How We Know A Personal God Is Real.

Many people claim to know for a fact that a personal god (like ooooh say yahweh as a random example) is real because they’ve seen him do things in their lives or other peoples’ lives, perform “miracles” etc.

Now assuming that these things have no naturalistic explanation that is immediately available (which sadly most of them do in my experience), in order to claim that not just a supernatural being but a specific supernatural being was directly responsible for something is a pretty heavy claim.  And anyone who does not wish to live in a fantasy world akin to thanking zeus or elves or fairies day and night for the bullet missing their spine by a few inches or the tumor being benign or their kid only having to have 4 surgeries instead of the 10 you expected or finding a $20 on the ground when you were low on gas money, etc, will want to stop and think about this logically for a second.

Attributing a miracle to a specific being is like attributing a homicide to a specific being.  You can’t just take someone you don’t like and assume they did every bad thing in the world because you want to.  If a cop did that he or she would likely go to prison him/herself.

So automatically and without direct evidence of a specific being’s involvement in your “miracle”, assuming one in 10,000 manmade deities is real and did your thing in order to “prove” that it’s existence and benevolence and love for you is real, is no different logically than “proving” your neighbor is an asshole by automatically attributing any bad thing you see to your neighbor, with no direct evidence of his specific involvement.  You see something bad on the news about someone burning a building down – damn that man!  Worse neighbor in the world!  Your kid gets cancer – clearly your neighbor injected him with malignant cancer cells!  Your parents’ surgery has complications – he must’ve gone to the hospital and distracted the operating doctors! 

And so on and so forth.  Does this “prove” that your neighbor is an asshole, or does it say more about how strongly you want to believe he is?

So treat a miracle as you would the scene of a crime, and ask yourself honestly, is there any evidence at all that, even assuming some magical mystical thing happened, that yahweh specifically was responsible and not one of these:

      Hilal (Arabian mythology)
      Hubal (Arabian mythology)
      Illat (Arabian mythology)
      Ta’lab (Arabian mythology)
      Wadd (Arabian mythology)
      Jarih (Canaanite mythology)
      Nikkal (Canaanite mythology)
      Napir (Elamite mythology)
      Kaskuh (Hittite mythology)
      Kusuh (Hurrian mythology)
      Sin (Mesopotamian mythology)
      Aglibol (Palmarene mythology)
      Mah (Persian mythology)
      Men (Phrygian mythology)
      Terah (Semitic mythology)
      Nanna (Sumerian mythology)
      Selardi (Urartian mythology
      Ilazki (Basque mythology)
      Ceridwen (Celtic mythology)
      Góntia (Celtic mythology)
      Lair báln (Celtic mythology)
      Losna (Etruscan mythology)
      Artemis (Greek mythology)
      Hecate (Greek mythology)
      Phoebe (Greek mythology)
      Selene (Greek mythology)
      Rhea (Greek mythology)
      Meness (Latvian mythology)
      Ataegina (Lusitanian mythology)
      Mani (Norse mythology)
      Diana (Roman mythology)
      Luna (Roman mythology)
      Myesyats (Slavic mythology)
      The Zorya (Slavic mythology)
      Bendis (Thracian mythology)
      Chup Kamui (Ainu mythology)
      Chang’e or Heng O (Chinese mythology); see also the Moon rabbit
      Marishi-Ten (Japanese mythology)
      Tsukuyomi (Japanese mythology)
      Hằng Nga (Vietnamese mythology)
      Anumati (Hindu mythology)
      Chandra or Indu (Hindu mythology)
      Soma (Hindu mythology)
      Dewi Shri (Indonesian mythology)
      Silewe Nazarate (Indonesian mythology)
      Mayari (Philippine mythology)
      Kidili (Mandjindja mythology)
      Papare (Orokolo mythology)
      Avatea (Polynesian mythology)
      Fati (Polynesian mythology)
      Ina (Polynesian mythology)
      Hina-Kega (Polynesian mythology)
      Hina-Uri (Polynesian mythology)
      Lona (Polynesian mythology)
      Mahina (Polynesian mythology)
      Marama (Polynesian mythology)
      Sina (Polynesian mythology)
      Ul (Polynesian mythology)
      Gleti (Dahomean mythology)
      Chons (Egyptian mythology)
      Thoth (Egyptian mythology)
      Arebati (Pygmy mythology)
      Kalfu (Vodun)
      Coyolxauhqui (Aztec mythology)
      Metztli (Aztec mythology)
      Tecciztecatl (Aztec mythology)
      Menily (Cahuilla mythology)
      Chia (Chibcha mythology)
      Chie (Chibcha mythology)
      Coniraya (Incan mythology)
      Ka-Ata-Killa (Incan mythology)
      Mama Quilla (Incan mythology)
      Alignak (Inuit mythology)
      Igaluk (Inuit mythology)
      Tarquiup Inua (Inuit mythology)
      Ahau-Kin (Maya mythology)
      Awilix (K’iche’ Maya mythology)
      Ixbalanque (Maya mythology)
      Ixchel (Maya mythology)
      Maya moon goddess
      Yoołgai asdząąn (Navaho mythology)
      Pah (Pawnee mythology)
      Ari (Tupinamba mythology)
      Jaci (Tupinamba mythology)
      Nantu (Shuar mythology)

Which btw are just a fraction of the moon gods of various cultures.  A complete list of deities would be insanely long.

We’ve all seen law and order, we all know how logic and evidence work and how you can’t just say “oh this guy’s a bad guy so lets lock him up for this thing we heard about”.  Nor would you pin a medal on him because of some good thing you heard about without specific evidence that specifically supported his direct role in those events.

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About agnophilo

Nerd.
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90 Responses to How We Know A Personal God Is Real.

