The Silly New Trend in Christian Apologetics: Using Complex Philosophical Theories and Mathematical Formulas to Defend Supernatural Beliefs

Image result for image of complex mathematical formula used by william lane craig

When a Christian starts using complex mathematical formulas and philosophical theories to defend his belief in first century corpse reanimation-transformation (aka:
resurrections)…I yawn.

I yawn because it is soooo silly.

I know for a fact that if a Muslim attempted to use these same ploys to defend the veracity of Islam’s claim that Mohammad flew to heaven on a winged horse, the very same Christians would snicker and hand-wave away these arguments without giving them a second thought, believing that these tactics are nothing more than an obvious, desperate attempt to dress up a superstition as believable reality.

Image result for image of the philosophical arguments for the resurrection of jesus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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45 thoughts on “The Silly New Trend in Christian Apologetics: Using Complex Philosophical Theories and Mathematical Formulas to Defend Supernatural Beliefs

  1. I think this is a follow up to the comment in your previous entry.

    Seriously Gary,

    Every time I see somebody countering Godel’s incompleteness theorems (and their implications) by bringing up the silliness of using Bayes’ theorem to make arguments for or against the existence of God -which I agree, it is silly because it all boils down to computation of the prior probabilities which cannot be computed- I get the impression that said person -in this case you- doesn’t have a solid enough background in mathematics to understand either (nor Godel’s incompleteness theorems, nor Bayes’ theorem).

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    1. The child in the Emperor’s court who saw through (literally and figuratively) the complicated spin of the Emperor’s new tailors did not need to understand the simplest of mathematical equations he just needed to recognize the simple truth when he saw it: invisible cloth is not real.

      Likewise, brain-dead corpses never come back to live…ever!

      It’s that simple, my LCMS friend.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Yes, Gary, I agree. It really is that simple. Some things in life really are.

    I am wondering about LCMS. . does he realize you are a Doctor? That is not to suggest that doctors understand everything there is to understand in the world, no matter how deep the topic, but certainly I would expect that you’d probably be able to grasp those sorts of things easier than. . .say. .a lowly High School English teacher like myself. 🙂

    Then again Gary, you’ve never been the sort to even suggest that you might be smarter than anyone else on a blog thread. Unlike some insecure posters.

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    1. Hi Carmen! Nice to hear from you.

      I don’t know if LCMS knows that I am a doctor but I doubt he would care. I’m sure he subscribes to “the fool (regardless of his level of education) has said in his heart, there is no God.”

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      1. Of course the ironic part is that believers in god(s) must elevate emotion over intellect to swallow such a incredible fable. I’m glad you used a child to illustrate such gullibility; perhaps it was intentional? After all, so many adults willingly embrace such childish fantasies in the USA. The latest, terribly destructive one seems to be that tRump is some sort of agent from (their) god. .. oh, dear. Head-shakingly terrifying.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Likewise, brain-dead corpses never come back to live…ever!

    Even if a brain-dead corpse did, at some point in the past, come back to life all perfectly restored, and fresh as a daisy, I don’t see how we currently have enough evidence to justify believing that it did.

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  4. @Gary,

    “Likewise, brain-dead corpses never come back to live…ever!”

    Have you read about the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect ? “in the field of psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people of low ability have illusory superiority and mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is.”

    I think that this is what it going here my friend. You lack the required knowledge to understand the difference between Bayes’ theorem and Godel’s incompleteness theorems. To you it is all “strange mathematics” that Christian apologists use. Your comment reminds me of this incident https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/rampage/wp/2016/05/07/ivy-league-economist-interrogated-for-doing-math-on-american-airlines-flight/ “Ivy League economist ethnically profiled, interrogated for doing math on American Airlines flight”. If you read the details, you’ll see that a woman whose understanding of mathematics seemed similar to yours thought that mathematical formulas were Arabic and the economist had to leave the plane. At least in this case, your inability of understanding the difference in two unrelated mathematical concepts is only a tactic to shutdown the debate without much consequence!

