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Date: 2005/11/21 01:10:21, Link
Author: heddle

Since you went to the trouble of setting up this thread, maybe we can have a serious discussion of fine tuning and others can join in. However, the tone of your first post does not indicate that you are actually interested in a serious deliberation.

I’ll start general comment regarding your three points. Can you provide a link, anywhere, on PT or my blog or anywhere, where I said that any of these points (even if I had made the points as you present them) proves ID? If so I’ll retract it. A think that any reasonable person reading what I have written on this subject or attending one of my talks would acknowledge that I have presented the CC fine tuning as one of many examples of fine tuning, and it is the totality of the fine tuning that makes, from Occam’s razor, Cosmological ID the preferred choice (over, say, mulitverses). In short, I have never even stated that all the fine tuning, let alone a single example of it, “proves” ID.

Now to your specific points:

1. the 120 OOM difference between the CC and the naive expectation of what it would be, proves ID

I have already addressed that I never claimed it proved ID, and again I ask for a link. I wonder why you say “naďve expectation?” Could it be that you believe the theoretical calculations are on shaky ground? Have you investigated the quantum-gravity and GUT field-theoretic calculations that have been done, and feel justified in characterizing them as naďve? Does it bother you that when people like Krauss or Weinberg or Hawking discuss the discrepancy between theory and observation they never simply shrug it off as merely reflecting the naiveté of the calculations?

2. “the 60 OOM size of the CC in reduced Planck units, proves ID”

I have already addressed that I never claimed it proved ID, and again I ask for a link. The 60 OOM, if I used it, probably referred to the matter density or the expansion rate and not the CC.

3. the unknown ratio deltaCC/CC, called Sensitivity, proves ID

I have already addressed that I never claimed it proved ID, and again I ask for a link. I have also provided a conservative upper limit estimate for the fractional sensitivity of the CC of one percent.

Now, on the whole issue of sensitivity, I want to point out that this is not a new concept in the fine tuning arguments. People have always argued (right or wrong) things like if the n/p mass ratio changed by, say, two percent then the universe couldn’t support life. That is the way all fine tuning arguments tend to be presented (except the CC, which has the additional twist of 120 OOM discrepancy between theory and observation). You keep bringing it up like it is some new twist to the fine tuning argument that I invented. When I talk I do emphasize that the sensitivity is what is important, not the lack of a fundamental theory that explains the values of the physical constants.

Finally, you placed this ultimatum on me:
I won't be participating unless he actually gives us a number for Sensitivity.”

For the CC I did: less than 1%. For the n/p mass ratio I did: ~2%. I’ll give estimates for all or most of the fine tuning examples I know of.

But now my ultimatium. I am not going to waste my time arguing with someone who has demonstrated that they cannot admit error. I certainly can, I have done so on PT. And if you provide the links where I claimed any of your points 1-3 proved ID I’ll admit I was wrong. Now you you need to admit you were wrong, or explain how you were misinterpreted when .you wrote:

It remains a fact that your 120 OOM is particular to a set of units.

Shortly followed by:

Obviously if you compare two numbers in any given system, their relative size doesn’t change by switching to a different system. That’s obviously not what I was talking about.

It is not obvious at all. Unless I see some semblance of intellectual honesty, so I know I won’t be wasting my time, then I won’t participate.

Date: 2005/11/23 05:38:40, Link
Author: heddle
In case anyone wonders why Steve didn't give a reference for his quote, it is from the paper of almost 11 years ago that is generally credited with reintroducing the cosmologicial constant into cosmology.

The paper is here.

In that paper, a naive estimate is provided that demonstrated the enormity of the problem. For Steve to be correct, the community must have acted with indifference over the last 10 years, not doing any more calculations, in spite of the fact the the CC problem is one of the most exciting in physics.  For those interested, I can provide references to calculations. If you have trouble with the field theory, Steve finds it naive, so ask him.

Date: 2006/01/22 10:57:27, Link
Author: heddle
Well this is all so interesting!

Let me address a whole bunch of comments:

Sheikh Mahandi:
As for possible sites where Carol / David may be drawing "inspiration" - Kent Hovind ("Dr" Dino) contains all the usual, dinosaurs wandered round with Adam/Eve, Cain/Abel, etc...up until Noah.

Sorry Sheikh, I and (I am 99%  sure) Carol are old-earth types. My particular brand of OEC has been dubbed heresy by Dr. Hovind. I have to argue with Hovind types as much as I do with PT types—so I sort of put Hovind on your team, Sheikh.

 ask him when he will get around to addressing the age of several old testament protagonists.

You’ve asked me this, and I told you I do believe in the long ages are scientific, not miraculous. There is a post brewing about this, in the series GCT mentioned (in the comment above, where he says he comes to my blog for amusement.) It will go something like this: modern science is gaining an appreciation for the genetic causes of aging, and some foresee greatly extended lifespans. If so, then longer lifespans in principle are not unscientific. (This would mean that God intervened to alter our genes to reduce lifespans) But I need to do some homework on this topic.

 I don't know him, I just read and laugh.

I didn’t know you asked me questions on my blog just for chuckles. You are still welcome, but I am suddenly much more reluctant to engage you in the comments.

 He has admitted that he thinks the Bible was divinely inspired and is factually inerrant, so we can take that to mean that he accepts the miracles contained therein. Anyone who accepts miracles for an explanation of anything is pretty high on the fundie scale, IMO.

Well at least this is a definition, that's progress. (Now if someone would carfe to define "creationist"?) If accepting inspiration an inerrancy and miracles makes one a fundie, then I’m a fundie. Your poster child for rational Christianity, Ken Miller, if he is the good Catholic everyone claims, would then also be a fundie—because the Catholic Church (references to official documents upon request) affirms inspiration and inerrancy (without demanding literality) of scripture and affirms miracles as well.

 and I'm not  quite clear on how David's and Carol's "biblical inerrancy" differs from "biblical literalism".

Biblical inerrancy means that you accept that the writers were inspired to write, and so they wrote without error. You allow, however, that translation errors have occurred, and hyperbole, metaphors, and other figures of speech were used. You also recognize that the writers of that era wrote differently than today—that quotes, for example, were meant to accurately reflect the content but not necessary the exact words. (Biblical Greek, for example, didn’t even have quotation marks.) Now when the facts are brought up, those who want to demonstrate biblical error cry “foul.” Tough beans. We are not going to handcuff ourselves just so you can win a debate. You are free to hold us accountable: these things must be used in a scholarly manner. But they are legitimate parts of the equation.

Literalism is a hermeneutic that minimizes interpretations based on symbolism and metaphors. It is a form of inerrancy, but not the only form. Of course, when people want to argue that the bible is full of errors they demand that you take any questionable passage literally.

However, that does not answer the question of whether he accepts miracles to be within the purview of science itself, as Carol genuinely appears to.

On the contrary, I’ve stated my position clearly on a number of occasions: miracles are by definition outside the purview of science, that’s why they are miracles instead of parlor tricks. Science can never, for example, explain the resurrection.

 Heddle always ignores questions about miracles, which, again, I take as an admission that he believes them (but doesn't want us to know he believes them, because of how foolish it will make him look).

Wrong, I have never ignored questions about miracles nor shied away from admitting I believe in them.

I agree with you 100% that this statement (There is no denying that miracles are part of the Bible. And I don’t think that is in conflict with science. It is outside the domain of science, but not contradicted by it.) is completely untenable, and incongruous with her other claims that the Bible is totally compatible with science.

I know you are referring to Carol, this applies to me as well. Do you understand that part of debating is recognizing the other person’s perspective? Here it is in a nutshell, speaking for myself: (1) I believe in miracles and (2) miracles by definition cannot be explained by science and (3) the overwhelming bulk of scripture does not discuss miracles (4) anything stated in the non-miraculous accounts is subject to scientific scrutiny.

So, I believe the Red Sea was parted, but I don’t agree that it violates science because it was clearly a miracle, and expressed as a miracle.

However, when the bible says that our universe has a finite lifetime, that is not describing a miracle and is subject to scientific testing, which of course it passed with flying colors. If the bible said the earth was the center of the cosmos, that would be a scientific error that couldn’t be written off as a miracle.

Aureola Nominee nailed them on that one though - he/she basically forced them to admit that they can't maintain their claim that "the Bible is perfectly compatible with science" without fencing off significantly large portions of the Bible as science no-go zones.

Never happened. I would never have to be "forced" to admit that miracles are exempt from the discussion. I have stated it virtually (if not actually) every time the question of the scientific accuracy of the bible arose.

Gee, I thought you guys didn't care about whether or not the bible was consistent with science.

Date: 2006/01/23 01:42:48, Link
Author: heddle

so here we clearly see that miracles are indeed subjective by definition.

why would you presume, by your own logic then, that any of the other things in the bible you currently think of as "miracles" would not also be considered in a similar fashion?
This would appear as one example of this claim. However, the whole complaint is a red herring. When the bible talks about cosmology, or in other instances of potential scientific errors—rabbits chewing cud, Noahic flood, etc,  there is no “miracle escape clause.” Miracles have a certain flavor about them i.e.,—short duration, clearly written as miracles and most importantly recognized as miracles by the witnesses.

You guys want this too-simplistic criticism—that anything that is shown to be unscientific can simply be declared a miracle—but that is unthinking.

Your comment I quoted suggests you think there's a different reason for the interest.
Yes, a belief in biblical error reinforces your notion that the opposition is a bunch of mouth-breathing morons, and that their position would be dismissed by anyone who has married outside their own family. That’s why you want biblical inerrancy, especially scientific consistency, to be easily refutable.

Steve S,
The I&O are completely consistent with science. The parts which don't seem to be are all miracles, so they don't count.
Wrong. Argument by trivialization.

If it's fair game in proving the 'scientific accuracy' of the Bible to say that everything that is objectively impossible is a 'miracle' (basically walling off everything difficult), then why even be a Christian apologist at all? That precise line of argumentation would serve you just as well in proving the 'scientific accuracy' of the Koran, the Vedas, Dianetics, or the Navajo creation legend.
Wrong. Another argument by trivialization. The short-term aspects of miracles means they leave little or no signature other than witnesses. Creation, however, leaves definite signatures. Any religion’s creation account must be consistent with science.

And anything said in routine dialog in the bible has to be scientifically consistent. That is why we, as apologists, are required to explain things like the pi=3 problem beyond saying “at that instant God miraculously changed pi to 3.”

What you guys are really saying is that there are no miracles. If there were no miracles, then it would make sense to ask “why even be a Christian apologist at all?”.

Let's imagine, for the sake of argument, that some high-tech archeologist managed to locate and identify the remains of Methuselah, and proved somehow that the old guy had in fact lived to the impressive - for those days, I imagine - old age of 63. Would you (a) assume that the archeologist had to be mistaken, or (b) decide that the 900+ year age was not meant literally?
If the result was demonstrated beyond doubt, I’d say the bible was in error. You are essentially asking me, if the bible is shown to be in error, would it be in error?

Arden Chatfield ,
Since you're now 'accepting science', can you you tell us why people now live as tenth as long as they did back then? Why does this not qualify as yet another one of your miracles?
I thought I explained that in a previous post. I cannot give the detailed science, because it is in its infancy, but research is ongoing into genetic causes of aging, the cessation of cell reproduction, etc. It leaves the door open to the possibility that we were genetically altered for shorter lifespans.

Chris Hyland,
I agree its not fair to try and interpret the entire bible literally, but why then should we not just take the resurrection etc as metaphor.
That’s like asking, why can’t  you be a Christian without being a Christian? The essence of Christianity is not that everyone should love one another—that’s important but not the essence —the essence of Christianity is that the resurrection happened.

Chris Hyland,
An interesting question for further creationist research. Presumably either God altered their genes to extend their lifespan, or altered ours to shorten it.
The genetic causes of aging is an interesting, legitimate, and ongoing research topic for mainstream “normal” science.  

Stephen Elliott ,
BTW. I am only talking adults here. Child mortality was higher. But if someone made it to adulthood they could expect a long life.

I am glad someone pointed out the flaw in that “one-tenth” argument. Life expectancy at birth is almost irrelevant.

Arden Chatfield
About now we can maybe expect one or two more peevish emails from him where he snarls something about our attitude and how we're misquoting him or whatever, but without actually answering the question.
What question, specifically, have I not answered? Can you back up this allegation?

Date: 2006/01/23 03:47:10, Link
Author: heddle

If you see no difference between the positions: (1) There are no miracles, and  (2) Miracles aside, the bible is inconsistent with science, then we have nothing to talk about. I’ll only debate the second position.

So what do you think makes some people more inclined than others to accept miracles? Were you brought up in a religious environment?
I was not brought up in a religious environment. People are not “inclined” to believe the bible (which includes the miracles)—they are either given the faith (as opposed to somehow mustering the faith) or they don’t have it and can’t have it. You see, you comfort yourself that you have rationally decided against believing, but in fact that’s not the case at all—it is impossible for you to believe unless you are drawn by God.

Lord Manor,

Gee, did you think up that response all on your own! That is very impressive. You have developed a highly original, pithy comment: the bible is a fairy tale written by primitive men! I don’t imagine anyone ever considered that possibility! Kudos! You have certainly enlightened me. (btw, If you are less than 13 years old, then your argument is age appropriate, and I apologize for the sarcasm.)

Date: 2006/01/23 05:00:41, Link
Author: heddle

Do you think my motivations for deeming the Iliad & Odyssey more fancy than fact are different from deeming other ancient works of literature more fancy than fact? Why or why not?

Of course they are different—you have no fear that a large number of people who take the Iliad as inerrant will ever obtain vast political power. I would think it obvious that everyone on here views “fundamentalists” as a formidable cultural movement.

Congratulations, you pretty much answered exactly like we predicted.

You should speak for yourself. I think some of you, Stephen Elliott comes to mind, while he disagrees with me, I think he (maybe I’m wrong) acknowledges that there is a meaningful question about the scientific accuracy of the bible, miracles aside, and that it is not a foregone conclusion that I’ll just declare a miracle whenever I’m forced into a corner.

Chris Hyland,
Does this mean that god chooses who believes in him and who doesnt? That seems a little unfair. If people did believe but then lost their faith does this mean god abondoned them, or they didnt really believe all along?
Yes—and yes it seems unfair—and yes it means that they really didn’t believe all along (or that they will return, as it were.) If you are actually interested in this theological position, I have started a series on it here

Uh, extremely VAGUE there, Heddle, did you overhear someone talking about this on a bus?
Let me turn that around—are you admitting that you are unaware of research into the genetic causes of aging?

Why should we consider you an expert in what goes on inside of others' heads? And why are you an expert in what god does? How are you qualified to make these statements? Seems awfully arrogant, to me
Are you going to go Lenny on me? Can we not just assume that every theological point that I make is just my opinion based on my reading of the bible? It would be much easier if we just take that as a given.

there's no room for debate between those who believe in miracles and those who want actual evidence. Evidence is *always* the sticking point.

But maybe you're saying that what you wish to discuss is whether the bible is consistent with science except for the miracles? Seems to me this would reduce down to a rather uninteresting exercise. Take each statement from the bible. If there is scientific support, then the bible is scientific. If there is not, then it's a miracle and you don't discuss those!

