I am debating three atheists at once, I made an open challenge to atheists to debate my Cosmological argument. They are outnumbered but I'm taking it easy on them.;-)
This week, I want to share a discussion that has been going on over at the Atheism-Analyzed blog:
They have been having an interesting discussion about the Hartle-Hawking state:
Here is an excerpt from Stan’s article:
The procedure to evaluate anything Hawking et al say is to list all of the serial assumptions which are made and which have to be “the case” in order for his theories to be valid, and then to see at which of the assumptions empirical validation automatically cease, leaving the theory to be a bedtime story for physicist speculators.
This theory is no different.
OK, first off it is not the Wave Theory of the Universe, it is Wave Theory Within an Infinite Multiverse which is both external to our universe, and contains our universe.
And they put him in a purple robe Mark 5:17 they dressed him with a purple robe
Matt 27:28 they stripped him and put a scarlet robe upon him
Luke 23:11 they put a shining garment on him
John 19:2 and arrayed him in a purple robe
And sat him on the judgment seat and said judge righteously o King of Israel. John 19:13 and he sat down on the judgment seat
And one f them brought a crown of thorns and put it on his head Mark 27:15 /Matt 27-19 and plaiting a crown of thorns John 19:2 and the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns and put it on his head.
"The Gospel of Peter, as a whole, is not dependent upon any of the canonical gospels. It is a composition which is analogous to the Gospel of Mark and John. All three writings, independently of each other, use older passion narrative which is based upon an exegetical tradition that was still alive when these gospels were composed and to which the Gospel of Matthew also had access. All five gospels under consideration, Mark, John, and Peter, as well as Matthew and Luke, concluded their gospels with narratives of the appearances of Jesus on the basis of different epiphany stories that were told in different contexts. However, fragments of the epiphany story of Jesus being raised form the tomb, which the Gospel of Peter has preserved in its entirety, were employed in different literary contexts in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew."
Imagine two British gentlemen sitting in an English garden engaging in conversation about the Queen's knights. The first makes the assertion, "All of the Queen's knights have been brave."
The second, a more circumspect individual, responds, "But what about Sir Robin? He wasn't brave at all."
"Well," responds the first, "that's because he wasn't a true knight."
What, if anything, is wrong with the response of the first British Gentlemen? Anyone familiar with the ongoing debate between Christians and Atheist/Skeptics on the Internet probably believes that the first of these two gentlemen has committed the "No True Scotsman" Fallacy. If you are unfamiliar with the fallacy, it probably means that you have not been engaging in these types of debates because it is almost never used anywhere else. There is a reason for that: it really isn't much of a fallacy. Perhaps I should say that the "No True Scotsman" Fallacy is No True Fallacy, but that would be a little harsh.
For those unfamiliar, the "No True Scotsman" Fallacy seems to be increasing in popularity over the Internet and is usually raised when a Christian claims that some bad person who has somehow claimed to be a Christian is not really a Christian, e.g., Adolph Hitler. A good, lengthy description of the "No True Scotsman" Fallacy can be found in an article by that same name on a atheist website entitled IronChariots.org. A less comprehensive but still informative version can be found on a website titled "Logically Fallacious" where the fallacy is given the following description:
Description: When a universal (“all”, “every”, etc.) claim is refuted, rather than conceding the point or meaningfully revising the claim, the claim is altered by going from universal to specific, and failing to give any objective criteria for the specificity.
Logical Form:All X are Y.
(it is clearly refuted that all X are not Y)
Then all true X are Y.
Example #1: In 2011, Christian broadcaster, Harold Camping, (once again) predicted the end of the world via Jesus, and managed to get many Christians to join his alarmist campaign. During this time, and especially after the Armageddon date had passed, many Christian groups publicly declared that Camping is not a “true Christian”.
Christian: Christians wouldn't kill millions of people.
Atheist: What about Hitler? He said he was Christian and was a member of the Roman Catholic Church.
Christian: Hitler wasn't a true Christian.
Atheist: Well, you've just committed the "No True Scotsman" Fallacy, which means that you have lost the argument.
