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Arguments for the existence of God

For topics that are more about faith, religion and religious organisations than anything else.
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animist
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#101 Postby animist » September 19th, 2010, 5:56 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

mickeyd wrote:Hi Maria,

“This argument only works if one accepts the implied premise that 'existence' is a defining property of 'absoluteness'…. the dictionary definitions for 'absolute' you've copied don't include the word 'exist' nor any of its derivatives”

An absolute being is defined, in the English dictionary, as a being having no restriction, exception or qualification. Then it cannot have any ontological restriction, exception or qualification. But if it existed only as an idea, it would be ontologically restricted and qualified. Therefore existence beyond idea is a defining property of absoluteness. Therefore the argument works as you acknowledge above.


Regards,

Mickeyd

To reinforce what Maria has already said, EXISTENCE IS NOT A PREDICATE. Therefore you cannot argue from the dictionary definition of the PREDICATE "absolute" to the ontological status of existence.

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#102 Postby animist » September 19th, 2010, 6:28 pm

mickeyd wrote:Hi Maria,

Re my post which puts the ontological argument into step-form, yes Step 3 should read “Put steps 1 and 2 together”, I made a minor mistake with the numbering.



“However, atheists' "conception" of God is merely their understanding of God-believers' conception of God”

I find it strange that you think you’re conception of God is dissimilar to mine. Do you use the English dictionary? So do I. Further, do you think our present conversation on the subject is meaningful? If you do then clearly there cannot be any significant difference in our understanding of the word “God”. If you don’t then why do you bother to engage in a futile exercise? Surely you must have something better to do with your time and energy.



“With my mind I believe leprechauns exist but because I believe they exist merely with my mind, I therefore do not believe with my mind that they exist.”

Precisely! The contradiction remains which is exactly my point. The notion of leprechauns is used to show that logic tests the form of arguments not their contents (material import); the notion shows an argument can have false premises but still be logically valid. Someone might ask, “if an argument can be formally true but materially false, then what’s the point of logic?” It’s value comes from the fact that an argument cannot be materially true but formally false, since if it was formally (logically) false it would be contradictory and therefore unintelligible; it wouldn’t be an argument at all. So logic underpins all knowing.

However, you’re appeal to the leprechaun notion is irrelevant to our present controversy, because it is precisely the form of your argument that I am criticising. This is why we can substitute leprechauns into your objection (as you have above) and the contradiction remains:

1. With my mind I believe that leprechauns exist

2. Because I believe merely with my mind that leprechauns exist, therefore with my mind I do not believe that leprechauns exist

Step 2 still contradicts step 1. Your objection is formally false; and since nothing can be formally false and materially true, your objection is also materially false.




“there is no demonstrable evidence of an "absolute being",”

The ontological proof shows evidence that could be neither more demonstrable nor more immediate, since it resides in our rationality, the constitution of the mind. If you say you can conceive of an absolute being not being, then you’re not conceiving of an absolute being:

absolute: “having no restriction, exception, or qualification” (Merriam-Webster)

absolute: “complete, perfect, unrestricted, independent, unqualified, unconditional” (Oxford Dictionary)

Regards,

Mickey

you are so arrogant, as well as ignorant - how dare you patronise people in this way about how they spend their time! (I

will probably get into trouble again with Maria for being intemperate, even though it is she who you patronised). Anyway,

what you say is barely comprehensible, but at least I can say that you are wrong to call arguments right or wrong -

arguments are valid or invalid, it is premises and conclusions which are right or wrong, ie true or false. Please explain

EXACTLY what you mean about material and formal correctness/incorrectness. Re conceptions of God varying - please understand that dictionary definitions, though useful and often essential, are distillations of all sort of complex usages and therefore that widely different conceptions of God are inevitable. To reinforce what Maria has already said, EXISTENCE IS NOT A PREDICATE. Therefore you cannot argue from the dictionary definition of the PREDICATE "absolute" to the ontological status of existence.