  1. @agnophilo -I read your entire argument. I even responded to it point by point, but I decided to cut a lot of that out because it was distracting. I want you to know that I appreciate your patience and commitment to a thorough response.I found it very helpful for you to delineate the statements behind your analogy. I think, however, for it to be a fair analogy to Christians attributing “miracles” to Yahweh, you would need to include the premise, “My neighbor is the only one capable of doing bad things.” Since you didn’t, you ignored a fundamental presupposition of the kinds of Christians you’re talking about, and, only by ignoring this presupposition were you able to go on your rant about the number of manmade deities. In conclusion: granting that “miracles” don’t happen and that no deities exist, your analogy is still misleading.Responses to individual points that I think you would find helpful:”Even if the premises did not have the problems with them that they do, they would still be impossible to establish, and so therefore the conclusion would also be impossible to establish, which is kind of my point.”This is what I was looking for the whole time.”No.  It is more accurate to say that those claimswouldbe soundiftheir premises were true.  A claim is not sound unless it’s premises are correct or supported by evidence.  Your other statements should be modified similarly as well, itwouldbe reasonable to believe xifthose premises were correct etc.”Doh. I confused soundness and validity. Thanks for your forbearance.”I am going further than that and saying that there can be no evidence at all that a particular deity is responsible for a specific thing.”Oh. Here’s why I disagree with that. Any evidence–even if it’s questionable–that supports those presuppositions (about Yahweh), is still evidence. Just like a fiber from a crime scene that is thrown out because of possible contamination may still be accurate (though inadmissible in a court of law) evidence. Evidence is there. It is arguably tainted, but evidence nonetheless.”No, my argument is valid even if we know for a fact that there is only one god, just as those fallacies are true if you know your neighbor exists and only have one neighbor.”Sure, if a deity is as limited as a human being, like your neighbor. Your neighbor is limited in time and space, but deities are imagined to transcend. The analogy of the neighbor is insufficient because it fails to take into account fundamental qualities of deities (and for the reason I mentioned in the first paragraph of this comment).”Yes, it’s the common fallacy of an argument from popularity.  It’s also worth mentioning that people are almost universally christian because of indoctrination or some other form of coercion, which lends zero credibility to the belief.  Also well supported, logical beliefs typically don’t need to be supported by “well a lotta people think this so there must be something to it”-type arguments that involve no evidence or logical support whatsoever.”Many Christians may be sheep, but all the ones whom I know have the opportunity to leave. (I say this because I think your statement about coercion is too strong.) That some leave demonstrates that.I wasn’t arguing that Yahweh is more likely to exist because of popularity, but because of physical evidence, i.e., the Bible as opposed to relatively few documents, in the case of Yarikh. Sure, it may be “tainted,” but you and I disagree over the extent. We also disagree over what should render evidence inadmissible (but that is another discussion–it may be part of our other discussion, for which I still owe you a response).”Again qualify your statements. Ifit were true that x and y were valid, z wouldhypotheticallybe valid as well.”Precisely. I qualify my statements because I am not arguing for the soundness of the conclusion, but its validity. It seems to me that your original argument (which incorporates the possibility of the existence of other gods) suggests that not even that much is correct.”Not all premises are presupposed.  And it’s just as illogical for a theist to prove a universal negative as it is for an atheist to.  I am agnostic about the existence of all gods, though I don’t particularly think any of them exist.”No problems here.”The problems with this are a) faulty premises and b) inadequately defined concepts like “supernatural” and “miracle”.  There is no way to rationally diagnose what is a miracle or supernatural, but the most common definition people use is something which is unlikely or unexplained (or sometimes easily explained but they simply prefer to think it’s supernatural/miraculous) and positive = miracle.  This is not rational since our inability to explain something in no way means it must be supernatural (whatever the hell that even means) or caused by yahweh, and this can also be debunked via reductio ad absurdum by pointing out the maaaany positive things we have been unable to explain in the past have turned out not to be supernatural in nature. “So the premises A and B are faulty on many different levels.”An objective person would simply scrap the whole thing as bullshit, but when you’re raised to believe it’s not bullshit it’s a little harder to do for psychological, not logical reasons.”Furthermore they are invalid for the same reasons this is:A) Fact: my neighbor exists.B) Presupposition: my neighbor is the only person who does bad things.C) Conclusion: All bad things are caused by my neighbor”I forgot to include premise G (another presupposition) = it’s not bullshit U Christian conceptions of “miraculous” and “supernatural” are accurate. In other words, In this case, I was only positing internal consistency. I agree with you that the premises are questionable.I’m intent on demonstrating that your neighbor analogy is fundamentally deficient. As I stated above, I think for your analogy to pass muster, you would need to include the presupposition, “My neighbor is the only one who can do bad things,” which is significantly different from the presupposition you stated. This is an important distinction, because your analogy is predicated on the presupposition you stated here.”So that’s at least three levels on which premise number 2 is bullshit.”I agree that some authors of the Bible were not monotheists and with your explanation of the first commandment.So much for a short response. šŸ™‚

  2. misuriver says:

    @agnophilo –  I know you weren’t being a jerk. I was simply repeating the question of the blog, saying that it was a better question to ask Christians. I’m not being sarcastic, babe… just silly

  3. agnophilo says:

    @musterion99 – How is that any different than being convinced that fairies did it but that they always use “natural explanations”?That is a contradiction, either your back relaxed and that is why your leg “grew” OR god made your leg magically get longer.  You can’t say it’s both because they are not the same proposition.

  4. musterion99 says:

    @agnophilo – We didn’t pray to fairies. We specifically prayed in the name of Jesus. I didn’t say it was both propositions. I believe God did it. It wasn’t a relaxing of the muscles. It was clearly short and grew out. Listen, again, I completely understand that you as an atheist are not going to accept that God did it just because I’m telling you what happened, so it’s a senseless argument.