I agree that one doesn't Believe on the evidence, nor is Believing a rational or conscious choice. Once evidence enters the Temple of Mental Defense, it has impressively corrosive effects.

Have you read the other posts?—I have painstakingly stated that miracles happened, that by definition they are inexplicable, and they therefore are exempted from the debate You can join the herd and say: “well, then with that giant loophole what’s the point?” or you can think about it for a moment and consider that the bible makes many statements that (a) obviously were not describing the miraculous and (b) can be examined for scientific error.

I gather you guys really want the debate to go this way:

Heddle: no I don’t believe in miracles.
You: Then what about the parting of the Red Sea, explain THAT by science!

You realise you're taking quite an extreme position here, David? It makes me wonder whether you're capable of judging what is rational and what isn't.
It is not an extreme position. It is well known in orthodox Christianity, and usually goes by the name “Total Depravity” or, more commonly, "Original Sin".

Paul Flocken,

Those are the only ones so far. The next one will probably be the “rabbits chew their cud” criticism.

Date: 2006/01/23 06:16:57, Link
Author: heddle
It is an extreme position, David. If I understand you correctly, you're saying there is no correlation between whether someone was brought up in a religious environment and whether they end up having religious tendencies. That is patently false.

That is not a valid conclusion from my position. For the bible, while it teaches that God chooses, does not teach that He does so randomly—and so a correlation is to be expected. This “extreme” position as you call it is Covenantal theology. Though the theology of the reformers, it is no longer the majority view among Protestants, but is still quite common (and appears to be on the rise again)—especially in certain denominations. You might also know it as “Calvinism”. Those, in Protestantism, who oppose covenantal theology include such well-known evangelists as Pat Robertson, Tim LeHaye,  and Jerry Falwell. So you are in agreement with them that this Covenantal theology stuff is loony.


hope he doesn't believe that, but it is a position I've seen with a few evangelicals like Heddle before -- they say that they're Christians because of how truthful it is, or because God spoke to them, or because they CHOSE it for whatever reason. What they DON'T say is "I'm a Christian because my parents were and everyone else around me was". The fact that they were raised in and lived in a context and a society where Christianity is approved of and very strongly encouraged doesn't enter into it. It's the same thing as claiming that every Muslim in Saudi Arabia is a Muslim because they chose to be so, or because the religion makes so much sense.

I think I already stated that I was not raised a Christian. An God did not speak to me (audibly), but nevertheless he “drew” me, a la Jesus’ statement: No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. (John 6:44) The word translated here as “draws” appears two other times in the NT, in those places it is translated as “drags” or “compels”.  You get the picture. You don’t choose God and then are reborn, that’s backwards. You are reborn and then choose God. So if you are not reborn, it’s not that your vaunted intellect is saving you from the bad choice of Christianity—you in fact are incapable of choosing anything other than unbelief.

I guess the other possibility he might propose is that people who are brought up in religious environments are simply more likely to be leading Godly lives, and are therefore more likely to be drawn by God. That would be a tenuous argument though.

For once we agree. “Leading a Godly life” has nothing to do with it. Perhaps this passage will help explain my position—for background, if you don’t know it, Abraham’s son was Isaac— Isaac’s wife was Rebecca—she had twins, the older was Esau and the younger was Jacob. Jacob became a patriarch even though he was a rascal. Esau, though seemingly a man of some integrity, lost everything. The bible explains:

And not only so, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” (Rom. 9:10-13)

Before they were born, and not because of Godly living, God chose (loved) Jacob and did not choose (hated) Esau. On what basis did He chose Jacob? I have no clue.

Steve S,
Indeed, Arden, I was sitting in Ideas Coffeehouse in Durham this very weekend and heard someone talking about that concept. He said it distinguished theologians from idiots

It carries a great deal of weght with me that someone in your coffee house characterizes theologians such as Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon,  Jonathan Edwards, Francis Schaeffer, etc, all of whom taught that the bible teaches  predestination (which is what we are really talking about here), idiots. That really is convincing.

Date: 2006/01/23 08:29:13, Link
Author: heddle

It seems to me that "Heddle-ism" is more antithetical to free will than "Darwinism" ever was. Those of us that drew the short straw before we were even conceived - I guess the only reason we have for not lying, cheating, stealing and going on murderous rampages is the fear of legal retribution.

It [predestination]  is not at odds with free will, although that is a reasonable and common first reaction. Not easy to explain in a few lines, I have a post coming up soon on that topic. He is the briefest sketch:

Free will is taken to be that you always choose based on your strongest inclination at the moment. You choose to pay taxes, for example, because even though you may not "really" want to, given the choose between paying taxes or going to jail, you prefer to pay taxes.

This means you are free but determined. You are not controlled by a puppet master, it is not fatalism—you can choose whatever you want. In fact, you always chose what you want. The unbeliever’s dilemma is he does not want God. The bible teaches that nobody in their natural state seeks God. Nobody.

Being reborn means that you are given, as a divine act, a desire for God. So, with your own free will, you eventually choose God.

Free will is never sacrificed.

Note: this is a thumb-nail, zeroth order sketch, but I think it gets the idea across.

BTW, you don’t know for certain that you will not be drawn by God. I was much like you, and would have thought it impossible.


clearly not a member of the target audience.

Is your book semi-autobiographical, by any chance? Anything in it that might clue us in to your "rebirth"? Leila, the undergrad beauty, maybe? You old horn dog, you!

Actually, you look kinda young in the pic on your blog. I'd picked you as being much older.

Congrats on jumping from #882,354 to #103,368 in the sales rank overnight, BTW.

You, just like Russell, might be. I hope so.

The book is somewhat, though not trivially, autobiographical. Leila has an important role, but she is not the source of being reborn.  The jump on Amazon means one or two people bought the book overnight. Amazon has a decay law for book rankings that is a bit depressing to behold.

Not many young people write like Heddle.  (Except when he gets sarcastic. Then he sounds like his age.)

A fair criticism—I hate being sarcastic even as I do it.

Date: 2006/01/23 11:33:33, Link
Author: heddle
Guys, the book is named Revelation not Revelations.

And it is extremely difficult to understand. Many modern Christians have a "left behind" futurist view, that it refers to future events, the rapture, Battle of Armageddon, etc.  I disagree. I have a "preterist" view. I think it refers, in eastern apocalyptic manner, to the events of AD 70 when Roman Legions crushed the Jewish war of rebellion, destroyed Jerusalem, descrated and destroyed the temple ending Jewish temple worship to this day, killed a million (a huge percentage) Jews and took a couple hundred thousand into slavery.

But in truth, I find it very hard to read.

Date: 2006/10/18 04:40:17, Link
Author: heddle

I don't get you. A while ago you came on my blog and we engaged in, if I recall correctly, reasonable discussion. Then you came over here and reported how stupid I was. Then you come back to my blog and complained that I no longer seem to want to debate with you. A while ago you downloaded the church-version of my cosmological ID talk and declared something to the effect that it was "pretty good" or "not bad" and then come here and engage in trash-talk.

Now, why would the NHAS want to schedule my talk in the first place? Well because the officers of the club thought it would be interesting. Not all talks at scientific venues are about hardcore science. Check any seminar or colloquium schedule at any physics department and you'll typically find one or two talks a year that are not hard core science. My talk has to do with cosmology, there is a lot of science in it, especially in the higher-level version—the only thing that makes that part of it not a "real" science talk is that none if it is my research, I'm just reporting it.

Secondly, you would have thought that, if they were so sure that my talk was easily refuted rubbish, then for amusement purposes it would have been fun to send me whimpering away in defeat.

But to the point—I dispute that you can support your assertion that the cosmological ID I talk about is "God of the Gaps."

"We don’t know how a flagellum could evolve therefore God did it" is God of the gaps.

"We don't know how stars work therefore God did it" is God of the gaps.

"We know a lot about how stars would, to the point where we know it is extremely dependent on the levels of various nuclear excited states and on the instability of Be[8] and also on the ratio of the electromagnetic to gravitational force strength" is either right or wrong, but it is not God of the gaps. And if it is right, my stating that for me it points to a creator is also not "God of the gaps" but a theological conclusion, one that is based on the existence of data, not the absence of data.

Date: 2006/10/18 05:52:55, Link
Author: heddle

How is "I see the details of stellar evolution as pointing to God," which is not a scientific statement at all, a form of "God of the Gaps?" What gap is being filled?

It is no different that if I sit at the beach and say: "that beautiful sunset reaffirms my faith that God created the universe." It may be nonsense, but it is not filling in missing scientific data with God. In both cases it is a non-scientific interpretation of beauty observed in creation. If merely interpreting the beauty of creation as faith-affirming evidence is "God of the gaps," then that term is so broad as to have little meaning.

Date: 2006/10/18 23:58:45, Link
Author: heddle
Some of you are ignoring a point that I have made ad nasueum and which, in these circles, is mostly ignored. However, since one of your own (Stephen Elliott) made it, I thought it might be taken more seriously. That is: virtually the entire professional physics community agrees that there is a substantive fine tuning problem. You can call that an appeal to authority if you like (it’s actually not), but when there is nearly universal acknowledgement from experts one ought to at least take notice. For example, cosmologist (and non IDer) Leonard Susskind has explicitly stated that, because of fine tuning, it's either multiple universes or  it's ID.

So you can dismiss it with the puddle analogy, but I really don't know how a thinking person can. A thinking person should at least ask himself: if all the experts take it seriously, maybe it really is something that can't be dismissed so trivially. Maybe I should look into it a bit.

As you know, some people who don't even bother to think dismiss evolution with simpleminded statements: if man descended from apes, why are there still apes? You recognize that their form of dismissal is a low as it gets, one in which the person confidently "destroys" a claim held by many professionals without even bothering to understand it on the most basic level. I would suggest that if you dismiss fine-tuning with a simple "gotcha" argument, you are exhibiting the same kind of laziness.

Date: 2006/10/19 03:27:42, Link
Author: heddle

We know a lot about the values of the constants and how they interact.  But, we don't know the why at all.  Well, since we don't know, it must be god."  

But using God to answer the why question is perfectly reasonable—because you are answering a question that is outside of science. In other words: If the universe is fine tuned and if this is the only universe the answer for "why are the constants tuned?" will be "because God wanted a habitable universe" for theists and other explanations for atheists. In either case, the why question is beyond science—so it is not subject to the God of the gaps criticism which, as I understand it, is injecting God as an explanation into something that is in the realm of science but which, at the present time, has no satisfactory explanation.

As I said, "we don’t know how stars work therefore God did it" would be God of the gaps. "We know how stars work and it requires [apparent] fine tuning" is pure science and the extension "therefore I believe it is evidence God designed the universe to support life" is not science at all, nor is it claimed as such.

As for my bashing irrationality when I see it demonstrated by PTers, no apologies. Get over it, or simply don’t bother to read the crap that I write.

Date: 2006/10/19 05:10:08, Link
Author: heddle

Nope. Suppose, after painstaking theoretical analysis from the best theoretical physicists, it was determined that some constant S had to be within .001% of its measured value for life to be possible.

The cosmological ID argument is: if there is just one universe, then it's amazing that the actual value falls in that range.

Note: it says nothing about the source of that value, be it a possibly from a low probability random draw or of unit probability resulting from a fundamental theory. As I have said elsewhere, the fundamental theory that predicts the value of the constants doesn't make it any less remarkable that they fall in the lucky range—in fact it is a more elegant design argument.

You do notice that Susskind, for example, doesn't list three possibilities for explaining fine tuning: (1) its multiple universes or (2) its ID or (3) a future theory that predicts the values of the constants. He correctly offers only the first two possibilities.

You are also wrong about multiple universes not falsifying [not used in a rigorous sense] cosmological ID as I argue for it. If you detect another universe, I would immediately have to stop arguing that the fine tuning of our universe is evidence for design. Clearly the better explanation is that  we just, quite naturally, arose in one of the fertile universes and so we expect ours to look fine tuned. That would be a slam-dunk rebuttal of cosmological ID.

You are correct, not doubt, that theists would invent variants of the design argument--but the present one, for which I am a proponent, would be dead in the water.

And the critcism isn't really very strong anyway--if evolution were falsified, biologists wouldn't suddenly become YECs--they would work for a new naturalistic explanation of life's diversity. So it really isn't a valid complaint that IDers would seek a new ID argument--but whether they could find one as good (in my opinion) as the current cosmological ID seems doubful.

Date: 2006/10/19 06:56:14, Link
Author: heddle
This is exactly where Heddle and rationality part company. It is not "perfectly reasonable" to invoke a god as a catch-all for anything that we don't understand. How many times must this be proven?

No, it is perfectly reasonable to invoke God for questions outside the domain of science. You may wish to invoke purely secular philosophy or to ignore such questions, but I think most people would agree that such questions are in the domain of religion. So suppose the constants are determined from a theory. And suppose someone asks you why do think the theory just happened to produce the values in the life-supporting range. How would you answer? And why would it be irrational to invoke God in answering this non-scientific question?


I’m too bored to comment beyond one observation: do not invoke the fallacy of “appeal to authority” unless you know what it means. It is not: “look what an expert says.” That is a perfectly reasonable approach and in fact is one of the reasons why we have experts. The fallacy demands an additional unsupportable step, e.g.: “Susskind is smart, this it what he says, I agree, and since he,being Susskind is right therefore I am right too.” I am not saying that, I am merely pointing out what he wrote was relevant for this discussion and for your consideration. That is not a logical fallacy.

It may be a false dilemma. In fact, one possibility that Susskind did omit was “blind luck.” That is certainly a possible explanation for the fine tuning. Perhaps there are more, but even there the onus is on you to provide the missing alternatives, not just assert that surely they exist.


False. The argument is not that the universe is fine tuned for life as we know it, but life at all, under the very modest assumptions that any complex life requires galaxies and stars and elements beyond helium. If it is remarkable that our universe contains these bare minimum requirements for life, then the fine tuning is non-trivial, which is exactly why people view it as a serious problem. Now if there are multiple universes, then you are correct—it is obvious that ours would appear fine tuned for life.


Perhaps I would have an new cosmological ID in that case, but it would not be the one I champion now. That one would be dead.

Date: 2006/10/19 11:35:16, Link
Author: heddle

So, any value that is within .001% would make life possible?  So, a value that is .0005% off of the current value would be OK?  A value that is .0005000001 would also be OK?  Gee, that sort of leaves us an infinite amount of values to choose from.  That doesn't sound like it's too selective to me.

Are you really making that argument? I certainly hope you are joking. If I said that a constant had to be within 1 part in 10^100 of its measured value, would you really argue that "that's not so selective because an infinite number of values could fit in that range.¨  Is that really what you are saying? If so I can hardly believe it.

Weren't you just bashing Dembski for the same thing?

Nope. In either case I say the designer is God. It's just a question of whether he picked the right constants or imposed the fundamental law that produced the constants. What I bashed the IDers for was some combination of  a) calling it science when it isn't b) not doing any science given that you claim it is c) hiding behind the argument that the designer doesn't have to be God--which is hiding behind a technicality and d) using unsavory methods for getting ID into the public schools. And maybe some other things that I don't recall at the moment.