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#103 Postby mickeyd » September 19th, 2010, 7:03 pm

Hi everyone,

Consider the statement: No conclusion is absolutely certain. This statement is true if and only if for any and every conclusion its opposite is possible.

So for every C below its not-C is possible:

C: chocolate melts in a fire
not-C: chocolate does not melt in a fire

C: torturing babies is wrong
not-C: torturing babies is right

C: I am reading mickeyd's post
not C: I am not reading mickeyd's post

and so on.

This is why it is inconceivable that no conclusion can be absolutely certain. And what cannot be conceived cannot be believed.

The epistemological implications of this issue are profound and so it needs to be nailed down. There are three non-negotiables that are essential to all life and knowledge:

1. The law of non-contradiction (A cannot be A and not-A at the same time and in the same sense)

2. The law of causality (every event must have a real, efficient and adequate cause), which is an axiomatic corollary of the law of non-contradiction.

3. The basic reliability of sense perception

It doesn't take a lot of thought to realise that when any or all of these assumptions are denied we end up in self-stultifying absurdity. Try it out for yourself. For example:

A: Atheism is true
B: Atheism can be true and untrue at the same time and in the same sense

If you accept B, then A is a non-statement. If you reject B, then you think the law of non-contradiction applies.

Consider:

A: I am an atheist
B: It is possible there is no cause for my belief in atheism

If you accept B, then you think it possible that you have no reason whatsoever for your belief in atheism. (But then why not disbelieve it? If you’re next thought begins with “Because…” then you’re proving my argument.) If, alternatively, you reject B, then you accept that the law of causality applies.

Consider:

A: People are willing to drive vehicles because they believe they can distinguish between the brake pedal and the accelerator pedal.
B: Sense perception is not basically reliable

If we accepted B, then none of us would be willing to drive a vehicle. If we reject B we affirm the basic reliability of sense perception.

One could multiply these examples ad infinitum.


The theistic proofs are simply the outworking of these non-negotiables, and so whenever the proofs are attacked, it is always by an arbitrary, forced and subjective denial of one or more of these non-negotiables.

See how this works out to arrive at the cosmological proof.

1. The three non-negotiables allow realities outside of the mind to be sensed and perceived in the mind.

2. The mind as constituted by the laws of non-contradiction and causality cannot believe that the realities perceived in step 1 came from nothing, because the laws require that nothing cannot be something and nothing at the same time and in the same sense, (non-entity cannot act causally, indeed cannot act at all).

3. The mind then concludes that if something exists something must always have existed (from steps 1 and 2: something exists, something cannot come from nothing).

4. The question arises, could there be an infinite regress of causes and effects? No, because this itself would be without cause, and the law of causality (and therefore the mind constituted by it) requires cause. The mind is always compelled to ask, Why?

5. The compelling requirement to search for why something exists rather than not, arises from the question of whether or not the essence of the something (what it is) is distinguishable from its existence (that it is). Take a human being: does its essence imply its existence? Can we say that what we are means we must exist? No because we are temporal entities.

6. We then reason that any sense-perceived entity for which essence does not imply existence requires a cause of its existence outside of itself. Obviously its ultimate cause cannot be another entity with the same property, because that entity would in turn require a cause outside of itself. This line of thinking would only take us to the infinite regress which the mind has already rejected.

7. We must conclude, after having considered all other options, that the only efficient, adequate and final cause must be an entity whose essence and existence are identical, whose nature is simply ‘to be’. This is the cosmological proof.



Regards,
Mickeyd

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#104 Postby animist » September 19th, 2010, 7:13 pm

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#105 Postby Maria Mac » September 19th, 2010, 7:40 pm

animist, if you can't help but be 'intemperate' in your responses, just stay out of the thread.

I'm not bothered about being patronised but I am bothered when posters start slinging personal insults about.

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#106 Postby animist » September 19th, 2010, 8:00 pm

Maria wrote:animist, if you can't help but be 'intemperate' in your responses, just stay out of the thread.