  5. agnophilo says:

    @misuriver – Sorry, getting my wires crossed : )@stephenandginny – “I read your entire argument. I evenresponded to it point by point, but I decided to cut a lot of that outbecause it was distracting. I want you to know that I appreciate yourpatience and commitment to a thorough response.”Likewise.”I found it veryhelpful for you to delineate the statements behind your analogy. Ithink, however, for it to be a fair analogy to Christians attributing”miracles” to Yahweh, you would need to include the premise, “Myneighbor is the only one capable of doing bad things.” Since youdidn’t, you ignored a fundamental presupposition of the kinds ofChristians you’re talking about, and, only by ignoring thispresupposition were you able to go on your rant about the number ofmanmade deities.” Actually I did in my response to you, though I said “my neighbor is the only person who does bad things” which is technically less perfect an analogy.  I did not include that premise in the original blog because I did not state my argument as a logical formula.”In conclusion: granting that “miracles” don’t happenand that no deities exist, your analogy is still misleading.”My blog doesn’t require you to grant either of those things, and I don’t see how my analogy is misleading.[Responses to individual points that I think you would find helpful:”Evenif the premises did not have the problems with them that they do, theywould still be impossible to establish, and so therefore the conclusionwould also be impossible to establish, which is kind of my point.”]”This is what I was looking for the whole time.”I think maybe you misunderstand what I mean.  I mean to say it is illogical because it cannot be supported, not that no one can say whether the idea is valid or not.”Doh. I confused soundness and validity. Thanks for your forbearance.”Aren’t they synonyms?  And it sounded like you were saying “it’s valid because it would be valid if it were valid.”  I get that the statement is logical if you grant the premises but false because the premises are false.   “Oh.Here’s why I disagree with that. Any evidence–even if it’squestionable–that supports those presuppositions (about Yahweh), isstill evidence. Just like a fiber from a crime scene that is thrown outbecause of possible contamination may still be accurate (thoughinadmissible in a court of law) evidence. Evidence is there. It isarguably tainted, but evidence nonetheless.”You’re confusing philosophical evidence with legal definitions of evidence.  And what I mean is that a fiber is either evidence or not evidence depending what it is supposed to be evidence of.  If someone is murdered the police might go haul half of their belongings away as material evidence, but that doesn’t mean it’s actual evidence of a specific conclusion.  This is why using the word evidence in the legal sense is confusing.  A fiber is not “evidence” in the logical sense of the term simply by merit of being found on a corpse.If you want to disagree with the notion that there can be no evidence that yahweh specifically is responsible for someone’s “miracle”, then provide some.  Don’t tap-dance around the issue and give these general statements. “Sure, if a deity is as limited as a human being,like your neighbor. Your neighbor is limited in time and space, butdeities are imagined to transcend. The analogy of the neighbor isinsufficient because it fails to take into account fundamentalqualities of deities (and for the reason I mentioned in the firstparagraph of this comment).”No, none of that whatsoever is relevant to anything in this blog.  My point with the neighbor analogy is that you cannot “prove” that a being exists and effects your life by arbitrarily attributing whatever the hell you want to that being.  You need direct evidence that that being specifically was responsible for that specific thing.What you are arguing is that there are some things only jehovah can do, and therefore if one of those things happens we know jehovah exists and did them.  But that is a faulty assumption. I can do the same by saying there are some things so deviant only my neighbor could do them, and so if one of them happens I know my neighbor is responsible.  You’re just re-framing an assumption so that it’s a conclusion based on other assumptions.  It’s just shuffling bullshit around to make it seem more plausible.”ManyChristians may be sheep, but all the ones whom I know have theopportunity to leave. (I say this because I think your statement aboutcoercion is too strong.) That some leave demonstrates that.”If you raise your child to believe in any religion, no matter how weird or full of shit it is, they have a 1 in 11 chance of ever believing anything else.  The premise that christianity is popular because believers are coerced (usually from birth, but historically by pain of death, torture, persecution, imprisonment, banishment etc in adulthood) is not dependent on that coercion being absolute and unalterable. “Iwasn’t arguing that Yahweh is more likely to exist because ofpopularity, but because of physical evidence, i.e., the Bible asopposed to relatively few documents, in the case of Yarikh.” Those documents are the claim, not the evidence.  A claim cannot be it’s own support.  Unless you don’t have a problem with circular reasoning.  “Sure, itmay be “tainted,” but you and I disagree over the extent. We alsodisagree over what should render evidence inadmissible (but that isanother discussion–it may be part of our other discussion, for which Istill owe you a response).”Other discussion?  And ironically in the US people are made to swear an oath on the bible which itself would be inadmissible in court as hearsay evidence, and certainly would not hold up under cross-examination.”Precisely.I qualify my statements because I am not arguing for the soundness ofthe conclusion, but its validity. It seems to me that your originalargument (which incorporates the possibility of the existence of othergods) suggests that not even that much is correct.”The possibility of other gods (and beings not dreamed of in any human religion) is real, whether theists have open minds or not.”Iforgot to include premise G (another presupposition) = it’s notbullshit U Christian conceptions of “miraculous” and “supernatural” areaccurate. In other words, In this case, I was only positing internalconsistency. I agree with you that the premises are questionable.”Why even bother with premises, conclusions and logic if one of your “un-breakable” premises is “none of my premises are bullshit”.  I mean isn’t that an assumed premise in any argument anyway?”I’mintent on demonstrating that your neighbor analogy is fundamentallydeficient. As I stated above, I think for your analogy to pass muster,you would need to include the presupposition, “My neighbor is the onlyone who can do bad things,” which is significantly differentfrom the presupposition you stated. This is an important distinction,because your analogy is predicated on the presupposition you statedhere.”I addressed thit above.”I agree that some authors of the Bible were not monotheists and with your explanation of the first commandment.”Are you a monotheist? : )”So much for a short response. :)”Eh welcome to the club.

  6. agnophilo says:

    @musterion99 – “We didn’t pray to fairies. We specificallyprayed in the name of Jesus.” Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc.”I didn’t say it was both propositions. Ibelieve God did it.” You said god did it, but used natural means.  It cannot be both natural and supernatural.”It wasn’t a relaxing of the muscles.” Muscle tension is controlled predominantly by your unconscious mind.  It would be more correct to say you were not consciously trying to relax your muscles.”It was clearlyshort and grew out.” No, it was not “clearly” short, you have ZERO evidence that your leg was actually shorter before and that what I’m saying happened is incorrect.  You simply want to believe it was.”Listen, again, I completely understand that you asan atheist are not going to accept that God did it just because I’mtelling you what happened, so it’s a senseless argument.”Show me the response where I said “I’m an atheist so your leg didn’t grow longer” or “there is no god so your leg didn’t grow longer”. I am addressing your claim on strictly logical grounds and atheism has nothing whatsoever to do with it.  To dismiss what I am saying because I am an atheist is no more polite or reasonable than if I dismissed what you said because you were a christian.

