Well. Here's how I get there:
God loves humans, and his message is important information for humanity. If it weren't, there would be no point in saying anything.
Ergo God wants humans to get this message, as a significant priority.
God might be capable of doing anything outside the universe, but inside the universe, communication intended for receipt and comprehension by a human being behaves in certain predictable patterns.
We have measures of exactly how some of these predictable patterns work - what a message that will be easily read and comprehended by humans would look like, and how to send one with minimal effort. Messages which do not fit certain of these patterns will not be comprehensible, or will be prone to severe distortion and loss.
Why is it a bad idea to look for these patterns, or a message that clearly was intended for human receipt and is resistant to corruption or loss but does not exhibit them?
Because that argument is analogous to:
God loves humans and wants them to have souls.
Ergo, ensoulment is a significent priority
God might be capable of doing anything outside the universe, but inside the universe inserting something into a body leaves physical traces
We have xray devices and scanners that can show evidence of some forms of insertion of something into a body. If the skin is not broken in all children then clearly ensoulment occurs through mouth/nostrils/ears/vagina.etc. Children born without one of those orifices or with them otherwise sealed will be incapable of being Christians.
Why is it a bad idea to check children born with birth defects for religious belief? Because that is simply not how it works. I am under the impression you would acccept that? So why then are you priviling information theory - saying ensoulment can happen through some mechanism invisible to science but human/divine communication - which is exactly the same thing - must
occur in a way we can understand.
Well. From my perspective, there is a message in scripture, which obeys info theory as we know it. To me it seems you are saying that there is a side-channel message being transmitted through the way what we call "scripture" changes over time, which parts of Biblical history get emphasized and which forgotten. Through what lessons we take away from it over time. I'm saying "Well, if there is, let's go looking for it" and hearing "No, we can't."
Scripture is purely the words of the Bible and from 200AD ish hasn't changed over time (ignoring translations), Church Tradition is what changes over time. Not trying to be picky, I knew precisely what you meant. Just thought it worht cleaning up.
I'm not saying no you can't, I'm saying you're trying to force an inappropriate tool to be the one that looks for it.
Counter example. If you are able to transmit a message, but not make that message's content distinguishable from noise (nor, presumably, reliably communicate via turning your transmission on and off, because from that, you're back to sending clear messages), then you are limited to a single bit. Barring another, clearer channel where you say what that one bit means, all you can possibly communicate with it is "I exist and can transmit this." If that's the message, then Scripture accomplishes it and there's no need for an ongoing message.
Not at all. The first commandment is essentially "I exist and am capable of transmitting this." Scripture was given to specific individuals in a specific time and place, there is a still a value to that constant transmission of "Still here, guys". Not that I'm claiming that is all there is, just that even if that was all there is it would still be a very valuable message.
I'm saying that even the ways it has been understood over time and generations are semi-predictable - we can track how ideas spread about God vs how ideas spread about, say, agriculture. If there is a communication about God outside of Scripture, regardless of source, we should expect ideas about God to spread with unusual speed and clarity, or in the same form from multiple groups that weren't communicating via the channels we can measure. These are still things we can look for. If they appear, then there's some solid evidence for your case; if not, then your case doesn't appear to hold.
Your problem there, I would suspect, will be that while ideas travel they can also be thought up independantly. Agriculture existed in both the old world and new and none but the craziest of crazies attribute that to external forces spreading the idea. And because receipt isn't perfect, as I've said multiple times, it would be difficult to say that cases of independant thought (in religion I mean here) that aren't identical are elements of something different - just as old world agriculture and new world had (presumably, no idea, tbh) differences but are still both recognisable as agriculture.
I'm not saying it doesn't permit that. It does. It's just that that method is extremely poor, and why would a God who a) wants his message received and b) is presumably of above-human intelligence and therefore capable of doing the math trivially, do things this way?
I suspect my argument appears as circular to you as yours does to me and we may have to draw a line here. For reference
God is, as you say, of above-human intelligence
The way He transmits his message looks inefficient by our current understanding
Hence our current understanding is wrong.
Which now I write it out certainly does appear...not circular, I can think of the word at the moment. Been a long and incredibly hot day, sorry. But yours appears equally flawed to me:
Our tools analyse all messages
The stated way of God transmitting his message appears bad/inefficient to our tools
Ergo, God - at a minimum - is not all He's cracked up to be on the intelligence front.
I put these together, because they are basically the same point. You are saying here that ideas-about-God are a separate category from ideas-about-stuff. I'm looking for exactly what makes them so - what traits separate ideas-about-God from ideas-about-stuff? You must think ideas-about-God are different in some way, because they do not exist in a world without God, but... I don't see in what way they are different. This is getting a bit repetitive, so I'll stop now.
They are restatements of the same point, yes. And I agree, when a discussion reaches the point where seperate questions can be answered with little more than "ditto" it may well be that there's nothing more productive to say on that point. There are perhaps other points I could tease out - it seems to me a little that you're conflating "imagining" new things and "predicting" new things in your arguments but I'm honestly of the opinion it would do little good. You?
In honesty, it seems like we're hitting repetition in a few places. My baseline position is, obviously, "God Exists", yours is presumably - not trying to put words into your mouth - "I believe in things that exist that are first likely to exist given what we already know (the Bayes step) and then have been tested and not disproven (science). The "given what we know already" is the recursive product of things that have gone through those stages"
I realise that phrasing of it begs questions about how knowledge started but thats not what Im trying to get. I accept there were numerous things known before Bayes was born, I just mention so you don't think I'm criticising on that front.
I would like to think my conclusions follow naturally from my baseline and yours seem to from yours. Yey us! I didn't particularly enter this with the intention of getting you to change your baseline and I've never got the impression you did either, mutatis mutandis.
Please don't think I'm trying to lead this anywhere, Im more than willing to continue any of the above points or any other that occur to you. I just think that here - towards the bottom of page two (possibly start of page three, remains to be seen) is a nice place to stop and take stock.
I got from your initial question:
Do you think there are questions with actual, tangible this-makes-a-difference-in-how-we-interact-with-the-world answers that are not aided by an evidence-based approach? This seems to be what you're saying, but there's room for different interpretations. If so... can you give me some examples?
That you felt there weren't. Obviously I took slight issue with the "aided" there but I think (correct me if Im wrong) that that can be replaced with a "substantially benefitted, to an extent greater than any other method" without too drastic a change in meaning.
My example was moral questions. Your personal code may not require them but my submission is that a) the global project of "converting" - for want of a better word - the entire population to that is not viable and will, I think we can agree on this, take some considerable time in any case and further b) I actually don't - personally - approve of a global project to convert people to a different thought system.
So given that, in the near future at least, there will be a substantial number of people who don't share your distaste of emotional reasoning bereft of an evidence based approach - or at a minimum are willing to accept "This sickens me so it is wrong" as evidence, contrary to you - therefore there will for the foreseeable future be people whose moral code isn't based on evidence, or is based on evidence you wouldn't accept as such.
We agree those people can function identically in moral decisions to you, your sole objection being that they are "not engaging their brain". I don't believe that's necessary (in the strict sense) for moral behaviour.
So, in summation, I believe the non-evidence based approach can produce identical benefits to the evidence based one in moral questions and, as such, those questions are not "substantially benefitted, to an extent greater than any other method" by an evidence based approach.