. the linguistics, the abiogenesis problem and fine tuning argument are very different disciplines.
1.What caused the universe to exist?

2.What explains the fine tuning of the universe?

3.Why is the universe rational?

4.How did DNA and amino acids arise?

5.Where did the genetic code come from?

6.How do irreducibly complex enzyme chains evolve?

7.How do we account for the origin of 116 distinct language families?

8.Why did cities suddenly appear all over the world between 3,000 and 1,000BC?

9.How is independent thought possible in a world ruled by chance and necessity?

10.How do we account for self-awareness?

11.How is free will possible in a material universe?

12.How do we account for conscience?

13.On what basis can we make moral judgements?

14.Why does suffering matter?

15.Why do human beings matter?

16.Why care about justice?

17.How do we account for the almost universal belief in the supernatural?

18.How do we know the supernatural does not exist?

19.How can we know if there is conscious existence after death?

20.What accounts for the empty tomb, resurrection appearances and growth of the church?

Better having no answers than having invented and absurd ones.
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Re: Christian Medical Comment

#16  Postby Galactor » Jun 09, 2012 12:40 pm

Microfarad wrote:
Better having no answers than having invented and absurd ones.


I just can't understand how people think that postulating an answer when you don't yet have a sound answer is at all worthy of respect.

This man comes straight out with "if we allow for a supernatural god then we solve these questions"! You might as well say "if I can just postulate the solution to these questions by saying I have the solution to these questions, then I have the solution to these questions".
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Re: Christian Medical Comment

#17  Postby Nicko » Jun 09, 2012 12:51 pm

Fuckwad wrote:19.How can we know if there is conscious existence after death?


Kill yourself you fucking dick.
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Re: Christian Medical Comment

#18  Postby Moonwatcher » Jun 09, 2012 1:21 pm

Twice at least refers to atheism as a "belief".

Plays the "random chance" canard all the way to the existence of humans.

Then he asks that we disregard "the gaps". In other words, we disregard the lack of evidence and that theists only invoke the unknown as "evidence".

Before he even gets to the questions, he makes it obvious he is not talking about Deism, the mere question of whether "God" exists in any way, shape or form or even theism but purely Christian theism.

1. What caused the universe to exist?

Assume it started, that the energy did not always exist in some form and ignore that there is actual scientific evidence that this may be true.
Play the "All things that had a beginning must have a cause" claim thereby bypassing it being pointed out that there own god fails the very premise of this argument.
Simply assert that your god made it all, ignore that you have no evidence at all for this and call it evidence.
Therefore, you win.
Atheism admits we don't know for sure.
Christian theism just makes up an answer.
Interestingly, he describes the universe as being billions of years old and reasonably describes the process by which it evolved (theism aside) which means he knows that it bears not the slightest resemblance to how the book of fables he believes in says it happened. Strange how he does not even mention that fact.

Dawkins once commented that he thought one could have a decent debate about Atheism vs. Deism. He said he does not buy into the Deist arguments but at least you could mount some argument for it. I'm sure others will have comments on many of the questions. The problem I have is, of course, this is not a Deist argument. This is an argument about Atheism versus a tribal war god that made the world six thousand years ago after he left the pantheon he previously belonged to and later was born as himself and alowed himself to be killed because he had to perform this magic ritual in order to save people from a curse he put on them to begin with when the talking snake convinced them to eat the magic fruit in the fantasy garden.

In other words, he's just playing the game of pretending the god he's talking about is overwhelming more sophisticated and overwhelmingly different than the god that is actually described in the holy book of mythology he believes in.
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Re: Christian Medical Comment

#19  Postby Moonwatcher » Jun 09, 2012 1:51 pm

1.What caused the universe to exist?

Goddoneit.

2.What explains the fine tuning of the universe?

Goddoneit.

3.Why is the universe rational?

Goddoneit.

4.How did DNA and amino acids arise?

Goddoneit.

5.Where did the genetic code come from?

Goddoneit.

6.How do irreducibly complex enzyme chains evolve?

Goddoneit.

7.How do we account for the origin of 116 distinct language families?

People learn that different sounds equate to different meanings.

OOPS. I meant Goddoneit.

8.Why did cities suddenly appear all over the world between 3,000 and 1,000BC?

Because people were getting more prolific and built them and there were provably cities way before that.

OR Goddoneit.

9.How is independent thought possible in a world ruled by chance and necessity?

It evolved OR Goddoneit.

10.How do we account for self-awareness?

It evolved as the evidence actually shows or Goddoneit.

11.How is free will possible in a material universe?

It's an illusion or Goddoneit.

12.How do we account for conscience?

It evolved which fits the evidence or Goddoneit.

13.On what basis can we make moral judgements?

We can't OR Godsaysso.

14.Why does suffering matter?

What does that mean? OR Goddoneit (oh wait not a good answer to that one).

15.Why do human beings matter?

Except to ourselves, we don't OR Godsaysit.

16.Why care about justice?

Godsaysso.

17.How do we account for the almost universal belief in the supernatural?

Because people want to believe in something that takes away their fears and they like worshipping animals? Oh wait. Religion has evolved since then. No wait. I know. Goddoneit.

18.How do we know the supernatural does not exist?

We don't absolutely know. How do we know it does? Oh of course, Godsaysit- in an ancient book.

19.How can we know if there is conscious existence after death?

We can't. Oh wait, there is because Godsaysit- in that ancient book of mythology.

20.What accounts for the empty tomb, resurrection appearances and growth of the church?

Um, it's a story in a book and people all around the world believe in all sorts of stories from books and things they have no proof of and build churches around these gods that they have no evidence of.

Oh wait. Because it really happened because Godsaysit.

I've got to tell you, this theism thing is pretty cool. You just need to know two words and blindly assert that they are true to every question.
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Re: Christian Medical Comment

#20  Postby Microfarad » Jun 09, 2012 5:14 pm

Galactor wrote:
I just can't understand how people think that postulating an answer when you don't yet have a sound answer is at all worthy of respect.

In fact; and religions heve ever tried to fill the holes left by Science, until a reasonable answer was filled.
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