Monday, December 20, 2010

A Break

I will not be blogging until after the New Year. I will be celebrating the birth of my Savior with family and want to devote my time to that. See you next year.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

MR Dawkins Doesn't Listen--Or Something



HT: Chris Shannon

Thursday, December 16, 2010

On the Blogger Commenting Issues

I had one commenter whose been quite fun to dialog with complain about the commenting problems that seem to permeate Blogger.

I actually have no control over the commenting issues, at least none that I know of.

When I get the too many character issue (over 4,096 or something), I just cut and paste into multiple posts. I always type my posts in Notepad or Word and then cut and paste.

The request URI doesn't keep it from posting, just hit back on your browser and it should be there; at least it usually is for me. It's annoying, but it is possible to work around.

Other than that, I'm certainly open to suggestions. Blogger's been doing weird stuff for a few months. I don't know why. I just think the hassle of switching providers would be too much, and I like the Google interconnection.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What's Good for the Hitch is Good for the Dawk?

So apparently, the guy who shot up the Florida school board meeting and then offed himself was not only an uber-liberal, as evidenced by the V he pained on the wall in reference to that retarded movie V for Vendetta, but he also lists himself as a humanist on his Facebook profile. So let me ask, if it's okay for Dick Dawk and Humble Hitchens to use past committed atrocities done in the name of religion, is it okay for us to use this as evidence for the eradication of atheism?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why Muslim Immigration Should be Halted

This post, I think, makes a compelling case for halting Muslim immigration into western countries. This may sound harsh, especially since we've been influenced by the civil rights era and our view of the equality of people. I think it can be argued that controlling immigration is not devaluing human beings, and therefore isn't subject to the same kinds of criticism as racism and American segregation are. Countries have a responsibility to protect their borders and to control immigration in order to maintain cohesion in their societies, and the post I linked to shows that this just isn't possible with Muslims.

Read it before you comment, because I'm not going to interact with people who have obviously not given the post a chance.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Godlessons Slips Up Again

I decided to watch one of Godlesson's videos on youtube where he goes on about his moral relativism and how there's no proof of objective morality. Of course I had to challenge that. Some cliche things regarding the moral argument were said, but it got to a point where we began discussing one aspect of his video where he criticizes another video blogger for arguing from emotion. I asked him what was wrong with that. He responded:

Do you understand what 'argument from emotion' is? It is a logical fallacy. It doesn't help get to the truth, and if the truth is the ultimate goal, you should avoid it. If the ultimate goal is to sway weak minds, make use of all the logical fallacies you want.

Apparently he hadn't gotten my point yet, so I pressed him on it:

What's wrong with logical fallacies? Who says they are wrong? Who says the truth is what we should get to? Why is it wrong to come to false conclusions?

To which he responded:

I think the fact that you even ask why it's wrong to come to false conclusions shows how little you care for the truth. Why do you argue if you don't think it matters? If you don't think what you believe is true, why argue about it?

I think most of you can see where I was trying to lead the conversation here. He's saying it is wrong to reason incorrectly. As my logic teacher said, there is a moral component to reasoning. It is wrong to not try to discern the truth. My point is that godlessons is adhering to an objective standard here, when he says one doesn't exist. But these moral relativists always become moral objectivists at some point. Just like the Arizona Atheist got upset when he thought I was being rude to him, so has godlessons in the past. They don't really believe this drivel, they only say they do to avoid the truth of the divine judge who sees the sins they commit.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

More William Lane Craig Awesomeness on the Incarnation


Most of these great videos are posted by the person who goes by the tag drcraigvideos. Not enough can be said about the importance of this person's endeavor to post this information in a way that is so easily accessible. They have a blog as well.

Friday, December 10, 2010

My Comments / Refutations on the Claim that Relativity Theory Refutes the Kalam Cosmological Argument

I have done quite a bit of dialog over at Common Sense Atheism regarding relativity theory and its relation to the A and B theories of time and whether it forces us into a B theory of time, thus nullifying the Kalam Cosmological Argument. I think I sufficiently showed that it doesn't, and I used the findings and arguments offered by many who accept the neo-Lorentzian interpretation of relativity theory.

The comments are found at these posts: What is Special Relativity?, Time and the Light Box, and, A Map of Craig & Sinclair’s 2009 Defense of the Kalam Cosmological Argument. I will post all of the comments I made, with most of the quotes I am responding to. For the full context, you obviously need to visit the posts.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fringe and Mind Body Dualism

Fringe is my favorite show on television right now for several reasons. First, I love sci-fi, and there aren't enough shows that do it as well as Fringe does. Second, it addresses philosophical issues in a profound way. It gets you to consider different philosophical issues by opening up the imagination and exploring how certain things could be if certain other things were true. Like how should personal identity be thought of if there are alternate versions of yourself in a parallel universe. Third, Joshua Jackson has the best five o'clock shadow thing going on ever.

Tonights episode, Marionette, brought up a subject that I am somewhat interested in, and that impacts Christianity. An obsessed admirer of a suicide victim collects all of her organs that were donated to other people and puts them back in her body. Then, in an homage to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, he revives her.

What I thought was very interesting, and am surprised that the writers actually got right, was that when she was revived, it was clear she wasn't human, or at least wasn't what she once was. Later, the guy who revived her said that he looked in her eyes and knew what he brought back wasn't who he loved. I think this is obviously a recognition that the mind and the body are not one in the same, which the Bible constantly affirms. It also is interesting that the episode makes clear that it isn't possible for us to reunite these two things; the mind and the body.

Scripture teaches that one day, all who have died will be returned to their bodies and be judged by Jesus (Revelation 20:11-15). Those who are found to be in Christ will live with Him forever. Those not found in the Book of Life are cast into the lake of fire.

So in the end, the separation of soul and body will be rectified, and when we're resurrected we won't be empty husks like the girl in this episode of Fringe.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Blog Name Change

Famous early astronomer Johann Kepler said about his research, "I was merely thinking God's thoughts after him. Since we astronomers are priests of the highest God in regard to the book of nature, it befits us to be thoughtful, not of the glory of our minds, but rather, above all else, of the glory of God."1 I have attempted to make this my goal in composing this blog. I feel I have learned much by posting and discussing things here, along with my personal reading in philosophy, theology, and apologetics. I hope to continue this with a new blog name that reflects Kepler's goal in thinking God's thoughts after him and have purchased a new domain name, thinkinggodsthoughts.com. I hope to attract more visitors and continue my learning process and hopefully help others come to think our Lord's thoughts as well.

1 Madison, Henry. Men of science, men of God: great scientists who believed the Bible. Master Books, 1982. 11-12. Print.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Response to Common Sense Atheism's The Science of Morality

I'm actually surprised that there is someone out there who thinks we can discover moral truths by performing scientific experiments, but Luke from Common Sense Atheism thinks we can. As I understand it, most ethicists would deny that science has this ability, and I'll explain here in my response (which I'm also trying to post as a comment on his blog, but am having issues), why this fails.

Luke says:

Now, I want to point out right away that that’s a strange claim to make, because usually, the phrase “OBJECTIVE moral value” means something like “moral value grounded in something beyond the attitudes of a person or persons.” Right? If what you’re calling “moral value” is just based off somebody’s personal attitudes, that’s called SUBJECTIVE morality.

