A Letter to Bob


Bob, you are right. Simply looking at the beginning of everything we cannot draw a God-conclusion or a non-God-conclusion. However, before I go further let me point something out.

We are in a game of chess that can never really end with one of us taking the king, neither can we put each other in checkmate. Don’t get me wrong, there has been some damage done. Here and there a pawn or bishop has been taken. And your last argument may seem like a pretty good ending argument. But, there is still more ground to cover. We can just end it here, and agree to disagree, or keep going. So, if you would like to go further, here is my next move:

The next logical place to go in this argument is whether or not truth exists, and whether or not we can know it. To say that it does not exist presents a logical fallacy. For the statement itself is presented as a truth. Either the statement, “There is no truth.”, is truth itself making the statement silly, or it is false making truth itself a reality. And what are we trying to do here if not live the truth we see and hope it matches with reality. Now, if we are agreed that truth exists, we must also be agreed on its nature. That nature is exclusivity. A rock cannot be a duck. A tree cannot sing the blues. A black car is black and not gray. We call these things truth, for they remain the same to all who perceive them.

Now, there can’t be a God and not a God at the same time. One statement is true and one statement is false. But, can we know the truth? If we can find truth in our day, we must look for clues that point to that truth. As I said before, it is not the job of science to either point to the existence of God, or the existence of evolution. It is our bias that we are stating if we say that it does. We attain our bias through choice. So, before we even see the evidence, our perception is already guided in a direction of our own choosing. It would then follow that what we perceive and how we do it is very important.

Some people look at the world and see order. Others see chance. Although it is your right to hold either perception, one of them is wrong and one is right. I can do nothing about someone else’s perception, but I can make mine as reasonable as possible. I think you already know my position. I see order, and therefore perceive that this order points to a Creator. I’m sure you can pick up the argument from here.

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16 thoughts on “A Letter to Bob

  1. “The next logical place to go in this argument is whether or not truth exists, and whether or not we can know it.”

    As best as I can tell, “truth exists” only as statements of affirmation. Truth does not exist in the rock that weighs 5 lbs, but truth exists (or does not exist) in my claim that the rock weighs 5 lbs. I have not done any studying on this, so I may be incorrect, but it seems to me that truth is tangible only in the statement or claim of truth (oral or written). I don’t know of any other way truth can exist.

    “Now, if we are agreed that truth exists, we must also be agreed on its nature. That nature is exclusivity. A rock cannot be a duck. A tree cannot sing the blues. A black car is black and not gray.”

    Agreed…I think.

    “Now, there can’t be a God and not a God at the same time. One statement is true and one statement is false. But, can we know the truth?”

    I don’t know if we can know the truth concerning non existence, with regard to God. If God is “supernatural”, as is claimed, and if we humans have no method of detecting or measuring the supernatural, then not only can we not know the truth with regard to Gods existence, but we surely can’t know the truth (prove) with regard to Gods non existence.

    If you claimed that God was in your pocket, and I looked in your pocket and it appeared empty (just like mine), then I could safely and reasonably assume that your statement was not true. That would not prove the non existence of God, but it would give good reason to doubt the validity of your claim.

    “We attain our bias through choice. So, before we even see the evidence, our perception is already guided in a direction of our own choosing.”

    Bias is not just attained by choice, but also by exposure to bias.

    “Some people look at the world and see order. Others see chance. Although it is your right to hold either perception, one of them is wrong and one is right. I can do nothing about someone else’s perception, but I can make mine as reasonable as possible. I think you already know my position. I see order, and therefore perceive that this order points to a Creator. I’m sure you can pick up the argument from here.”

    Well, I really don’t know how to respond. I don’t disagree really. I mean, I disagree with your conclusion, I just don’t necessarily disagree with your reasons for coming to your conclusions. You have come to your conclusions because of perceptions and bias, I agree.

    Let me try to explain my point – In my mind, Adam Sandler is not the slightest bit funny. In my mind, it is a true statement that Adam Sandler is not funny. That is obviously just my perception, my bias, because Adam Sandler makes something like $20,000,000 a film because, to many millions of others, he is funny. So, as much as I would like my statement that Adam Sandler is not funny to be true, I guess it can’t really be considered true.

    Now, concerning the existence of the God of the bible – my perception is that he does not exist. I have perceived no evidence that clearly points to his existence. Like you, I also see “order” in the world (also disorder), but I see this “order” to have perfectly reasonable, natural explanations. I see no reason to believe that God initiated, nor guided the order we see in our natural world and universe. This is not bias, for if God exists, I would really like to know it because I like the discovery of truth (whether I like the actual truth or not, I still like to know the truth).

    But it seems very evident to me that you, and Christians in general, have a definite bias concerning the existence of God. And your perceptions are clouded by that bias. Believers and non believers can look at the same thing; the birth of a child, a sunset, a survivor of an earthquake, etc, and the believer may say that they see the “hand of God” in those things, and the non believer may scratch their head and say that they have perfectly natural explanations for those things.
    Why is that? Could it be that the believer desires to see the “hand of God” in those things (bias)?
    This bias is basically wishful thinking. You can prove this to yourself by asking yourself certain questions, like; Does it matter to me whether God exists or not? If you answer yes, then you have a bias FOR the existence of God.
    Ask yourself – If it was scientifically provable that the Jesus of the bible did not rise from the dead, would you have any problem admitting that the Jesus story was a myth?

    I can honestly answer to myself and to you that, if it could be proven that God exists, I would have no problem admitting that God exists. Knowing the truth is what matters to me. If it was proven that the biblical account of Jesus was all true, I would have absolutely no problem admitting that. I have no bias one way or the other. My perception is not clouded by my desire because I have no desire in the matter.