  7. randaness says:

    I am discussing the foundation of your argument. This is quite relevant to the argument itself.I make only the necessary assumptions everyone has to make in order to accept that their senses detect the world as it is.You have made the assumptions necessary to believe what you want to believe about the world. You can recognize that much. I worry about the phrase “detect the world as it is.” How can you logically know that? Logically, there is no universal axiom that says the physical world exists. It isn’t logic, it’s faith, but that doesn’t make it illogical. Science has many internal validation methods, which makes it seem as though it should always be valid (which is why you consider it not to be blind faith), but it can never reach beyond the initial assumption, and it can’t reach across assumptions. Whether or not science can predict scientific events doesn’t matter if you haven’t made the necessary assumptions. This is the fundamental flaw in your argument.You have made the decision to believe in science and to hold the rules of science. Other people have made the decision to believe in religion, and to operate according to those rules. This doesn’t make either decision illogical.

  8. musterion99 says:

    @agnophilo – You said god did it, but used natural means.  It cannot be both natural and supernatural.Where did I say that? I think you misunderstood me. No, it was not “clearly” short, you haveZERO evidence that your leg was actually shorter before and that whatI’m saying happened is incorrect.  You simply want to believe it was.lol! –  You weren’t there and you’re making a definitive statement of knowledge about something that you didn’t see. That’s incredible that you’re able to do that. I was there and I saw it.Show me the response where I said “I’m anatheist so your leg didn’t grow longer” or “there is no god so your legdidn’t grow longer”.Are you just desiring to play word games? You are an atheist and you don’t believe it grew out. I am addressing your claim on strictly logical groundsLogical according to you. You are deciding a priori that it’s impossible. There are things that we don’t logically understand but can still be true.and atheism has nothing whatsoever to do with it.Of course it does. If you weren’t an atheist, you would believe it was possible.

  9. agnophilo says:

    @randaness – No, assuming that your eyes see reality is what you need to assume in order to have any worldview, read the bible, study nature etc.Again you are throwing generic absolute reductionist arguments at me and not addressing my blog.  I could do the same in response to a blog about literally anything.  It is a pathetic diversion tactic, nothing more.  You’re phoning in your “arguments”.

  10. randaness says:

    Eyes are not logic.

  11. agnophilo says:

    @musterion99 – “Where did I say that? I think you misunderstood me.”I went back and re-read your comment and yeah I misread it. I apologize for that.lol!-  You weren’t there and you’re making a definitive statement ofknowledge about something that you didn’t see. That’s incredible thatyou’re able to do that. I was there and I saw it.”No, I’m saying that unless you measured or x-rayed your leg beforehand and confirmed that it was actually shorter and did not just appear shorter due to your hips being uneven you cannot know that it was actually physically shorter and therefore cannot know that it grew.”Are you just desiring to play word games? You are an atheist and you don’t believe it grew out.”And you’re blowing off my arguments because they came from an atheist.  Even if I were christian I hope I’d have the presence of mind to be skeptical.If I claimed I died and came back from the dead or something, wouldn’t you ask a few questions before you believed me?Would I have the right to blow off your questions because you’re a christian?”Logicalaccording to you. You are deciding a priori that it’s impossible.” Nowhere did I say that.  Address what I’ve actually said please, rather than putting words in my mouth and wasting my time as every single theist on this blog (barring one) has done.”Thereare things that we don’t logically understand but can still be true.”Almost certainly.  However I’d like to figure out what’s going on when I see something I can’t explain rather than just assume it’s magical, lest I drop to my knees and worship anyone who’s mastered sleight of hand.I offered a perfectly reasonable, simple explanation which you reject out of hand because you don’t want it to be true.  Your supernatural explanation I have said is unsupported because it cannot be confirmed.  Even though you were there you don’t even know if your leg was physically shorter or just appeared to be.Of course it does. If you weren’t an atheist, you would believe it was possible.”Almost everything is possible.  It’s possible unicorns and fairies could be playing with each other on mars right now.  I don’t believe things that are possible, I believe things that are probable.

  12. musterion99 says:

    @musterion99 – (The html messed up so I put some of your quotes in brackets.)No, I’m saying that unless you measured orx-rayed your leg beforehand and confirmed that it was actually shorterand did not just appear shorter due to your hips being uneven youcannot know that it was actually physically shorter and thereforecannot know that it grew.You’re concluding something that isn’t necessarily true. Just because it wasn’t measured or x-rayed doesn’t prove or conclude that it wasn’t shorter.And you’re blowing off my arguments because they came from an atheist.I think you’re misunderstanding me again. As an atheist who doesn’t believe in God, you’re never going to believe that God did it. I don’t blame you for being skeptical. I am also skeptical of certain things but not in this particular circumstance.I offered a perfectly reasonable, simple explanation which you reject out of hand because you don’t want it to be true.It’s reasonable to you, not to me. I know what happened and that’s what I believe, not merely because I want it to be true. If it didn’t happen, I’d be the first to admit it. [Your supernatural explanation I have said is unsupported because it cannot be confirmed.]I don’t believe it was a coincidence or the reasons you think happened. I’m convinced it was shorter and grew out. Nothing you say will change my mind. It would be like me telling you something you know happened, didn’t really happen and someone tried to give a different explanation which you didn’t buy.[Even though you were there you don’t even know if your leg was physically shorter or just appeared to be.]In no way do I believe it was an hallucination or muscle spasm. It’s completely ludicrous to me. Again, I’m not telling you to believe me, but I know it happened.

