Dialog with an Atheist #4

Here is another case where an atheist won't answer how they know what they claim to know. Two others are here and here.[1]. All of these feature atheists making a claim to knowledge for which they can provide no objective justification. When pressed, they go silent.

@PhilosophieW is the straight man who has (unwittingly) set up the conversation for me (@stablecross) as the joker. The two atheists are @alancolquhoun1 and @theosib2. @theosib2 was featured in the third dialog.

@PhilosophieW: I would describe the perception of God as emotional and/or intuitive perception. I experience a deep connection, closeness, indeed love, often intertwined with a recognition of what is currently right or would be. Nothing extraordinary, and nothing that others do not also report.
@alancolquhoun1: My question asked for a characterisation of its perceptible qualities. I think I should (rationally) interpret your fourth failure to answer my question as either die [sic] to unwillingness or die [sic] to inability. Either way, we're no more enlightened than we were when you joined in.
@stablecross: Perhaps you missed my previous answer to your question. The perceptible qualities are those of sentience, by which you conclude that a being, other than yourself, has an “I”. And we know that one of those qualities isn’t physical construction.[2]
@alancolquhoun1: Sentience qua sentience is imperceptible.
@stablecross: Is your partner sentient?
@alancolquhoun1: Of course. But her sentence [sic] is not perceptible.
@stablecross: Then on what basis should anyone accept your claim when, to all appearances, she’s indistinguishable from a philosophical zombie?

Later, in another thread, @theosib2 wrote:
@theosib2: How else are you going to support something? If you claim something, you also need to provide SOME way to CHECK. "Trust me bro" is not an argument. And arguments grounded in unverified facts are unsound.
Seizing an opportunity I jumped in:
@stablecross: @alancolquhoun1 made the claim that his partner is sentient. I’ve asked why I should accept that she’s sentient and not a philosophical zombie. He hasn’t responded, despite prompts. Perhaps you can help him devise such a way so that it works on her, other animals, and machines?
@theosib2: I haven't ruled out that some humans might effectively be philosophical zombies. The majority of them are on Twitter and Facebook.
@stablecross: That’s irrelevant to the question posed. So what if you make that determination? Why should anyone else believe you?
@theosib2: It's relevant insofar as any kind of humor makes life better. I'm not an expert in philosophy of mind. All I have to go on is some study of neuroscience, which is probably not adequate on its own.
@stablecross: You don’t need Phil Mind or neuroscience. Everything you need to know you should have learned as part of your PhD. You simply cannot determine internal logical behavior by objective external measurement. You know this, because your only answer was “a lookup table.”

And so the conversation with @theosib2 dead ends where it did before, and with @alancolquhoun1 in the same place. The atheist makes claims to knowledge for which they can produce no objective support. Reason fails them when it comes to detection of mind. But they can't admit it, because that would remove one of the stabilizing legs of the chair on which atheist arguments sit.

[1] A third conversation is
here, but it's based on philosophical stance instead of intelligence. The claim is that skepticism should be one's default position, which self-defeating. There has to be a ground of knowledge which just so happens to be the subjective "I". And that ties these conversations together.
The Physical Ground of Logic.

Dialog with an Atheist #3

In 2010 I had an online conversation with the atheist "Victorian dad" about intelligence in general and their intelligence in particular. Fourteen years later, history repeated itself. @theosib2 began with:

I prefer the academic definition of atheist: Belief that there are no gods.

I do not identify as an atheist.

I am a militant agnostic. I don't know, and you don't either.

@theosib2 and I have had numerous discussions about computer science and religion. In particular, we have gone back and forth about how we can test for 3rd party consciousness. It is absolutely impossible to objectively determine if something is conscious. The Inner Mind shows the physical reason why this is true. However, @theosib2 maintains this is not the case, even though I have pressed him to state what a function with this behavior is doing:

ξξζ ξζξ ζξξ ζζξ

Objectively, it's a lookup table. Objectively, it has no meaning and no purpose. It's just a swirl of meaningless objects. Subjectively, it does have meaning and purpose, but we can't decide what it is. It could be a NAND gate or a NOR gate. Arrange these gates into a computer program and we might be able to determine what it is doing by its overall behavior. But we have to be able to map its behavior into behavior that we recognize within ourselves.