Yes I was saying the designer could be an alien from another universe--that just a special case of saying fine tuning could be explained by multiple universes. Short of the alien announcing himself, it would be the worst possible explanation, because why invoke an alien (or God) when you can just let the large sample size of universes explain why some are fine tuned. In any case, cosmological ID as I preach it is dead. As I'll describe it (for the gazillionth time) fine tuning + one universe --> God designed the universe. Multiple universes negates that argument, and if you find an alien who designed the universe, it would negate it even more brutally.

I think you are confused by the different approaches. Biological ID says: the flagellum looks designed so that someone designed it, God or a super alien. Cosmological ID (as I preach it) says: God designed the universe.


As I expected, you are actually begging the question. Your argument is really that any invoking of God is irrational-- it really has nothing to do the specifics of our discussion.

BTW "But we are working on it¨ is an irrational answer. The question was based on the premise that a theory of everything predicted the constants. There is no physics left to do--but we are left with the metaphysical question why the constants are in the necessary range. The problem cannot be "worked on"¨ in the sense of physics. So exactly how would you be working on it?


I will check Susskind's book. I can't recall if he states it more explicitly that in that interview you quoted. However, the quote you provided is good enough. He is merely saying if the landscape fails then of course scientists will look for a different answer --but it will be very hard to answer the ID critics. Futrhermore, he describes such a search for a unique String theory solution as as faith based as ID. There may be an little bit of wiggle room in that quote, but not much.

EDITED some typos

Date: 2006/10/20 16:05:39, Link
Author: heddle

I am indebted to Lenny. I was starting to spend too much time here. The discussions started out fine, but he reminded me that, utimately, they are not elevated beyond the level of the PT comments. It took a while to break that addiction, but I've been "sober" for  couple months. No point trading one bad habit for another--especially one no different from the first. Have fun y'all.

Date: 2006/12/20 15:40:18, Link
Author: heddle
What does it mean if somebody says something after being promised a reward for doing so? IMO it means as much as a big fat zero without the ring.

Yeah, I agree. It's just like, say... Christianity. Promises, promises!

It's nothing at all like Christianity, which makes no promises of rewards for saying something.

Date: 2006/12/20 15:53:54, Link
Author: heddle
No, it just promises certain damnation for saying something [some specific thing, well documented].

No, it doesn't. There is no magic sentence that gets one irrevocably damned.

Date: 2006/12/20 16:32:25, Link
Author: heddle
I believe i'm dammed for missing church on one of the 7 days (I'm remembering through a 20 year old mist of time mind you) of the year that you have to go to church and do something or other, or be dammed for ever.

No, there's no special days you have to go to church or be damned.

Date: 2006/12/20 16:58:39, Link
Author: heddle

It's an interesting question. I would have to agree with the exegesis of Calvin, who argued that it is addressed to those who maliciously dishonor the perfections of works of God that have been revealed to them by the Holy Spirit. For example, we may take it that in Mark 3 the Pharisees had direct revelation of the work of God, when Christ cast out demons—yet they attributed it to Satan. What's happening on that post-you-blasphemy site is more along the lines of:

Even though I [Paul] was a blasphemer... I obtained pardon, because he had done it ignorantly in his unbelief, (1 Timothy 1:13)

Date: 2006/12/20 17:12:33, Link
Author: heddle

It is indeed a problem when Christians don't actually study the bible (as we are instructed to do.) Though there may be a few different interpretations of the unpardonable sin (some simply think it means the sin of unbelief--but that doesn't seem right--as I said I agree with Calvin) I don't think I ever read any serious commentary that (a) equated it to some magic sentence and (b) thought that it was a sin that believers could commit.


Don't be stupid. I'm giving my opinions. I don't claim infallibility. However, I also don't think it necessary to prepend warnings before every sentence that I write announcing that "these are just my opinions." That's understood. Try to come up with a more substantive criticism. (By the way, I don't see disclaimers on any of your posts.)

Yes I believe my beliefs are correct, otherwise I wouldn't hold to them. Do you continue to hold opinions that you think are wrong?

Date: 2006/12/20 20:31:14, Link
Author: heddle
So come on Heddle, let the dog see the rabbit, tell me why YOUR religious opinion is right and THEIR religious opinion is wrong and how I as a neutral third party can tell the difference.

If there is any way for you to decide who is right, or more likely to be right, it is this: regardless of the fact that you don't believe the bible, which view is better supported by scripture?

First of all, there is the bulk of scripture--and nowhere does it contain mention of a magic sentence. Then look where this unpardonable sin is described in context, not just the verse in isolation. Look in particular at Mark 3:23-29. I would say that a reasonable interpretation is that Jesus is not making a generic warning but leveling a charge directly at the teachers of the law. What they are doing, whatever it is, seems to be at least an example of the unpardonable sin of blaspheming the holy spirit. And what they aren't doing is saying "I deny the holy spirit." What they are doing is attributing a supernatural work of God to the devil.

Now go and ask someone who says there is a magic sentence that can get you eternally damned, ask them how they support that from the bible, and then make an objective judgment about which view is, in fact, better supported by the text.

That’s how you decide.

Date: 2006/12/21 04:26:53, Link
Author: heddle

Yes, one can say words in the act of committing this sin—but it’s not the words that are the ticket. Likewise people often use words when accepting Christ, but the words are an effect, not the cause. Same concept.

I don’t disagree with Roberston’s view on this. (What's the importance of that fact, by the way? is it some implied "logic:" a) heddle agrees with Roberston on this, b) Robertson says... c) therefore heddle must agree...)

It is important to point out that this sin seems to involve blasphemy against a direct revelation of God, not garden variety denying the existence of God or the Holy Spirit. Thus none of these misguided kids is even in a position to commit the unpardonable sin. What they are doing is foolish, but it is not unpardonable. Presumably they have been denying God long before this—putting into a video does not elevate it to a new level.

Date: 2006/12/21 05:51:54, Link
Author: heddle

Words are all the data we have to go by in this case. After all, the Bible doesn't say "their hearts were filled with blasphemy," it merely recounts that they spoke words that reflected it. Thus, if one utters words reflecting an inner conviction that blasphemes the Holy Spirit, one has commited an unforgiveable sin.

Now, let us assume that one need not speak such words, merely have them in one's heart...then why would the Bible bother mentioning that the men spoke at all?

And if they did not speak the words that they did, I would assume also that Jesus would not have uttered what He did, unless he was a mindreader.

Actually, words are not "all the data we have" and the bible does say, in effect, that "their hearts were filled with blasphemy". In Matthews' account of the same incident, Jesus' rebuke of the teachers begins with this information: Knowing their thoughts, he said to them...(Matt. 12:25a)

At any rate, I appeciate the discussion. It allowed me to collect my thoughts and blog on the issue.

Date: 2006/12/21 06:20:52, Link
Author: heddle

Since you mentioned it, the complete passage is  
24But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, "It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons." 25Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. (Matth 12:24-25)

Which strengthens the case. Yes they said the words, but it clearly indicates that their hearts condemned them. (Aside: in both the OT and NT, “heart” is usually associated with the mind or our thoughts, not, as it is today, with emotions.)

It seems to me that what’s really happening here is quite simple. It ruins all the fun if, in fact, Christians understand that what these kids are doing is not the unpardonable sin. Those enjoying the blasphemy challenge are getting their pleasure from the overreaction of Christians. If we give the measured response it deserves—well that’s rather boring, isn’t it?

Date: 2006/12/21 07:38:27, Link
Author: heddle

I’ll try to answer, again. Then I'll go away as per several requests.

This was my understanding of your challenge:

1) I claim that there is no magic sentence.
2) Other Christians claim that there is a magic sentence.
3) How are we to know who is right?

Here were my assumptions

1) You don’t actually think either of us is right, since you don’t actually believe in eternal damnation.
2) That's beside the point, because you wanted to know (or so I thought) that if the claims were analyzed, how would one determine which position was on solid ground, from a self-consistency standpoint.
3) I assumed the other Christians would base their claims solely on the bible. This is reasonable—those who make the claim (of a magic sentence) are not from the liberal wing of Christianity.
4) Therefore I gave the obvious answer: ask those making a claim for their scriptural support. Even though you don’t believe scripture, as an intelligent person you can decide who makes a stronger case.
5) End of story—seems pretty simple to me.

You argue about a hypothetical person claiming a passage of scripture that backs up the magic sentence view. But don't deal in speculation—find someone with that view and examine the actual scriptural argument that they make. Then decide.

Date: 2006/12/22 13:58:21, Link
Author: heddle
Originally from Pittsburgh, PA. Have lived in Champaign IL, Va and Md suburbs of DC, Newport News VA, and now in New Hampshire. And before anyone asks: no, I don’t think my opinions about the places I have lived are any more authoritative than anyone else’s opinions.

Date: 2007/01/01 08:11:15, Link
Author: heddle

I’m sure it doesn’t matter to you, but by opinion of you has degraded from one of the more interesting critics to perhaps the most dishonest. There is nothing on the thread to which you refer that remotely sates that I claim to be able to tell who is a true Christian.

Any reasonable person reading that thread would acknowledge that what I wrote, quite clearly, is that the bible instructs us to judge those who claim to be Christian, and to judge them by their works—specifically because we do not have any ability to see if someone is a “true” Christian. If we had the ability to see, we wouldn’t need to judge at all. But scripture has many examples of people who claim to be Christians but are not, and a guidebook for judging them and throwing them out of the church—even if they claim to be Christians. (The passage  to which you refer, involving Simon the Magician in Acts 8, is one of the more famous in the New Testament—I’m not sure why you think it is obscure.)

When anyone: I, the church, or any other Christian states: X is not a Christian--in spite of his claim to the contrary what is being stated is that it is by our actions that we are to be known, and your actions (e.g., Fred Phelps) are so contrary to Christ's teachings as I/we understand them, that, as instructed by the bible in such cases, we will treat you as a non Christian.

At most you can say that "You are not a true Christian" is sloppy language for the more precise "although I can't say whether you're a Christian or not, by all indications you are not, so I will treat you accordingly."

No, I don’t claim to be able to tell who is a true Christian. What I claimed was: we are instructed to judge people by their fruit, and if there is no evidence and especially (as in the case of Fred Phelps) there is counter evidence, then treat them as if they were not Christians. This is what excommunication, a practice with crystal clear biblical support, is all about.

In the Corinthian Church (1 Cor 6) there was a man sleeping with his father's wife (his step mother, it appears.) Paul instructed, by letter--excommunicate him. He wrote: "And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present." It wouldn't matter if the man claimed: "But I am a Christian--this makes us happy and I'm sure God wants us to be happy! I am a Christian!"

And, by the way, Paul didn't add: "And only I, as an apostle, can make this sort of judgment." On the contrary, he scolded the church for not having already acted on their own.

I'm sure GCT would have spoken up for this man: he claims to be a Christian, who are we to state otherwise?

On that basis I claim that Fred Phelps (our example) is not a Christian, and should he not repent I fully expect that he’ll rot forever in he77. But I could be wrong, as I stated in that thread. However, based on biblical instruction, I am going to treat him as a non-Christian until such time he demonstrates the fruits of the faith he claims.

Of course, the real problem here is not that you’re offended that I don’t think Phelps is a Christian; the real problem is that it is so convenient to have Phelps labeled as a Christian—so much easier for you to attack Christianity if its representatives include Phelps.

Tell me, if a moderate Moslem were to say that the 9/11 terrorists were not “true Moslems” would you charge him with the “True Scotsman” Fallacy?

Will you go on record that the 9/11 terrorists are just as much "true Moslems" as any other person claiming that faith?

I’ll reuse the True Scotsman vignette from that threat:

The scene: someone who denies the trinity, the resurrection, and the divinity of Christ still calls himself a Christian because he thinks Jesus' moral teachings are neat-o.

Heddle: he denies the trinity, the resurrection, and deity of Christ, he is not a Christian! I don't care if he claims to be one or not, there is a certain minimum set of truths that any Christian would affirm!

GCT et al: No, if he claims to be a Christian, he IS!! Who are you to say otherwise!! If Nazis claim to be Christians, they are! If klansmen claim to be Christians, they are! If Fred Phelps claims to be a Christian, he IS! No True Scotsman Fallacy, No True Scotsman Fallacy, No True Scotsman Fallacy!!!

Heddle: OK, but what if I say: I believe in evolution—in fact I think the diversity of life comes entirely from evolution--God reached down and made every single genetic change supernaturally and the species evolved one into another! I AM AN EVOLUTIONIST!!

GCT et al: Huh! You may call yourself an evolutionist, but you're NOT!

Heddle: But…No True Scotsman Fallacy!

Heddle And although some Nazis claimed to be Christians and adopted some trappings of Christianity, some also claimed scientific support from evolutionary ideas…

GCT et al: No no no! They were Christians because, they claimed to be! But they were not true evolutionists, just because they claimed to be!

Heddle: But…No True Scotsman Fallacy!

GCT et al: *Sigh* no, it’s just different!! The True Scotsman Fallacy, er, only applies to Christians who want to set limits on orthodoxy, the intolerant bastards! But we certainly get to say who is a “real” scientist because—er—that’s different!

Date: 2007/01/02 08:07:23, Link
Author: heddle

Was your post serious, or a parody? I truly don’t know. Although you might disagree with my point that:

Claiming to be a Christian does not make you one, even if you think that it does, and even if you are sincere in your belief. And that some people/organizations adopt the trappings of Christianity for their own vile purposes. And therefore I don’t believe that Phelps is a Christian, or that the “Nazis” or the Klan are Christians organizations.

Your response is along the lines of: whaddya mean the Nazis and the Klan aren’t Christians—don’t you know they claim to be?

This, at the very least, misses the boat.

p.s. You should read up on what I had assumed was now common knowledge—that the Nazis had a plan to persecute the Christian church. You can read about it here.  So far, no Nazi plan to persecute evolutionists has been uncovered, as far as I know.

For a thumbnail of what you'll find:

The editor of the Nuremberg project, Julie Mandel, quoted in the Phildelphia Inquirer, Jan. 9, 2002:

A lot of people will say, 'I didn’t realize that they were trying to convert Christians to a Nazi philosophy.' … They wanted to eliminate the Jews altogether, but they were also looking to eliminate Christianity.

And from a 1945 OSS report:

Important leaders of the National Socialist party would have liked to meet this situation [church influence] by complete extirpation of Christianity and the substitution of a purely racial religion

Date: 2007/01/02 09:18:16, Link
Author: heddle

Of course I think Calvin was a Christian. He was one of the great Christian theologians of all time, and he preached the gospel (our first and foremost requirement as Christians) throughout his life.

As for committing murder, I would dispute that, although at some level it doesn’t matter. If he did, he certainly isn’t the first Christian to do so nor the last.

And you should study the history carefully—I don’t know where your number of a few dozen tortured and murdered comes from. The most famous Geneva death penalty case is Sevetus, which I wrote about here.