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  5. @Carmen

    “I am wondering about LCMS. . does he realize you are a Doctor?”

    I am assuming here “Doctor” means “medical doctor”. To an uneducated person, a “medical doctor” might be the closest thing there is to a wise person, particularly in rural areas. To those of us who are highly educated -and live in urban areas-, we understand the difference between being a medical doctor and being an expert in other areas outside medicine, such as epistemology and mathematics. It is very clear at this point that whatever Gary’s expertise is, he is clueless about epistemology and advanced mathematics as evidenced by his manifested inability to understand the difference between Godel’s incompleteness theorems and Bayes theorem and their respective implications.

    Borrowing the concept from a different context, a “doctor” -understood as “medical doctor”- is probably an illiterate’s person idea of what a smart/educated person is. Sorry for the “doctor” but I am not such a person.

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    1. Ah. .. the condescending chill in response . . . Unsurprising. 🙂

      Remember, LCMS – you are the one trying to establish that there’s something where there’s nothing, that bodies can be ‘beamed’ into the great beyond, and that a mathematical theorem can somehow be used to defend such a preposterous notion.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The tactic used here by “LCMS” is a tried and true tactic of the cults: In order to deflect attention from the cult’s superstitions, repeatedly and aggressively attack the character and intelligence of the ex-cult member who is attempting to expose the absurdity of the cult’s superstitions.

        “LCMS” is a member of the LCMS cult, which is a subunit of the larger cult, conservative Christianity.

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        1. I agree, Gary. It’s a tactic I have witnessed in the past. Conservative christians – in my opinion – just don’t seem to realize what they reveal about themselves in that process. It would seem that the ability to make a fool of oneself is not restricted to the illiterate and uneducated. 😉

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  6. @Gary

    “I know a naked Emperor when I see one”

    “The tactic used here by “LCMS” is a tried and true tactic of the cults: In order to deflect attention from the cult’s superstitions, repeatedly and aggressively attack the character and intelligence of the ex-cult member who is attempting to expose the absurdity of the cult’s superstitions.”

    As somebody with advanced training in mathematics -that would be yours truly- I recognize a mathematically illiterate person when I see that when asking about that person’s understanding of the limits of formal logic to reach truth (that was established by Godel’s theorem), said person instead of arguing on the merits comes back with Bayes’ theorem which is totally unrelated to the limits of format logic. The tactic you are employing here is one that comes with ignorance: since you don’t know anything about these implications (you can educate yourself reading this, which is one of the most prestigious resources in epistemology in the web https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/goedel-incompleteness/ ), you counter with something totally unrelated to the topic that contains some mathematical formulas. This tactic you employed here is called “red herring” and works with mathematically illiterate readers (which I assume most of your readers to be, certainly those who are lionizing you in your mathematical ignorance) but not with those who know about the subject matter at hand.

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    1. Yea, yea, yea. Your “sophisticated” arguments could also be used to prove that invisible cloth really does exist; that donkeys really can fly; and that Never, Neverland is a real place.

      Bah humbug!

      Superstitions are superstitions no matter how respectable-looking a facade you create to pretend they are not.

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    2. @ LCMS Lutheran

      Even a highly trained mathematician can be a complete arse. Look at John Lennox!

      Obviously evidence plays a secondary role when it comes to your brand of god belief.

      The guilt trip that was laid on you has obviously stamped its mark on your conscience leaving an indelible impression that triggers some sort of severe emotional reaction under such circumstances.
      Considering you are a highly trained individual and probably of above average intelligence, It is the most reasonable conclusion one can draw. For how would you explain how two highly intelligent individuals, you and Gary, could arrive at two completely different conclusions regarding the same scenario?

      it then raises the question as to why you are a Christian?

      Would you care to share with us?
      ( and if you have already I apologise, but please refresh my memory at least.)