With this as background, I
responded to @theosib2:

“I’m conscious!”
“I don’t think so. You’re not carbon based.”
“I passed your Turing test, multiple times, when you couldn’t asses my form. I’m conscious, dammit.”
“I don’t know that you are. And you don’t, either.”

responded identically to "Victorian dad":
If only we could have a rigorous definition of consciousness. Then your comparison might be valid.

The endgame then played out as before:
Are you conscious?

Sometimes I wonder (with link to They Might Be Giants "Am I Awake?")

But only sometimes, right?

The atheist either has a problem with either knowing things that are subjectively known, or admitting the validity of subjective knowledge. Because if subjective knowledge is validly known, then demands for objective evidence for God are groundless. Because we have objective knowledge that mind is only known subjectively.

Dialog with Jeff Williams: Intermission

This is a continuation with the dialog between Jeff Williams and I. Jeff asked:

I would ask you to demonstrate why reason is an atomic arrangement, and why it being a part of nature would imply truth; and along with that how you would explain erroneous ideas and the limits of the invariability principles.

Having written the first three (of five) parts, I think I've answered everything except "the limits of the invariability principles." To do that, I have to finish the posts on "meaning" and "math," then ruminate on the nature of infinity and its relationship to nature (a small part of the latter is
here, but I also have some unpublished material on that, too).

Since I think I've answered all but the last (and I have every reason to believe that I can answer the last, but with a lot more exposition), I'm going to take a break to take time to mentally recharge before working on the next two parts.

Jeff can now attempt to rebut.

Table of Contents
  1. Jeff's original post
  2. Intro to my reply
  3. Part I to my reply
  4. Part IIa to my reply
  5. Part IIb to my reply
  6. Part III to my reply
  7. Intermission to my reply

Dialog with Jeff Williams: Part III

This is a continuation with the dialog between Jeff Williams and I. The previous post was here. The first post was here.

This is the third part to the answer of his question:

I would ask you to demonstrate why reason is an atomic arrangement, and why it being a part of nature would imply truth; and along with that how you would explain erroneous ideas and the limits of the invariability principles.

The answer will consist of five parts:
  • The road to logic
  • The road to truth
  • Logic and Reason
  • The road to meaning
  • The road to math
What I have to show is how to achieve each of these things, using only atoms (or any physical things), and physical operations on atoms.

This post will cover the third topic, Logic and Reason.

Dialog with Jeff Williams: Part IIb

This is a continuation with the dialog between Jeff Williams and I. The previous post was here. The first post was here.

This is the second part to the answer of his question:

I would ask you to demonstrate why reason is an atomic arrangement, and why it being a part of nature would imply truth; and along with that how you would explain erroneous ideas and the limits of the invariability principles.

The answer will consist of five parts:
  • The road to logic
  • The road to truth
  • Logic and Reason1
  • The road to meaning
  • The road to math
What I have to show is how to achieve each of these things, using only atoms (or any physical things), and physical operations on atoms.

This post will cover the second topic, the road to truth.

Dialog with Jeff Williams: Part IIa

This is a continuation with the dialog between Jeff Williams and I. The previous post was here. The first post was here.

Having set the stage, I will now answer his question:

I would ask you to demonstrate why reason is an atomic arrangement, and why it being a part of nature would imply truth; and along with that how you would explain erroneous ideas and the limits of the invariability principles.

The answer will consist of four parts:
  • The road to logic
  • The road to truth
  • The road to meaning
  • The road to math
What I have to show is how to achieve each of these things, using only atoms (or any physical things), and physical operations on atoms.

This post will cover the first topic, the road to logic.

Dialog with Jeff Williams: Part I

This is a continuation with the dialog between Jeff Williams and I. For my summary of the background, see here.

On his blog, Jeff has asked me to
respond to several points.

But before he makes his specific request, he makes some preliminary statements, some of which I take issue with. He writes:

I recognize two distinct innate modes of human thought: rational objectification of events in the world; and esthetic experience of Being.

I agree with Jeff that we make distinctions between the sense data of our experiences, the description of what we think our sense data is telling us about an external world (assuming an external world exists!), and the description of how we think that sense data compares to an ideal (the esthetic experience). Where I disagree with Jeff is the nature of these distinctions.