(scroll down to the heading: “The Burning of Servetus”)

Calvin and others spent a great deal of time trying to get Servetus to recant his apostasy. When that didn’t happen, Calvin lobbied the Geneva magistrates (who had sentenced Servetus to death—Calvin didn’t) to behead Servetus rather than burn him to death. They refused. Calvin always believed that the execution was justified under the Leviticus instruction to kill blasphemers. Whether this makes him a murderer or not is a matter of debate—but as I said, it doesn’t matter. His whole life was a testimony of his love for God. You’ll recall that the man (other than Christ) most highly regarded in scripture (in terms of the number of times his heart is mentioned) is David, who committed what is unambiguously an act of murder. About the Geneva government, and one area in which I definitely think Calvin was wrong: he favored a theocracy. Geneva, however, demonstrated that even with the most biblically-sound doctrine, theocracies fail miserably. Fortunately the losers in the Reformed theocracies, the Baptists, to protect themselves from other Christians, more or less invented the idea of separation of church and state, so something good came from it.

As for predestination and election and determinism, I can only guess that your question is related to the misconception that Calvinism (more properly: Augustianism) negates the free will. Nothing could be further from the truth. Augustianism teaches that you have a free will, you choose God with that free will, and you’ll take that same free will with you to heaven. If you are interested in my details on my take on this, see here

If you want a really good, readable, and short book on the subject, get RC Sproul’s Chosen by God.

Date: 2007/01/02 11:11:25, Link
Author: heddle

Two points, not meant to exonerate Calvin on this instance but worthy of consideration.

First, the blurb you quoted recognizes that the state carried out these actions and Calvin’s role is difficult to ascertain. Second, although I trust the Catholic Encyclopedia, in fact I think it a tremendous resource,—it’s still the Catholic Encyclopedia, and so it will have its own natural bias, as do we all. It will not be predisposed to paint the reformers in a favorable light, although I believe it does an admirable job of being objective.

And you are misreading if you think I claim that he should be “excused” merely as a product of his time. As for anyone, his time and his culture must be factored into in fair assessment of his flaws, but I don’t think it provides a blanket excuse.

But none of that matters. I can agree that Calvin was wrong in his vision of theonomy. All that means is that Calvin was wrong. Although we are to be transformed, as you point out, scripture is crystal clear that none of us will be transformed perfectly. The biblical heroes demonstrate such imperfections, some to a startling degree. Calvin was transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, as far as I can judge—which again I can only base on his good works—but he should not be held to a standard of perfection. He preached the gospel all his life—which is what we are supposed to do. He also dedicated his life to defending the faith through apologetics—which is something else we are called to do.

So Dr. Heddle, do you believe torture and execution are a valid way to deal with heresy?

No I don’t. I have written and spoken many times against theonomy and the basing of our civil law on Old Testament law. I have written many times in favor of the separation of church and state. There are two main reasons I am against theonomy. The first and most important is that I don’t see any New Testament mandate for it—in fact I see something of the opposite. The other is that, as Calvin’s Geneva demonstrated to my mind anyway, it would fail miserably—as Christians are just as susceptible to being corrupted by power. However—had I been there, in Geneva, at that time, during the Reformation—might I have gotten caught up with the notion of a theocracy based on Old Testament Law? Quite possibly.

Maybe what you are getting at is how can I judge Calvin as a Christian and Phelps as a fraud? It is because in the totality of Calvin’s life I see a man dedicating his life to God’s glory, even though he made mistakes. With Phelps I see a man dedicating his life not for God’s glory but for his own—which he acquires through exploitation of hatred and bigotry and general meanness.

Date: 2007/01/03 13:21:58, Link
Author: heddle
This sure is an interesting thread. Wish I spotted it sooner. But bring on the QM!

BTW I agree with steve_s, hidden variable proponents are a rather small minority in the world of professional physicists.

Date: 2007/01/03 14:21:51, Link
Author: heddle
dgszweda is correct--the New Testament canon was established long before the 17th century.

From the earliest days of the Christianity, most of the books in the New Testament were recognized as scripture. Only a handful were ever the subject of any real debate: Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude and Revelation.

We have a list of books that represents the canon near the end of the second century. It was discovered by L. A. Muratori in 1740. The beginning is missing, and the first book mentioned is the gospel of Luke and it’s called the third, so it is reasonable to assume that it included Matthew and Mark as the first and second books. From this we see what books are in the canon around A.D. 200. The four gospels, Acts, Paul’s thirteen letters, Jude, two epistles of John (the second of which is possibly what we now consider the second and third.) Revelation, and a second Revelation due to Peter. This book is known to have been read in some churches –its graphic treatment of the state of the damned might be the basis for Dante’s Inferno.

All disputes were settled by the fourth century. In AD 363 The Council of Laodicia listed all the New Testament books except Revelation. In AD 367 Athanasius of Alexandria cited all 27 New Testament books in a (bishop's) letter. And in AD 397, the Third Council of Carthage became the first ecumenical council to list all 27 books.

Not sure where Scary comes up with the 17th century.

Date: 2007/01/04 05:56:11, Link
Author: heddle
In principle this thread is not a bad idea--but I suspect it will end up just like all other threads here--a series of insults, guffaws, and backslaps. Like Louis's closing paragraph:

Speaking of intellectual honesty Skeptic, aren't you the one who, speaking as a scientist of course {cough splutter}, thinks that evolutionary biology is false based on...... Oh wait, I remember now. The "God of the gaps" argument is not an intellectually honest one in whatever form it takes. Colour me sceptical about all this

Not a call for discusion--just the same-old same-old M.O.

Date: 2007/01/05 07:44:43, Link
Author: heddle

Such is the plot of Borges's celebrated The Library of Babel. Monks spending their lives in an infinite library, understanding that somewhere in the library exists a book that explains the library--but seemingly unaware that the library also contains an infinite number of false explanations as well. Of course, most of them never encounter a single meaningful phrase.

Date: 2007/01/05 13:04:15, Link
Author: heddle

I wonder if Jorge Borges was a "girly man" too

Unspeakable blasphemy!

Date: 2007/01/19 14:14:32, Link
Author: heddle
Quote (stevestory @ Jan. 19 2007,13:53)
19 January 2007
Just the other day I was just telling myself, "Steve, you know what ID could use? Some philosophers. They have way too many biologists over there, doing experiments, and just generally understanding some basic biology. What they need are some more philosophers. Maybe a lawyer or two. Some computer technicians, maybe.  

Well Steve, we are in rare agreement, sort-of. Oh, it is not really disturbing that the ID movement is largely populated by philosophers and armchair theologians. In fact, that makes a certain amount of sense. (Lawyers, on the other hand, now that’s altogether something different.) It is profoundly disturbing, however, that they mistake their movement and their activities for science. Science provides grist for the philosophers’ mill, but the philosophers are required to live on the edge of the camp. Science never places them front and center.

Date: 2007/01/23 13:11:56, Link
Author: heddle
Quote (Wesley R. Elsberry @ Jan. 23 2007,12:39)
I think that I have seen pent-up rage lower the level of discussion before. There's a thread about that here, even.


There are many instances on that thread of IDers using the Taliban analogy. In fairness, maybe you should add those cases in which people like PT contributor Gary Hurd and compulsive commenter Lenny Flank return the favor.

Date: 2007/01/25 09:18:16, Link
Author: heddle

They [Behe and Dembski]are the materialists, because they reduce God to a tinkerer in matter, fixing up bacteria much as a highly-skilled human engineer might do it; they simply cannot conceive that the divine may be bigger than any of their categories.

Regardless of the truth of Behe/Dembski ID (and Dembski’s, based on faulty mathematics, is trivially false), you have not made any case that ID per se is incompatible with the “Christian” god.

Nothing at all precludes the “Christian” god, even with all his omni-attributes, from getting involved with minutiae, should he choose to do so. And describing God as personal and involved in the little details (such as one of my favorite stories, when Gideon is speaking with God and says “wait here while I get a present for you” and God replies “OK, I’ll wait.”) does not detract from those times when God acts in all his majesty.

I agree that ID is less compatible with new age Gnostic type ideas. But in the Christian model, we see time and time again that God is indeed a “tinkerer in matter.” So ID, in principle, does not belittle God.

On the other hand, the methods of the ID community and its leadership are absolutely incompatible with Christian living.

Date: 2007/01/25 10:31:42, Link
Author: heddle

Well, my purpose wasn't to argue that Behe/Dembski ID was incompatible with Christian theism.  It would be kind of strange if it were incompatible, don't you think?

Yes I do think so, but many anti-IDers as well as not-a-few Christians argue precisely that point. The usual claim they make is that Christianity is about faith and ID is about looking for physical evidence, hence they are incompatible. (The error in the argument is that Christianity is not at all about blind faith—but that’s another matter,)

That said, it's hardly surprising that ID was "intelligently designed" to go hand-in-hand with American evangelical religion - the most thoroughly materialistic* version of Christianity.

I’m no great fan of American evangelism, which is dominated by Arminianism and Dispensationalism. However, Christianity has always been materialistic if by that you mean the view that "matter is not evil." It is only distortions of Christianity that have adopted "the physical is evil" mentalities.

Any way, I thought you were arguing that a separable God involved in designing the flagellum was somehow a "small" god. My point was: it is not necessarily so.

Date: 2007/02/05 13:30:59, Link
Author: heddle

Before you declare a victory for String Theory you might want to do a bit more than just google the topic. The claim for testing String Theory is patently false —the tests described would only set limits on Lorentz invariance, unitarity, and analyticity. String theory is by no means the only theory that has such general properties.

For more information see Peter Woit’s article.

String theory, is so far, not testable in the conventional manner of making a positive prediction—the same thing I’ve been hammering ID about.  The LHC turning on does not change that. I hope some day String Theory is testable--but as this moment it does not actually qualify as science--it is mathematics only.

Date: 2007/02/05 14:45:50, Link
Author: heddle

What does "part of science" mean? If it can’t be tested, then it is not science. It may smell a lot more like science than ID, but it suffers from precisely the same deficiency. ID can also say "maybe some day we’ll devise experiments" which is all that String Theory can claim at the moment. If you don't let one get away with such nonsense, you shouldn't give the other a free pass, just because you like its proponents better.

Date: 2007/02/05 15:47:23, Link
Author: heddle

I am responding to those posts. In spite of the claim, they are not testing any unique prediction of String Theory. It is sort of like saying: we can test energy conservation. String theory conserves energy, Therefore we are testing String theory. Rather a weak claim. In reality, String Theory will be tested when it makes a specific, unique prediction that can be put to the test. It has not done that, and so in spite of its impressive mathematics and impressive proponents, it remains, mathematics and not science. I'll also point out that it has been around longer than ID, has smarter people working on it, and has expended a lot of money (at the expense of other sub disciplines in high energy physics) and is only tied, at zero, with ID in terms of the number of experimental tests it has proposed.

Even rabid anti-IDers such as Peter Woit see that—so should you.

Date: 2007/02/05 16:23:59, Link
Author: heddle

The best you can argue is that they are not equally bad, and on that I’d agree. After all, String Theory, at a minimum, is very interesting, very sophisticated (though beyond my abilities) mathematics, while ID Dembskian mathematics is simply wrong. However, that does not negate the argument that String Theory is not science. It’s not, at least at the present—and if you exempt it from the venerable requirement that it make predictions and propose experiments, then you are on shaky ground when you criticize ID on the same basis.


Is string theory being taught in any public schools?

Not that it is relevant, but the answer is: yes, of course it is. I first learned of it in a public school.

Date: 2007/02/06 08:28:41, Link
Author: heddle

No, I heard about it as a postdoc at the University of Illinois. However, the only thing preventing string theory from being taught in high school is that it is too difficult. For all I know, the simple idea of cosmic strings might be mentioned in high school physics—I certainly wouldn’t have a problem with that.


I think your philosopher makes some valid points. When String Theory first appeared, as indeed is the case (but to a far lesser degree) with other theories, there may be no immediate concept for testing. All theories, especially those as promising and interesting as String Theory, are given a honeymoon period. No theory, however, has been allowed to go on as long as ST without making a connection to experiment. We now have had enough time pass that people have been tenured into ST slots and have spent the first half of their careers doing something that has never been put to the test. That is unprecedented, and it came at the expense of those who chose more traditional paths in high energy physics theory. (Not me, this is not bitterness, my thesis was in nuclear or “medium energy” theory.) If ST dies for lack of contact with experiment, it will be an ignominious death. It will not be science as usual—where a theory can still more-or-less hold its head high if it died because it made predictions that were invalidated by experimental data.

Date: 2007/02/12 11:28:35, Link
Author: heddle
I wrote on the Marcus Ross story, but won’t link to myself. The bottom line is that there is nothing wrong about getting a Ph.D. while using a model you disagree with, although obviously it is not the recommended route. In some cases the limited number of advisors will dictate the type of thesis you do, and you may have to make compromises or transfer, which will set you back. Who’s to say that a student doing a string theory thesis might not believe, in his heart of hearts, that string theory is wrong? If Ross wanted a Ph.D. so that he could teach at a YEC university such as Liberty, that’s his business. All he should be required to do is complete the requirements for the degree. He should not be required to sign an avadavat to the effect that he ideologically supports the model he employed. Nor does he have to be self-consistent when all his views and writings are placed side by side. A Ph.D. demands that you complete an agreed upon task, nothing more, nothing less. Any alleged character flaws of the type discussed here are matters for prospective employers to consider, not for his Ph.D. committee. You guys will be barking up the wrong tree on this one.

Date: 2007/02/12 13:27:23, Link
Author: heddle
Reciprocating Bill,

So what if he argued (correctly or not) for the Cambrian "explosion" as evidence for ID? He could easily (I have no idea and am not interest in investigating) have argued along the lines of: even assuming an old earth, which I don't believe, the fossil record still poses a big problem for evolution.

Regardless of the scientific merit of such an argument, it does not imply a lack of integrity. People make "even if we grant..." arguments all the time. It is a tried and true method to concede a point (say, an old earth) and then argue that your opponent is still wrong.

Do you know for a fact that such was not the case before you charge him with duplicitousness? If not, then this tree you mention isn’t worth lifting a leg to piss on.

Date: 2007/03/06 19:25:02, Link
Author: heddle
Quote (stevestory @ Mar. 06 2007,17:40)
Tims's UD post reminds me, at one point last year Dave Heddle turned on Dembski. Said he was going to write a big explanation of where Dembski's math was in error. I went there a few times last year to look for that post, but all I saw was Jesus and NASCAR, and disliking both, didn't hang around. Does anybody here go to his site and know whether or not he wrote that essay?

I have not written the essay.

What I did was a huge amount of research, (re)reading Dembski's books (no fun, I'll assure you) and searching for all existing criticisms. The bottom line, I'll readily admit, is I am not sure I can add anything new. There was much more already written than I was aware of. I might get around to it, but I'm in no hurry--I would actually prefer to write a book--a Christian/Scientist on why the ID movement has been a disaster--which would include a chapter that would amount to a review of the better criticisms aimed at Dembski's mathematics. However, the ID fifteen minutes seems to be just about used up--I doubt I could find a publisher. So maybe I'll write another novel instead. That's a lot more fun.

As for Jesus and NASCAR, how could you not like either of those related topics? If God didn't intend NASCAR, why did he give us Morgan Shepherd?


And yet, the only reason he is adding his two cents is probably because none of those others have done the trick in his estimation.  See, he has this totally awesome, cool way of finally showing us all where Dembski went wrong that no one has thought of before since no one before Heddle has been able to show where Dembski was wrong.  Or at least that's the impression I get.

Also, a few commenters there have asked multiple times when he is going to get around to his mathematical tour de force and he keeps dodging the question.