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  7. @Carmen

    As you missed the discussion about epistemology, I repeat: we all make dogmatic assumptions about the natural world all the time without which we wouldn’t be able to function. If we didn’t believe the laws of physics to be immutable, we wouldn’t be able to drive, let alone design cars. This “belief” cannot be reasoned based on past experience because one runs into the problem of induction https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/induction-problem/ .

    This notion that religious believers believe stuff without proof and skeptics don’t is a baloney argument that is popular among the philosophically illiterate followers of the New Atheists (holding a medical doctor degree and having a career in medicine doesn’t make one more cognizant on matters outside one’s field of expertise). I imagine you are one of said followers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I couldn’t have said it better myself LCMS. The issue is what threshold of proof is needed to believe, and what axioms are accepted in order to believe. I agree though that the Atheists that accuse believers of believing without proof just aren’t educated on the issues. William Lane Craig had little to no challenge against the Hitchens and Sam Harris. To say that Christians believe without proof is absurd.

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  8. @Gary

    “Yea, yea, yea. Your “sophisticated” arguments could also be used to prove that invisible cloth really does exist; that donkeys really can fly; and that Never, Neverland is a real place.”

    Let me ask you a very honest question. Do you understand what I mean when I say that formal logic has limit as to the statements that it can show to be true through deductive methods?

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  9. @Carmen

    Again, red herring. As I have said numerous times, these type of tactics/arguments are only for the illiterate in philosophy and epistemology. Re-posting this https://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n20/terry-eagleton/lunging-flailing-mispunching “Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. Card-carrying rationalists like Dawkins, who is the nearest thing to a professional atheist we have had since Bertrand Russell, are in one sense the least well-equipped to understand what they castigate, since they don’t believe there is anything there to be understood, or at least anything worth understanding.”

    This is the problem debating the New Atheists and, specially, their minions like you. They (you) lack a basic understanding of the issue you are trying to argue about. It’s like somebody trying to have a discussion about the limits of formal logic, and his debate partner counters with some baloney about Bayes’ theorem. Not that this has ever happened in this thread, right?

    The topic of religious belief is more nuance than “having imaginary friends” and my impression is that you guys, just as your masters like Dawkins (the late Christopher Hitchens was the most serious among them and belonged to a different league) don’t understand what this nuance is all about.

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    1. I’ll remind you – yet again that you are the one who is asserting that the unbelievable is believable, that superstition and ‘woo’ (Tildeb’s expression and it fits) can be explained using a mathematical formula, and that there really is something where there’s nothing. This is the virtue of religious faith. It takes ordinary, embarrassing gullibility, and elevates it to the status of virtue. People (like you) can now gloat over the superiority of their spiritual insight and brag that only mathematical geniuses ‘get it’.

      I mean, really?? Are you actually reading what you are writing? Your face should be beet red, typing such idiotic foolishness.

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  10. Carmen writes, “I’ll remind you – yet again that you are the one who is asserting that the unbelievable is believable, that superstition and ‘woo’ (Tildeb’s expression and it fits) can be explained using a mathematical formula, and that there really is something where there’s nothing. ”

    I think the writer has done a fine job calling out Gary’s ignorance. Although, Gary would be the first to say that he does not care about the disciplines in philosophy. However, Gary should care if he is going to present reasonable arguments. Indeed, three years ago I encouraged Gary to take a basic course in logic, since it is terribly evident he lacks the necessary skills in responding to sound arguments. I will also add that you, also, seem to lack such skill. For example, you claim that LCMS ” is asserting that the unbelievable is believable” and that is far removed from the truth. LCMS’ point, if I understand correctly, is that Gary could not tell the difference between between a probability expression from an algebraic expression; yet Gary presents himself as an expert. The point, though, is that LCMS is not asserting what you claim.

