Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Finally, @Sacerdotus

@askegg  finally responded to my response, here is my reply.  My words are in black and his are in blue.


<<Finally, @Sacerdotus

Back on the 17th September 2011 I came across a Twitter user by the name of @Sacerdotus and was quickly directed to a Facebook post of his expanding on the ideas surrounding atheism and the evidences for “god”.  For some reason Sacerdotus did not notice my blog post which replied to his article at the time, but fortune has smiled upon us and at long last we have a response. In this post I will respond to the relevant sections of Sacerdotus’s reply and make my own comments.  I apologise for the length of this post, but @Sacerdotus raised many points which deserved some response.>>

<<“Andrew seems to think that only Atheists hold exclusivity to rational thinking.”
I never made this claim.>>

Sacerdotus replies: You implied it.  Other Atheists are fond of calling believers "idiot," "moron" "creatards."  These are all words showing a condescending attitude as if Atheists were the true "rational ones."  

<<“Science as we know it today was formed by the Catholic Church. The Church has been the pioneer of many scientific discoveries.”
That does not make Catholic beliefs scientifically true.>>

Sacerdotus replies: I never said that it does.  I was merely giving credit to the Church for science.  

<<“Faith and Reason are not opposed to each other.”
Yes they are.  If you have reasons you do not need faith, and if have faith you do not need reasons.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  Not at all.  There are reasons to have faith and we can have faith in reasons presented to us.  In reality everything is based on 'faith.'  Our senses do not tell us what things are exactly.  We have to trust that they are telling our brains the truth.  

<<“Atheists seem to believe that Faith means to blindly accept things. This is not Faith. Faith opens the mind and heart to what is beyond the perceivable.”
If you cannot perceive something, then isn’t this accepting things “blindly”?>>

Sacerdotus replies:  Not at all.  We cannot perceive subatomic particles, but we know they are there.  We cannot perceive love, but we know it is there.  

<<“Faith is what pushes an Olympian to go beyond what he/she knows his body is capable of doing (Reason).”
No one can push their body beyond what it is capable of performing – with or without “faith”.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  It happens all the time.  Adrenaline and will can make people do extraordinary things.

<<“Faith is what pushed the Church to form and endorse science so that She could learn more about God’s creation.”
And didn’t that backfire on them!>>

Sacerdotus replies:  Not at all.  The Church is now a global empire.  We have universities and state of the art observatories.

<<“The Church developed the education system, the hospital system etc.  These are all acts of Faith.” I see you are equivocating already.  “Faith” in medical science is founded on repeated, verifiable, falsifiable, empirical evidence, hard data, and observations of the real world.  “Faith” a god exists in believing “what is beyond the perceivable” without any good reason it’s actually true.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  No no no, you missed the point.  All the things I stated were to counter claim your claim.  The Church is not against science nor against reason.  That was the point of my listing of the Church's "inventions." 

<<“Are you saying that the dictionary is a demonstrably false claim? This is absurd.”
Different dictionaries have different definitions.  To accept one definition is true must therefore claim that all the others are false (or at lease incorrect).  I operate under the definition an atheist is someone who does not accept the claim “at least one god exists” is true.  You are free to define it however you wish, but keep in mind that by doing so you will no longer be talking about the same thing I am.  This will only result in confusion and frustration.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  They have different wording, not different definitions.  All dictionaries give a general definition and the root of the word.  This is what I have been stressing.  

<<“It is interesting to note that you pick and choose which definition to use. Why do you do this? The etymology of the word is clear: Atheism is not a lack of belief. The word comes from the Greek “a- Theos” which means “without god or gods” and is used in the negative in that it is a rejection of gods. The “a” means “without” for example:  asexual or “without sex.” This is also used in the word Agnostic which means “without knowledge” which is in turn translated as someone who doesn’t think anything is knowable. So the word “Atheism” cannot mean lack of belief in anything.”
I am “without gods”.  How can I reject your claim “at least one god exists” and be “with a god”?>>

Sacerdotus replies:  Again, the word was used in the negative, as a rejection of the Greek gods of the time when the word came into existence.  

<<“Defining Atheists as those who deny God does not mean that denial of God means there IS a God.”
I did not say this is the case in all situations, but since the definition can be interpreted that way I choose not to use it.
“Moreover, we do not know if there is a purple unicorn there or not.”