I'm not bothered about being patronised but I am bothered when posters start slinging personal insults about.

ok, sorry again, but I just do not understand what he is up to. He did not reply to any posts and just introduced new meaningless stuff. I have to stick with my opinions, but I undertake to be more careful in expressing them.

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#107 Postby Lifelinking » September 19th, 2010, 8:21 pm

Pretty clear Mickeyd is a Troll. You have more chance of Pope Benedict sanctioning women priests and signing up to do durex adverts than getting a straight answer or a decent argument from him/her. :)
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#108 Postby Alan C. » September 19th, 2010, 8:34 pm

animist
O.k, sorry again, but I just do not understand what he is up to. He did not reply to any posts and just introduced new meaningless stuff.
That's what they [Christians] always do when they come here :shrug: They don't have any real arguments, so just copy paste nonsense from elsewhere.
You can't debate them so best to just ignore them.

Mickeyd, if you're still around, how many "souls" do you think you've saved here? Don't you think you're on a kind of mission impossible? Don't you have anything better to do with your one short life?
So many questions.........So little time :smile:

Cross posting with L.
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#109 Postby mickeyd » September 19th, 2010, 9:32 pm

Hi Lord Muck of Gentry,

You’ve argued that Copleston not Russell invoked the notion of an infinite regress. I disagree because when Russell posits an uncaused total reality this implies that reality has no beginning – unless you believe, as Russell must, that something can come from nothing, but I reject this as literally inconceivable and therefore unbelievable, whether by Russell or anyone else.

B.Russell (BR): “The whole concept of cause is one we derive from our observation of particular things; I see no reason whatsoever to suppose that the total has any cause whatsoever.”

It’s striking that Russell’s rejection of the law of causality (in this case applied to the whole of reality) is itself based on the law of causality: “I see no reason…”. And as I observed in my first post, if Russell really believed that the whole was causeless (self-existent) then he should be a pantheist – but he’s not.

BR: “The whole concept of cause is one we derive from our observation of particular things…”

On the contrary, without assuming a priori the law of causality, we could have no knowledge of particulars or univerals. If events really were causeless then no basis would exist for differentiating and relating the different parts of reality. At the moment of observation the observer could cease to exist, since if all events are causeless, there is no cause to prevent spontaneous non-existence. And if all of reality consists of these absurdities then we are left with nothing but an incoherent blob. In fact not even that, because the incoherent blob could spontaneously cease to exist; and then spontaneously exist again, in fact it could oscillate between existence and non-existence at a rate faster then human sensory-perception could observe, in which case we couldn't even observe our own oscillating 'existence'.


I also disagree that Copleston committed the fallacy of composition. The fallacy is not necessary merely from the fact of arguing that the whole shares a property in common with a part. For example, if every part of a chess set is made of glass, is not the whole made of glass? This is why Copleston elsewhere points out that if you add up chocolates to infinity you get an infinity of chocolate, not a sheep; and similarly, if you add up contingent beings to infinity you still get contingent beings, not a necessary being.

Regards,
Mickeyd

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#110 Postby Alan C. » September 19th, 2010, 10:10 pm

Mickeyd, why don't you start addressing some of the questions put to you, rather than going off on yet another tangent? Is it because you can't? [Address the questions?]
I think so.
Either start answering questions or go away in short sharp jerks as animist suggested, as it is now;you are contributing nothing meaningful and are merely wasting our (or at least my) time.

It never ceases to amaze me the mental hoops you godbotherers will jump through to try and justify your "beliefs"

Proof Mickey! We're still waiting for some.

Bless :smile:
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#111 Postby mickeyd » September 19th, 2010, 10:53 pm

Alan C,

With respect, I've barely read anything from you that I don't consider to be superficial, partly or entirely incoherent, partly or entirely abusive, soundoffs. If you're willing to engage in considered, structured, intelligible argumentation then I'm always willing to engage with you. The same goes for animist and other similar posters. That's all I've got to say on the subject.