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    1. I have been reading Gary’s writing for several years as well and I don’t think he needs a course in logic at all. He has no trouble presenting himself coherently. I am now wondering about both of you fellows. Did you read the title of Gary’s post? Perhaps not. I’ll reiterate it for you – it’s silly/foolish/absolutely stupid for apologists to try to defend superstitious nonsense with complex philosophical theories and mathematical formulas. PERIOD. So why are you and LCMS bothering to offer your .02 cents worth? Do you think that your high and mighty attitude is doing anything at all to batter Gary’s credibility?
      Both of you have missed the point completely. Typical of deluded believers, I might add.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Where have I asserted myself to be an expert? I am simply a lay ex-member (non-expert) of your cult, sharing my experiences and views of the cult and its effects on me and on others I know. The only time my expertise as a physician might be called upon here on my blog is when issues related to human anatomy, physiology, or medical treatment come up, which isn’t often. So I am a lay person, talking to other laypersons, about my views and opinions. That’s all.

      Once again, I must say: One does not need to understand one single formal principle of philosophy to know as a fact that a naked emperor is truly naked.

      Neither does one need any formal knowledge of philosophy to know that brain dead corpses do NOT come back to life, eat broiled fish, and then fly off into outer space. These are silly superstitious claims that can be hand-waved away without a second thought!

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    3. Ask a conservative Christian if a questioning Muslim must understand philosophical principles to reject the claim that Mohammand flew on a winged horse to heaven, and that Christian will say, “Of course not. It is a silly superstition!” But turn the tables and ask the Christian the same question about broiled-fish eating, levitating, first century corpses, and he is insulted and shocked at your ignorance of the philosophical underpinnings of his belief.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually, the Christian believes in the supernatural, so he wouldn’t accuse the Mohammed flying example you used as a superstition based upon the claim itself, but rather he rightly should question the source from which the claim came from. The god Mohammed claimed didn’t come close lining up with even the most callused moral intuitions.

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  11. @Jim Pierce

    Thank you for your comment. It seems there are thinking people around beyond the “mindlessly mantra repeating” New Atheism minions.

    @Gary

    “Once again, I must say: One does not need to understand one single formal principle of philosophy to know as a fact that a naked emperor is truly naked.”

    Actually, that’s inaccurate. Let me give you an analogy. A common belief system among geeks is the notion that we live inside a computer simulation (which is another way of saying that they believe in God although many of these modern age gnostics will deny it). Well, if we are inside a computer simulation, the entities inside it won’t have a clue about the programmer that created it unless said programmer sends them a signal, like you know, a dead man resurrecting (something that normally won’t happen in the normal course of the computer simulation). So a discussion about whether we live indeed in a computer simulation that begins by stating that it is impossible that dead men resurrect because normally dead men don’t rise from the dead is a non starter. That’s the kind of nonsense New Atheist televangelists preach to their minions successfully (as measured by the books they have sold). Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that studies justified belief, meaning, what mechanisms assure us that our beliefs are accurate. And it’s not binary. Some forms of knowledge give greater assurance than others. For example, on the matters hard science is an apt way of knowing, the degree of assurance is astonishing. Our modelling of gravity allows us to send probes to bodies as distant as Pluto. On the other hand, since you are a physician, you might be familiar with the concept of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physics_envy which is a term used to describe the lack of accuracy -compared to physics- of biology. Does this mean that we shouldn’t believe anything biology produces because it doesn’t have the degree of assurance that physics has? My answer is no, of course. Faith is another way of knowing, just as love is or the appreciation of the arts is. With respect to the latter, if you take your favorite song (which I assure you will be different from my own favorite song) , it is not possible to determine whether that’s THE favorite song in the world. The most you can say using numbers is “this percentage of people like this song” or “this other percentage of people consider it to be THE best song”. However, using a branch of mathematics known as https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmonic_analysis we can make a very accurate mathematical analysis of the song which is accurate irrespective of people’s tastes. To say that one form of knowing (mathematical) negates or invalidates the other (one’s personal taste about the song) is silly. That’s how silly is the framing of the debate science vs religion introduced by the New Atheists, and that’s why one of the references I mentioned called them popularizers, not innovators. It’s like pretending to have a conversation about haute cuisine discussing about which one -McDonalds or Burger King- cooks the better hamburgers.