And I do not *know* if a god exists or not, but we are not talking about knowledge but belief.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  If you do not know, then that is Agnosticism, not Atheism.  Atheism is the position that there is no god and therefore is a concept that can be rejected.

<<“Anyone who claims to know for a fact that there is no purple unicorn presupposes that the 5 senses detect “reality” in its full capacity.”
Since we are limited to our senses, we cannot say if things beyond our senses exist or not.  However, we *can* use technology to bring what we cannot directly sense into the range of our senses (as in the case of microscopes or telescopes).>>

Sacerdotus replies:  Technology is still subject to our senses.  The senses are the only way we acquire information.  Technology and its data, unless directly linked to our brains are still subject to our sensual perception as we analyze the data.

<<“In reality, the senses do not detect “reality” as it is.  We never sense the actual objects.  There is always a barrier/filter which our nervous system uses to interpret what we are supposedly sensing.  For all we know, reality could be a simulation like the Matrix as Chalmers explains in his thought experiment.  In reality, we just don’t know.  Our brains deceive us all the time.  This is one of the reasons why Atheism makes no sense.”
I think this point rather play against your position – it states we cannot know *anything* with certainty, including any supposed gods which may exist.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  Not at all.  We believers still have "veil" over us, as the Scripture says.  

<<“It is an assumption that humanity has learned all there is to know about metaphysics and physics and therefore no God exists because we know everything, saw everything and there was no one else out there.”
I have never claimed “no gods exist”, merely I do not accept you claim “at least one god does exist”.  I am open to the idea of gods, all you need to do is provide a coherent definition of a “god” and supporting credible evidence that such a thing actually exists.  The burden of proof is all yours.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  I use God/gods interchangeably to identify a general supreme being.  Atheism is a rejection of all gods whether from polytheism or monotheism.  The definition I use of "god" is the one found in every dictionary.  Atheism is not "open" to the idea of God at all.  This is where your confusion stems.  

<<“Again, the word comes from the Greek “A theos” or “without God/gods.” It has nothing to do with disbelief.

I disbelief your claim “a god exists”, so tell me again how it’s not about disbelief.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  The word "dis" means to "apart from, discard." So it is still a "rejection" per se.  Moreover, Atheism is a complete rejection of any God(s).  God can be a concept and/or belief to some.  This is why I say it is not about beliefs.  

<<“Yes, in order to disbelieve something there must be something there to disbelieve.”
Absurd. Do unicorns live on Jupiter? I do not believe this is true, does that mean there really *are* unicorns living on Jupiter and that I just don’t believe it?  No.  There is NO evidence for unicorns, let alone their comfortable habitat on the surface of the gaseous giant.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  The comment was made in connection to your previous comment.  Some say people are born Atheists and this is not true.  This is where my comment comes into play.  Unicorns might live on Jupiter, who knows?  Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.  It may be unlikely, but still probable.  

<<“I am thinking right now of something, can you disbelieve it without knowing what that something is?”
No, but I can lack the belief.  I can be “without the belief”.  I can be “a” – “whatever your belief is”.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  How can you if you are not aware of my thoughts?

<<“The mind needs to be aware of God or the concept of God before it can accept or reject it; believe or disbelieve it.”
Sure, and having formed the idea of “gods” in my mind I cannot match any definition presented to me with observations of the real world, so I do not accept the claim “gods exist”.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  Well this is a problem with your assessment of the observations.  You are filtering evidence through Atheism.  You must be objective.  It is illogical to believe something comes from nothing.  Stare before you, there is "nothing."  Keep staring and see if something comes out of that "nothingness."    

<<“There can be someone in the world with 5 heads that I am not aware of.  My unawareness does not mean I disbelieve that there is a person with 5 heads some where out there.”
Sure there can, but since I have not been presented with any evidence of 5-headed people I do not accept the claims they exist to be true.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  Nevertheless, it does not mean the claim is NOT true.  