  13. yeah, maybe you should have told musterion you are addressing her on ‘reasonable grounds’ instead of ‘logical grounds’ since they are stuck on their ability to use logic to come to valid but not necessarily true conclusions. @musterion99 – You have to take into account the implications of the fact that people have prayed to other deities and have experienced similar ‘healing’ or ‘miracles’ such as your back pain going away and your leg growing by an inch or so. How do you explain why people in other religions experience miracles such as pain relief by prayer? Don’t think that it’s so hard for me to believe your leg actually grew just because I’m an atheist (and don’t equate atheism to metaphysical naturalism as there are many atheists who are not metaphysical naturalists). You know the saying ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’, well, neither do legs. Your phenomena, if not some form of hallucination, is not common. Well, the main reason it’s so hard for me to believe that your leg actually grew is because ‘limb growth hallucination’ is a well documented phenomena. http://scienceblogs.com/neurophilosophy/2008/02/firsthand_accounts_of_2_extrem.phphttp://scienceblogs.com/neurophilosophy/2008/11/distorting_the_body_image_affects_perception_of_pain.phphttp://www.jstor.org/pss/20314091The first link is about an extreme case of limb distortion hallucination BUT there is plenty of reference to how minor migraines or ‘a surge of abnormal electrical activity’ that could be associated to back pain. The second link is about how the experience of pain can be magnified or minified by visual stimulation which in a way is relevant to your case since you were feeling pain at the time you noticed a difference in the size of your limbs (so there could be a connection). The third link is just a note on how even sane people can experience hallucinations with another note on how people who are on ‘religious ecstasy’ are more likely to experience a hallucination. Now with all these facts in mind, you should be humble and open minded enough to doubt yourself for a moment that just maybe your leg did not really grow spontaneously. 

  14. musterion99 says:

    @lalalandsucks4ever – You have to take into account theimplications of the fact that people have prayed to other deities andhave experienced similar ‘healing’ or ‘miracles’I addressed that in my first comment.‘limb growth hallucination’ is a well documented phenomena. It’s faulty logic to conclude that it’s always an hallucination and never real. It was as much of an hallucination as you believing you’re alive right now. Are you hallucinating? According to your logic, even if God did it, I could never know and would have to assume it’s an hallucination.Now with all these facts in mind, you shouldbe humble and open minded enough to doubt yourself for a moment thatjust maybe your leg did not really grow spontaneously.Again, it makes no logical sense for me to doubt what I know happened, anymore for you to doubt that you and I are writing to each other on this blog.According to your logic, even if God did it, I could never know and would have to assume it’s an hallucination.

  15. @musterion99 – I’m not the one saying one of my limbs grew spontaneously. Stop trying to define me by some priori that excludes miracles. I told you: you could know for sure if you would have documented your shorter leg prior to the prayer (where you found out about your 1 inch shorter leg for the first time coincidently during back pain that could be associated to abnormal electrical surges in your nervous system that tends to cause temporary limb growth hallucinations.) If you would have told me, ‘Yeah, I have x rays and/or baby pictures that clearly show that I was born with one leg shorter than the other’ Don’t you have baby pictures? I would have nothing to say and would be left doubting my understanding of the universe if you told me that you had some sort of picture evidence or the event was blatantly noticeable. You’re treating me as if I would say ‘Oh, the pictures are hallucinations.’ which is a dumb way to view the world and does not describe any part of my way of obtaining knowledge. You think I have some twisted priori that excludes miracles even when evidence of miracles is clear (not true about me), and I think that you are so wrapped up in your illusion of a personal relationship with a deity that you will never consider that you experienced a hallucination. Could you save me some time next response and copy the link to the comment you are referring to that answers the question “How do you explain why people in other religions are relieved of their back pains or may even ‘experienced’ limb growth?” Takes a couple a couple minutes to dig up specific quotes and that’s enough time to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. dontchya know? anyhoot, what about the more obvious cases of hallucination where people say ‘God told me to put my baby in a microwave.’ (really happened) or “Satan made me kill her” (happens all the time). They are just as adamant as you are that a deity REALLY made them do something, and they are wrote off as crazy. They are declared insane, but don’t forget that even sane people can experience hallucination and there is whole spectrum of hallucination. My point is that we are skeptical that a deity really told them to do anything. 

  16. musterion99 says:

    @lalalandsucks4ever – This may apply more to Agnophilo than you, but maybe to you also. It’s faulty logic to say that because it wasn’t documented, it didn’t happen. It would be more accurate to say that because it wasn’t documented, I don’t believe it happened. Again, I never claimed I could prove my experience. My reply about other religions is that if the God of the bible is true, then these other miracles are demonic manifestations, or hallucinations. Demons are able on a limited basis at certain times, to produce miracles as they did through the magicians in Egypt when Moses was also doing miracles from God.

  17. @musterion99 – I agree with you: just because a phenomena isn’t documented, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. I never said you have claimed you could prove your experience; I only suggested many ways in which you could provide positive evidence for your experience (e.g. baby pictures showing you were born with one leg shorter than the other, witness accounts of your shorter leg prior to the prayer).  My series of comments is just a point of view based on documented phenomena and facts, related to your experience, that should be considered before using your story as a confirmation of the supernatural. . 

  18. musterion99 says:

    @lalalandsucks4ever – A baby picture wouldn’t show a difference of an inch or so unless the legs were stretched out. And it can develop later in life. Chiropractors will tell you that many people have a shorter leg and aren’t aware of it, just like I wasn’t. There were other people in the church that witnessed it but we didn’t ask everyone to sign a documentation. We were just happy to see God’s power at work. You’re not thinking about documenting it. I’m not using my story as confirmation. I’ve already made that clear. The only reason I even mentioned it was because you brought up about an amputees leg growing out.