We are all just "
ripples on the quantum pond" (do take time to read this link. If we disagree on this we won't agree on the important things). So our sense data is ripples on the pond; our rational objectification of events is ripples on the pond, our esthetic experience is ripples on the pond; our "our" is ripples on the pond. For there to be true distinctions between these things then there needs to be true distinctions in the ripples.

This means that there are ripples that give rise to logic, truth, and meaning for these are the basis of our ability to describe events (Jeff's "rational objectification") and our ability to describe a "distance" between two events (which is the "is/ought" distinction). The only difference between the "rational objectification of events" and the "esthetic experience of Being" is that the latter involves a distance metric between two events or between an event and an "idealized" event.

The resulting representations do not exist as such in the external world...

Here, Jeff needs to demonstrate that there is an "external" -- as opposed to "internal" -- world. If everything is ripples on the pond, then the events and our descriptions of the events, all exist in the same pond. The "internal"/"external" distinction is due to the limitations of our perception and are not due to a fundamental aspect of reality.

I retain Heidegger’s distinction between them as “Truth” arising from esthetic experience, and “Correctness” inhering in objectification.

I note that Jeff needs to define what "truth" and "correctness" are in his worldview, just as I will have to do in mine. Mine is easy.

Again, Being is reduced to copula.

This is problematic for several reasons, which Jeff will have to defend. First, how does anyone know what "Being" is, since we can't directly experience it? Second, it betrays a form of thinking where "Being" and "copula" are distinct things. As a Christian, I would argue that this is equivalent to the "modalist" heresy. I don't want to immediately derail this particular part of the discussion, but we may eventually have to go there (cf. my posts on the
Trinity, which are more about the ways this doctrine shows how individuals think about things than it is about the doctrine itself.).

Thankfully, we have no need to go through another tedious debate about duality.

I'm not sure we can ultimately escape it. As I (attempt to show) in
On the Undecidability of Materialism vs. Idealism both physicalism and metaphysicalism are dual ways of looking at the same thing. If Jeff wants to get rid of metaphysics, then the only way he's going to be able to do it is by a subjective mental coin flip. That is, the only way you can get rid of metaphysics is by arbitrary fiat. Note the duality: the only way you can get rid of physicalism is by arbitrary fiat, too.

So now we get to the discussion points. Jeff wrote:

my claim that reason is essentially different from reality ...

Reason can't be different from reality, since it's all just ripples on the quantum pond
1. What I think Jeff wants to say is that reason allows us to construct descriptions that may, or may not, accurately describe reality. The hard part is knowing which descriptions belong to which class. Jeff wants to reject the idea of "Being" and "copula", but he has to provide a basis as to why. Why not say that "Being" and "accurate descriptions of Being" are both "Being"? (note the parallel to Trinitarian thought).

I will repeat my original answer to that question: while we have dedicated receptors and neural paths for each sensation, no such thing exists for reason. I cannot experience reason the way I do light.

If reason is just the swirling of atoms in certain ways in your brain, then you have to be able to experience it, even if the connection may not be obvious. As I will show in the next blog post, you do have neural paths for reason. I'll show how they work in theory. That this works in practice can be seen in the paper "
Computation Emerges from Adaptive Synchronization of Networking Neurons". And, if you're like other people (admittedly, my sample size is small), you experience reason by talking to yourself (we subvocalize our thoughts). That is, computation has to interact with it's environment for the results of computation to be known. The swirling atoms in your brain which are your reason interact with the sense receptors in your brain to make the results of reason known. That is, your sense receptors can be triggered by interaction with an external swirl of atoms as well as the internal swirl of atoms.

where I can create mathematics or logical forms, but this is entirely without external sense data.

I will show that this is false. You cannot sever the roots of mathematics from sense data. But I first have to show where you get logic, then truth, then meaning, and then math.

Without converting to the imaginings of space and time, I have no intuition of reason at all.

This, too, is false. One of the things that has to be understood is that, when it comes to physical devices, there is no difference between the hardware and the software. We may not know what initial knowledge the wiring of our brains gives us, but it's clear that it's there. See, e.g. "Addition and subtraction by human infants", Karen Wynn, Nature, Vol 361, 28 January 1993.

The new subject of quantum mind is attracting top physicists and neuroscientists and perhaps offers the path to understanding.