<<“ [regarding quantum physics] That being said, this opens the door to “something out there” that is not perceivable in the way we perceive the world.  Particles appear and disappear at random, where did they go?”
Good question.  What do you think is the best way to determine the actual answer to this? Or do you wish me to throw up my hands in despair and simply assert “a god thing did it!”>>

Sacerdotus replies:  As a "junior scientist" since I don't have a Ph.d yet,  I can say we do not know.  As a Catholic I can say that there is indeed something beyond the material of this universe.  We say God did it because no other logical conclusion can come about.  Moreover, He said He did it as well.  As stated before, nothing cannot produce something.  The universe to too fined tuned to be created by chance.  Even mathematicians state this.  

<<“ Yahweh means “I AM.” It is a title or name that God gave to Moses showing that He always was.  He has no beginning nor an end.  He completely transcends what we perceive as reality.”
These are just claims.  Show it is actually the case.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  Well this makes perfect sense since we all know everything came from the Big Bang.  At the moment of the Big Bang, time, space, matter and energy came into existence.  What was there before?  Someone or something must have caused the Big bang.  This someone or something has to be outside of space, time, energy and matter yet still interacts with it.  Therefore, this something or someone one is "I AM." Or the constant.    

<<“Now take this “YAHWEH” meaning and apply it to what I just describe in Quantum Theory.  ”YAHWEH” is indeed possible according to the theory.”
Now you have place “Yahweh” outside the reach of any empirical verification. Neat.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  I did not.  Reread again what I wrote regarding particles.  

<<“Why do you think the Higgs Boson is called the “God particle?”
It was originally called “the god damned particle” because nobody could find it.  Dwell on that.
“Science has brought about the Atom bomb, weapons, diseases due to manipulation of viruses, the extinction of animals and vegetation.”>>
Sacerdotus replies:  Some might have said that, but it was always called the "God particle."  Even Physics acknowledges that everything has a cause.  

<<All of these things actually work and can be proved to exist, unlike your “god”.
“Science has brought us devices that interfere with our brains and bodies causing cancers and other effects on the brain.”>>

Sacerdotus replies:  God can be proven to exist. Stop listening to the recycle rhetoric from Dawkins etc and actually speak to a Physicist.   

<<No one contracted cancer before science?
“While science has given us technology that can be useful, humanity has lived thousands of years without them just fine.”>>
Sacerdotus replies:  Yes, but it seems that today more and more illnesses keep on appearing due to man's ignorance and its attempt to toy around with creation.    

<<If by “just fine” you mean dying during child birth, ravaged by disease, parasites, and starvation, and living to the ripe old age of 35.
“What will we do when our energy sources completely deplete?  Our science and its technological advances will be useless.”>>

 Sacerdotus replies:  Yes, that is nature.  We cannot live forever or we will deplete Earth's natural resources.  Genetic abnormalities leading to death during child birth, diseases etc are the norm of living on a planet.  Despite these existing in a time when man had no technology, man did not go extinct.  

<<You have another method other than science to solve the problem of energy supplies?  Do tell.
“Prayer has obviously worked, we are still alive on Earth.”>>
Sacerdotus replies:  I personally would say to just leave the gadgets behind.  We can do without them.  There is a hurricane hitting our southern states and our technology is useless against it.  

<<And if nobody had prayed?  Do you think god would have killed us all?
“Faith inspired Columbus to take his journey to the “new world.””>>
Sacerdotus replies:  No, God gave us free will.  We can choose to pray or not pray.  

<<That does not make it “faith” true.
“The Bible was the first book ever printed ….” 

Sacerdotus replies:  It does because faith drove Columbus to do the impossible.  Moreover, the Bible helped him plan his journey.   False? See:  http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/permanent/gutenberg/

<<“Yes, science is based on empirical facts and so on, but as I commented above, we don’t perceive things as they really are.  As Plato states: “Science is but perception.”  We TRUST that our senses and instruments are telling us the truth.  Our senses rely on faith.”
Equivocating again.  I must accept my sense detect reality in some sense in order to make any progress.  This is NOT the same as accepting notions as true without any sensing them in anyway.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  What else can be done?  Do you actually think you are touching your table, your computer?  Do you actually think you are sensing?  No.  There is a barrier between the actual object and your nervous system.  Have you seen Star Trek, the Next Generation?  In the tv program, they often showed the 'holodeck' which is a room that plays holograms in a manner that is very realistic.  The images are so realistic that they can be sensed by all 5 senses, the characters could eat, drink, even breathe the holographic objects.  Even a bullet or knife could kill.   Well that is our universe basically.  We are in a sense living in a 'holodeck.'  That is what "reality" is, an illusion per se.  This is why Chalmer's created his thought experiment that we could be in a simulation.  