Mickeyd

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#112 Postby animist » September 20th, 2010, 8:04 am

mickeyd wrote:Alan C,

With respect, I've barely read anything from you that I don't consider to be superficial, partly or entirely incoherent, partly or entirely abusive, soundoffs. If you're willing to engage in considered, structured, intelligible argumentation then I'm always willing to engage with you. The same goes for animist and other similar posters. That's all I've got to say on the subject.

Mickeyd

that is not true, Mickeyd, though I must apologise to you more openly for some things that I have said. There are several posts from me awaiting your reply which are brief and to the point. Best wishes.

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#113 Postby animist » September 20th, 2010, 8:14 am

mickeyd wrote:Hi Lord Muck of Gentry,

You’ve argued that Copleston not Russell invoked the notion of an infinite regress. I disagree because when Russell posits an uncaused total reality this implies that reality has no beginning – unless you believe, as Russell must, that something can come from nothing, but I reject this as literally inconceivable and therefore unbelievable, whether by Russell or anyone else.

B.Russell (BR): “The whole concept of cause is one we derive from our observation of particular things; I see no reason whatsoever to suppose that the total has any cause whatsoever.”

It’s striking that Russell’s rejection of the law of causality (in this case applied to the whole of reality) is itself based on the law of causality: “I see no reason…”. And as I observed in my first post, if Russell really believed that the whole was causeless (self-existent) then he should be a pantheist – but he’s not.

BR: “The whole concept of cause is one we derive from our observation of particular things…”

On the contrary, without assuming a priori the law of causality, we could have no knowledge of particulars or univerals. If events really were causeless then no basis would exist for differentiating and relating the different parts of reality. At the moment of observation the observer could cease to exist, since if all events are causeless, there is no cause to prevent spontaneous non-existence. And if all of reality consists of these absurdities then we are left with nothing but an incoherent blob. In fact not even that, because the incoherent blob could spontaneously cease to exist; and then spontaneously exist again, in fact it could oscillate between existence and non-existence at a rate faster then human sensory-perception could observe, in which case we couldn't even observe our own oscillating 'existence'.


I also disagree that Copleston committed the fallacy of composition. The fallacy is not necessary merely from the fact of arguing that the whole shares a property in common with a part. For example, if every part of a chess set is made of glass, is not the whole made of glass? This is why Copleston elsewhere points out that if you add up chocolates to infinity you get an infinity of chocolate, not a sheep; and similarly, if you add up contingent beings to infinity you still get contingent beings, not a necessary being.

Regards,
Mickeyd

couple of quickies - a reason is not the same as a cause so your argument re Russell fails, and the glass chess set simply shows that not EVERYTHING involves the fallacy of composition - who said it did?

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#114 Postby animist » September 20th, 2010, 8:19 am

Alan C. wrote:
animist
O.k, sorry again, but I just do not understand what he is up to. He did not reply to any posts and just introduced new meaningless stuff.
That's what they [Christians] always do when they come here :shrug: They don't have any real arguments, so just copy paste nonsense from elsewhere.
You can't debate them so best to just ignore them.

Mickeyd, if you're still around, how many "souls" do you think you've saved here? Don't you think you're on a kind of mission impossible? Don't you have anything better to do with your one short life?
So many questions.........So little time :smile:

Cross posting with L.

I don't have your certainty about what is right, Alan, so I claw away at someone with radically different opinions (I went thru a brief period of Xian belief while at university).

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#115 Postby Paolo » September 20th, 2010, 8:19 am

Mickeyd, my post was addressing the validity (or otherwise) of your a priori assumptions. Perhaps if you refrained from copy-pasting large tracts of text and going off on a tangent when someone raises an objection to your rationale, it would be easier for us to engage in useful discussion. Keep it short, keep it to the point and actually listen to what's said and it's a better experience for everyone. That's certainly what I've learned from my activities here.