As usual, you are less than truthful. I never once implied that I have some awesome new criticism--I would not have expected so since the problems are fairly evident and I am not even a mathematician.

And Choo-Choo asked me a few times (do you know of someone else? You implied multiple people have asked me about it.) about the Dembski critique, and I keep telling him I hadn't done it. How is that dodging?

BTW, It's funny that you flame me when I criticize PZ and his commenters--and yet you participate in this forum whose raison d'etre is to criticize someone (Dembski) and his commenters. (Oh, but that's different...)

Date: 2007/03/12 04:51:38, Link
Author: heddle

All other beers are for wimps.

Date: 2007/03/13 11:25:03, Link
Author: heddle
J. G. Cox,
Second, American Christianity, at least, seems very much to promote the inability to think critically. The way in which faith is instilled in American Christians seems to rely heavily on quashing doubts instead of addressing them; children are punished for asking "why?" too much, arguments are attacked not on their merit but on their consequences, etc.

That is unsubstantiated garbage—a generalization of such simplicity that I can only say that, if this is an example of your critical thinking, then most American Christians I know would run circles around you. For the record, of the hundreds of Christian families I know, I have never seen one case of a child being punished for asking "why?" too much.

It's just wrong to say that a society cannot be stable and atheist. No one really tried - Stalin made himself into a religion and that's not the same thing.

I agree with the first part—but I think the standard dismissal of Stalin—that he (or Soviet communism) was really a religion is just sleight of hand. Don't like certain inconvenient examples of societies based on atheism? Then simply redefine them as actually being based on religion. Cheap trick. Why not just admit—at least the possibility—that Stalinism is an example of an atheistic experiment gone bad?

Date: 2007/03/13 12:28:49, Link
Author: heddle
Methusula: 969.

Hitler: He was not a Christian. It doesn't matter if he thought he was or not, and of course I have no way of knowing, although I suspect he did not. (OK, throw some Hitler quotes at me--as long as you are OK with the implied assumption that you always believe what Hitler said.) At any rate, the bible is quite clear that there are and will always be those who think they are Christians, but are not—primarily because mere intellectual assent is not what is called for.

You are are aware, by the way, of the Nuremberg project at Rutgers? New research that shows, among other things, that the Nazis had a master plan to persecute the church?

Here is a link reproducing an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about the research (I have no comment about the site posting the article, it is just a convenient source for it.)

A quote from the article, attributed to researcher Julie Mandel:

"A lot of people will say, 'I didn't realize that they were trying to convert Christians to a Nazi philosophy.' . . . They wanted to eliminate the Jews altogether, but they were also looking to eliminate Christianity."

Note the link to the actual research in the Inquirer article is broken, here is the current link to the research documents at Rutgers University:

Date: 2007/03/13 13:19:47, Link
Author: heddle

No, it demonstrates you don't understand what critical thinking means. My assumption is that God created the universe. It would represent a lack of critical thinking to assume that a God who can create a universe could not sustain a man for ten centuries. That would be the type of disconnect or self-inconsistency that is indicative of a lack of critical thinking. It is not your assumptions, but whether you can defend your conclusions based on your assumptions, that is the test of critical thinking.

Why bother asking if I think Hitler was a Christian, when all you are waiting to do is pounce, yet again, with some misapplied variant of the True Scotsman argument? The bible says (1) we are to judge those who claim to be believers and (2) judge them from their deeds and (3) treat as apostate those who come up short. By those standards I judge that Hitler was not a Christian.  (Nor is Fred Phelps.) That is independent of the Rutgers work on the Nazi persecution of the church—but that work certainly helps my argument. (I note that your response to the Rutgers project, essentially that it doesn't matter, is not exactly powerful.)

By the way, I don’t think Hitler ever quit being a Christian, because I don't believe such a thing is not possible. He may have stopped thinking he was a Christian, or he may or never really believed he was, I couldn't say.

If I claim that "I am an evolutionist, I believe that God created the diversity of life by supernaturally playing the genetic engineer, causing one species to evolve into another" does that mean I am a "true" evolutionist, just as good as Darwin? Just because I claim to be? Or is there some standard by which such a claim is judged, and does that only apply to "evolutionist?" Is that the only title that is immune from the true Scotsman fallacy?

Date: 2007/03/13 15:40:16, Link
Author: heddle
Maybe you could be the first poster to be banned at UD AND here?

Well, that wouldn't be the end of the world. I would find it ironic that I would be banned for calling someone out for making sweeping generalizations about Christians (that we punish our kids for asking "why?" too much) and for suggesting to Kristine that she is too quickly giving atheism a free pass when it comes to Stalin, when you, on multiple occasions, make what I would consider crass sexual innuendos toward Kristine. Were I the moderator of this forum, I'd consider that a much worse offense (and if I were her husband, I'd hunt you down and give you a can of whoop-ass) —but hey, that's me. This is steve s’s domain, if I recall. He doesn't have to ban me, just tell me to go away and I will. PZ told me to stay away from his blog, and I do (that is, I don't comment on it.)

Both you an Arden are not really addressing critical thinking, you are really just saying: you're a fool for believing in a supernatural God. That's a reasonable view, but it has nothing to do with critical thinking, nothing at all. It's just a circular argument, no different from mine, which is that because you have not been illuminated by the Spirit, then of course you find the idea of a supernatural God foolishness. However I'd evaluate your critical thinking based on your ability to defend your conclusions given your premise, not your premise (that there is no God) which I find just as foolish as you find mine. As for no logical reason to believe what I believe, I think you (Arden) may actually mean no scientific reason to believe what I believe—but that's not the same thing.

As for reading Hitler’s biography, I have, given that Hitler was Hitler, ample reason to believe that he was not sincere, and in general would not give him the benefit of the doubt regarding anything he said or wrote, even if he claimed to be a stout evolutionist. But as I said, it doesn't matter—it is quite possible to believe you are a Christian when you are not—as Christ taught, to some who believed they were saved he will say, "Go away, I never knew you."

By the way (Arden), you are lecturing me on the term "Darwinist." Now I think y’all make too much of that term, but regardless, I didn't use it, at least I don’t think I did. I used "evolutionist" simply as meaning "one who affirms evolution." I think you evaded my question—is that term (or whatever term you want to apply to people who support evolution) immune from the True Scotsman Fallacy?

The bottom line is: this thing with "true" Christian is just plain silly. As a great critical thinker, I really don’t see how you could find it unreasonable that any Christian would claim the right to say that someone like a Hitler is, at best, an apostate. Excommunication is often, in effect, telling someone that in our view (whatever church it happens to be) you, though you claim to be an adherent, are not, by our standards. Is excommunication always an example of the True Scotsman Fallacy in action?

As for some Christians (say fundamentalist Protestants) saying other Christians (say Catholics) are not Christians, I disagree of course (in this case) but so what? I do happen to think the LDS and the Jehovah Witnesses are not Christians, even though they claim to be--but if they think the same of me, that's OK, I'm not offended. In fact they should have standards.

It's very transparent what you're after, it's the chain: 1) Hitler said he was a Christian. 2) Hitler almost always lies, except when he claims to be a Christian,  3) anyone who claims to be a Christian must be accepted by all others making the claim as a true Christian, regardless of the fact that we are to be known by our fruit and so, finally 4) see what atrocities Christians are capable of!

To all who caught my double negative typo: yes I meant that I don't think it is possible to stop being a Christian (that is, to lose your salvation.) That is the doctrine of eternal security, and it is held to fairly widely, but not universally, among Protestants (and definitely all Calvinists, it being the ‘P’ in TULIP.)

Date: 2007/03/13 16:21:02, Link
Author: heddle
Steve S,

Maybe it's my typos that caused the problem, but let me clarify:

1) I do not think Hitler was a Christian. Period.
2) Whether or not Hitler thought he was a Christian, I couldn't say--although given the Rutgers Nuremberg project I have my doubts that he did. It is not easy to reconcile Hitler sincerely believing he was a Christian with a Nazi plan to persecute Christians, but with a madman, who knows?
3) Even if he thought he was, I claim he was not, because it is not by our affirmation alone that we are to be judged.
4) As a side point, I think it would be impossible for Hitler or anyone else to be a Christian and then stop being a Christian.


Then I think you are just too sensitive. My style is never touchy-feely, and even on my own blog I get criticized as sounding too harsh. That's just how I write, and is possibly part of the reason I got kicked off two ID lists and off of UD. But I guarantee you I can find posts on this forum, on PT, and on Ed's blog where I conceded someone made a good point. Even with Kristine's comment, I agreed with her that there is no reason to suspect that an atheist based society could not be a stable society, or however she worded it.

Date: 2007/03/13 16:58:03, Link
Author: heddle
Steve S,

Well, my gut instinct based on the scenario you described is that Mary was a Christian who slid into despair, killed her kids, and committed suicide, and died a Christian. Christians are not immune from depression, mental illness, or committing heinous crimes.

Of course, as with the case with Hitler I couldn't say for sure--nor could I say for sure with anyone I know. I only know that we are supposed to judge, but are not promised that we'll get it right.

Date: 2007/03/13 17:36:46, Link
Author: heddle
Alan Fox,
What happened to "Judge not, that ye be not judged."?

If that were the only verse related to judging, you'd have a point. But it (Matt. 7:1) is immediately followed (v. 6) by ""Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. " (which presumes we must attempt to discern who are dogs and who are pigs, i.e., judge) and, v. 17 "Watch out for false prophets" which, again, presumes judging and v. 18 "By their fruit you will recognize them," which again presumes judging. Verse 1, in light of these and other passages, in then taken to mean to avoid a Pharisaical judging of the faults of our brothers, or to speak evil of our brothers. It does not refer to judging the apostasy of others.

And then we have, just to pick one of several possible examples, Paul telling the Corinthian church to toss out the man who was sleeping with his step mother. He clearly judged the man, and scolded the church for not doing the judging themselves, saying "And you are proud! Shouldn't you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?"

Date: 2007/03/13 18:16:11, Link
Author: heddle
Steve S,

So, Mr. Heddle, if it's not possible to drop christianity, and you yourself are a convert, then would you say that it's impossible for you to deconvert, no matter the evidence and arguments? Has some amount of your free will been revoked?

I’ve been asked this many times, and find it difficult to answer. If Christianity is correct, and if I understand it correctly, then I cannot deconvert. It’s no loss of free will, because I don’t believe free will means to “choose what you don’t want,” but rather that you “always choose what you do want.” But free will is, I think you’ll agree, complicated and filled with seeming paradoxes, and not just for theists. On the other hand, what if I woke up tomorrow convinced I’ve been a fool? Well then I wouldn’t think I deconverted, I’d think I had been deluded. That is, since I would then think Christianity is false, a “true” Christian has no meaning. Of course, the possibility would remain, I would have to admit even as I didn’t believe it, that Christianity is true but I never was a true Christian, or that I had been a true Christian but my belief in eternal security was incorrect, that is I really did deconvert and hence lost my salvation. Sorry—I just don’t know how to answer that question simply, there are too many wrinkles.

Your second question, based on how you wrote it, is not for me. But what I would say is that for any person who states “I changed my mind” I don’t doubt their sincerity. I believe they believed that they were a Christian, But the truth is, as I read scripture, either “they were never really of us,” or they will return, or there is even the possibility that they will die thinking they are lost, only to find out they aren’t. The beauty of being a Calvinist is you get to take literally the verse that states “God will have mercy upon whom God will have mercy.”


I think, for example,  the premise of Islam, that Mohamed was a true prophet, is false. However, I have no doubt that there are great Moslem critical thinkers. By the way, I’m not a biblical literalist, I just believe in biblical inerrancy.  If I read a convincing rationale as to why the description of long lifetimes in Genesis were figures of speech, I’d be open to that interpretation. However, I have never seen a compelling argument to that effect. As to why I accept Catholics, I would say that I consider the very basics of the faith as outlined by the historic creeds (say the Nicene) as a minimal definition of Christian orthodoxy. Since these include the eternality of Christ and the Trinity, both LDS's and JW’s deny them, while both Catholics and Protestants affirm them. I would not say that “no JW or Mormon” is a Christian, or is not saved, or that no Jew or Moslem or atheist is saved,  because, well, God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy. The only thing I know for sure is that the normative process is to profess a belief in Christ and to live by faith. I will say that to the best of our ability we are to discern false teachings and to react to them accordingly.

As for your comments on eternal security, see my points to steve s, above.

Lou FCD,

No, predestination is the ‘U’ in TULIP (Unconditional election), not the ‘P’, which is "Perseverance of the Saints,” i.e. eternal security. It is not a doctrine of fundamentalists, not universally. Many fundamentalists despise Calvinism, and certainly teach that you can place your salvation at risk if you don’t behave a certain way.

Needless to say your characterization of Calvinism is wrong—although it does sound exactly how Jimmy Swaggart characterizes it—but this is not the place to defend Calvinism.

Date: 2007/03/14 08:28:17, Link
Author: heddle
Oh, brother. Not that it was a terribly important point, but I see a couple of you disputed that Hitler was a habitual liar, and instead characterized him as a sort of green beret who, according the the ballad thereof, is a man who "does just what he says."

That is somewhat trivial to repudiate. One could merely, just for a start, examine several famous speeches he gave prior to the onset of hostilities when he stated quite plainly that he had only peaceful intentions. On at least two occasions he said to the Reichstag that Germany had no intentions to proceed against Poland. According to you guys, that must be revised history. He must have boldly and consistently proclaimed "I am going to take Poland and I don't care what the Brits, French, Russians, Americans, and especially the Poles think about it. I'm going to do it, just you wait and see!"

Of course it is convenient for you if, in spite of all his other faults, Hitler wasn't a liar, then when he claimed to be a Christian it must be so.

Lou FCD wrote:

There are only a handful of sects that believe in the loss of salvation.  Pentecostals and the other charismatic movement churches, off the top of my head.

I know about a gazillion Baptists that believe you can lose your salvation. I’m not sure how you missed them, off the top of your head.

and he wrote:
My characterization of Calvinism was what I learned from Calvinists in a Calvinist church, so you can take that up with them.

I'll refer back  to a previous post where he wrote, explaining predestination:
So if you get tossed in the #### pile, it doesn't matter what you do or believe, you still get fried.  If you get tossed in with the Christians, it still doesn't matter what you do, you get to go to Heaven.

I don’t believe you—no Calvinist would have explained predestination this way. You did not learn this characterization from Calvinists at a Calvinist church. It would be like me quoting the grossest misrepresentation of evolution imaginable and saying: "I learned that from PZ when I took his class, take it up with him." You are not telling the truth.

Date: 2007/03/14 10:39:45, Link
Author: heddle
Lou FCD,

Yes, that is a fair introduction to the idea of predestination. If you think that jibes with your characterization, which you claim to have learned from Calvinists and a Calvinist church, then, well, I'm happy for you.

Date: 2007/05/04 13:12:26, Link
Author: heddle
Quote (Kristine @ May 04 2007,13:00)
I just don't get these guys at all, working so hard to make a cheap parody of science when they are privileged to have a chance to do something real, but won't.  :p  Well, phht.

You and me both.

Date: 2007/05/18 10:20:32, Link
Author: heddle

The publicity is all but guaranteeing him a tenured position in the Department of Apologetics at some fundie bible college.