    But I think your perception (concerning the existence of God) is clouded by your desire for your beliefs to be true. I think most Christians continue to believe in God because they want to believe.

    I didn’t stop believing in God because I desired to stop believing. I just found that my desire (bias) to believe could no longer hold up under the lack of scientific, historical, and experiential evidence against the bible and the claims of Christianity.

    Not sure where to go from here.

      1. Perception of what? Clouded by what?

        I need you to be more specific before I go admitting to something.

    1. Bob,
      I do plan on continuing this discussion. I’m sorry that I haven’t reply quickly, but work has been busy, and the content from the post “Dear Moral Atheist” was running through my head. I hope to reply in the near future.

      Daniel

  2. “if we humans have no method of detecting or measuring the supernatural”

    If this is in question, let me chime in. We can detect the “supernatural,” though, since God would have to exist in some form of nature he wouldn’t really be supernatural. He would be natural.

    That we can detect design in biological systems is the whole idea behind Intelligent Design. It’s the whole idea behind theories, like Michael Behe’s irreducible complexity and other theories and research done that supports Intelligent Design.

    Scientific and historical evidence aside, I’m interested your lack of experiential evidence about God. In what way did you expect to experience him?

  3. Tim – “I’m interested your lack of experiential evidence about God. In what way did you expect to experience him?”

    Why don’t you make it easy on me Tim and tell me how I should have expected to experience him?
    My guess – any expectation I had, since I have concluded that they were not met, will be considered wrong in some way, by you.

    Tim – “We can detect the “supernatural,” though, since God would have to exist in some form of nature he wouldn’t really be supernatural. He would be natural.”

    ??? Are you making this up as you go?

    1. If you don’t want to answer the question I understand. I apologize if it was personal. I’m just curious. I have no way of knowing if your expectations were realistic or not. I certainly believe there are things we should reasonably expect. Though I think some expectations are unrealistically coached by the church and are not necessarily biblical.

      No, I’m not making this up at all. This is real research. Why do you think I’m making it up? You can look it up for yourself if you want.

      1. Tim, I would be glad to answer your questions, any questions that I can answer. I just didn’t feel like hearing you tell me that my expectations were unreasonable.

        I will offer just a few expectations –

        A) During my 25 years as a believer, one (1) answered prayer would have been nice. I can not point to a single instance in which it was SPECIFICALLY OBVIOUS that God did anything that could be described as an answer to even one (1) of my prayers, or the prayers of any other Christian I knew.

        B) During my 25 years as a believer, and now as a non believer, I find basically no difference between believers and non believers. They both get sick, die, lie cheat, steal, murder, and do good, all with the same frequency. Being a believer does not give the believer any physical or moral advantage. Being a non believer does not give the non believer any physical or moral disadvantage.
        So, it seems that, the only way to tell the difference is to ask them if they are a believer or not. Is it unreasonable to expect believers, those who are “indwelt by the Spirit of God” to be some how, different than those who are not? Shouldn’t there be some indication, other than what they claim, or their attendance at church?

        Anyway Tim, those are my two main expectations. Are they unrealistic?

        “No, I’m not making this up at all. This is real research. Why do you think I’m making it up? You can look it up for yourself if you want.”

        I was responding to your comment about God being supernatural and natural, for detection purposes, not to ID in particular.

        I have looked it up. I have read a lot. I suggest you look up biological evolution.

  4. That is a “baited” question. Ah… but here my brother and I differ slightly. I say God can’t be found in nature, but nature points to him. I think I get what he’s saying a little bit.
    Would you explain Tim?

    1. I was talking about intelligent design. I never said God can be found in nature. I said he can be detected in nature. It’s like my argument about the purple elephant. If purple elephants lived under our living room rugs, we could tell by the outline of the elephant on the surface of the rug. Without seeing the elephant, we could see that he, or something big, was there under he rug. In other words if God exists, he left an “outline” for us to detect him by. Only the “outline” in this case would be, for instance, biological systems that appear designed or patterns in nature that are best explained as a product of intelligent design.

      1. “…patterns in nature that are best explained as a product of intelligent design.”

        Name one “pattern in nature” that is best explained as a product of intelligent design. That may be a good place to start. I’m no biologist, but I can google stuff.

  5. It seems to me to be a big jump from seeing intelligent design in the universe to being able to say that it was your specific God that did it. It’s like seeing book-shaped indentations under your rug and knowing for sure that “A librarian was here” instead of “A student was here.”

    Thanks.

      1. Daniel,

        If you were replying to me, I have no idea what you are trying to say.

        Thanks.

  6. Bob,

    1. Irreducibly complex systems – e.g. molecular machines. “Darwin’s Black Box”, Michael Behe. i.e. bacterial flagellum

    2. Digital coding in DNA – base pairs and their order. “Signature in the Cell”, Stephen Meyer. i.e. processing of information in DNA. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVkdQhNdzHU

    3. Specified complexity – origin of information in systems. “No Free Lunch”, William Dembski. i.e. coding language in DNA. http://www.designinference.com

    4. Fine tuning – specified complexity in physics and cosmology. “Understanding Intelligent Design”, authors Dembski & McDowell. i.e. strength of the electromagnetic force.

    Personal recommendations – “Uncommon Dissent” – http://www.designinference.com/documents/2003.09.UncDiss_Intro_Contribs.pdf

    More… “Case for a Creator” (the full version, not the student version) author Lee Strobel. “Intelligent Design 101” a collaborative work edited by H. Wayne House.

    Favorite authors and speakers on the subject: J.P. Moreland, David Berlinski, William Dembski, Ravi Zacharias.

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