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#116 Postby animist » September 20th, 2010, 10:57 am

mickeyd wrote:Hi Matthew,

Re. the MA: If the first syllogism proves the existence of God then we're done, God exists. That's what proof means. You cannot then have another syllogism which disproves God's existence. There is no tertium quid, existence and non-existence are contraries. Therefore the second syllogism must involve epistemological and/or formal and/or factual errors, and/or psychological prejudice.



Re: ontological proof:

Definitions:

absolute: free from restriction, exception, qualification
being: something that actually exists
(Merriam Webster)

Combine:

absolute being: unrestricted, un-excepted, unqualified, existent something

Proof:

(P1) We can think of an absolute being (via negation)
(P2) We cannot think of an absolute being not existing (because contradictory)
(P3) Thinking is prior to believing, because we cannot believe what we have not first thought is to be believed (Augustine)
(C) We cannot believe in the non-existence of an absolute being

Kant objected that existence is not a predicate: existence adds nothing to what is absolute because absoluteness already implies existence. But this is precisely the point that makes the proof: it is because absoluteness implies existence that it must exist. So in one sense Kant is right (in his analysis) but in another sense wrong (in his conclusion). Of course existence cannot add anything to God because God is Existence, Total Existence. The proof doesn’t add the property of existence to God, it observes God as necessary existence – and then draws the only logically valid conclusion, namely, that we cannot observe necessary existence and say “it does not exist.”

As I understand it, Kant also objected that the concept of an absolute being is unintelligible, in part because it is merely definitional and therefore cannot be regarded as a concept of any thing (de dicto not de re). But I think this amounts to saying that the words “necessary”, “infinite”, “absolute” etc should be struck out of the dictionary. Sure we can’t understand their meanings directly but the words “contingent”, “finite” and “relative” are meaningless apart from their opposites. So these would have to be struck out of the dictionary also. If two concepts relate as contraries, and one of them is unintelligible, then so is the other.

Kant strikes me, in his objection to premise (1) above, as a radical agnostic. Most atheists, when pressed, eventually resort to some form of agnosticism, but it’s merely a delaying tactic, and the more radical the agnosticism the shorter the delay. It involves, essentially, substituting God in the argument with “unknowable”. But of course if “unknowable” ‘is’ totally unknowable, then not even unknowability could be predicated of it. Indeed, it wouldn’t even have crossed the mind, never mind be spoken by the mouth! Radical agnosticism is inescapably mired in contradiction.


Regards,
Mickey


Trying to get some "order" into this post - for someone who seemed in the initial outpouring to be obsessed with order vs. disorder, your own thoughts leave much to be desired in this respect. To start with, I think Matthew's syllogisms were just meant as examples, not that he was holding both arguments to be valid simultaneously. Next, I know I am repeating myself, but absoluteness does not imply existence - there are absolute rulers who did not exist because they were imaginary. Your ignorance of the English language is demonstrated when you argue that if, "absolute being" is unintelligible, words like "absolute" should be struck out of dictionary - well, we use individual words to form concepts, and individual words may have meaning even if the concepts formed do not. Lastly for now, I don't know what you are on about re atheists vs. agnostics; it does not relate to anything else, and you might be interested in the thread "Atheism versus agnosticism" in TH.

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#117 Postby mickeyd » September 20th, 2010, 12:39 pm

Hi animist,

a reason is not the same as a cause


I disagree, both analytically and in the context of the Russell-Copleston debate.

BR: “The whole concept of cause is one we derive from our observation of particular things; I see no reason whatsoever to suppose that the total has any cause whatsoever.”

When he uses the word “reason” he obviously means that he sees no cause for him to believe that the sum of reality has a cause. What else could he mean?

