Tom Caylor writes:

> > But it's not a mistake to assume a magical Daddy in the sky who'll torture 
> > you in hell if you don't flatter him?  Lewis must have enjoyed this 
> > arrogant view of his own perception that could point to the mistakes of 
> > strawmen he invented for the purpose.
> 
> I don't know the names of the fallacies.  My brother has a law degree,
> but my mathematical mind can at least recognize a fallacy when I smell
> one.  So here's an analogy.  The laws of physics etc. that we deduce
> from empirical data give us models with which we can predict the
> behavior of "nature" (being defined by that which we can predict).  It
> is like we deduce that all of nature is like rolling hills of grass.
> Perhaps we aren't able to predict the grass down at the blade-by-blade
> level, but we've come up with probabilitistic models that predict the
> statistics of the blades (a la quantum mechanics).  Now we can imagine,
> and we've been told stories, that there is such a thing as a forest,
> made up of trees.  Based on our grass behavior models, we conclude that
> such a thing is impossible, and therefore does not exist.  Why, a pine
> tree going up instantaneously 100 feet just defies all of our grass
> behavior models, producing impossible singularities.  But then someone
> comes along and says, let's have an open mind and admit that it's
> possible that our grass models don't fit the entire reality, and it's a
> mistake to forever be decided otherwise.  Perhaps every once in a while
> there really is a forest, even though we can't predict where these
> forests are.  Perhaps people in the past have actually seen these
> forests and passed on the word that they exist.  Then your torturing
> magical Daddy argument would be like saying, "But surely there can't be
> forests, because it would be a mistake to assume the existence of a
> torturing magical Daddy unicorn tree."
> 
> Tom

The problem with religious beliefs is not that they are bizarre (after all, 
many 
scientific theories at first glance are just as bizarre) but that there is no 
reasonable 
basis for deciding whether they are true. People usually choose religious 
beliefs because 
they would like them to be true or because their parents brought them up that 
way. 
It may be interesting to know if a religious belief makes a person happy, has 
inpired 
good deeds or great art, and so on, but the specific question I want answered 
is whether 
it is true. For example, it is true that the smallpox virus causes a severe 
illness which has 
killed million of people over the centuries, and this is true regardless of 
whether it is good, 
bad, interesting or whatever. I would like to know whether it is the case that 
Jesus rose from 
his tomb after being crucified or Athena sprang from Zeus' head after 
Hephaestus struck it 
with an axe, and I would like to know this independently of whether it makes an 
interesting 
or inspiring story.

Stathis Papaioannou
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