  19. @musterion99 – “You’re not thinking about documenting it.” huh? I’m tired of talking about you’re leg growing an inch. ‘Gods power at work’ someone needs a reality check: hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning, earthquakes, tsunamis, disease, parasites, viruses, cancer killing millions of people all the time and you’re happy that a deity relieved you of your back pain and made you symmetrical again. Some people are born with facial deformation, and you think a benevolent being exists and decided to show his powers on aspects of your body that you DIDN’T EVEN  KNOW ABOUT when there are people that can’t even look at half of their face in the mirror. give me a break! how selfish can you be? 

  20. musterion99 says:

    @lalalandsucks4ever – lol! – Wow, go off on a tangent. I’ll repeat it one more time. The only reason I even mentioned it was because you brought up the amputee thing. I’m done with this silliness.

  21. @musterion99 – just remember all the kids with deformed faces the next time you get excited over someone’s perfectly functional legs growing a little. 

  22. agnophilo says:

    @randaness – I’m going to ignore you until you actually talk about the contents of this blog and stop repeating irrelevant crap I’ve already responded to.

  23. agnophilo says:

    @musterion99 – (The html messed up so I put some of your quotes in brackets.)You’reconcluding something that isn’t necessarily true. Just because itwasn’t measured or x-rayed doesn’t prove or conclude that it wasn’tshorter.”I know.  I am saying that you cannot know that it was shorter.  Not that I know that it wasn’t.  I am saying that you are firmly believing something it is impossible for you to rationally know.Ithink you’re misunderstanding me again. As an atheist who doesn’tbelieve in God, you’re never going to believe that God did it. I don’tblame you for being skeptical. I am also skeptical of certain thingsbut not in this particular circumstance.”You are calling me closed-minded.  I would believe that Yahweh did it if I had a reason to.  However neither of us has confirmation that “it” even happened.”It’sreasonable to you, not to me. I know what happened and that’s what Ibelieve, not merely because I want it to be true. If it didn’t happen,I’d be the first to admit it.”So tell me why my explanation is unreasonable or false.”Idon’t believe it was a coincidence or the reasons you think happened.I’m convinced it was shorter and grew out. Nothing you say will changemy mind.” Then you’re closed-minded.”It would be like me telling you something you know happened,didn’t really happen and someone tried to give a different explanationwhich you didn’t buy.”You DON’T know it happened, that is the point.  You really really want it to have happened, probably because of the emotional aftermath of it.”Inno way do I believe it was an hallucination or muscle spasm.” I never said hallucination, and I gave muscle tension as a reason your hips may have been asymmetrical making your leg appear shorter.  Bear in mind your hips only have to be slightly asymmetrical to account for an inch or so, because one will be higher while the other will be lower.  And no, you wouldn’t have to deliberately relax your muscles, as your body is mostly controlled by your unconscious mind.”It’scompletely ludicrous to me. Again, I’m not telling you to believe me,but I know it happened.”You’re not capable of giving a single reason why it’s “ludicrous” to you.  You just insist that it is.

  24. agnophilo says:

    @musterion99 – “This may apply more to Agnophilo than you,but maybe to you also. It’s faulty logic to say that because it wasn’tdocumented, it didn’t happen.” That isn’t even close to anything I’ve said to you.  I’m arguing that if you have no compelling evidence that something extraordinary happened, and a much simpler explanation, then the simpler explanation is more probable.  And that you cannot positively declare that your leg physically grew an inch in a moment (when the chemical interactions involved would literally make your leg burst into flames btw if they happened that fast, there’s a reason even the fastest-growing plants take days to grow a few inches).”It would be more accurate to say thatbecause it wasn’t documented, I don’t believe it happened.” Are you saying you don’t believe it happened?”Again, Inever claimed I could prove my experience. My reply about otherreligions is that if the God of the bible is true, then these othermiracles are demonic manifestations, or hallucinations. Demons are ableon a limited basis at certain times, to produce miracles as they didthrough the magicians in Egypt when Moses was also doing miracles fromGod.”You’re confusing a ridiculous claim with something that can be proven.  And no, exodus does not say demons performed miracles, it says the pharoah’s sorcerors did.  The bible talks of unicorns, angels, sorcerors, familiars, witches, wizards, necromancers etc as if they were real once.If you believe that they were you might as well watch harry potter as a documentary.

  25. agnophilo says:

    @musterion99 – You behave like every fantasy prone person I’ve ever met.  You not only frantically look for miracles in mundane events, but when given a simple explanation you vehemently refuse to even admit it’s even possible that the simpler, more logical explanation is true.