I've seen this from you a couple of times, and despite it being answered even by fellow athesits it seems you still think it's a pretty strong objection.

Here are the issues. 1) It's a straw man. Theists, at least those who hold to the divine command theory you're attempting to critique, don't think that moral values are based in the attitudes of God, but in His very nature. His attitudes toward behavior flow from this essential part of His being. So you misled this audience.

2) It doesn't destroy the objective nature of the moral values that we are defending. These morals exist in spite of what anyone thinks, what anyone desires, what makes anyone happy, etc. All people are bound by them and all people will be judged by them in light of being made in the image of God. Innately, all people whose mental faculties are functioning properly apprehend these morals even if they don't believe in God; hence the common belief that some things are really wrong.

3)Who says that the well being of conscious creatures is a good thing; good enough to base our concept of morality off of? People all around the world would debate your assertions about "whether legalized abortion promotes the well-being of conscious creatures. There’s an objective fact of the world about whether or not female genital mutilation promotes the well-being of conscious creatures." What are you basing these personal opinions of yours on, Luke? Do you realize that the Muslim cultures that practice the latter are far outpacing the western nations that cringe at this practice in spreading their genetic code? Further, they would say it does produce the well being of those in their society because it keeps the women in line. You're just assuming your western ideals, fostered in a Christian context, are the thing that is the best for people. But the Mullah in Pakistan is going to ask, "who the heck are you?"

Even if the Nazis had won World War II and brainwashed everybody into thinking that killing people who aren’t white Europeans is okay, it would still be an objective fact that killing non-white people would NOT generally promote the well-being of conscious creatures. That would still be an objective fact.

The Nazi's thought it would, and that's why they acted on it. They thought the well being of humanity hinged on eliminating the Jews. Those who owned slaves and subjugated the rights of women thought that advanced the good of conscious creatures. It's subject to the prevailing perception of what is beneficial for conscious creatures. That isn't objective at all, Luke.

Further, who grounds the assertion that the well being of conscious creatures is worth promoting. Who says? What do conscious creatures have over non-conscious creatures? That sounds like specie-ism.

4) We do science? To discover morality? Really? Science can't tell us what actually should be considered a benefit to conscious creatures, because that is a personal opinion dependent on individual notions of what is beneficial. And that is just an arbitrary definition anyway. Does the moral fact that "we should advance the well being of conscious creatures" have some basis beyond the human mind? If not, it's subject to those human beings who think that way. There isn't actually a moral code that is objectively true and binding for all people, rather your formulation here is just as subjective as any other secular moral theory.

GK Chesterton Describes the "New-Atheists" in 1925

"They cannot be Christians and they cannot leave off being Anti-Christians. Their whole atmosphere is the atmosphere of a reaction: sulks, perversity, petty criticism. They still live in the shadow of the faith and have lost the light of the faith."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Atheists: The Bible is HOPELESSLY CONTRADICTORY!!!!11!!11oneone!!1eleven

I saw this a little more often this week in the uh-mazing atheist blogosphere. Of course I rarely see any passages put forward as being hopelessly contradictory. The last one that someone was actually able to point out was Exodus 20:5 and Ezekiel 18:20. Apparently atheists don't know how to apply contextual hermeneutics to what they read. Well, they get by in everything but the Bible, so maybe they're cherry picking.

Of course Exodus 20:5 is a part of the 10 commandments and is speaking of the covenantal consequences of idol worship for the Israelites. Ezekiel 18:20 is recounting the law of the Pentateuch which is dealing with individual punishment for breaking the law. One speaks of the consequences of God removing Himself from Israel for their breaking the covenant. The other is the immediate judicial punishment for breaking a law. This is even evident today. Children may suffer from consequences of their parents breaking the law, but we don't charge those children with breaking the law their parents actually broke.

But what did the inerrancy skeptic do here? He took two separate verses from two books written hundreds of years apart by different authors in different situations. You can't do that with literature and have anything make sense. I'd love to see the stuff atheists write held to this ridiculous standard.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Atheism is Boring

Sean McDowell has posted on his blog arguing that atheism as an idea leads to very boring conclusions. He announced he was working on it on Facebook yesterday, and I figured this would be the direction he would take. As I said to him on Facebook, "I think atheism must be the most intellectually mundane experience that anyone could partake in. What's the point of acquiring any knowledge at all if we're just sophisticated conglomerations of matter? That is boring." Check it out.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Summary and Review of Does the Universe Have Purpose Debate (Dawkins v. Craig)

If you don't like subtle sarcasm, you may not like this summary. But I couldn't help myself.


Speech 1

Matt Ridley - Uninteresting first speech. Seemed to agree that there is no ultimate purpose in the universe.

William Lane Craig - Laid out the two contentions that the theists would defend. "(1)If God does not exist, the universe has no purpose, and (2) If God does exist, the universe does have a purpose." Typical great opener massively constrained by time.

Michael Shermer - Annoying, irrelevant, and churlish. Somehow gay marriage came up in a debate about whether the universe has meaning. Simply asserted that we're all just stardust. Where's the argument for that?

David Wolpe - Passionate speech. Challenged the methodological naturalism and scientism that Craig said pervaded the conference. Gave props to intuitions about objective meaning.

Richard Dawkins - Goes on about how there actually isn't purpose, no matter how pervasive it is in human intuition. Ad hominem; essentially called the theists childish. Apparently his argument for purposlessness is that most people grow out of thinking that way. Gave no argument or evidence for that. Attacks Aristotelian teleology. Contradicts his earlier assertion when he says that we do see purpose in things. Asserts that evolution == no purpose with no argument. How the heck does that follow? Asserts his unscientific philosophical assumption that all things developed unaided and unguided with no argument. Dawkins is devoid of substance. All rhetoric, and not very good at that. We don't know what caused the universe, but we KNOW that science did it.

Douglas Geivett - Restates the two contentions. Gives brief reasons God is a good explanation. God is interested in all individuals and wants a loving relationship with people. This is the only way that a truly purposeful and meaningful life is possible. Shermer's "meaning" isn't meaningful. No God, no intention for anything in the universe. Human history and behavior has no meaning. Free will isn't possible on atheism. The concern people have with purpose is evidence for God. How would a simple collection of atoms consider any purpose?

Speech 2

Craig - Notes the agreement that the atheists have with the two contentions. Atheists have given no arguments against God; answered argument from evil and evolution doesn't disprove God. 10 arguments for God have been given. Dawkins is silly for saying "why questions are silly." Dawkins just believes we're "animated chunks of matter." If God exists, these are meaningful questions. Don't miss God. That would be the ultimate tragedy.

Ridley - RAAHHH!!! "I'm only hearing straw men!!!!" Completely misses half of the debate, apparently, because he claims he just looks at the universe to see if it doesn't have purpose, not because God doesn't exist. [But if God does exist then the universe does have a purpose. You must argue that God doesn't exist.] *Snarl* We don't agree!!! We can live purposeful lives without a purposeful universe or God. Order can come from orderless chance. Yay. Flying spaghetti monster appears. Synthesized urea disproves God. DNA disproves God. Genetic code is simple [ha]. We have the same genes as a mouse [Shakespear uses the same letters as you do, that doesn't mean you're Shakespere].