<<“As stated above, dogma/doctrines don’t deal with explanations of the natural world.  They deal with what we must to do to go to the next world that is not physical.”
I do not accept the claim “non-physical things” exist, so I don’t really care what dogma or doctrines have to say about them.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  If you don't, then you have never loved.  Love does not exist physically speaking.  We perceive it with chemicals, but it is not physical - yet it exists.  

<<“Scripture is the story of how God is using man to fix man.”

Sacerdotus replies:  Yes, the word 'story' comes from "storia" which means an "account of something."  This is why we use it in the word history.    

<<“The Bible says killing is wrong.  This is something everyone can accept.”
Because it’s obvious.  Still, many religions do permit killing in certain circumstances.  Collecting wood on the Sabbath, changing religions, calling prophets “bald head”, etc>>

Sacerdotus replies:  The things you mention are external factors of cultures that are reflected in the Bible.  If the Bible were written today, it would use language and culture of our time.    

<<“Science can say Pluto is a planet and then, Pluto is NOT a planet.”
Because it corrects itself based upon observable phenomenon.  Your faith is unbending and absolute.  Dogma is not open to revision by definition.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  It is "correct" because a group of scientists say so.  A few decades from now when better satellites appear, they will probably make Pluto a planet again.  Dogma is not open to revision because it deals with morals and things pertaining to God, not the natural world.  

<<“Science is based on external things while Scripture is based on internal things that deal with morality and preparing for the next life. “
I see no evidence “the next life” even exists, so I do not care what an old book has to say on the matter.>>

Sacerdotus replies:   Well then, where did the first life come from?  Do you think consciousness is a random thing?  To date, Biologists do not know what life is.  Moreover, what of people who have been declared dead and "came back?"  Where did they go?  

<<“Actually “reality” does change based on perception.”
No.  Our *perception* of reality changes.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  Remember, reality is what we perceive.  If you are drunk and see things spinning, that 'spinning' is reality for you.

<<“When it rains one can see “colored water.”  The water is not colored that way, we perceive it that way.  Nevertheless, the water is in a sense “colored” because the composition of the atoms and how they interact with light give off that “signal.””
So we *do* perceive an aspect of reality.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  That perception is our reality.  We can never see what reality really is.  

<<“Moreover, this is an experiment you can try.  If you touch your nose with your finger you will feel your nose with your finger and your nose will feel your finger.  Guess what? You were fooled.  Your brain lied to you.  The time that it takes your finger to send the message to your brain is longer than at the point where your nose touches your finger. Since the nose is closer to the brain than the finger, that signal is faster.  Your brain compensates for this by telling you that you are sensing both the nose and finger simultaneously.   If the brain does this with this simple act, imagine how many other times it is lying to us about “reality.””
So compensating for tiny delays is now “lying about reality”?>>

Sacerdotus replies:  I didn't say this.   I quoted my old professor who is an Atheist.  It isn't compensating if the signal is false.  

<<“A miracle by definition is something that defies the laws of nature.”
And so cannot occur.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  It happens all the time.  

<<“Evolution is a theory, not a law.  This does not discredit it, but it does not make it 100% accurate either.”
Please research what a “scientific theory” actually means. Thanks.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  A theory summarizes a hypothesis using experiments that are repeated and produce results that are favorable to the hypothesis.  This does not mean it is 100% true.  They can be retracted if a future experiment shows something different.  Then there are scientific laws which generalize observations that cannot be disproved.  In Church language, a theory would be a 'discipline' such as celibacy which can be changed, while a law would be a 'dogma,' which is set in stone.  

<<“Well people often attack what they don’t understand.”
Like “evolution is a theory, not a law”?>>

Sacerdotus replies:  Evolution is a theory.  It is not 100% accurate.  There are Biologists who still have issue with it. 

<<“Parrots “talk” by mimicking human beings.  Who is to say there was not a snake in the past that did the same?”
So Eve trained the serpent to trick her into eating a magical fruit?  Did she give the serpent the ability to vocalise recognisable sounds too?>>

Sacerdotus replies:  No no no, I posited a scenario worth thinking about.  Who is to say the ancients did not live among "talking serpents" that went extinct?  I am not saying that they existed, but the possibility is there.  