Nope. Most fundie colleges (e.g., BJU, Liberty), require an affirmation of the YEC view. Gonzalez would not qualify.

Date: 2007/05/21 08:13:10, Link
Author: heddle
Steve s,
I seem to remember David Heddle claiming that Cosmological ID wasn't a probabalistic argument. Gonzales must not have gotten the memo.

Well, you know how much respect I garner in the ID community!

Anyway, it (cosmological ID) most certainly is not a probabilistic argument (although five years ago I too thought it was), as a simple argument demonstrates. That is: The best thing that could happen to CID is if all the constants were found to have not a tiny probability but the largest possible: unity, i.e. if they are found to be derivable from a fundamental theory. That would be a serious blow to the multiverse explanations of fine tuning, such as the superstring landscape or cosmological evolution, explanations that rely on the fact that there is no fundamental theory, and that the constants are either a random draw or evolve toward a species of universe good at producing black holes. A fundamental theory deriving constants would mean the fine tuning was built in the fabric of spacetime. I'd take that.

Not only did Gonzalez not get that memo, he didn’t get the one where I suggested that the main argument from The Privileged Planet is at least slightly anti-ID (in fact, in personal correspondence he disagreed with me on this point). I still think I’m right. The PP argues that observability is correlated with habitability, making arguments like: a large moon is necessary for complex life because it (produces cleansing tides, stabilizes the orbit, facilitates seasons, …) and it also helps with observability (eclipses). And our location in Sagan’s galactic backwater is necessary because (low radiation, stability of the sun’s galactic orbit..) and it also helps with observability (a dark nighttime sky.) In other words, they argue that observability rides on the coattails of habitability. (Which, by the way, in and of itself is clearly a premise worthy of study—if Gonzalez had stayed in the closet that premise, whether or not it proves to be correct, would not have been regarded as pseudo-science.) To me however, a purer ID statement would be that God made the earth habitable and as a bonus and as a tiebreaker in the debate with naturalists, he made it a good observatory, too.  

In other words, if the PP is wrong and obervability is not correlated with habitability, then we have a second prong (the first being fine tuning) on the CID side of the debate.

Date: 2007/05/21 11:53:12, Link
Author: heddle

This isn't correct is it?  I'm no cosmologist but theories such as M-Theory and brane worlds do not imply that there is no fundamental theory of everything, right?  In fact, string theory  (as far out and perhaps untestable as it is) is a quest for a unified theory.  So I don't get how disproving any of these is really an argument for CID.

Actually, it is correct. You'll notice that I wrote of the string theory landscape, not string theory proper. The landscape explicitly teaches that the values of the constants would be, effectively, a random draw from something like 10^1000 possibilities. That's how it explains the fine tuning. Susskind, for example, argues that the search for a fundamental theory is something akin to religion (which you might characterize as an announcement of the death of physics), and he also argues that if the landscape theory is wrong, it will be very hard to answer the cosmological IDists.

Susskind, in fact, gives provides some of the clearest writing on fine-tuning. Why? Certainly not because he is an IDist. He detests ID. But rather to show the necessity for the landscape theory—a theory which does indeed rely on the premise that there will be no fundamental theory uncovered from which the constants can be derived.

Date: 2007/05/21 12:07:44, Link
Author: heddle

I didn't go to Cornell; I went to Carnegie Mellon.

Yes, if I understand your question, a theoretical infinity of universes can arise, depending on the model, either in series or in parallel (or both.)

Date: 2007/05/21 12:46:25, Link
Author: heddle
Yes, I know the Drake equation. I'm not a big fan for two reasons: 1) We don't really know what probabilities to put in and 2) we don't really know when to stop the multiplicative chain--you can keep tacking on additional probabilities under the assumption that they are additional independent requirements for intelligent life. In some cases you might be right--but the end result is you can get any answer you please, more or less.

Date: 2007/05/21 15:59:00, Link
Author: heddle
Steve S,

Rather than argue with you about your fine-tuner religious beliefs--probably the least productive thing I can imagine doing--I'd be interested in hearing what you think the IDers/Creationists are going to do, post-Dover, in terms of political strategy. We've pondered the question here before, with little success. Are they going to promote summer bible-'science' camps? Focus on more religious 3rd world countries? Change their name and try the courts again?

I have no clue. I can only hope that they stop embarrassing Christianity via unbiblical ends-justify-the-means politicking and their incessant victimhood-esque whining. While I can hope, I’m not optimistic.

Actually, what I'd like to see, short of their going away altogether, is that they redirect their energies to improving science education in Christian schools. I am appalled when I look at the science offerings at many Christian colleges.

Date: 2007/05/24 15:29:08, Link
Author: heddle

I know what you are saying--but speaking purely theoretically, suppose:

P1) Gonzalez believes ID is science
P2) ISU believes ID is religion
P3) ISU denies tenure on the basis of Gozalez's ID

Would it then follow that it is outrageous to claim that the university based its decision on religious grounds?

I think it's an interesting question. I don't really have an opinion.

Date: 2007/07/19 10:39:27, Link
Author: heddle
Quote (stevestory @ July 18 2007,23:48)
I'm always on the lookout for new creationists to entice here, so I took a look at that Jason guy from The Sci Phi Show. But he's such a dumbass that I'm not inviting him here. I don't want another FtK. I'm trying to find some creationists with brains. We need a good workout. Semi-conscious punching bags aren't very useful.

As a creationist, I can tell you that there is no upside to having a dialog here. Now, I understand that it goes with the territory that one would expect to have to filter out insults, snarky comments, and the human infinite for-loop aka Lenny. But when it crosses the threshold into the region where one must wade through the comments to find a nugget—a reasonable question or comment—well, it is just too tiresome.

I believe the last time I tried to have a discussion here, J-Dog convened an ad-hoc committee to investigate whether I should be banned. Who wants to put up with that?

By the way, you guys have been chattering about getting banned on UD. Well I've been exiled by Dembski on two major venues. In the words of Lancey Howard (Edward G. Robinson) to the Cincinnati Kid (Steve McQueen): "You’re good kid, but as long as I’m around you’re only second best."

On the other hand, I enjoy lurking. You guys are great for providing me with UD blogging fodder.

Date: 2007/07/19 14:09:15, Link
Author: heddle
I am actually rather surprised you don't see that criticizing me (perhaps not without merit) on here for smarmy-ness and smugness is rather like seeing a commenter criticized on UD for being unscientific. I mean, do you guys read your own posts?

Anyway, J-Dog and Louis: peace brothers.

Date: 2007/07/19 15:20:57, Link
Author: heddle
Heddle - WTF?  Louis is siding with you! He's being your bud, and you slam him?!

Please note I am addressing this all in good fun, but let’s parse Louis’s comment:
P.S. Heddle? Knows his physics, clearly not a total moron when  it comes to science, best ignored on the matters of religion and irritating smugness.

1) clearly not a total moron

In the words of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof when the local official tells him that he is a good man, for a Jew: "Rarely have I received such a compliment."

2) best ignored on the matters of religion and irritating smugness.

This, you describe, as siding with me? Well all I can say is: rarely have I received such an affirmation!

Date: 2007/07/19 16:44:25, Link
Author: heddle
You SURE there's no upside, Dave?

Well now that people (Mr_Christopher) are talking about drinking beer, I must say that I'm beginning to reevaluate.

To sound like a pageant contestant:

I think it would be such great fun to have a massive conference where all the "little" people (because some, whose names shall not be mentioned, would no doubt demand honoraria of Brobdingnagian proportions) on both sides of the internet ID wars got together. Personalities are so distorted on-line--I bet it would be surprising who got along over a beer, and who didn't.

And world peace, don't forget world peace.

Date: 2007/07/20 09:57:08, Link
Author: heddle
You people have no sense of humor. I was pointing out, rather lightheartedly, that if I am guilty of smarmy-ness and smugness, which no doubt I am, then I would fit in nicely here.

Louis, you think ke’s post is hilarious? The first two lines had your side’s splitting? Well at least one of us definitely has no sense of humor. ke wrote:

Only smug and trite on religion? Don't forget the cc and why it is a certain amount of Heddle units. The guy is a grade A tosser and if I did happen to run into him in a pub I'd happily tip his beer down his pants to see just how much of a Xstain he is. I wouldn't give him the time of day if I owned a clock factory. As far as calling Dr Doctor Dembski (I presume) a lying half assed twit, isn't it just because his big lie isn't the same breed as Dembski's big lie?

Let’s see: Only smug and trite on religion? No, nothing funny there.

How about Don't forget the cc and why it is a certain amount of Heddle units. I'm not sure what he means, but it is certainly not funny. If it means that what I have stated about the cosmological constant depends on the units, then I challenge ke to back up such an absurd and mathematically ignorant statement. He won’t (at least not cogently) because he can't. It is a simple fact: the cosmological constant is ~120 orders of magnitude smaller than expected, independent of the units. The cc is unexpectedly small (an understatement of Innumeracy proportions) in any set of units. So unless you think boneheaded mathematical assertions are funny, again, I don't see the humor, and it's not because I can't appreciate humor at my own expense--it's because it simply isn't funny.

OK, then he threatens to spill beer down my lap. I suppose, in a weak slapstick sort of way if you envisioned it, you might find that funny. I guess.

Maybe what knocked you out of you seat was this amazing joke: I wouldn't give him the time of day if I owned a clock factory. Perhaps for you, that's highbrow humor at its best.

That should cover the first two lines--which apparently had you laughing uproariously.

Date: 2007/07/27 15:46:20, Link
Author: heddle
My case was not an "is no longer with us." I was an "I don't like your attitude." I like to think that is a more elite group.

Date: 2007/07/27 16:24:54, Link
Author: heddle
That list is simply hilarious.

Date: 2007/07/27 16:53:23, Link
Author: heddle
Who is left?--that is beond the pale! Coffee just flew out of my nose.

I love it so!

Date: 2007/07/27 17:10:16, Link
Author: heddle
Furthermore, some of us never even get to the status of having a single comment posted so that we can get banned later. In my case my original sin was apparently so heinous that DT never even let it through moderation. Sigh.

I tried posting a couple of times. My first post was deleted after a few minutes without notice, though I was quite civil. The others never made it through their filters.

That’s like a whole different class of people. The “shunned” rather than the “banned.” Creepy.

Date: 2007/08/06 14:49:54, Link
Author: heddle
Quote (IanBrown_101 @ Aug. 06 2007,14:08)
No, but the fact you invented NASCAR does.

Sorry, low blow, low blow.....

NASCAR rocks!  Much better than that effeminate F1 racing, where nobody ever passes for the lead.

Date: 2007/08/06 15:08:42, Link
Author: heddle
I'll trundle over.

The coolest thing about Lewis Hamilton is that he presents a delightful political correctness conundrum for the American press. I believe USA Today has referred to him as a "British African-American F1 Driver."

Date: 2007/08/06 15:53:13, Link
Author: heddle
The physics support for an old earth is overwhelming. Not only would quantum mechanics have to be wrong, but different radio isotopes (over 40 different methods) would have to conspire to give the same wrong answer (billions of years.) Furthermore, the astrophysics and cosmological methods must join in the conspiracy, since they give the same answer (billions of years.) In a nutshell, one would have to fine-tune an effect that is not observed (the speed of light changing at all, let alone in the radical way that YEC demands) to match the same wrong answer that multiple independent radiometric methods provide.
From an Occam’s razor viewpoint—God creating the universe with “apparent age” is a simpler (and more honest) explanation than trying to argue that all the dating methods are wrong, and they all, semi-miraculously, give the same wrong answer.

Date: 2007/08/13 16:05:03, Link
Author: heddle
As for C.S. (an unfortunate combination of consonants, I think), he was never really atheist, he [HAHAH, David Heddle, my friend, sorry if you're reading this, but zingo!] described himself as "very angry with God for not existing". And that's what's gotten into little Shaner here. No C.S. Lewis dolls, no siree.

I’m missing the boat, I guess. Because I think you are referring to my concurring with Douglas Wilson, in his debate with Christopher Hitchens (a strange pairing for a debate), in which Wilson made the point that atheists deny God exists and they hate him. That’s rather consistent with what the C.S. Lewis Wikipedia article states (the accuracy of which, I certainly can’t defend)
Though an atheist at the time, Lewis later described his young self (in Surprised by Joy) as being paradoxically "very angry with God for not existing".

I think you might be arguing, correct me if I am wrong, that since he was angry with God he therefore was not an atheist. But I would say that all atheists have strong emotions (call it hatred) toward God.

Date: 2007/08/13 16:46:59, Link
Author: heddle
This uh, tell you much Heddle?

No, it doesn’t tell me anything. I’ve already had this debate a number of times. Do you expect that if yet another group of atheists tell me “no, we don’t hate God. Why, we hardly think of him at all” that I would say “Gee, so sorry, my bad. I didn’t realize.” This argument has some subtleties for which this UD thread is not the appropriate venue. But as a thumbnail (and my last comment on the matter, at least on this thread), the hatred of God by all atheists is synonymous with Original Sin, and also with the T in TULIP.

As for being my hating Thor (or Zeus) I do not. However, If I you are a believer in Thor, and if Thor-ism has a doctrine similar to Original Sin, then you would no doubt think that I am in rebellion against Thor, regardless of my protests to the contrary.

Date: 2007/08/13 16:54:33, Link
Author: heddle
Quote (Henry J @ Aug. 13 2007,16:49)
Quote (hooligans @ Aug. 13 2007,15:20)
Haven't black holes been observed? Am I crazy, or am I missing something here? Is Davetard just stupid or did I read his post wrong.

They've been identified at the centers of some galaxies (maybe most galaxies?). (By their effects rather than direct observation, as another poster already mentioned.) So unless there's something else that produces effects indistinguishable from those of black holes, they're existance is confirmed.


While I think black holes exist, your logic is incorrect.

Before Newtonian gravitation, nothing explained planetary motion as well as epicycles. However, the lack of an alternative explanation, at that time, did not confirm the existence of epicycles.

The best you can say is that the (indirect) evidence is so strong, that most physicists accept that black holes exist.

Date: 2007/08/13 17:15:34, Link
Author: heddle
I just googled "TULIP" to see what was going on with that... and apart from being a clunky acronym I think its possibly some of the worst thinking this side of UD.

Maybe, but if you had to look it up, I presume that means you didn’t know what it was. As such, I wonder why you’d dismiss it so hastily as bad thinking (I understand you’d think it wrong, but sometimes wrong ideas are clever and merit further study.) That is, given that some of the great western intellectuals (incidentally, not including C.S. Lewis) who supported the ideas that are (incompletely) summarized by TULIP (and I agree it is a horrible acronym) why wouldn’t you ask yourself: even though I think this is wrong, I wonder why some people with indisputably great minds (Calvin, Edwards, Francis Schaeffer, …) found the ideas convincing? A lot of smart people believing something obviously doesn't make it true, but it should get your attention.

[EDIT: fixed a typo]

Date: 2007/08/13 20:37:13, Link
Author: heddle

I've already had this "atheists hate god" debate with Heddle.  See, he will say that atheists deny god and hate him.  When you point out that you can't hate something that you don't believe in

You remind me a bit of Kim Jung Il. Your descriptions of our "debates" on my site are always, when retold by you on this site, glorious victories for you. Nevermind. I'll just point out that the contention is "athiests don't believe in God, and they hate him," so carrying the argument nowhere beyond "we don't believe in God, therefore we can't hate him" is hardly worth the effort.