Wolpe - The answer depends on what you think about yourself. If you agree with atheists, then you must agree that there is no purpose. The universe doesn't have intention. But you may know that there's something special about you, and you and your hopes, dreams, loves can't be reduced to simply mechanistic terms. We lazy religious people acknowledge the mystery of humanity and the purposes of God.

Shermer - THE universe doesn't have a purpose. Mostly stars. [Yeah, that's a good argument Sherm]. Assumes that there is no God without argument again. We can find purpose. This is all just an argument for ignorance. Our own selfish silliness is purpose enough!! We should love people for the sake of love! Pretend there's no God. Did you just lose your purpose? [Uh, yes]. I claim to know what you would do in that situation. Yak. Shermer is a tool.

Geivett - Ridley says there are patterns, but no purpose. Says there's progress that we experience. But what is progress without value? We must be progressing toward some value, otherwise it's just change. Where's the argument that life has no purpose even without God? Saying it's possible that things can come bottom up doesn't mean it's true. Hasn't even been shown that it's possible. Top-down is better explanation. Shermer says no purpose because of stars and helium. This is necessary for our living. Dawkins cherry picked medieval design arguments. Ignores the fine tuning of the universe.

Dawkins - The other side is just emotional. Craig thinks it's intolerable that death is the end. [Yeah, that's all Craig said]. Wolpe claims a monopoly on love. They think I don't love things. I think the milky way and microscopes are awesome! Then he describes his own view and says it somehow means we're meaningful because we have brains. We make our own purpose. [Craig is just laughing at this silliness]. EVOLUTION!!!

Interim

Michio Kaku - One side, 100% certain that there is no purpose and no God. One side 100% certain there is purpose and God. [Get ready for the dumbest thing ever]. They're both wrong. Yeah, I'm on the science channel and I think I know things, but basic philosophy escapes me, apparently, because there's this thing called the law of the excluded middle. [Either there is a God, or there isn't. There can't KIND OF be a God]. Pathetic. My cell phone'll fall if I drop it. Whether God exists is undecidable. Can't know scientifically. Can't disprove unicorns. [Don't even consider that maybe some scientific evidence could allow us to infer a designer]. String theory is awesome. *Facepalm*.

Speech 3

Ridley - I agree with mystery. Mystery != God. Unfortunately, that wasn't the argument. Fail. Unicorns are cool. I like talking about them.

Craig - Notice the shift in the atheist side? They've been claiming that we can make our own purpose and feel good. That means we can pretend that there's purpose. That's make believe. That purpose is illusory. The atheists have been arguing from emotion. The only rational arguments given have been for God. Atheism is unlivable.

Shermer - *Groan* Dawkins was wrong. Jealousy is green. Bwahaha. Kaku is right that we can't prove there's a God, but these dumb ol' theists think we can. Spouses would know if we were faking our love. I completely missed the point of the argument. Fail ran out of time. HA.

Wolpe - Points out atheist straw men. I never said good manners and argument are only on our side [heh]. I've been close to death many times, myself and through others. We don't claim we can PROVE God and purpose, but we can infer through them that there is an afterlife.

Dawkins - HEY I'M BRITISH! Wolpe is just thinking wishfully. Nice != true. Godidit is obviously not true, and it's lazy. Darwin proved everything that makes me a big strong man. God of the gaps is dumb, but Science of the gaps is TOTALLY VIABLE!!!!!111!!!oneone!11eleven!!

Geivett - Kaku is wrong. No one claimed 100% certainty. All our arguments are probability arguments. God is likely, and therefore the way we should think. Science isn't the only source of knowledge. We can infer the existence of God through other arguments. Dawkins has given the most emotional arguments. Not argued that God doesn't exist. Not refuted our arguments. Only said that idea of God is "pathetic. That's emotional."

There are some more comments by some of the other guys, and some closing remarks from the debaters. Craig urges the audience to not get sucked into Dawkins' religious bigotry. In philosophy and other areas there are many outspoken and intelligent theists. Dawkins has the final word, which is dumb and basically says that science is da bomb and is the only worthy goal.

This was a lot of us online apologist's wish for a long time; that Craig would get a shot at Dawkins. I think it's obvious who would win a one on one encounter between them, as Dawkins lacks any substance whatsoever. The debate was entertaining, but the speeches were frustratingly short and the speakers weren't able to elaborate much. I'd still love to see a one-on-one between Dawkins and Craig, and I hope Dawkins doesn't think this gets him off the hook. This will have to do for now, I suppose.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

AA Simply Doesn't Get That Moral Argument

I've taken a little break from the Arizona Atheist for several reasons, the main one is that this back and forth gets time consuming and time is something I don't have a lot of lately. Another reason is AA's lack of civility and his inability to reason in a straight line. It's clear he really hasn't studied the fundamentals of argumentation or logic, because he can't follow a simple argument, as is made clear when he shifts back and forth so dramatically from saying there is no objective morality to condemning me as "f[expletive deleted]ing insane" for differentiating between murder and a killing that is not murder. But, I will respond here for those it may actually benefit. I will respond to his woeful attempts at interacting with the teleological and ontological arguments in the weeks to come.

In the most recent post dated 9/14, AA begins, "Because of Brennon’s obvious lack of ability to engage in discussion without his immature ridicule I’ve decided not to respond directly to him, though have replied here for anyone who might happen to wander from his blog to mine seeing if I've responded." This is AA's main modus operandi when he can't understand some argument, or can't respond to it; play the victim. He seems to have trouble differentiating between a terse critique of his logic, and a personal attack on him. No one is personally attacking him, I critique his argument, and it is surprisingly weak, if not disoriented. But here's the thing, AA doesn't think that there are objective morals. So my question is why is he getting mad even if I did insult him? What's wrong with me insulting someone if I personally feel it's okay to insult? The fact is that AA is a rigid, almost dogmatic, moralist but he has to say he's not to avoid the conclusion of the moral argument.

He continues, "This argument [that morality is subjective] may seem troubling to Brennon, but this gives away Brennon’s ignorance. Atheists make moral assertions by making rational, thought out (ie. subjective) choices about what is right and wrong, sometimes by following atheistic (godless) philosophies." I'm not sure what I'm ignorant about here, since I know this. How atheists arrive at their moral judgments has never been at issue in this debate, rather the debate is about whether there actually exists objective moral values and duties that all people are beholden to whether they know it or not. This is just a mini red herring.

He goes on,

Given the fact that objectivism regards things that exist independently from the human mind, this seems to be falsified both philosophically and scientifically...All things depend upon a conscious agent to bring things into existence and that includes moral values. If no human being were alive none of our moral beliefs would exist. Say another species evolved that species very well could have very different morals than us. Even other human societies have differing moral values and so this is also falsified without even bringing up Prime.
I don't know if AA is aware of what he just said here but, "All things depend upon a conscious agent to bring things into existence and that includes moral values" sounds like the cosmological argument to me. But we'll pass that off as an innocent misstep on AA's part and focus on the meat of this paragraph. First off, it seems ridiculous to say that things can't exist apart from the human mind. Obviously the universe does. Now, if AA actually meant perhaps that abstract concepts can't exist without the human mind, that also seems ridiculous. Would the laws of logic still hold in no human minds existed? I think they would. I can imagine a universe devoid of human life where modus ponens still was valid. But this is actually getting into the Transcendental argument for God. Since the laws of logic were still valid when and where there are no human minds, there must be a transcendent mind where these laws originate. But I digress.