<<“Informed Bible scholars all know that the talking snake is an allegory used at the time when that particular book was written.”
Of course.  The idea of a talking snake is absurd.  Who would believe such nonsense?>>

Sacerdotus replies:  Parrots "talk" don't they?  It is indeed possible a species of a snake that mimicked human sounds existed long ago.  I'm not saying there was, but there is the possibility.    

<<“The Bible has to be read properly in order to be understood.”
Meaning: the absurd parts are allegory.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  Most likely.  Unfortunately, the message doesn't pass through well when translated to other languages.

<<“Only the Catholic Church can interpret Scripture properly.”
How can anyone say they have interpreted scripture accurate when there is no empirical evidence for the central claims?>>

Sacerdotus replies:  What I mean is that the Church is the only one who can say what Scripture means.  

<<“Religion uses God’s revelation in order to make man just and prepare him for the next life.”
In other words, they make it up.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  No.  where did you infer that from?

<<“There is uniformity in many areas with religion worldwide.  We all share common ideas of right behavior, a “creator,” an “afterlife,”  the human soul and so on.”
All for bad reasons.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  What bad reason?

<<“Scientists are divided among themselves on many issues.”
And the verifiable, repeatable, falsifiable, empirical evidence will eventually settle the issue.  Religion has no such mechanism – it relies on faith and dogma.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  Not always.  Science does not end observations on one experiment.  It continues experimenting.  Religion has no such mechanism because it deals with morals.  It would be like a teacher constantly changing her/his class rules.   

<<“Faith pushes the human experience beyond the material world.”
And so cannot be trusted as a path to truth.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  That is the truth.  Remember, our senses lie to us a lot.  Faith goes beyond perception within the material world.  It is free from the 5 senses.

<<“If man did not believe he could go to the moon, he would not have made it.”
The expectation we could achieve such a goal is not “faith” – it is a reasonable conclusion based on the knowledge at the time.>>

Sacerdotus replies: It is faith.  Man believed the impossible and it came true.    

<<“Based on revelation (speaking as a Catholic), we trust God and what God has revealed.”
And what do you consider valid revelation from false revelation?  How do you determine the difference without evidence? And of you are going to rely on evidence, why have revelation?>>

Sacerdotus replies:  Valid revelation services both God and man and comes directly from God.  The evidence is in the response/change that revelation causes in our souls.  Revelation/evidence are the same, speaking in terms of faith/morals.    

<<“However, have you seen the solar system with your own eyes?  Have you gone to space and verified that it has zero gravity?  No, you trust the people that told you these things.”
Trust is not faith.  Equivocating again.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  As a matter of fact it is.  Faith is COMPLETE trust.   

<<“Religion is not made by man, it is made by God and is subject to God.”
Yet there are thousands of competing religions, each claiming to have discovered the truth of “god”, and many being mutually and totally incompatible.>>

Sacerdotus replies:    Well the Church teaches:

"843 The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as "a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life."332"

<<“There is evidence for God.”
Then show it to us.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  I will on my blog, it will be too long to include in this discussion.  I was hoping to present some at the debate with Rosarubicondior, but she was not serious. 

<<“You cannot judge and claim there is no evidence for God.”
If you can judge the evidence and claim there is a “god”, I can do the opposite.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  It will be hard to do.  This is why Atheists fear debating me.  

<<“You cannot tell a homeless man who prayed for good fortune in bad times and afterwards wins a the lottery when a random stranger hands him a dollar which he used to buy a ticket.”
And the thousands of homeless people with losing tickets would show what?>>

Sacerdotus replies:  That they probably did not pray if that scenario was linked to the one I proposed.  

<<“You cannot tell a person with AIDS or cancer who was told by scientifically minded doctors that he/she will die tomorrow and after a prayer the illness is completely gone as if it never existed.”
You cannot claim an unexplained event with a made up explanation either.>>

Sacerdotus replies:  That is not what is done.   No explanation is "made up."  If something defies the laws of nature, it is supernatural - it is not of this world.  

Posted by askegg on August 29, 2012


  1. Your blog entries are as painful on the eyes as your wafflings.

    1. A comment posted under spite after I defeated @rosarubicondior. :)


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