BTW, I didn't say C. S. Lewis was an atheist (though I believe, rather obviously, he was prior to converting) rather the Wiki article Kristine linked to said he was, and that he was angry with God.


You find it offensive? The fact that "I tar everyone with Original Sin" is offensive? How odd. It makes sense that you find it wrong, moronic, insane, etc.--but offensive? I simply don't understand how it is that such a thing is offensive. Atheists deny (and hate) God. Many of them say that theists are idiots.  Moslems deny that Jesus was God. Mormons & JW deny that Jesus is eternal. I believe all of these are wrong--but none offend me. You really need a thicker skin--if you offend that easily I'd avoid debates altogether, if I were you. (BTW your scripture quote is related to how believers are to judge other believers--not unbelievers. Believers judging unbelievers is covered in the same chapter of Matthew 7.)

Riciprocating Bill,

Your comment is spot-on.

To all,

No I don't hate Zeus. But if you believe in Zeus, and the Zeus holy book teaches that all are born in rebellion against Zeus, then you should argue that I hate Zeus, even as I deny it. And if you insist I hate Zeus, when I don't believe that I do, I will not be offended. I'll either not think about it at all or, like Reciprocating Bill, I'll try to understand where you are coming from.


Hate me, by all means.

EDIT: fix typo, add boldface

Date: 2007/08/14 04:56:30, Link
Author: heddle
Reciprocating Bill,
it becomes quite likely that some will become angry over your apparent claim to have more knowledge of their psychological states then do they themselves.

If people become angry, it is only because of a sort-of double standard. There was a comment above, by Steverino that argued:
From the friends I have who are atheists, it's a decision borne out of logic, lack of evidence, proof, data or anything testable, that most atheist acknowledge.

Your position, however, is based on emotion and not logic or evidence.

This is (a) fairly representative and (b) attributes "more knowledge to my psychological state that I do myself." And without much effort, and I suspect you'd agree, I could find any number of comments that attribute my theism to some sort of "emotional need" or "fear of death" or "intellectual shortcoming" or any number of things I myself do not feel. Should I be angry at those comments? I don't think so.

And, by the way, when the doctrine of Original Sin is understood, you will see that the word "hate" to describe the position of fallen man toward God (in that view) is not outside the boundaries of common use of the term which, in accepted usage (as opposed to highly specialized) includes less visceral attitudes such as aversion and antipathy.


As usual, your response is annoying because you insist on writing in that unpalatable "let’s demonstrate how cute and clever I am, because that is more important than saying anything of substance" style.

I have answered a number of times that your hatred of God (and, as clarified above, that this use of hate is within the confines of acceptable use of that word—it is not a new or specialized definition—at most it requires just a little subtlety to grasp) is synonymous with original sin. Since I believe in that doctrine, the point (from my perspective) is obvious. Since I do not believe the Roman or Greek or Norse or any other gods carry with them a similar truth, then, just as obviously, I don’t have any particular opinion as to whether you hate them or not.

But to clarify just a bit further, this is some of what the bible says about  fallen man's natural attitude and relationship toward God:

• The intent of our heart is "only evil continuously". Gen. 6:5
• Our "righteous" deeds are filthy garments. Isa. 64.6
• Nobody is good. Luke 18:19
• We cannot see the Kingdom of God . John 3:3
• We are not righteous. Rom. 3:10
• We do not understand; we do not seek God. Rom. 3:11
• We have turned aside; we are useless. Rom. 3:12
• None of us does good. Rom. 3:12
• We do not fear God. Rom. 3:18
• We are hostile to God. Rom 8:7
• We are unable (not just unwilling) to submit to the law of God. Rom 8:7
• We cannot please God. Rom 8:8
• We were dead (not just gravely ill) in our sins. Eph 2:1
• We walked according to Satan. Eph 2:2
• We lived in the lusts of our flesh. Eph 2:3
• We were children of wrath. Eph 2:3

Such a picture is fairly summarized by saying all unsaved men hate God.

Date: 2007/08/14 07:30:35, Link
Author: heddle
Reciprocating Bill,
This statement is completely at odds with the point of my first post, which you characterized as "spot on," so I'm a bit confused.

Yes, I misunderstood your first post, not taking it to mean, as your follow-up clarified, that I was using and entirely different and specialized meaning for “hate.” That was my fault; you wrote clearly enough.
So, basically, you are absolutely right that we hate god because you believe it, but when we use your exact same logic to show that you hate Zeus, we're somehow getting it all backwards?

I never said anything remotely close to a claim that your Zeus comments are “getting it backwards.” I believe you hate God for the reasons I gave. You are more than free to believe I hate Zeus; it doesn’t bother me a bit, for whatever reasons you might have—although I would hope the reasons are more substantive than “he says I hate God, so I say he hates Zeus.”

Date: 2007/08/14 09:31:39, Link
Author: heddle
Reciprocating Bill,

No, you are effectively insisting that hate has one meaning: a seething, jaw-clenched, emotional rage. But even in common usage we can hate things that we are not overly emotional about. When people find out one of my interests, they often tell me that they hate NASCAR. Do they think about it much, know much about it, or are deeply emotional about it? Probably no, no, and no. Many such examples exist. I love the Rolling Stones. I hate the Beatles. I am emotional about neither. So the common usage does not demand strong emotions—although it obviously doesn’t preclude it. As I wrote before, the synonym antipathy is probably the closest feeling.

As for whether people are lying, I am certainly not accusing anyone of that. I absolutely believe that you don’t believe you hate God.

Date: 2007/08/14 10:38:46, Link
Author: heddle
I doesn’t matter a whole lot to me, but this forum has your name on it. Is it acceptable, even on the bathroom wall, to call people pedophiles? Just curious as to whether there are any guidelines here. I asked you once by email but you didn’t respond.

First of all the phrase “Total Depravity” is not in the bible, and most reformed thinkers will tell you it does not send an accurate message—that Original Sin is more nuanced than something that can be summed up in the simple phrase “Total Depravity.” As stated somewhere in this thread, the TULIP acronym is not a particularly good one.

And Total Depravity is not, as you wrote, applied to individual acts. It is a description of the extent man’s fallen state. And it is not “Utter Depravity” either. It does not argue that man is as sinful as he can possibly be.

Augustine put it this way: that unregenerated fallen man “cannot choose not to sin.” C. S. Lewis said something similar when he wrote that he never had a selfless thought. Thus “Total Depravity” or Original Sin speaks of an inability, not just an unwillingness, to please God.

Total Depravity sends a wrong message, that atheists are sitting around with vile thoughts, plotting how to commit heinous acts, when of course the truth is that most atheists are by human standards good and moral people who do wonderful acts of charity. Original Sin argues, however, that at the deepest level those deeds are ultimately self-centered and not meritorious (before God) although I certainly appreciate them.

You are correct that hate, as meant here, means total rejection—or rebellion—as opposed to a seething emotional response. I find the word “antipathy” describes the observational state of most atheists (all of whom are rejecting God, all of whom are in rebellion)—but I’ll not insist that it is the perfect word.

People say they hate this or that all the time when they are not particularly emotional about the target. You can call that HYPERBOLE with all caps, but it doesn’t matter, usage is king. But, given your boorish mannerisms here, it wouldn’t surprise me if, at a cocktail party, if someone should casually mention that they hate, say, American football that you’d argue with them: no that is not the correct use of the word hate, thats just HYPERBOLE.

Date: 2007/08/14 11:39:52, Link
Author: heddle
Because that's the biggest message I ever got from religion - people love God because they inexplicably hate themselves, and don't want to accept reality as it is.

How is such an assertion any different from my stating that atheists hate God? Everyone is upset, it would appear, because I dare attribute to them something to which I am not privy. But how does that differ from your arguing that people love God because they hate themselves? The only difference, as far as I see, is that it doesn’t bother me if you think I love God because I hate myself. Otherwise my response, "Pardon me, but I don't hate myself" is equivalent to the "Pardon me, but I don’t hate God"  group response on this thread.

What do you want from people anyway? I never though it possible that you were as simplistically dualist as the poor folks over at UD. I've thought of you as a friend. What do you mean by “hate” anyway?

I don’t want anything. As for what hate means, I’ve stated it a number of times. As for how I argue, why would anyone expect me to argue a theological question without resorting to the bible—that’s the only way I know how to argue a theological question, and whether or not atheists hate God is, to me, a theological question. There are few things I’ll debate about. Physics, because I know a lot of physics and I like physics. ID because I know something about ID. Biology: no I know nothing about that. Politics: no, I am mostly ambivalent. Theology: yes I like debating that, and if I do I’ll use the bible as my text book. I know no other way.

And I’m not dualistic—because Christianity is not a dualistic religion—it is not a “good versus evil” religion. I’ve argued many times, for example, that atheists, such as Dawkins, cannot possibly harm Christianity—they are not the enemy—because, again, Christianity is not dualistic. Likewise I understand your point about love/hate relationships among people. But, according to scripture which is what I go by when it comes to theological questions--not human experience except perhaps to grasp for an analogy --fallen man is born in rebellion toward God--he hates God. That is an absolute condition, one that has nothing to do with the complexity of emotions humans have for one another.

Date: 2007/08/14 12:51:43, Link
Author: heddle
"Atheists hate god" is not ok.

"I believe, based on my understanding of scripture and my faith, that atheists hate god" is ok.

Sorry, unlike you, it is not my style to be pedantic. However, if that solves the problem,
by all means feel free to mentally insert the (meant-to-be-implied-and-the-apparently-mistakenenly-assumed
-obvious-but-I-guess-not-sorry-my-bad) qualifier:  "In my opinion," before every sentence of mine that I write anywhere, at any time.

Date: 2007/08/14 17:16:30, Link
Author: heddle

I see you have read the comments from the link GCT has provided and agree with him that I have changed my position (am a hypocrite.) Do you care to back that up?—Where in those comments have I deviated from what I have been claiming here:
1) Atheists deny God
2) Atheists hate God
3) That hatred is expressed by the doctrine of Original sin

Where did I back down? Yes, this is a challenge


So, do I look like Kim Jung Il to you?

No, you look like DaveScot.

Date: 2007/08/14 19:09:42, Link
Author: heddle

What was my backtracking?

btw--isn't your avatar a picture of davescot, or is my memory faulty?--I was not trying to be insulting.


Yes I was born a god hater, but believers are regenerated (more precisely, people regenerated become believers.) This gives believers both the ability and the responsibility to choose not to sin--that is, they are in a totally different relationship wrt God.

Date: 2007/08/14 19:54:47, Link
Author: heddle

Your backtrack was to say that it is only spot on in the Xian belief system

No backtrack. I believe it to be absolutely true. I have never said that it is only true in the Christian belief system. Where did I say that?

BTW, are you seriously claiming that my supposed hatred for god is of the same type as your "hatred" for the Beatles

Sigh. No, I was more than careful, I thought, to point out that such is an example of hating something without much emotion involved, if any.

Date: 2007/08/15 06:41:48, Link
Author: heddle
Louis And Kristine, GCT, RB, et. al:

Mea Culpa, I made a big mistake.

I decided  to retrace the history of this debate, as it concerns me. I first posted about it here, in which my confirmation of Wilson’s statement concluded with:
Nevertheless, this comment [Atheists deny and hat God] is spot-on. The biblical view on atheists really is: they say there is no god, and they hate him.

That is I did not, as Louis seems to allege, appear out of the blue shouting something like “nyah, nyah, atheists hate God” looking to get a rise. From the beginning I qualified it with “the biblical view of hatred.” Furthermore, the comments in that post fleshed out the clarification that in the biblical view “hating God” is nothing more than “Original Sin.”

Fast forward to the other day when Kristine, in this comment on the UD thread about C.S.Lewis wote:
As for C.S. (an unfortunate combination of consonants, I think), he was never really atheist, he [HAHAH, David Heddle, my friend, sorry if you're reading this, but zingo!] described himself as "very angry with God for not existing". And that's what's gotten into little Shaner here. No C.S. Lewis dolls, no siree.

This, I think correctly, I interpreted as a reference to the previous post on my blog. But I was confused, because it appeared to me that while I thought the Lewis reference supported my point, Kristine thought it was a refutation—in short I didn’t understand. So I posted:
I’m missing the boat, I guess. Because I think you are referring to my concurring with Douglas Wilson, in his debate with Christopher Hitchens (a strange pairing for a debate), in which Wilson made the point that atheists deny God exists and they hate him. That’s rather consistent with what the C.S. Lewis Wikipedia article states (the accuracy of which, I certainly can’t defend)

At this point of my review I’m feeling pretty righteous. A reasonable person would agree that I did not just stop by ATBC to lob a bomb. Yes, I’m on the high-ground. But then, to my horror, I reread the rest of my post to Kristine:    
I think you might be arguing, correct me if I am wrong, that since he was angry with God he therefore was not an atheist. But I would say that all atheists have strong emotions (call it hatred) toward God.

This statement I retract. I do not believe all atheists have strong emotions about God. If that is what started the brouhaha, then it was indeed all my fault. As I went on to say, at complete odds with this statement, this hatred toward God is the rather emotionless Original Sin.

Now to address just Louis, who just posted:
The way I'll do this is I want you to do it for me. I want you to disprove my belief (as outlined in the Revelations of Diazonamide A, as given to Louis, Prophet of Diazonamide A [May he perform many successful reactions] yesterday) that all people who do not belief that Diazonamide A is the creator and saviour are paedophiles. I know I'm being frivolous but I am doing so to make a serious point.

I don’t see this as a serious point. First of all I have not asked you to disprove my statement, so the situation is not symmetric. And the situation is quite different even beyond that. I come here, where it is well known that I am a biblical-inerrancy type Christian, so I think it is not unreasonable to assume that anyone who cares to argue with me would know where I’m coming from. They would either say to themselves, or in a simple post: “Oh, Heddle’s a bible-believing jackass, who cares what he says?” or that might try to show where my reasoning fails, given my premise. Now, I have not asked you to disprove my statement, but indeed a reasonable approach from someone on here who knows the bible would be to show how my argument, even given my starting point, is bogus. After all, I have no doubt many Christians would disagree with the statement “atheists hate God.”

Your tactic is to create an unassailable premise, namely that you are a prophet of Diazonamide A. But even if you produced the Diazonamide A bible that stated “unbelievers are paedophiles” the situation is not the same (although superficially similar.) The bible has a long history of study and a long history of millions if not billions of believers. It is my opinion that fact is not insignificant; it makes it a different situation from inventing something on the spot and declaring “it’s just like that.” Put differently, in terms of a common argument, if I were an atheist and wanted to argue against Christianity I would not say “it is just like believing in Santa Claus or the FSM.” The first warning, in my mind would be: “Gee, if the argument is so trivial, how come the great atheist scholars of the past didn’t simply say: “this is like Father Christmas. Game Over. Next problem?” Could it be that they couldn’t think of such an elegant rebuttal? No I don’t think so. Could it be that they realized Christianity had reached a critical mass and level of apologetic scholarship that demanded more than pithy statements to dismiss it?—yes I think that is what they thought.