I'm not sure how he thinks that objective morality, which is a metaphysical position, could be invalidated scientifically. I'd also like to see the philosophical argument that invalidates the position. "If no human being were alive none of our moral beliefs would exist," is just begging the question, since that is exactly what is being debated. He needs to argue that is the case. On the contrary, we all know, as AA shows himself in this very post, that there are things that are always wrong. It's always wrong to murder people. It's always wrong to torture innocent people.

He says, "Say another species evolved that species very well could have very different morals than us. Even other human societies have differing moral values and so this is also falsified without even bringing up Prime." Yes! That is exactly the point. If God does not exist, then our morals have evolved due to socio-biological pressures. But I'm sorry, if it turns out that extraterrestrials exist and they come to earth to rape our species in order to spread their own, it is still wrong, regardless of how their evolutionary history progressed. The Nazis evolved a society where it was right to kill Jews and homosexuals, but even if they had won and had eradicated the notion that that was wrong, it would still be wrong. Does AA disagree that the holocaust was wrong? He'd have to if moral relativism were true.

He then goes off into the discussion we had about slavery. This was a digression from the main point that came up because he wanted to show that morality is relative by showing that people in the past defended slavery. But I'm done arguing about that, as I have already shown that Thomas Aquinas did not have in mind the slavery where all humanity is stripped from the slaves, because Aquinas accepted that all humans have intrinsic value. The thing is, as I stated in the post he responded to, "simply offering examples of people who thought a certain moral abomination was morally good does not prove in any sense that morals are relative or that what that person did was right in any way. All showing past moral abominations does is show that moral abominations happened in the past." So the slavery thing isn't at issue here. Rather we are trying to determine whether some sort of slavery is objectively wrong.

AA says, "The moral argument no more proves god’s existence than someone arguing that moral absolutes mean that fairies exist. Brennon calling me ignorant is ignorance in itself! It’s more than clear that it is he who doesn’t understand logic." Actually, the moral argument is deductive, so if the premises are true then the conclusion is true. He must show that the premises are false to defeat the argument. He's been attempting to argue against premise 2, but he constantly reverts to some objective morality when he's offended by what I say and wants to criticize me for it. Why can't he be consistent here? I think it's because he intuitively knows that there are objective morals. Otherwise he has nothing to criticize me about.

Here again is where theists run into road blocks with morality. Human beings ourselves create the rightness or wrongness of an action. It’s been done for thousands of years, with laws being passed in various states and rules being changed throughout time. In one state something is illegal but in another state it’s legal. In one country something is legal; in another it isn’t. In one period of time slavery was legal and now its condemned by nearly everyone. Our moral values change over time, and despite Aquinas’s views on feudalism most christians throughout history owned slaves and freely participated in the slave trade. But over time their views began to change. The idea of slavery is relative to the time and place in which one lives.

Laws may reflect morality, but they obviously don't create morality. There has to be some reason why we institute certain things as laws, and it's obvious the laws against murder are there after everyone knows that murder is wrong. Laws also don't always deal with morality, but on social conventions. Yes, some states institute laws that say we are to drive on the right hand side of the road while others direct us to drive on the left hand side. It's obviously not intrinsically good or bad to drive on one side or the other. These are just social conventions.

Furthermore, it's obvious that some governments can institute morally bad laws, such as the United States institution of slavery or modern Muslim countries who subjugate the rights of women. Laws may reflect morality, but it's obvious they don't create it. And is AA saying that slavery was right at one time, since that was the social leaning of the culture? If that's correct, then those who were fighting against slavery were committing a moral crime, which doesn't seem right at all. There are so many problems with this kind of morality, and it's obvious that not even AA can live consistently with it.

AA then goes on and seems to say that rape is okay if the culture approves. Really? I've got to say, I think that there is something seriously wrong if he thinks that is the case, and ought to look into counseling. I think it's clear to anyone whose mental faculties are operating properly that rape is always wrong in every case because it is a direct attack and defiling of a human being. But, it's true that if AA is correct and there is no objective morality, then rape isn't really wrong. Great white sharks forcibly copulate all the time. It helps their genetics spread. We're no different than sharks ultimately if God does not exist.

AA says,

According to Brennon, I guess the several religious Inquisitions were considered wrong by those performing them. Of course, that would not be accurate. They believed they were doing god’s work by torturing people and suppressing heresy. So, no Brennon, torture has not always been “wrong, no matter what culture you’re in” or time period.
Apparently, AA is saying that it was right for the church to kill heretics for things they believed, since at the time this kind of thing was not thought to be bad. Well as unprovable as that is, since I'm sure at least the ones being subject to the Inquisitions thought it was bad, it isn't relevant to whether objective morals exists. Again, showing that certain people did bad things doesn't disprove objective morality, it just shows that people did bad things. Just as I sense that there is a computer in front of me right now, I also sense that it was wrong for the church to do what it did, and it has always been wrong and will always be wrong. I have no more reason to doubt that than I do that the mind-independent world exists, and I think everyone knows it.

He tries to resurrect the Euthyphro dilemma again, but I've already shown how this fails, since things are neither right because God declares them, nor are they right separate from God, but they are right because they match up to God's nature, which itself is the good. Therefore, morality is what it is because God is who He is. He then gives us moral duties in the form of divine commands that flow necessarily from His essential nature.

I took each and every source possible that I could use to determine god’s nature: the bible, nature, and peoples’ actions and sayings. They are all contradictory, so how in the hell can Craig simply declare god’s nature as “good”??!! Brennon, due to his blind devotion to Craig, apparently couldn’t see a logical argument if it landed on his face.
It doesn't matter if sources that propound moral advice contradict one another to whether there actually is an objective moral reality. Craig can declare that God is the good because 1) reason tells us that the greatest conceivable being would be the good and 2) God has revealed it.

AA then examines my explanation about moral values and duties as they come from God as it relates. I said,

If our moral duties come about because of the commands of God (which flow from His nature which is the good) then we are obligated to follow those commands. So I have no right to take an innocent life because God has said so. However, God does not issue moral commands to Himself because He is the locus of morality. He can give and take life as He chooses. That's why we accuse people who think they have that right with "playing god." God is under no obligation to allow anyone to live any longer than He chooses.

So that means that God has the right to take the lives of the Canaanites whenever He sees fit. The problem isn't, then, that He took the lives but that He commanded the Israelites to take the lives. Now you'll say "so He commanded murder!?!?!" No. He commanded something which without a divine command would have been murder.

Said another way, unjustified killing is murder, but with a divine command we have a justifiable reason to kill. Therefore, a divinely commanded killing is not murder.
To this, AA responds,

Brennon’s argument is literally insane. He is giving the same justification for murder as many christians throughout history. It’s scary some people still think like this. Also, despite his semantics what he is talking about is moral relativism. It’s relative to god’s commands! The very issue the Euthyphro dilemma refutes!
First I want to point out AA's consternation at my defense of God's command to kill the Canaanites. Why is he so upset? He doesn't believe there are objective morals. What, then, is wrong with this and what is wrong with the Christians throughout history who have killed people? The only way this would be wrong is if there is an objective standard by which to compare it.