One the one hand, everything is quantum. On the other hand, let me quote Feynman:

Computer theory has been developed to a point where it realizes that it doesn't make any difference; when you get to a universal computer, it doesn't matter how it's manufactured, how it's actually made.2

That is, computer theory doesn't care about the actual physical construction details as long as you get the right behavior.

Your model, however, centers on atoms, not waves, and leaves the exact principles unspecified.

As per the Feynman quote, it doesn't matter if the model is based on atoms or waves. The model doesn't care. I'm going to use atoms simply because it's easier. And this is an interesting property, since whatever quantum "stuff" is, it exhibits wave-particle duality. That is, computation theory is wave-particle agnostic. What matters is the actual behavior.

and since atomic arrangements are part of nature, that implies an exact connection and description of truth.

Note quite. There is an exact connection between connection and description, but that doesn't mean that every description is true. Remember, there are false as well as true descriptions.

It would also leave unexplained the limitations of Wigner’s invariability principles, which seem to demonstrate the inability of reason to grasp anything larger than a very limited set of events within limited space and time.

Sure, our brains, being physical objects, have physical limitations on what they can keep in mind at one time. But the wonderful thing about Turing machines is that they can use external storage. In fact, to the best of my knowledge,
man is the only animal that does use external storage for thoughts. We have all the physical bits in the universe by which we can augment our reason.

Instead, I would ask you to demonstrate why reason is an atomic arrangement ...

Better, reason is matter in motion in certain patterns. If you want to get a preview, see Notes on Feser's "From Aristotle..." If you have questions with this, I can try to address them in the next post.

[1] Unless, of course, you want to admit a transcendent God, who is reason itself and the non-physical cause of all physical things.
[2] Simulating Physics with Computers, International Journal of Theoretical Physics, Vol. 21. Nos. 6/7, 1982

Dialog with Jeff Williams: Intro

On September 8, Jeff Williams and I entered into a Twitter debate about the nature of reality. Jeff describes himself as "an atheist as a result of recognizing the illusion of metaphysics in its entirety." His blog is "Too Late For The Gods".

Eleven days later, the discussion is still going. I cobbled some code together to pull the entire conversation from this
starting tweet, formatted it a bit, and saved it in a text file here.3 It helps immensely to be able to search the complete discussion for what has been said, to look for conversational loops, dead ends, and unanswered questions.

But the conversation has outgrown Twitter. At
this point in Twitter, Jeff has asked me to defend one of my claims and has switched to his blog to continue this phase of the dialog. His post is here. After some preliminary remarks, I will respond directly here on my blog. If Twitter isn't a very good medium for these kinds of things, neither are a blog's commenting facilities, particularly since I'm going to want to use diagrams to illustrate some points.

Why have Jeff and I been doing this for almost two weeks now? I won't speak for Jeff but, while I thoroughly disagree with some of his fundamental statements and think that his worldview is ultimately incoherent, we do agree in some surprising ways. For example, he
posted a rebuttal to some arguments made by the Christian apologist William Lane Craig. While I don't agree with everything in his rebuttal, I do agree that Craig (as well as most contemporary apologists) are an embarrassment. I'll try my best not to join them.

I also agree that reality, whatever it is, is deeply counterintuitive. I've posted Feynman's comments about the nature of nature from his lecture on quantum mechanics before (e.g
here and here). They are1:

We see things that are far from what we would guess. We see things that are very far from what we could have imagined and so our imagination is stretched to the utmost … just to comprehend the things that are there. [Nature behaves] in a way like nothing you have ever seen before. … But how can it be like that? Which really is a reflection of an uncontrolled but I say utterly vain desire to see it in terms of some analogy with something familiar… I think I can safely say that nobody understands Quantum Mechanics… Nobody knows how it can be like that.

This leads me to sympathy for Jeff's statement:

The strangeness of physics presents unmatched opportunities for philosophy at this moment. I regret that few mathematicians and scientists have reciprocated with an understanding of philosophy, which always precedes other fields by clearing and setting the grounds for thinking in any age.2

But I will expand on that in that we all need each other. Philosophers need to incorporate what we know of the physical world into their philosophies (assuming they want them to be correct descriptions of reality, for some definition of "correct"), and scientists need to do the same. Because sometimes they share the same goal: to figure out what we really know and how we know that we know it.

