Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> Brent Meeker writes:
>>> It's also possible that God intervenes all the time in a
>>> perfectly consistent manner to sustain natural laws, such that if
>>> he stopped doing so the whole universe would instantly
>>> disintegrate.
>> That's possible, but then he's a deist God.  He doesn't do miracles
>> in response to prayer.  It seems to me there's a contradiction
>> between "intervenes" and "prefectly consistent".  There's no more
>> reason to believe that the universe needs "sustaining" than to
>> believe there's a teapot orbiting Jupiter.
> A deist God does not intervene once the universe is set in motion.
> But one can imagine for example a gravity god, who pushes matter
> around in a perfectly consistent way so as to give the impression of
> natural laws. If he stopped doing his thing, stars would explode and
> the universe would fall apart. It's only because the gravity god is
> very conscientious in his work that we don't notice he is constantly
> performing miracles. 

Or we could just denominate him "the law of gravity".  But notice that the god 
theory of gravity is in trouble with black holes and gravity waves.

>Of course, there is no more reason to believe in
> the gravity god than there is to believe in any other kind of god,
> but at the same time it is not possible to be rigidly atheistic about
> the gravity god just as it is not possible to be rigidly atheistic
> about Zeus or Thor.

I think we're just parsing words.  I'm saying atheist=(not a theist). I don't 
know what you mean by "rigidly atheistic".  I'm equally confident, and equally 
uncertain, in my belief that there is no God of the theist type and there is no 
Santa Claus.
>>> This would make it seem as if God either does not exist or, if he
>>> does, he is a deist, whereas in fact he is a theist. The problem
>>> with this idea, and for that matter with deism, is that it is
>>> empty of explanatory value. Ironically perhaps, it is
>>> God-as-miracle-worker which comes closest to a legitimate
>>> scientific theory, albeit one without any supporting evidence in
>>> its favour.
>> If it's lawlike it ain't a miracle.  Deism was a common position
>> that come out of the Enlightenment.  It comported perfectly with a
>> Newtonian, clockwork universe.  It avoided the problem of evil.
>> Franklin, Paine, and Jefferson were deists.  But it fits well with
>> scientific models because it does nothing.
> Good old-fashioned miracles are not lawlike, which is what makes them
> subject to empirical verification. If God is a Protestant, then an
> examination of a list of lottery ticket winners or people with
> serious illnesses should show that Protestants are statistically more
> likely to have their prayers answered than Catholics, Muslims or
> atheists (who wish for things, even if they don't actually pray). If
> not, then either God is not a Protestant or there is no point in
> praying for anything even if you and he are both Protestants. And yet
> I doubt that there are any Protestants, Catholics or Muslims who be
> at all perturbed by the findings of such a study, or countless other
> possible studies or experiments. 

That's because for hundreds, if not thousands, of years their theologians have 
had to explain why their God is invisible, unnoticable, incompehensible, and 
undetectable.  So a null experimental outcome, like the recent studies of the 
efficacy of healing prayer, is ho-hum.  But suppose it had gone the other way.  
Suppose prayer was shown to be statistically efficaous and further that only 
Protestant prayer was efficaous.  It would be trumpeted to the roof tops by the 
Protestants and spread consturnation among the competing religions.

>This cannot be explained away by
> "faith" in the sense that one can have faith in the gravity god or a
> deist god (because no empirical finding counts for or against such
> beliefs): rather, it comes down to a matter of simultaneously
> believing x and not-x.
Seems like "faith" to me - belief without or contrary to evidence.  What is the 
"x" you refer to?

Brent Meeker 

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