Second, whether things are objectively right or not are not relative to God's commands, but rather God's commands adhere to His necessarily moral nature. His commands to us to not murder (unjustified killing) flows from His essential goodness and justice. Now, God does not issue these commands to Himself. Further, God is not obligated to let us live any longer than He wants us to. It is His prerogative. But it isn't our prerogative. Now, if God does command us to kill someone, then we have a justifiable reason to kill them, ergo it isn't murder. Similarly, there are other times when killing is justified, such as in self-defense.

To this reasoning, AA let fly his, "You are f[expletive deleted]ing insane, Brennon. You sound like a christian terrorist and it’s scary!" When you know you've lost an argument, to save face often one resorts to the ad hominem. I think it's interesting that AA is apparently appealing to some objective moral standard to say that what I have said is evil or something. If there is no morality, AA, then there's nothing wrong with Christian terrorism (which we all know is a huge problem in this world; hoooo-ee!). What are you basing this critique on?

Anyway, it's obvious that AA wants to have his cake and eat it too. He's failed to recognize that past examples of immoral behaviors don't show that there isn't objective morality, he's defended past acts of immorality by saying that it was right at that time (totally making moral reformers like Ghandi immoral for their time), and then he attacked my morality as insane. Clearly, AA can't even keep his own thoughts straight on this issue. Until he actually gives some reason to think that the moral reality we all sense isn't a reality, but an illusion, then he hasn't refuted anything. But that isn't surprising at all.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

William Lane Craig on "Subtle is the Lord, but malicious He is not."

Albert Einstein visited Princeton at one point and was informed that D. C. Miller, a famous American physicist, claimed he had detected the ether wind relevant to special relativity (SR). Einstein said the above quote to emphasize the common complaint of many physicists that if there were such a thing as the ether, then nature would not conspire to make it undetectable. William Lane Craig says of this:

One difficulty with this objection is that it seems to be guilty of greatly over-exaggerating the extent of the alleged conspiracy. After all, SR is a restricted theory of relativity: it is only uniform motion relative to the privileged frame that fails to manifest itself. But in all other cases of motion, the absolute character of that motion is disclosed. This is not to say that acceleration or rotation proves the reality of privileged space, but it is to say that, given the classical concepts of time and space, nature does not at all conspire to conceal either absolute motion or the privileged space from us. Moreover...there are modern equivalents of the classical aether which serve to disclose a privileged frame. Indeed, when Einsteinians complain that no evidence of a privileged space and time exist, one wonders what it would take to convince them of the contrary (Craig, William Lane. Time and the metaphysics of relativity. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer Netherlands, 2001. 184.).

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

New Book on the Resurrection

Michael Licona's new book examining the resurrection of Jesus historically is now out. It looks to be one of the most exhaustive studies on the issue. Licona has been working on this all through his doctoral studies till now. It's exciting to see his work finally come to fruition. I plan on getting the book soon and urge all of my readers to as well.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Sad Day

Today, while we remember the tragic but necessary split that occurred in 1517, I am also sad to hear that Ken Pulliam has died. I hope and pray that his spiritual state was different than it appeared. God is merciful and just and will judge Dr. Pulliam as He sees fit. Keep his family in your prayers, please.

There are several posts on Reformation day that I want to link to (just because I link to something does not mean I agree with all that is said):

http://www.patheos.com/community/returntorome/2010/10/31/reformation-day-2010-is-the-reformation-over/

http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/10/stanley-hauerwas-on-reformation-sunday/

http://reasontostand.org/archives/2010/10/31/happy-reformation-day

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2010/10/30/here-i-stand-3/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+between2worlds+(Between+Two+Worlds)

http://arminiantoday.blogspot.com/2010/10/happy-reformation-day.html

If you've seen any more good ones, please put it in the comments.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What Does the First Amendment Say?

Wow, I wasn't initially going to post on this, but this article by one Ken Paulson of one First Amendment Center has so infuriated me, that I've got to comment on it.

Paulson starts the article correctly, the first amendment is pretty misunderstood, mainly due to the liberal obfuscation that has gone on in the past, oh, 75 or so years.

Paulson says,
Democratic candidate Chris Coons was quick to tell O'Donnell that religion and government are kept separate by the First Amendment.
"You're telling me that's in the First Amendment?" she responded.
Indeed it is.
Indeed it is, Mr. Paulson? Really? Let's see what the first amendment says with regard to the subject matter at hand. The religion clause says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Well at first glance, I see nothing to suggest that the constitution says "separation of church and state" at all. It does say that congress can't make a law that establishes a religion, and can't prohibit the free exercise of religion. Seems to me that the restrictions here are pretty specific. But let's see what Paulson has to say to us in his article.

He asserts in big bold letters, "Keeping government out of religion and religion out of government is a core principle of the First Amendment." Okay, well, this kind of thing will certainly have a good argument to support it, since the actual document he claims says this doesn't actually say it at all. After quoting the establishment clause, he continues, "James Madison, the author of the Bill of Rights, would later explain the need for this separation, saying, 'religion and Govt. will both exist in greater purity, Â the less they are mixed together.'" Okay, so one quote from James Madison proves his point? Where does Madison here say anything about a separation of church and state?

Well let's look at the context of Madison's quote here to see what's being talked about. Immediately following what Paulson cites, Madison writes, "It was the belief of all sects at one time that the establishment of Religion by law was right and necessary; that the true religion ought to be established in exclusion of every other; and that the only question to be decided was, which was the true religion."1 Um, that doesn't look to me anything like the total abolition of religious recognition by the government, but rather a discussion about establishing, "by law," a religion of the state. There's nothing here about not acknowledging God in government at all. and certainly nothing there about teaching creationism in schools.

James Madison was a fierce proponent, as we all should be, of the first amendment. He was against the intrusion of the government into the life of the individual, as we all should be, especially on matters of religion. He battled legislation that would have instituted things that favored certain religions, like collecting taxes for specific churches.2 It's also patently obvious why forcing a religion on people by mandating it by law is a bad idea. First off, religion is about individual conviction, and the Christian religion is about a relationship, which cannot be coerced.

But this James Madison also said things like,
I have sometimes thought there could not be a stronger testimony in favor of religion or against temporal enjoyments, even the most rational and manly, than for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and [who] are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare their unsatisfactoriness by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ; and I wish you may give in your evidence in this way.3
He thought that it would be a positive thing for men in positions of power to publicly pronounce their allegiance to the Christian religion. So, state religion bad; acknowledgement of religion, not bad. There is a marked difference between making a state religion, and teaching creationism in school.

Paulson then says,
The phrase stemmed from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802. He cited the language of the First Amendment and said that it built "a wall of separation between Church and State." This was not just some poetic flourish. This was one of the nation's founders and author of the Declaration of Independence explaining exactly what the First Amendment means.
Paulson refers to truth, but gets it wrong. Yes, Jefferson, in response to the Danbury Baptist's fear of government intrusion in their worship, said that the government will not interfere because there is a wall separating the church from the state. But this was to assure them that the state will not infringe upon the rights of the people, not that God is to be extradited from the public square and relegated to chapels and bedrooms. Congress opens in prayer for Pete's sake.