The problem he’s got then is that whilst clearly accepting causality in respect of his own beliefs he then denies it in respect of his belief about the sum of reality. If he sees no cause to believe that total reality has a cause, then by his own premise he shouldn’t believe that it has no cause – because he’s already revealed that his beliefs are causally determined. Russell’s position is therefore self-refuting. No-one can, with logically consistency, say “I see no reason to … suppose…” and in the same breath articulate a belief that something can exist without a reason.

Regards,
Mickeyd

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#118 Postby mickeyd » September 20th, 2010, 3:00 pm

Hi everyone,

To state with clarity what's wrong with Bertrand Russell's position:

Analysis of his debate with Copleston reveals his argument to be:

P1: I only believe what I see a reason to believe
P2: I see a reason why there is no reason for the universe to exist
C: I believe the universe has no reason to exist

Critique:

P2 is self-refuting, because Russell claims to see a reason for no reason ('reasonlessness'), which is a contradiction in terms. How can there be a reason for no reason ('reasonlessness')? In respect of reason (cause), reasonlessness is entirely 'outside'. Manifestly, no entity or phenomena to which a property is inapplicable can have that property attributed to it.

Since P2 is false then so is C.

Regards,
Mickey

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#119 Postby Nick » September 20th, 2010, 3:59 pm

Hi Mickey, I've got to catch up on a earlier exchange with you, but a comment on your most recent. I have not read or listened too the Russell/Coplestone exchange for a long time, so you may be able to correct me from the text, but surely Russell is saying "I can see how it could be, that there is no reason for the universe's existence". That is not the same as saying there is "a reason for no reason", where the seeming contradiction is surely just linguistic.

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#120 Postby animist » September 20th, 2010, 5:06 pm

mickeyd wrote:Hi animist,

a reason is not the same as a cause


I disagree, both analytically and in the context of the Russell-Copleston debate.

BR: “The whole concept of cause is one we derive from our observation of particular things; I see no reason whatsoever to suppose that the total has any cause whatsoever.”

When he uses the word “reason” he obviously means that he sees no cause for him to believe that the sum of reality has a cause. What else could he mean?

The problem he’s got then is that whilst clearly accepting causality in respect of his own beliefs he then denies it in respect of his belief about the sum of reality. If he sees no cause to believe that total reality has a cause, then by his own premise he shouldn’t believe that it has no cause – because he’s already revealed that his beliefs are causally determined. Russell’s position is therefore self-refuting. No-one can, with logically consistency, say “I see no reason to … suppose…” and in the same breath articulate a belief that something can exist without a reason.

Regards,
Mickeyd
oh dear, and well done mickeyd - I am not being sarcastic or patronising (I hope) and again I apologise for my unfriendliness at the start, but you are a bit hard to take, which is why is it is good to have you around. You have sort of answered what I said, yet you are still wrong. What you say reminds me yet again of the dictum of that fantastic cynical philosopher Thomas Hobbes: "Words are the counters of wise men but the currency of fools". As I have said to you before, dictionary definitions of words are often useful/vital, but they cannot cope with the hugely complex way in which words are used. I said that reasons are not the same as causes, and that is the case: they are not exact synonyms, but they can sometimes be synonyms. "The reason for this" can often mean "the cause of this", but whereas causes refer strictly to causation, which is the mechanical sequence of cause and effect that we see in daily life and nature, reason has an altogether more complex domain, and it is this distinctive usage of reason that Russell is using - he means justification. He is not talking about the causation going on in his own mind, but about reasonable, ie logical, behaviour and inferences. Does this make sense?

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#121 Postby Alan C. » September 20th, 2010, 6:53 pm

Mickyd
With respect, I've barely read anything from you that I don't consider to be superficial, partly or entirely incoherent, partly or entirely abusive, soundoffs.
Calling me incoherent :smile: You don't do irony then?
If you're willing to engage in considered, structured, intelligible argumentation then I'm always willing to engage with you.
I can't take a serious part in a discussion titled "arguments for the existence of god" (small g) as there are non,
I could copy paste some long tracts from the sceptics annotated bible if you like?
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.


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