Date: 2007/08/15 09:20:32, Link
Author: heddle
Sadly for you Heddle "great atheist scholars" DO say precisely that belief in god is as significant as belief in Father Christmas (etc) have you not read Russell's teapot argument? The whole point of these things is to parody the theist's claims and thus demonstrate in the absence of bias or social context that they are ridiculous.

You picked the wrong atheist to challenge me on, because I am something of an amateur Russell hobbyist. I have read just about everything Russell has written on religion—you might even say I am a huge fan. His eschatological arguments regarding the Parousia have had a profound impact on Christianity and had contributed in no small way to the recent growth of preterism—i.e., the view of the end times diametrically opposed to the “Left Behind” scenario. In my opinion you are seriously misrepresenting his teapot argument. I’ll explain further.

The way people use the Father Christmas approach is:

How is believing in God any different from believing in Father Christmas?

With the, in my opinion, clear implication that, since one is a myth not worthy of serious discussion, so then is the other.

Russell never made such a simple minded argument. He made a correct argument, using his teapot, to those who stupidly demanded that he prove God does not exist.

Now If I demand that you prove God does not exist, then a reasonable retort would be to demand that I prove that Zeus does not exist. That is quite different from arguing that “believing in God is the same as believing in an undetectable teapot.” His teapot analogy was not part of his argument against Christianity, but an argument against a logical fallacy. To claim that it was a substantive part of his argument against Christianity is to, in my opinion, do Russell a great disservice.
As for your apology and retraction, well curmudgeonly, boorish bastard that I am I'm going to have to accept it. But I promise I won't enjoy it. How's that?

In my opinion you probably enjoyed accepting it somewhat more than I enjoyed making it.

Date: 2007/08/15 10:27:22, Link
Author: heddle
Maybe I'm mistaken, but PO's resignation seems to have been airbrushed out of existence.

Date: 2007/08/15 10:39:51, Link
Author: heddle

The in my opinion qualifiers are for J-dog's benefit.

P.S. Added in edit: One thing occurs to me, why would making an apology for making a mistake be unenjoyable? What's wrong with being wrong and acknowledging it? Isn't humility a christian virtue Heddle?

Well, let's see, if I enjoyed the apology that wouldn't really be humility--it would be pride from which a fall is sure to follow. (No, I'm not being serious.)

Look, when I made my off-hand joke on the UD thread re C.S. Lewis I was poking fun at myself and at Heddle for something he said on the "Dangerous atheists" thread - that of how one can resort to "Oh, Stalin wasn't really a real atheist anyway," which Heddle called a cop-out, a point that I conceded to him, if people remember.

Rats--so I made a bad assumption followed by an ill-advised comment. A banner day, for me.

Date: 2007/08/15 12:17:27, Link
Author: heddle

What seems to be missed here is the spirit of antinomy: atheists deny God and atheists hate God. That is, it really is an antinomy. It was not Wilson’s or at least not my intention to say that atheists do not really deny God because they actually hate him and therefore they don’t really deny him. Nor was it my intention to say (alas, however, I did say it) that I knew how atheists felt in the depths of their souls.

What is obvious is that the antinomy forces people into one of two conclusions: 1) that the claim is effectively calling atheists liars, and/or supposing something about their private emotional state. Or 2) what is meant by “hate” here is obviously different from the primary definition of a seething rage. What I have learned (and contributed to in my post to Kristine) is that the subjects of the claim, atheists, will inevitably jump to the first explanation—which in hindsight is to be expected.

So yes, should I ever bring up the argument again, I will do so much more carefully.

As for me engaging in tactics which on my blog I claim to despise, in the spirit of apology I’ll just say “thank you sir, may I please have another?”

Date: 2007/08/15 13:28:16, Link
Author: heddle
? ?
I'm curious about your hindsight expectations. You're not suggesting atheists like myself are simply quick on the trigger and therefore jump to an assumption of (1), are you? As others have pointed out, even absent your contradictory claim of "strong emotions", your idiosyncratic use of "hate" is hard for any reader to conclude.

Yes I am suggesting that, not pejoratively but based on the plain evidence. In addition, I am admitting that it could have been anticipated. Most people don't have an understanding of the reformed view of original sin by which they can make a rather natural connection to "hatred." That is, most people with an understanding of Original Sin as Augustine formulated it, whether they agree or not, would agree that "Original Sin" and "We all are born God haters" and "We all are born sinners in rebellion against God from birth" mean the same thing in that schema. However, many people view original sin as nothing more than our having Adam's sin in our debit column. In that case you cannot naturally connect original sin with hating God. So when I read Wilson's quote, I knew exactly what he meant, or at least what I think he meant. He could have written: because of Original Sin, atheists deny God, in fact for that reason they have no choice but to deny God. But that would have been rather conventional (in reformed-speak). Instead he simply wrote that they deny and hate God. It's the same thing, expressed more cleverly and more provocatively. When interpreted differently, however, it really pisses people off--as I found out.


Antinomial beliefs! I'll take that as very clever play on my using the word "antinomy" and being a Calvinist, a group with a history to being charged with licentious lawlessness. Nicely played!

EDIT: fixed cut and paste special character bizarro inserts.

P.S. added in EDIT: I'm like, so done with this topic.

Date: 2007/08/15 16:36:01, Link
Author: heddle
I am reading 1491. Anyone have any thoughts? I find (a) as interesting as I could have hoped and (b) not as dry as I feared.

I give it, provisionally, 90 out of 95 theses.

[Aside: Also, though I love it, I deny that it actually exists.]

Date: 2007/08/30 15:59:37, Link
Author: heddle
I think that Sewell's question is ill formed. Though I know little about evolution, I can easily imagine that it can produce systems that will not function if any part is removed. Nevertheless, I think what Sewell was really asking, or what I'd like to think he was asking, is this: is there any scientific observation at all, apart from the absurd (The LHC discovers "Made by God" in 300 languages etched on the side of the Higgs boson) that would make an anti-design person suddenly take the design argument seriously. I think it is an interesting question, somewhat related to the falsifiability of evolution, and I think the answer is probably, for the majority, no.

EDIT: utf coding errors

Date: 2007/08/30 16:12:09, Link
Author: heddle

What about you, Dave. what objective, empirical proof?

(I'll answer as if I'm the Dave you are talking about and it refers to my previous post and not some thread I'm interrupting.)

None. Any discovery that I can imagine might lead to more mystery, or it might show a weakness in a prevailing theory, but I would continue to advocate and participate in searching for a naturalistic explanation until hell froze over.

All the while I'd continue to believe that the universe was, in fact, intelligently designed. And that the science we do only demonstrates the beauty of creation, it doesn't detract from it.

Date: 2007/08/31 11:51:10, Link
Author: heddle

Take a look at the greatest car ever made, the Porsche 959

No way! Nobody ever did muscle cars like the Americans in the 60's. Porsches are, by comparison, gender challenged. Take for example the '66 Mustang Shelby. Now that's a design that Calvin would have predestined for his garage.

Date: 2007/09/04 14:24:48, Link
Author: heddle
Erasmus, FCD

blase' trails

That's pretty darn funny.

Date: 2007/09/05 09:20:12, Link
Author: heddle

His argument is a common form of bootstrapping. For example, here is a typical outline:

1. Jesus is a real historic figure
2. The gospels are, at least, reasonable historic accounts
3. The gospels describe Jesus as performing miracles
4. Miracles are a sign from God that the person performing them is a prophet
5. As a prophet, Jesus would speak the truth
6. Jesus affirmed the bible as the word of God

Conclusion--Therefore, the bible is the word of God

(One then attempts to bolster each point.)

These are apologetic plausibility arguments for believers. They are not meant to convince atheists who, in fact, are incapable of believing them anyway.

This Bill seems like a reasonable fellow.

Date: 2007/09/05 10:14:23, Link
Author: heddle
Rich, you're about to get a whole messa Calvinism upside the head.

No, I'll refrain. I'll go to the gym instead.

Date: 2007/09/06 08:39:07, Link
Author: heddle
What was the lab that the informatics lab at Baylor was supposed to trounce? Is there a reference to that comment on UD?

Date: 2007/09/07 15:50:04, Link
Author: heddle

You are joking... right?

Date: 2007/09/07 16:20:20, Link
Author: heddle

Ah, so you do not mean what is usually meant (and what was, I am sure, meant by RB's list) namely two objects of different masses falling into a third mass, like a brick and a feather falling onto the earth.

You are right that two more massive objects will attract each other with greater force and will converge faster.

But take a satellite of mass m around the earth. Your force is the left side of the equation. The right side is m*a (actually dp/dt). Then m cancels, and the resulting motion is independent of m, so a free fall (ballistic) trajectory cannot tell you about the mass of the object falling.

Which is why is is so hard to tell massive warheads from light decoys in the missile defense arena.

Date: 2007/09/10 12:27:21, Link
Author: heddle
Bob O’H,


Hmm, that reminds me that I once helped a friend rebuild a manual transmission using parts from another transmission. As proof that such transmission genetics resulted in a loss of information, when we were done the gear pattern was no longer an ordered 1-2-3-4-R along the classic H arrangement, but something bizarre like 3-1-4-R-2, which made driving interesting. Anyhow, entropy definitely increased, thereby demonstrating that the SLoT leads only to devolution.

But I didn’t realize until now that the fact that I can work on cars (like any good NASCAR fan) also proves that I am a better scientist than PZ.

Date: 2007/09/12 05:55:55, Link
Author: heddle

[quote]The two way round trip to the centre of the universe [/blockquote]

Center of the universe!

Date: 2007/09/13 19:53:05, Link
Author: heddle
Getting your book published is very cool. Let me tell you why.

One time I was on a plane, on a work-related trip. Guess who was sitting next to me? A really hawt asian chick--and she was reading my book and laughing. (Yes, it's supposed to be funny.)

Before you knew it, the plane landed, as shortly thereafter we were in my hotel room, where she spent the night with me.

True story.

Date: 2007/09/13 20:04:10, Link
Author: heddle
Well, I guess I forgot to mention that the hawt asian chick is my wife who was accompanying me on that trip.

Date: 2007/09/14 08:08:47, Link
Author: heddle

Well at least now she has an excuse for her taste in fiction.

Actually she didn't finish it, which is rarely a good sign.

Date: 2007/09/14 09:31:08, Link
Author: heddle

The night, or the book...

Well, I have to admit that when people ask me why there is no sex in my novel I have to tell them because my wife said: "that'd be a really bad idea--you should stick to topics you know something about."

Date: 2007/09/14 09:46:28, Link
Author: heddle
It will be amusing if Peter mails his comments

Perhaps Baylor shut down the lab because the research was too devastating to Darwinism. I noticed that the research papers had been submitted to peer review a while ago. When the reviewers discovered how threatening the findings are to the status quo they could have pressured Baylor to terminate the lab. They may be hoping that with the lab closure the research will end and they will not have to deal with Mark’s critciques. This may be just another manifestation of the difficulties, like the ones Behe is enduring, getting good ID science published.

and, even after Dembski suggested that he was being "a bit too conspiratorial"

Prof Dembski: I’ll admit I am wrong when I learn that his papers have been published. But I was expecting the shoe to drop in some fashion, and it has. Disproving evolution would upset a large, prestigious, academic enterprise. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mark’s papers were discussed as high up as the NAS. Who else could pressure the president of Baylor to act against everything that Baylor stands for?

to the Board of Regents.

Date: 2007/09/14 11:46:49, Link
Author: heddle

I guess I intended these comments as some light-hearted poking fun at myself. I didn't foresee they would be taken to some dark level. That was my mistake. What was I thinking? Too much linguini, I reckon.

Date: 2007/09/14 11:52:54, Link
Author: heddle

Without reading the comments, I have to say I’d agree that the pre-Cambrian rabbit is an awful example of how to falsify evolution. Here is an acid test: a falsification experiment for any major theory should be a shoo-in for funding. Do you think the NSF would fund an expedition to look for a pre-Cambrian rabbit?

I have often used the analogy that this would be like arguing that Newtonian gravition could be falsified this way: Just follow the Reverend Al Sharpton around, and see if he ever floats away.

EDIT: fixed typo, HT JohnW

Date: 2007/09/14 12:20:29, Link
Author: heddle

Thanks for finding the typo, I fixed it.

You hit the nail on the head--there would be no expectation of success--there is no competing scientific theory that argues you would find a pre-Cambrian rabbit. So the point is, if this were the only falsification experiment for evolution, then evolution would be unfalsifiable.

It's all the less dramatic but realistic tests of evolution that are important. The pre-Cambrian rabbit is just a sort-of PR gimmick.

And no, nobody will travel to the center of the galaxy. But people did look at anomalies in Mercury's orbit, which is why we don't have to say "if Al Sharpton floats away, Newtonian gravitation is falsified."

Date: 2007/09/14 14:00:31, Link
Author: heddle

I did eventually go read them, even bornagain77’s comment which was longer, I think, that John Galt’s speech in Ayn Rand’s god-awful Atlas Shrugged. I stand by my assertion that when a pro-evolution type offers up the pre-Cambrian rabbit as a falsification test, he is doing a disservice to evolution. I recall one early discussion I had on PT, probably back in 2003 (I don't feel like looking it up) where this topic came up and a PTer more or less agreed with me and then supplied a list of legitimate experiments—I found that quite a bit more convincing in making the case that evolution could be falsified.

Date: 2007/09/14 14:10:47, Link
Author: heddle
Quote (Richardthughes @ Sep. 14 2007,13:58)
Quote (factician @ Sep. 14 2007,13:53)
Quote (Zachriel @ Sep. 14 2007,13:47)
So we might want to see what happens to the Reverend if you orbit him around a rapidly spinning black hole.

Well, I certainly know that I want to see what happens...

Would you see it? Wouldn't all the photons be going the other way, or something?

*Braces for Heddle impact*

Calculations show this would cause the Reverend to radiate virtual Twana Brawley anti-Twana Brawley pairs, which would polarize the neighboring space, creating a new universe that wasn't so fine-tuned, one with a large cosmological constant, which will eventually cause tremendous weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I love validate it so!

EDIT: so as to conform to AtBC rules, regulations, and quid pro quos.

Date: 2007/09/18 17:55:34, Link
Author: heddle
Geez, the whole site (UD) has this depressing air to it. Gone is the swagger. As a consequence, you guys are beginning to depress me as the stench of obsolescence descends upon this AtBC thread. I agree with JDog. New blood is needed at UD. This must be what it felt like to the military industrial complex when the Berlin wall fell.

On the other hand, Panda’s Thumb and UD upgraded on the same day? That has to be a universal probability bound violating event. That's worth popping the top on a bottle of Iron City.

Date: 2009/09/19 07:31:42, Link
Author: heddle
Quote (k.e.. @ Sep. 19 2009,01:20)

BTW WTF is Heddle?

He was just getting warmed up to goose FL and just fizzed out.

Bloddy Calvanists they just can't be relied on for a good roasting after their last outing.

He hasn't yet responded to my criticism, unless I missed it. Geez, k.e., before you expressed a "yawn" at the prospect of a theological debate, and now you are accusing me of a Dembski-like Sir Robining. Make up that drug-addled, alcohol-saturated, tropical-disease infected  organ that you call a mind! POMO!