To top it off, Paulson states, "The separation of church and state means that teachers in public schools can't teach their faith to their students." Oh come on. He argues that since teachers are public employees, they can't preach their faith to students. This assumes some pretty ridiculous things. 1) It assumes that creationism is a religion. It's not, it's a position on how the universe began that happens to be a part of a religion. 2) It assumes that if teachers mention something from a religion in class, it is preaching their faith. This is absurd.

Why is it that people like Paulson are so worried that big bad creationism could be mentioned in schools? If the theory that is propagated in schools today has such rousing evidential support, then certainly reasonable people will come to the conclusion that an alternative is wrong. Why is it that when the dogma of neo-Darwinism is questioned, there is such virulent and misleading things written about those who would criticize it? And why do people who fancy themselves experts on the first amendment attribute things to it that it doesn't say?

What does the first amendment say? It doesn't say what the left would have it say.


1 Madison, James. Letters And Other Writings Of James Madison, Fourth President Of The United States. Vol 3. Philadelphia: JP Lippincott & Co., 1865. 275.

2 Loconte, Joseph. "James Madison and Religious Liberty." The Heritage Foundation, 16 Mar 2001. Web. 19 Oct 2010. .

3 Letter to William Bradford, September 25, 1773

Sunday, October 17, 2010

How to Define Atheism

For a while now, atheists have labored to alter the definition of "atheism" so as to give the impression that the default state of anyone is atheism, therefore placing all of the burden of proof on theists. I recently pointed out elsewhere that this position pretty much strips the word of any sort of force at all. Simply filling people in on your current mental state isn’t very interesting at all. We could argue semantics I suppose, but that would be equally uninteresting. Heck, my 3 month old daughter would pretty much be an a-everything, since she lacks all sorts of beliefs.

Not only that, but it makes the atheist position basically no threat to theism at all. Theists argue that there is a God, that God actually exists. If atheists are simply people that lack this belief, then their position suddenly becomes of no consequence to the theist. Okay, you lack that belief, so what? There's nothing to argue with there. They haven't really taken a position, they've just told us what their mental state happens to be.

So, if this is what atheism actually is, then more power to them. Atheists just lack belief in God. Great. Apparently they lack the testicular fortitude to make up their mind about whether He actually does exist as well.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Relativity, Time, and the Kalam Cosmological Argument

Many people are aware that the Kalam cosmological argument, made famous by Dr. William Lane Craig, depends upon the A-theory (tensed) of time. This view of time postulates that temporal becoming is real; the past no longer exists and the future is mere potentiality. Only the present is real, and has a real ontological priority over the past and future. But the opposing view of time ,the B-theory (tenseless) holds that all points in time are equally real and we only experience temporal becoming as sort of a purely human conception. There are many problems with the B-theory that many people see, but the A-theory seems to be impossible on modern interpretations of Special Relativity, and many physicists. I have just begun to study this fascinating field of philosophy and physics, but I can already tell you that those who deny what most people would say is the "common" view of time, the A-theory, depend on certain unjustified presuppositions and misunderstandings of what the evidence has actually been pointing to.

There are three prevalent interpretations of Special Relativity (SR): Einsteinian, Minkowskian, and Lorentzian. Einstein's and Minkowski's interpretations seem to lend themselves better to the B-theory of time, but there have been some who argue that that view is not necessary even on those interpretations of SR. Lorentz's interpretation, however, lends itself far better to the A-theory than the other two.

Many philosophers have pointed out that Einstein's interpretation, where he ruled out the privileged frame of reference that Lorentz accepted, relied upon the philosophical presupposition of logical positivism. Those who have held to this recently maligned epistemology think that the only things that are meaningful are those that we can verify empirically through our five senses. Philosophers as of late have rejected that assumption, partly because it is a self defeating proposition. You can't verify the statement "the only things that are meaningful are those that we can verify empirically through our five senses" by its own standard. Einstein thought that since the aether (which was the privileged reference of he and Lorentz's time) wasn't empirically verifiable, it was useless to talk about. Lorentz, on the other hand, did not agree. He thought that, while we may not be able to test for the aether, we have many reasons to believe that reality is not fragmented (as the Einsteinian interpretation would entail), among other things, we should not accept that there is no privileged frame.

The Minkowskian interpretation takes the points that are conveniently plotted onto graphs to kind of explain the relation of space and time makes that into an ontological reality. But, many point out that interpreting relations on a graph as having ontological reality is sketchy at best. For instance, we can likewise plot the relation between temperature and pressure on a graph, but that doesn't mean that there is some reality known as temperature-pressure, and while this isn't the only reason many physicists adopt this view, it's one of them. 


Lorentz's interpretation, it should be noted, is equal in predictive power to Einstein's. All of the calculations that result in length contraction and time retardation are completely intact in Lorentz's interpretation. Theists have good prima facie reasons to accept Lorentz's interpretation, because God would certainly be a privileged observer. Others should recognize that there have been other things put forward to support the proposition that there is a privileged frame of reference. "The hypersurface of homogeneity and isotropy is the preferred hypersurface for the formulation of the laws of physics and the measurement of space and time" (Craig, William Lane and Quentin Smith. Einstein, Relativity, and Absolute Simultaneity. New York: Routledge, 2008. P 8). This frame is used to measure the age of the entire universe. So when people say the universe is 13.8 billion years old, they aren't using an arbitrary frame of reference, such as their house, they are using this cosmic age of the universe. The microwave background radiation that permeates the universe is very isotropic, and the speed of the earth has been measured against this frame. The quantum mechanical vacuum, which underlies all of reality, has produced test data that supports absolute simultaneity.

The B-theory faces other issues, namely that it smacks against the common experience. How could it be that I actually exist as 1 year old Brennon just as much as I do 12 year old Brennon or current aged Brennon? The process of temporal becoming in my own consciousness smacks against the claims of B-theorists. General relativity is said to have reintroduced absolute simultaneity into physics. The notion that physics has proved the B-theory is not true at all, and is based on a misinterpretation of the evidence and certain presuppositions of positivism that are unjustified. I think more physicists, before adopting the status quo interpretation, need to read a bit on the philosophy of time to see the underlying presuppositions behind the B-theory, as it seems that ignorance of this is why many take the stance that they do.

I'll write more on this as I read more about it, but for now if you run across someone who claims that relativity theory has proven that the Kalam argument is a no-go, know that they are speaking beyond the evidence.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Kai Nielsen on the Atheist's Burden of Proof

"To show that an argument is invalid or unsound is not to show that the conclusion of the argument is false...All the proofs of God's existence may fail, but it still may be the case that God exists. In short, to show that the proofs do not work is not enough by itself. It may still be the case that God exists."
(Kai Nielsen, Reason and Practice (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), pp. 143-4. cited at: http://www.origins.org/articles/craig_tooley_3.html)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How is God the Basis for Objective Morality?

Luke at common sense atheism has posted a transcript of his ongoing discussion with Alonzo Fyfe, the originator of the hip and cool online meta-ethical theory of desire utilitarianism, about morality, theism, and atheism. I responded as such (their words in italics and colored):

I imagine somebody telling a parent who loses belief in God, that without their belief they just aren’t going to care anything about the welfare of their child. It’s absurd.