I found Jeff's post "
Response to Eckels on Heidegger and Being" a welcome companion to illuminate some of the things he said on Twitter. Some (hopefully helpful) material to provide background on what I hope to say in more depth in my reply is here. I expect that it will take me a few days to put things in a satisfactory arrangement.

[1] "
The Character of Physical Law - Part 6 Probability and Uncertainty"
Part one and part two.
[3[ Updated 9/22/20 since the conversation is still ongoing.


Dialog With An Atheist #2

John Loftus wrote:
wrf3, I've been reading your comments with some interest. You represent the kind of person who intrigues me.

Thank you?

Since I never know what spark can be ignited that will eventually start a fire of knowledge and understanding free of brainwashing, here goes.

I just love it how you automatically poison the well by using emotive terms like "brainwashing." We poor dumb biased Christians have been brainwashed, while you objective rational clear-thinking atheists have broken free. Just pathetic.

Does is bother you that you come across as having the whole truth and nothing but the truth--that you have all the answers? It should.

It doesn't, for the simple reason that "how I come across" is based more on your incomplete perception of me, rather than how I actually am. We all know that, in these politically correct times, offense can be taken where none was either intended, or given. In the same way, I suspect you're reading more into my responses than what I've actually written.

For the more a person knows the less s/he claims to know. Tell us what you don't know pertaining to religious truth, if you want to prove me wrong.

That would fill a book. Shall I write another book about what I don't know about mathematics, even though I have a degree in math? How about a book about what I don't know about science, even though my math degree is from an engineering school, so I've had to take physics, chemistry, biology, thermodynamics, circuits and devices, astronomy, materials science, …?

I'll be curious to learn if you admit ignorance about several important basic details of your particular religious worldview, while at the same time claiming certainty about the whole worldview itself. That would be odd wouldn't you think, if you admit ignorant of the foundational details but certain of the whole?

First, you tell me what the "foundational details" you think I'm ignorant of. Because we may disagree on what is foundational and what is derived.

Second, by your criteria, I should throw out the American Constitution and Quantum Mechanics. I should throw out the American Constitution because there is no universal agreement on what the 2nd amendment means. Even the Supreme Court was divided, 5-4, on whether or not the 2nd Amendment guarantees the right of individuals to own firearms.

And we should throw out Quantum Mechanics, because while most everyone agrees on Schrödinger's equation, there is widespread disagreement on how to interpret it. Copenhagen, Many-worlds, De Broglie-Bohm, ... You might enjoy the articles Lubos Motl posts about idiot scientists who say idiotic things about science. This one is a recent one about a paper published in Nature. And this one about proponents of the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics…

Let me link to a few items for your reflection on this question. ... Christians debate many doctrinal and foundational specifics, as seen in these books. Are you claiming to know the answers for every issue?

Of course not. Ask me which eschatological view I hold. On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays I prefer amillennialism. On Thursdays I like postmillennialism. On Fridays I reflect on partial preterism. On Saturdays, I consider historic dispensationalism.

So there are ambiguities. So what? That's true of anything, whether it is interpretation of Christian doctrine, interpretation of the American Constitution, or interpretation of nature.

It's how our neural nets work.

Shall we declare science wrong because scientists can't agree on how to interpret nature via quantum mechanics?

In one of these above books, on apologetics, several authors argue against presuppositionalism. I suppose you are certain they are wrong too, correct?

If by "presuppositionalism" you mean "Christian presuppositionalism" then, yes, they are wrong.

Go back and re-read what I wrote. As a mathematician, I will say that we cannot escape our axioms. What we believe controls how we evaluate evidence. Then I said that I think that atheism is a consistent, complete worldview. I also said that Christianity is a consistent, complete worldview.

That doesn't mean that there aren't inconsistent Christians, or inconsistent Atheists. im-skeptical is an inconsistent atheist. He could be a consistent atheist, but whether or not he has that eureka moment only time will tell.

See a trend here? You are correct. Every other Christian is wrong. Seriously?

Only in your imagination.

The historical trend is also telling, ...

Are you saying that truth is determined by numbers? Really? And 100, or 200, or 1,000 years from now, when the trend has changed, will your great-great-great grandchildren try to use the same argument?

There are several former believers who no longer believe. ... Have you read these works?

Some of them. On the other hand, there are former atheists who now believe. Me, for one. C. S. Lewis, for another.