    As I have said numerous times, I get that Christian fundamentalism can be destructive. But embracing another destructive way of thinking (like New Atheism) is not going to get you anywhere. God manifests Himself in many ways. As A N Wilson said when he announced that he had left atheism behind http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1169145/Religion-hatred-Why-longer-cowed-secular-zealots.html “but an even stronger argument is the way that Christian faith transforms individual lives – the lives of the men and women with whom you mingle on a daily basis, the man, woman or child next to you in church tomorrow morning”. The healing power of the Gospel is what allowed me to get ahead in life after the personal tragedies I experienced. And yes, then there is a very rich intellectual tradition telling me why the Christian faith is justified, but that’s not why I am an evangelical Christian.

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    1. The people of my LCMS church were all very kind, generous people…unless you were gay, then you were referred to as a “faggot” and not welcome in the church. Fundamentalists can be very loving as long as you are one of the members and you are following all the rules. Once you step out of line, they can be very judgmental and nasty.

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    2. I have never stated that my worldview (the Scientific Method) is the only correct worldview only that it is the most reliable worldview in my opinion. It is certainly possible that the supernatural exists and that Yahweh exists. But it is also possible that Zeus exists; that fairies and goblins exist. My argument is that since we have no conclusive evidence that the supernatural operates in our universe, we can ignore this possible worldview until better evidence for it comes along.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. @Gary

    I think we have made some progress here. I want to qualify one thing. The scientific method, as the name implies, is not a worldview, but rather a method of knowing. The worldview that states that the scientific method is the only valid method of knowing is known as scientism, as Ian Hutchinson – the MIT professor I referred to in an earlier comment- explains. I can have a discussion as to why I believe Christian theology to be superior to the Greco-Roman theology or scientism as a worldview but I think it is important to start the discussion without demonizing the other side and I think we have reached that point now.

    With respect to the LCMS people and gay people. Each congregation is different, of course, put one thing you need to understand is that glorifying sin is a very severe sin onto-itself. Therefore it is consistent that Christians who take their faith seriously (unlike liberal/anything goes Christians) will have a problem glorifying homosexuality or any other sin like greed, fornication, etc. I don’t know about your congregation but mine has no problem admitting repentant sinners. In fact, we all happen to be repentant sinners, because we all fall short in own way or another. What we don’t do, of course, is to glorify sin or be sympathetic to those who seek to glorify sin. So if you are a gay person who seeks fellowship in Christ you’ll be welcome in our congregation. If you seek that we support a gay pride event during gay pride month or that we agree with gay marriage, sorry, that ain’t gonna happen.

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      1. Gary, it provides a justification for bigotry; that way individuals can use the Bible as an excuse for oppression. I think – in most cases however – it boils down to Christians being quite comfortable in their imagined moral superiority. They wouldn’t give it up for love nor money.

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    1. Once again LCMS, you are spot on. science is an epistemological attempt to “rule things out” and therefore process the truth. It is not a worldview. Science still has to be interpreted, which is nearly impossible to divorce from worldview.

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  13. @Gary

    There are all sorts of “natural law” reasons for which homosexuality shouldn’t be glorified, which is not the same as to say that homosexuality should be criminalized. The problem with discussing this topic is, in my experience, that all nuance tends to get lost by zealots of both sides, including New Atheism zealots. Is homosexuality found in the animal kingdom? Sure, but a healthy, thriving mammal community of any kind (human, animal) requires fertility and healthy heterosexual (ideally monogamous) couples that give life to the next generation to be celebrated and encouraged. Or else, you get the “culture of death” type of society that is ravaging Western Europe. This is different from criminalizing homosexuality. As far as I am concerned, what people do in the privacy of their bedroom is not my business and should not be criminalized. Now, when these people ask me to glorify what they do -even when it goes against my deeply held beliefs- that’s a different story. That’s the type of totalitarian thinking that atheist regimes like the Soviet Union’s like to practice: imposition of a particular line of thought on everyone, or else. Sorry, I am not a bigot. I am just a rational person that understands the basics of human biology and the kind of human relationships that can create new life which are different from those that can’t.