Christian: No Christian would hate a homosexual.
Atheist: What about Fred Phelps? He and his church picket at funerals claiming that "God hates fags."
Christian (seeing the "No True Scotsman" Fallacy about to be inaccurately applied): So, do you think that Fred Phelps is a Christian?
Atheist: Of course he's a Christian, he's the pastor of a Baptist church.
Christian (now having a clearer understanding of what the Atheist/Skeptic believes to be the definition of Christian): That's interesting, because I think that being a Christian is more than merely being the member or even the Pastor of a Church, don't you? I mean, if you were to decide to join a church but still didn't believe in God, would you automatically be a Christian?
It is the original pre-theoretical consciousness...Schleiermacher believes that theoretical cognition is founded upon pre-theoretical inter subjective cognition and its life world. The latter cannot be dismissed as non-cognative for if the life world praxis is non-cognitive and invalid so is theoretical cognition..He...contends that belief in God is pre-theoretical, it is not the result of proofs and demonstration, but is conditioned solely by the modification of feeling of utter dependence. Belief in God is not acquired through intellectual acts of which the traditional proofs are examples, but rather from the thing itself, the object of religious experience..If as Shchleiermacher...says God is given to feeling in an original way this means that the feeling of utter dependence is in some sense an apparition of divine being and reality. This is not meant as an appeal to revelation but rather as a naturalistic eidetic or a priori. The feeling of utter dependence is structured by a correlation with its whence. 
This conclusion might be somewhat deflating for apologists, but there are two of caveats that might make it more palatable: (1) We don't have to reduce religion to just feeling or to consciousness, we don't have toally agree with Schleiermacher, we can understand doctrines and feelings as bound up with the same reaction to reality and the consciousness that obtains from sensing it. (2) we can construe the feeling as a phenomenological approach rather than a definitive commentary upon all of reality. If affections or consciousness based upon affections are primary in belief, this does not mean that arguments are of no value since people rationalize their feelings, and arguments help to clear away the clutter and clarify feelings.
This final point about the universal nature is of particular interest, When doctrinal explanations and differences of tradition are controlled for, the experiences themselves are the same the world over. Even among atheists, those who have religious experiences respond to them in the same way that religious believers do. This might indicate that these people are all experiencing an objective reality which is external to the human brain. There is a voluminous and ancient tradition of writing about experiences by people from all over the world, who claim to have experienced the divine. Mystics and philosophers have catelogued such writings. Two of the most noteworthy examples are Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill,  and Teachings of the Mystics by Philosopher W.T. Stace.  Many other such writers have included these experiences. Thirdly, grounded in empirical evidence, the universal nature of such experiences implies a source external to the human mind. When I say “external” I mean it originates externally but is experienced internally. This includes human brain structure and brain chemistry as a conduit not that it circumvents natural processes. W.T. Stace shows that, as Ralph Hood Jr. put it, “within and eventually outside of the great faith traditions mysticism has flourished.” 
Stace offers five characteristics that demonstrate the commonalities to mystical experience; these are characteristics that are found universally in all cultures and in all forms of mystical experience:
The contemporary interest in the empirical research of mysticism can be traced to Stace’s (Stace, 1960) demarcation of the phenomenological characteristics of mystical experiences (Hood, 1975). In Stace’s conceptualization, mystical experiences had five characteristics (Hood, 1985, p.176):
1. The mystical experience is noetic. The person having the eerience perceives it as a valid source of knowledge and not just a subjective experience.
2. The mystical experience is ineffable, it cannot simply be described in words.
3. The mystical experience is holy. While this is the religious aspect of the experience it is not necessarily expressed in any particular theological terms.
4. The mystical experience is profound yet enjoyable and characterized by positive affect.
5. The mystical experience is paradoxical. It defies logic. Further analysis of reported mystical experiences suggests that the one essential feature of mysticism is an experience of unity (Hood, 1985). The experience of unity involves a process of ego loss and is generally expressed in one of three ways (Hood, 1 976a). The ego is absorbed into that which transcends it, or an inward process by which the ego gains pure awareness of self, or a combination of the two.