So what? If I have to weigh intellect against intellect, I'd certainly put C. S. Lewis ahead of John Loftus, or Bart Ehrman.

But what you don't understand is that I'm not playing that game. Atheism vs. Christianity isn't about evidence. It never has been. It's about how brains process evidence.

Let's say that it's possible you are wrong.

I'm a software engineer. I'm also married. I'm wrong a thousand times a day.

Wouldn't you want to know? No, seriously, wouldn't you want to know, yes or no?

Of course I would.

How about you?

You have Christians debunking themselves, where the trend is from conservatism to atheism, with several former intellectual believers several rejecting your faith and writing about it.

Truth has never, ever been about numbers. That you even try this argument means that you don't know how epistemology works. You're exhibiting the "r" side of r/K selection traits (i.e. where group consensus is more important than anything else).

And that you commit the fallacy of "selective citing" only shows how bankrupt your argument is. Note that this doesn't prove that Christianity is right and atheism is wrong. It just proves that you are an ignorant atheist, as opposed to an intelligent atheist.

Wouldn't you want to know why this is the case? Satan is too easily an answer. You would not accept that as an answer if someone said YOUR theology was of Satan, would you?

Why don't you let me provide my own answers? Otherwise, you can just have a conversation with yourself and whatever straw-men you want to talk to.

My claim is that doubt should be the position of everyone until such time as the evidence shows otherwise.

A self-defeating philosophy if ever there was one because, if you really believed it, you would doubt it and enter into a vicious circle.

And, for the last time, you're trying to argue evidence with someone who says that it isn't about the evidence. After all, if both Christianity and atheism are complete consistent systems, there isn't any evidence that can possibly exist to settle the argument one way or another.


Another Short Conversation...

In Who Needs Christianity, I wrote, "Man is the biological machine that doesn't do what it ought to do." Someone named "Cabal" responded, "Excuse me but exactly what should Man be doing and and [sic] according to who...and please no vacuous, meaningless answers along the lines of 'obey God and according to God.'"

The answer, of course, is evident via a little self-reflection. We don't do what we ourselves think we ought to do.

Cabal wasn't heard from again.

Three Atheists Down...

There is a saying, "Once is chance, twice is coincidence, three times is a pattern."

On 3/15,
I had a conversation with an atheist in which he wasn't able to handle a question about intelligence.

On 3/23, I had almost the exact same converstation in
this thread on Fark. It's 576 comments long; look for the exchange between "poundgrayly" and "Epicedion".

Today, the same thing happened on
this thread on Vox Popoli with "Nicholas_Gascoine".

Because the Fark thread is so extensive, I'm working on diagramming it for presentation and further analysis. But the short form is that those who claim that science is the only means for obtaining "true knowledge" have trouble with these questions:
  • What is the scientific definition of intelligence?
  • What is the scientific test for intelligence?
If they respond, "I don't know", then ask:
  • Are you intelligent?
  • How do you know?
They balk. They hem and haw. They stop responding.

As a certain pointy-eared green-blooded epitome of rationality would say, "Fascinating!"

Dialog with an Atheist #1

[Updated 3/15/10 @ 20:30 PM, updated 8/2/2019 to use styled blockquotes instead of colors]

Back in December, I wrote some
preparatory remarks toward a formal article on evidence for God. I haven't had time to work on it, but this discussion at Vox Popoli gives the sketch of one approach. One commenter remarked on the atheist's demand for scientific proof of God's existence. I wrote that science is self-limited on what it can know:

The scientific method is only applicable to a subset of things we know about. For example, it can tell us about what is, but it cannot say anything about what ought to be. It also cannot prove itself. So, their epistemological foundation can't support them.

To this, I should add that I suspect that Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem can be applied to the scientific method. What this means is that there are things which can be known to be true, but which cannot be proven true by science.

I then wrote:

Having said that, the scientific method can still be useful. How can one test for God? What science isn't good at, right now, is testing for intelligence. At best, the Turing test can be used. But intelligent beings are not things that respond in predictable ways. How does one test an intelligent computer that doesn't want to talk to you, but will talk to someone else? When scientists have an answer to that, they can then try to apply the scientific method to God.

The discussion picks up where "Victorian dad" uses Occam's Razor in an attempt to exclude God on philosophical grounds.

These are "Victorian dad's" words.

These are my words.