What does this have to do with the theistic pov?

Tell me, when you lost your belief in a God, did you suddenly become indifferent to the welfare of your friends and family? Did you acquire this urge to rape and kill just for the fun of it?

Is this what Mr. Fyfe thinks Craig's position is? I have other thoughts on what is absurd.

But that’s just silly. Losing a belief in morality doesn’t suddenly change our desires.

But it may give you the justification to fulfill certain desires you normally wouldn't, like unbridled sexual activity or making a superior race of people by systematically eliminating those who most people desire to eliminate.

Obviously, someone doesn’t have to believe in God or even believe in morality to act morally. However, it still might be the case that God is necessary for morality to really exist.

Which is why we theists always clarify "The question is not: must we believe in God to live moral lives? There's no reason to think that atheists and theists alike may not live what we normally characterize as good and decent livess" (Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008: 175). The question is do moral values actually exist in the absence of God?

I mean, think about it: How it is that morality could be grounded in the attitudes of a timeless, spaceless, supernatural being who is defined as being the opposite of everything we know and understand?

1) We're made in His image. 2) Moral values would actually exist in said being. 3) All would be subject to said omnipotent and omnipresent creator and sustainer.

That’s just crazy and incoherent, or at least it’s way harder to justify that than other theories of morality based on less controversial and confusing features of our world. So adding God to the picture doesn’t help give us objective morality, it just makes everything way worse.

Luke, this is a bald assertion lacking argumentation. I just gave three reasons this would ground OMV's. You need to construct an argument to support this assertion.

Why does God’s disapproval make it wrong for me to eat pork? If God doesn’t like pork, that’s fine, I’m not going to force him to eat any. But if they’re saying that I shouldn’t eat pork because God doesn’t like it… How does that work?

Because it goes against the objective morality that is a necessary property of said God (assuming eating pork is actually wrong). It's quite similar to why, on a purely state institutional level, it is incumbent on you not to serve foodstuffs that the state has deemed illegal. If the state doesn't like serving cat to people, and has written it down in law, then it is objectively against the law to serve said cat.

look, if a perfectly good God allows all the suffering we see around us, that implies that maybe we’re wrong about the idea that we should be preventing suffering.

Should we prevent all suffering? I think it is incumbent on us to prevent needless suffering that we actually could prevent. Who says God allows needless suffering? Who says He could prevent it given human freedom?

I can think of several reasons to allow some suffering to occur.

Let’s say I look out my window and see my neighbor’s daughter drowning in the pool. Am I supposed to know that I should rescue her?

Well dur. Life is intrinsically valuable since said girl is made in God's image. If she hasn't done anything to merit drowning in the pool (like mercilessly killing an innocent person or something) then it's a no brainer WHY you should save her.

Maybe God has a reason to drown her. If she does drown, that’s what they’ll say.

Or maybe we'll say it was her own fault for drowning? Assuming she is old enough to be responsible. If not, then it is the parent's fault for no being vigilant.

Further, you're assuming that these kinds of evils won't be rectified in the afterlife.

So if I rescue this girl, then I would be thwarting this higher purpose that everybody would be claiming that God must have had, and everything would be ruined just because of me.

You must assume that God caused her to drown for this to be the case. However, God is not subject to the duty that we are with regards to life. He has the right, as the creator and sustainer of life, to take it in any way He deems it necessary. We don’t have that right. He has given us moral duties as it pertains to protecting life.

Besides, if I, as a mere mortal, have no way of understanding God’s infinite wisdom or why he does things, then I have no way of knowing whether or not to save the girl. It wouldn’t be the first time God killed a child.

And Mr. Fyfe has lapsed into the confusion of moral epistemology with moral ontology, as is so common.

It’s worth reminding people that God-based morality is a subjective moral theory, because it’s grounded in the attitudes or nature of a person: namely, God.

But if God is the ultimate reality in which moral values have their ontological basis, then they would apply to all. Especially seeing as we're made in His image.

Well, like I said, God-based ethics grounds morality in the attitudes of a person. That’s what subjectivism is.

First, the morality is grounded in the person of God, and His attitudes would flow from that. Second, if all are made in his image and are subject to God, then this morality IS objective, just as the federal laws of the single institution of the United States government would be objctive for those subject to it.

Individual subjectivism grounds moral value in the attitudes of each individual

Except the analogy falls apart since individuals aren't subject to other individual's personal opinions. We would be subject to the laws of a lawgiver, would we not?

Yeah, so it is universal it’s just not objective.

Um, so it being true of God's character that murder is evil and the duty to not murder applying to all those made in His image wouldn't be objective?

Right. Well, for me, whenever I hear people talk about God and morality, the problem that I have always had with it is that there is no God. God doesn’t exist.

Then objective moral values don't exist. Just because Mr. Fyfe thinks his morality is important doesn't mean it extends beyond himself. For something to be objective, it must extend to all people. All people don't have the same desires. All people are made in God's likeness, and all people are subject to God's moral character.

There's your objectivity.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Why Do Atheists Lose Debates?

I've seen a few atheists on the internet discuss why their side typically loses debates against theists, and they offer some theories, including the lack time to clarify their positions, their presentation of a weak case, etc. I must say, as a theist, these sound like pretty lame excuses.

Do atheists lack time to explain their cases?

It is supposed on the linked to post that "atheists often lose because theirexplanation for morality or consciousness or cosmogenesis or fine-tuning or whatever takes a heck of a lot longer to explain than 'God did it.'" In a debate, the atheist has as much time to prepare their case, lay out their case, and respond to objections about their case. Does a debater really need more time to explain why he thinks making more people happy as a result of your actions is where morality ought to lay in, as utilitarians would? Does a Randian objectivist need 15 more minutes to lay out why they think that selfish interests would work as a moral code for society? Not if they are well studied. There are plenty of philosophers out there who have debated people like William Lane Craig and Dinesh D'Souza who ought to be able to present a succinct case for why morality could work in some other way, if it is a good argument. That is the mark of an intelligent person; to be able to take a complex subject and work it down into an easy to understand argument.

Furthermore, this objection presupposes that all the theist has to say is "goddidit!" This really amounts to nothing but a one sided assessment from an atheist who is frustrated. When theists present reasons for placing moral ontology in God (to continue using the same example) they need to, and most of the time do, explain why God is the most plausible ground for morality. If presented with a counter meta-ethical theory, the theist should be, and most often is, able to point out why the counter theory is inadequate to explain morality. This should be the case with any argument, and if the atheist wants to show their position to be better, they need to do the same if they can.

I just don't buy that it should take the atheist more time to present his arguments. The theist's arguments require just as much explanation and defense as the atheists.

A poor case


There really isn't anything to argue with in this sentence from the post:
atheists often lose because they present a weaker case. Maybe all the theist’s arguments are terrible, but to win the debate, the atheist has to show why his arguments are terrible, and (in some way) must give some good arguments for his own position. The atheist often does poorly inboth these respects.
I agree completely. Here's the thing. Luke says later that atheists are often woefully inept at philosophical concepts, but many, if not most, of these debates with atheists are with philosophers! In fact, William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantinga and other theists have debated philosophers whose field of expertise is ethics (moral argument), or cosmology (cosmological arguments and/or teleological arguments), or higher Biblical critics and historians (argument from Jesus' resurrection) and they still win the debate.

