Creationist Wisdom #491: Belief Equals Truth

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Daily News of Jacksonville, North Carolina. It’s titled Answers are found in text of the Bible. There’s a comments section at the end, with no comments at the moment.

Today’s writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, so we won’t use his full name. His first name is Jesse. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis.

Jesse is writing about several earlier letters in that newspaper. The last one appeared in June, written by a fellow who was criticizing several letters by someone who was obviously a creationist. Now Jesse is jumping in to defend the creationist. His letter is a bit tangled because it keeps referring to the earlier ones, but we’ll try to keep everything straight. Here we go!

This letter responds to a letter written by Neil Nissenbaum that was published in the June 9 edition of The Daily News headlined, “In the Bible, there is more to the story.” In that letter, Nissenbaum’s was responding to several letters written by Gene Poore. I haven’t read Poore’s letters and I don’t know either Nissenbaum or Poore.

Nissenbaum says that the second Poore letter was about “intelligent design,” which Nissenbaum referred to as an “epic failure.” He also states that all gods and holy books are man-made, thus making man the designer and maker of this world.

We found the Nissenbaum letter: In the Bible, there is more to the story. It’s an interesting read, but Jesse seems to have mangled it badly. Nissenbaum said that Poore’s letter about intelligent design was an “epic failure,” and nowhere does Nissenbaum say that man is “the designer and maker of this world.” Instead he wrote: “Who designed the designer? Since all gods and holy books are man-made, man is the designer.”

Nissenbaum is clearly answering his own question by saying that man is the designer of the designer. Jesse is arguing about things that weren’t said, so he’s off to a brilliant start. Then, refuting a claim that exists only in his own mind, he tells us:

Now, we all know, because of the way everything works, the sun rises and sets, the seasons come and go, the tide comes in and goes out with clock-like precision, year after year. All of this occurs without man’s help; yet I believe someone is in control making it all work and this someone must be of superior intelligence far beyond what the human mind can conceive. This someone is the one I call God. My question to Nissenbaum is this: Who is the man who has made everything as we know it?

[*Groan*] Nissenbaum said only that man created the concept of a designer — not that he created the sun, the seasons, and the tides. Let’s read on:

We all know — Poore, Nissenbaum, everyone else and I — this world was not made by man yet it is here. We are all here, we are all going to leave here and leave everything here and it will still be here unless the Lord ends it.

[…]

Apparently in Poore’s third letter, he states that there are billions of people who believe in Jesus so He must be God. Nissenbaum in his critique says believing does not always make it true. … Being saved and born by the spirit of God into the Kingdom of God, all of those billions of people can, as Poore and I can, say the Bible is true and God is very real and the Lord Jesus Christ is His son and died to forgive us of our sins. [Bible quote.] There are literally billions of people who know it is true.

Nissenbaum had also said that “Many believed the earth was flat..” Jesse ignores that, and insists that believing something does make it true. He concludes his letter with this:

The answer to Nissenbaum’s doubt, fears unbelief and skepticism is still in reading and studying the Bible. I also believe Nissenbaum believes and just needs to search for the answers. They are in the Word of God — billions of people can say it is true and it is.

So there you are. Jesse has the answer to your doubts, fears, and unbelief. Ignore his advice at your peril.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

17 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #491: Belief Equals Truth

  1. Jesse shows such a talent for textual analysis! Curmudgeon, please do leave a comment for him, thanking him for contributing such a gem to your collection, which all your readers are enjoying, although not perhaps in the way he meant them to.

  2. “I also believe Nissenbaum believes and just needs to search for the answers.”

    I love it when fundies help others decide what their real faith is.

  3. Ah Jessie, there may indeed be billions of people who think the stuff about your favorite sky fairy is true. As you may know, there are also billions of people who think stuff about other sky fairies is true. However, as far as I know, none of those billions of people have ever produced any evidence that what they think is true actually is. Get back to us when you’ve got some data.

  4. My friend and colleague Daniel Silliman has written: “Scientific evidence ultimately appeals only to empirically observable facts and thus is the only sort of evidence there is, is a form of logical positivism that holds that a statement is only meaningful if it can be verified empirically. By that standard, though, the statement “a statement is only meaningful if it can be verified empirically” is not meaningful, since it cannot itself be verified empirically. The verification standard can’t be verified by its standard. There’s no test that could be run, no observation one could make, no measuring that one could do that would show whether or not the statement about meaningful statements is a meaningful statement.”
    This leads me to the question of whether or not there is such a thing as idiotypic “truth” – e.g. something that I personally hold to be true without any empirical evidence to convince anyone else of such a truth.

  5. Douglas E says: “The verification standard can’t be verified by its standard.”

    Think of it as an axiom. It’s accepted because it works. Deny it if you like, but if you don’t rely on verifiable evidence, then what have you got?

  6. Fair enough – but something like opinion is often not based on verifiable evidence but is held as true by the opinion-holder. I am not talking about opinions that can easily be shown to be false, but rather subjective opinions……e.g. jazz is not real music 🙂

  7. Douglas E says: “I am not talking about opinions that can easily be shown to be false, but rather subjective opinions”

    A personal value judgment — such as whether you like something — is outside the scope of science.