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    1. “Or else, you get the “culture of death” type of society that is ravaging Western Europe.”

      When were you last in Europe?

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  14. @Gary

    “When were you last in Europe?”

    I go there quite often and I have personal friends from all around the place in Europe. As I mentioned earlier, I am a highly educated -I now add traveled- person who is not impressed by somebody who holds an MD degree (unlike apparently some of your minions). The fact that Western Europe is going through a demographic crisis is a fact (here is an article on the topic from the leftist British newspaper The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/23/baby-crisis-europe-brink-depopulation-disaster ). The adoption of “culture of death” policies (no questions asked abortion policies, gay marriage -that is a tool for the state to glorify unions incapable of producing new life- and euthanasia) together with a highly hedonistic culture that followed WWII are the main reason Western Europe is dying. One can understand that Europe’s elites wanted to leave their totalitarian past behind after WWII; the silliness they have put in place whose consequences were very predictable begs the question “what where they thinking”. The situation is so severe that a few years ago one could read articles like this https://qz.com/502340/in-denmark-sex-education-is-about-having-babies-sooner-rather-than-later/ describing how Denmark now focuses sex education on the need of having babies (after having taught the opposite is similar classes to previous generations).

    Of all people, you should be aware that glorifying homosexual couples by putting traditional marriages on equal footing with gay marriages has consequences for society at large. That was the main argument of those of us who didn’t want a US Supreme Court decision imposing gay marriage nationwide but who were fine with states experimenting with it. I don’t think homosexuals are bad people or disordered. I do think though that the history books are full of decisions that align with the proverb “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. The European situation is a case in point. When abortion on demand was introduced it was all about the right of the woman. When euthanasia was introduced it was all about freedom of choice of the individual (and here I am closer of the pro-euthanasia position than you might think). When gay marriage was introduced it was all about giving gay unions the same rights associated with traditional marriage. All those who gave warnings about the slippery slope for society at large were labelled as anti-woman, anti personal freedom and homophobic respectively. But now we have the result of the experiment in Western Europe. It ain’t good.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. @Gary

    My experience discussing these matters with New Atheist zealots is reflected in this interaction. I provide a set of well reasoned arguments together with evidence to support them taken from well respected sources and you only have to say that I am bigoted and paranoid. Are you surprised by Terry Eagleton’s review of Dawkins book? Hint, since you seem to be in love with Western Europe and in case you didn’t get the memo: the approach Dawkins used (insulting anybody who disagrees with his nonsense) is now passé over there. A couple of relatively old references:

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/30/richard-dawkins-what-on-earth-happened-to-you
    “Dawkins in 2014 is a man so convinced that he possesses God-like powers of omniscience that he can’t understand why everyone is angry at him for pointing out the obvious”

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-sosa/im-finally-breaking-up-with-richard-dawkins_b_9102116.html

    “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m done with Richard Dawkins. As a teenager, the brilliant scientist was among the first to break through my bubble of petty fundamentalism and push me to think critically about the superstitions that envelope our cultures. I miss that guy and have no idea where he went.

    Richard Dawkins does not represent me. He doesn’t represent atheists. He doesn’t represent scientists. He’s a single person with too much power who’s clearly become enamored with himself and needs to be gracefully demoted by the movement he helped build, not followed off the cliff he’s marching it toward.”

    You are 4 years late to the party!

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  16. That is your prerogative, but you should understand that when someone brings a principled discussion to your page, responding with accusations of bigotry seems lazy and quite frankly boring. Engage the ideas, even if motivated by nothing other than dogma.

    Like

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