  26. @agnophilo – I’ve got one more reply in me. You can have the last word, if you want it. (I promise I’ll read it.) If, however, you insist that I address a particular point, I will. (That is to say I’m committed to being clear, if not to “winning” the argument.)”Actually I did in my response to you, though I said “my neighbor is the only person who does bad things” which is technically less perfect an analogy.  I did not include that premise in the original blog because I did not state my argument as a logical formula.”You admit that it’s a “technically less perfect analogy.” I think that that one technical point makes a big difference, for it fails to acknowledge that Christians deny “supernatural” agency to anyone other than Yahweh, and only thus are you able to bring other deities into the picture.While you didn’t state it in such an explicit manner in the OP, I think it is an accurate statement of your original construction of the analogy.”I think maybe you misunderstand what I mean.  I mean to say it is illogical because it cannot be supported, not that no one can say whether the idea is valid or not.”What I understood you to mean was that attributing “miracles” to a particular deity is problematic because the premises on which such an attribution rests are impossible to establish. (I agree with this much.)”Aren’t they synonyms?  And it sounded like you were saying “it’s valid because it would be valid if it were valid.”  I get that the statement is logical if you grant the premises but false because the premises are false.”As I understand it, an argument can be valid without being sound. A valid argument has internal coherence, but its premises might be incorrect, in which case it would not be sound (although still valid). In relation to the topic at hand, i.e., Christians attributing “miracles” to Yahweh, I would state that their reasoning is valid even though their premises are problematic/”impossible to establish” (which, incidentally, I would not state are necessarily false).”My point with the neighbor analogy is that you cannot “prove” that a being exists and effects your life by arbitrarily attributing whatever the hell you want to that being.  You need direct evidence that that being specifically was responsible for that specific thing.”I agree with you here.”What you are arguing is that there are some things only jehovah can do, and therefore if one of those things happens we know jehovah exists and did them.  But that is a faulty assumption. I can do the same by saying there are some things so deviant only my neighbor could do them, and so if one of them happens I know my neighbor is responsible.  You’re just re-framing an assumption so that it’s a conclusion based on other assumptions.  It’s just shuffling bullshit around to make it seem more plausible.”Yes, I agree that the argument you present here about jehovah begs the question. But that’s not what I’m arguing. (See the original statement, the one I never reversed.) And notice that your re-statement of the neighbor analogy has improved (only your neighbor could do them).So you agree that the problem with Christians attributing “miracles” to Yahweh is their problematic assumptions? That’s great, but your neighbor analogy, for the technical difference mentioned above, has a fundamentally different (yet still problematic) assumption. By switching one (problematic) assumption for another, your analogy has a significant deficiency. You may consider the assumptions equally problematic, but the Christians against whom you arguing don’t. (In this context, you couldn’t substitute as an assumption that, say, the earth is flat. You may consider it an equally illogical statement, but it would be misleading to apply it.) So your analogy significantly mis-characterizes them (in their eyes, if no one else’s), and it allows you to launch an amusing, but misguided attack against them. That seems unfair to me, and that’s why I replied in the first place.”If you raise your child to believe in any religion, no matter how weird or full of shit it is, they have a 1 in 11 chance of everbelieving anything else.  The premise that christianity is popular because believers are coerced (usually from birth, but historically by pain of death, torture, persecution, imprisonment, banishment etc in adulthood) is not dependent on that coercion being absolute and unalterable.”Isn’t this true of atheist upbringings, too? (Have I told you how hesitant I am to raise a child?)”Other discussion?”Yeah. It’s been a few months, I guess. We had a back-and-forth on SirNickDon’s site. It’s my turn to reply (as it has been for a long time). You have shamed me with your persistence.”And ironically in the US people are made to swear an oath on the bible which itself would be inadmissible in court as hearsay evidence, and certainly would not hold up under cross-examination.”Ironic only if you insist that the Bible has to be inerrant for it to contain the word of God. Ironically, only fundamentalists (Christian and other kinds) are of this opinion.”Why even bother with premises, conclusions and logic if one of your “un-breakable” premises is “none of my premises are bullshit”.  I mean isn’t that an assumed premise in any argument anyway?”I was asking you to suspend your disbelief for the sake of argument. I was arguing for the validity (according to meaning I delineated above) of their argument, not the accuracy of their premises.At times, I’m asking you suspend your disbelief for the sake of argument, and it seems to me that you think such suspension is tantamount to a concession. That’s why we had to argue about “supernatural” occurrences. Unless I’m mistaken, you don’t think such a thing is possible. Nevertheless, we can argue our other point and leave that issue for another post (which I imagine you’ve already written).”Are you a monotheist? : )”Yes. I also disapprove of the ownership of slaves and treating women like property, both of which are also ideas assumed in the Ten Commandments (see #10).

  27. musterion99 says:

    @agnophilo – You behave like every fantasy prone personI’ve ever met.  You not only frantically look for miracles in mundaneevents, but when given a simple explanation you vehemently refuse toeven admit it’s even possible that the simpler, more logical explanation is true.Thanks for putting words in my mouth. I never said your explanation was impossible. I said that I had back pain, saw that I had a short leg, was prayed for in Jesus’ name and I saw it grow out. And I believe that’s what happened. God did a miracle, which you obviously have no comprehension of. The very fact of God doing the miracle wouldn’t allow for it to burst into flames. Nice try. And you behave like every unbelieving atheist I know, which as I said, is to be expected. It’s not your fault. That’s your worldview. A world where miracles can’t happen.

  28. randaness says:

    @agnophilo – Interesting that you cannot see the relevancy. Ah, well, I wish you luck in your endeavors.

  29. ErinMcEwen says:

    Re: the list of deities, I wish more people would stop to think about it. It’s kind of funny how we turn up our noses and think, “Oh, those ancient people who believed in Zeus and all those Greek gods, they were so silly!” or something along those lines. What makes people think that their specific god is so undeniably, absolutely real, and not just another little cultural blob on the world’s timeline?

  30. @musterion99 – you’ve put ‘words in my mouth’ in just about every comment of yours and you did it again: “That’s your worldview. A world where miracles can’t happen.”My world view like agnophilo’s does not establish a priori that miracles can’t happen. Our world-view only acknowledges insufficient evidence or the complete lack of evidence for miracles (e.i. lack of evidence of phenomena that contradicts the laws of physics) and acknowledges alternative explanations for phenomena that is claimed or appears to be supernatural. See you at  Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

  31. agnophilo says:

    @stephenandginny – “So you agree that the problem with Christiansattributing “miracles” to Yahweh is their problematic assumptions?”Attributing miracles to yahweh itself is an assumption, or a conclusion based on problematic assumptions, yes.  To be fair I don’t think most wannabelievers put nearly as much thought into it as you suppose they do.  I think they desperately clamor to find anything they can attribute to god so they can fit in and feel loved and looked after like they did when they were a kid.I’ve heard so many delusional accounts of peoples’ “miracles”.  I mean I get people seeing the hand of god when their loved one is seemingly pulled back from the brink of death.  Don’t get me wrong it’s totally irrational, but I can understand how someone raised to believe things like that happen might be left with that impression in an emotional situation, and how it could be easily reinforced if they’re told to pray regularly and thank god for everything they receive etc.  But I’ve had people pretend completely mundane events like mild kindness from a friend are proof of the hand of god.”That’s great, but your neighbor analogy, for the technical differencementioned above, has a fundamentally different (yet still problematic)assumption. By switching one (problematic) assumption for another, youranalogy has a significant deficiency. You may consider the assumptionsequally problematic, but the Christians against whom you arguing don’t.”So let them argue.  “(In this context, you couldn’t substitute as an assumption that, say,the earth is flat. You may consider it an equally illogical statement,but it would be misleading to apply it.) So your analogysignificantly mis-characterizes them (in their eyes, if no one else’s),and it allows you to launch an amusing, but misguided attack againstthem. That seems unfair to me, and that’s why I replied in the firstplace.”I don’t think I was strawmanning christianity.  Bearing in mind christians are not homogeneous little clones, despite that being the general idea in most faiths.”Isn’t this true of atheist upbringings, too?” Yes and no.  I don’t know if the statistic would be the same, but certainly someone can be indoctrinated into atheism like anything else.  Most atheists I’ve ever known are vehemently against indoctrination of any kind.  I was mainly raised by an agnostic parent who I assumed was a non-practicing christian until I was 20 when I found out she was agnostic.  That’s how un-indoctrinated I was on the secular side.  That’s how I think it ought to work.  If my kid came to me someday and said “daddy I want to be christian” I wouldn’t tell them religion is bullshit and god isn’t real, I’d encourage them strongly to learn as much as possible about not just christianity but all religions and philosophies.  I think bitching religion education should be mandatory in public schools.  I also think reading the bible cover to cover for oneself is the best cure for christianity there is.But yeah I doubt that the statistics would work out the same for atheism because atheism is really a description of what you don’t believe, not a belief system.  Atheism has no doctrine, you’re not a “sinner” if you don’t conform, there’s no dogma, no monotonous rituals or high-energy group singing that lends itself to brainwashing, no threat from childhood of hellfire or rejection from heaven etc, etc.  No parent says they’re going to send their child to a sea of everlasting flame if they grow up to renounce richard dawkins, ya know?  So I don’t imagine it works out the same.But yeah, indoctrination is evil.”(Have I told you how hesitant I am to raise a child?)”That’s a good start.  Better than the people who raise them by the dozen without a second thought.  I remember a guy I talked to ages ago on myspace, really crazy religious dude, he had pictures in his profile of him “teaching” his kid to pray, he was literally making the kid pray as a toddler.  I just thought “poor kid”.”Yeah.It’s been a few months, I guess. We had a back-and-forth onSirNickDon’s site. It’s my turn to reply (as it has been for a longtime). You have shamed me with your persistence.”Sorry I don’t keep track, I just assume people will respond and I’ll get a notification.  I bet they ignore my posts all the time.  I know they ban me routinely.  “Ironic only if you insist that theBible has to be inerrant for it to contain the word of God.” No, nothing to do with that.  Ironic because people are made to swear in a court of law on a text that would be inadmissible in that same court.”Ironically,only fundamentalists (Christian and other kinds) are of this opinion.”Don’t know how that’s ironic : )  But it’s true.”I was askingyou to suspend your disbelief for the sake of argument. I was arguingfor the validity (according to meaning I delineated above) of theirargument, not the accuracy of their premises.”Granted that ages ago.”At times, I’m askingyou suspend your disbelief for the sake of argument, and it seems to methat you think such suspension is tantamount to a concession. That’swhy we had to argue about “supernatural” occurrences. Unless I’mmistaken, you don’t think such a thing is possible.” No, I think such a thing is muddled and un-defined and therefore is too meaningless as a concept to be called possible or impossible.  Terms must be clearly defined for sentences to have any substance.  When you talk about a “miracle” performed by a “supernatural” being without specifying wtf those terms mean you are talking about a “???????” performed by a “???????” being, and that is gibberish.So do I think “???????” is impossible?  It’s not even a question.”Nevertheless, wecan argue our other point and leave that issue for another post (whichI imagine you’ve already written).”Nah, slow week. : )”Yes.I also disapprove of the ownership of slaves and treating women likeproperty, both of which are also ideas assumed in the Ten Commandments(see #10).”Yes, they are.  And I know about the slavery bits in the keep holy the sabbath one already.That’s an odd way to qualify your answer to the question “are you a monotheist?” : )”Yes and I don’t believe in raping orphans either!”

  32. agnophilo says:

    @musterion99 – You’re a condescending, closed minded, sterotyping lunatic.  Good luck with that.@ErinMcEwen – The short answer: Indoctrination.You reminded me of the line “we ignore the obvious right in front of us and 2,000 years from now people gon be makin’ fun of us” from this.

  33. Mangonese says:

    I have never made the mistake of announcing that my deity is real based on scientifically proven fact, nor will I ever pull the wool over my own eyes and convince myself to do so.I don’t believe my god is real. I have faith that it is. I think the difference is that people who believe in something follow blindly. People who have faith believe in the possibility.

  34. randaness says:

    @Mangonese – Hi! *returns thumbs up*

  35. agnophilo says:

    @Mangonese – What’s the difference?  Define the terms believe and “faith” as you use them.  The general definition of faith is belief without evidence, so I’m confused.

  36. Mangonese says:

    @agnophilo – I’m talking my general concept and the personal connotations I put on each word, which is why I explained it, and already defined them as I use them.You’re quite the confrontational person.

  37. agnophilo says:

    @Mangonese – No, you didn’t define them.  And it’s not confrontational to ask someone to clarify what they mean.

  38. Faith is not about proving what is real, it is about belief, but I do believe their is evidence of God’s handiwork everywhere…It is not about what I see though it is about how my life has been changed, and I firmly believe that God is a miracle working God, because I am still hereIn Christs LoveMichelle~

  39. agnophilo says:

    @Michellereneewrites4Christ – So then by that criteria do all the believers that get hit by buses disprove the existence of god?  Faith isn’t logical, it’s deciding to believe something because it consoles you, or because you’ve been told you have to believe it or you’re supposed to.From reading a few of your blogs I can see that you’ve had pain and tragedy and loneliness in your life, and I understand the appeal a relationship with a personal god who loves you and won’t ever let you down might have.  I just don’t think it’s real.I’m sorry, but if I were in your place I’d want someone to suggest that to me.Whatever you believe as you go on in life, I hope you can have faith in god and find other people you can have some faith in, as well as having faith in yourself and your own strengths and abilities.

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