  8. Now, we all know, because of the way everything works, the sun rises and sets, the seasons come and go, the tide comes in and goes out with clock-like precision, year after year. All of this occurs without man’s help; yet I believe someone is in control making it all work and this someone must be of superior intelligence far beyond what the human mind can conceive. This someone is the one I call God. My question to Nissenbaum is this: Who is the man who has made everything as we know it?

    Jesse’s God is apparently such a ppoor designer that he has to keep ppushing every button, turning every crank, everywhere, all the time, for the universe to keep operating. Any real-life designer who made, say, a power plant that way would be fired. Yet Jesse’s God is supposed to be far superior in intelligence to any human being. Whaat’s wrong with this picture?

  9. Curmy – agreed – opinion is outside the scope of science, but my question was related to the possibility of truth existing beyond the empirical validation of science. And I am not referring to truth by majority opinion, but rather idiotypic or individual truth.

  10. Abeastwood commands: “Get back to us when you’ve got some data.”]
    Data? Who needs data when you have the Bible? Haven’t you paid attention?

    “The answer ….. is still in reading and studying the Bible.”
    Checkmate, evilutionist.

    Douglas E gets serious: “My friend and colleague Daniel Silliman has written ….”
    That’s technically correct. It’s not a problem for science though. DS simply sets the stakes too high

    “whether or not there is such a thing as idiotypic “truth””
    No. Science doesn’t need that. As Hawking wrote in chapter 1 of A Brief History of Time (I paraphraze): “all scientific statements have a temporary character”. Truth as DS seems to use the word is not temporary.
    The justification of science is another one. It works.

    “I am not talking about opinions that can easily be shown to be false, but rather subjective opinions.”
    They are not scientific by definition. Science uses two objective means: deduction and induction. The comment of your friend and colleague DS mainly addresses the latter, so is not about subjective opinions.

    “to the possibility of truth existing beyond the empirical validation of science. And I am not referring to truth by majority opinion, but rather idiotypic or individual truth.”
    This is the main reason science doesn’t need truth. The concept is way too ambiguous.

  11. Douglas E says: “my question was related to the possibility of truth existing beyond the empirical validation of science.”

    If there is such a thing, how would you know it?

  12. @mnbo
    Science uses two objective means: deduction and induction.

    And abduction.

  13. mnbo – well said, and I think that you cut to the quick by stating that science doesn’t need truth – means various things to various people.

    Curmy – I know it when I see it 🙂

  14. Vainglorious

    “Now, we all know, because of the way everything works, the sun rises and sets, the seasons come and go, the tide comes in and goes out with clock-like precision, year after year. All of this occurs without man’s help; yet I believe someone is in control making it all work” – Jesse

    “See, the water, the tide comes in and it goes out, Mr. Silverman. It always comes in, and always goes out. You can’t explain that.” – Bill O’Reilly

    Has anybody seen Bill O’Reilly and Jesse in the same room?

  15. The parts of this discussion focusing on logic remind me of my favorite definition of philosophy (favorite because I wrote it myself):

    A game in which persons with large vocabularies dither over the definitions of abstract nouns.

  16. @Douglas E:

    By that standard, though, the statement “a statement is only meaningful if it can be verified empirically” is not meaningful, since it cannot itself be verified empirically. The verification standard can’t be verified by its standard.

    Jerry Coyne has given what I consider to be the definitive answer to this objection: “I am SO tired of this trope. It may indeed be the case that we can’t justify a priori via philosophical lucubrations that we arrive at the truth about nature only by using the methods of science. My answer to that is increasingly becoming, “So bloody what?” The use of science is justified because it works, not because we can justify it philosophically. If we are interested in finding out what causes malaria, no amount of appeal to a deity, philosophical rumination, listening to music, reading novels, or waiting for a revelation will answer that question. We have to use scientific methods, which, of course, is how causes of disease are found.” (The original quote can be found here).

    my question was related to the possibility of truth existing beyond the empirical validation of science.

    I think our beloved Curmudgeon’s response, “If there is such a thing, how would you know it?” is right on track; I think, or at least hope that he is alluding to the idea that by definition there is nothing knowable about the supernatural; if it is knowable, then it falls under the jurisdiction of science, and is no longer supernatural, but natural. (Didn’t someone say that if alternative medicine works, we stop calling it alternative medicine, and just call it medicine?). In other words, it’s all oogity-boogity until there is some evidence that the phenomenon in question exists and/or acts/reacts/behaves as someone claims that it does. Or, as James K. Morrow put it in his book Only Begotten Daughter, “Science does have all the answers. The problem is that we don’t have all the science.”

  17. @Mark Joseph
    If Coyne doesn’t like philosophical lucubrations, then he should not ruminate about such matters himself.

    One can indeed object to philosophical intrusions into scientists doing science or poets writing poetry. Just as much as when poets intrude (“When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer”) in science. But scientists should expect the corresponding response when they write poetry or do philosophy.