Preparation is perhaps an issue. But really!? All of these atheist specialists in philosophy or other fields all fail to properly prepare for a debate? Come on.

My assessment


Atheists just have an inadequate worldview. That's the best explanation for why their arguments are so quickly and easily defeated. Since the demise of the logical argument from evil, atheism is an untenable case. Sure, some atheists try to show that the concept of God is incoherent, but they've never been able to construct a convincing argument, and the probabilistic problem of evil is too presumptuous. At best, if atheists were successful in tearing down all of the classical theistic arguments for God, the only rationally justifiable position to take would be soft agnosticism, as hard agnosticism is also very presumptuous. How do you know that no one can know about God? How can you say you can't know anything about God, because saying that is positing a knowledge claim about God!

However, since theism so ably presents a coherent, consistent, and complete view of reality, it seems to me that the atheists frustrated with the constant loss of debates should consider the theistic case. Stop holding to such a rationally incoherent position and join us theists! It is far and away the most plausible and most interesting worldview.

Then repent of your sinful stubbornness and accept the loving embrace of the Savior, Jesus of Nazareth.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Evidence is the Best Way to Discover Truth

So say many atheists who adhere to scientism. But this statement is obviously self defeating. I assume they think that statement itself is true, but there's no way to verify it by its own standard. There's no empirical data that could be collected by which to verify this assertion. It's just one of those pesky unfounded presuppositions that atheists throw around.

Refuting the Refutation: Part 4 - The Moral Argument

Getting back to the Arizona Atheist's attempt to refute Dr. William Lane Craig's arguments for the existence of God, we now come to one of the most troublesome arguments for atheists to deal with; the moral argument. This argument is elegant in its simplicity in that it shows that if God doesn't exist, there is no basis of objective morality, a morality that would apply to all people no matter the time or majority opinion. But most atheists make profoundly moral assertions.

The argument is deductive, and follows the form of modus tollens.
1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2. Objective moral values and duties do exist 
3. Therefore, God exists.

To start here, AA attempts to simply get rid of the second premise by asserting that there aren't objective morals, but that morality is relative. AA cites a book that is explicating the history of slavery in the new world. The author describes briefly that St. Thomas Aquinas accepted some sort of slavery that was the basis for the attempted future enslavement of American Indians. Apparently AA is trying to imply that Aquinas was a-ok with slavery and this shows that objective morality is indeed an illusion. While I will shortly defend Aquinas' view, I must stress that this example does nothing of the sort. Simply offering examples of people who thought a certain moral abomination was morally good does not prove in any sense that morals are relative or that what that person did was right in any way. All showing past moral abominations does is show that moral abominations happened in the past.

Aquinas' view on slavery is far more subtle than AA is letting on here. Part of the reason for confusion is the ambiguous nature of the word "slavery." What exactly was Aquinas referring to? Aquinas is not referring to a slavery based on racial subjugation, but is referring to servitude in which one person has authority over another. Professor Hector Zagal from the Mexican Catholic institution, the Panamerican University, writes,
the Greek doulos, the Roman servus and the Medieval servus do not have the same meaning for the simple reason that the Aristotelic doulos is contextualized in a pro-slavery society and the Thomistic servus in a feudal society. We must not forget that feudal servitude is not equivalent to Greek slavery, since when Moerbeke translated for Saint Thomas the term doulos for servus, he was making a literal translation without considering the social context.1
In other words, Aristotle's slavery (which Aquinas is analyzing) is not the same thing as Aquinas'. Zagal goes on,

Thomas considers servitude something just, yet he distinguishes two kind of justice: justice simpliciter and justice secundum quid. Servitude is not just simpliciter, since all men are equal by essence, even more since all men have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. Human nature is not predicable equivocally for every  individual. Servant are as humans as their masters. Every man is truly a human person and, subsequently, is an individual substance of rational nature with an eternal destiny that is loved personally by the Creator. Attending to human nature considered in itself, all men are equal and, because of that, there is no preeminence of one over the other. The master as participant of the human nature has no domain over the servant. Servant and lord are essentially men.2

So Aquinas clearly didn't approve of the early American kind of slavery that atheists always anachronistically read into pretty much every historical setting.

AA then again reveals his ignorance about logic when he states, "This is a perfect example of my claim in my paper Against the Gods that just because all of your premises are true, it doesn't mean your conclusion is true, ie. god exists." AA needs to take an introductory class in logic. I do not say this to be mean or nasty or to insult him in any way! It is simply true. AA needs to understand how logic works. If the premises are true in a logically deductive argument, then the conclusion is true whether anyone likes it or not. That is why he needs to attack the truth of one of the premises. If he admits that the premises 1 & 2 are true, then he isn't an atheist.

He then immediately says, "This moral argument does nothing to prove god because there clearly is not any objective moral standard that we can call upon." Ok, so this is the premise he wants to attack; number 2. But this statement is baseless. It isn't clear that there is no objective morality. He says simply because most people believe in doing the right thing doesn't prove there's a god. No one is claiming that is how the argument works. The argument is deductive; unless there is a God, there is no right and wrong. Then he says that evolution created our moral intuitions. If that is true, then morality is relative, and saying it's wrong to kill babies for fun has no meaning. If morality is relative, then it's simply a matter of personal preference how one acts. Some people prefer to love their neighbors, others prefer to eat their neighbors. There's no moral value to any of those acts.

However, I think we all know that objective morality does exist. It's always wrong to torture people for fun, No matter what culture you're in. No matter what time period. As I've pointed out before any argument that can be given against objective morality, a parallel argument can be given against the external world. But I apprehend these moral realities just as I apprehend the reality of the external world. Why should I let those whose moral sense is deficient make me question the existence of an objective realm of morality? I don't question the external world's existence because there are color blind people.

He then moves on to the Euthyphro dilemma, which really hasn't ever been an issue for Christian theists, and Plato, who himself was a moral realist, in no way "demolished the moral argument." AA claims that splitting the horns of the dilemma by positing that God's nature is the good doesn't work, but then doesn't say why. He simply ridicules the notion. Sorry, AA, ridicule isn't argument. He says, "God is simply "good" by nature, and therefore he wouldn't command anything immoral? Right. Is that why many people have claimed to hear god speak to them, and they then commit horrible atrocities?" What does that have to do with anything? Because some people do evil and claim God told them to that proves God did it? Sorry, but the weakness of AA's argument here is glaring.

He then moves on to a better question. In essence, he asks if God is good, then how do we go about knowing this good nature? Well, we are made in God's image, so innately we would have some sense of what His moral attributes are. We can also find out what God's duties to us are from His special revelation in the Bible. AA mentions this, but then brings up the incidents in the Bible where God orders the killing of people. Why is this a problem for God? God says that murder, which is unjustified killing, is evil. If God commands someone to kill someone else, that killing is justified. God orders the killing of people for just reasons. God has the power over life and death, so while it is wrong for us to kill willy nilly, God can take the life of anyone He wants. I go into quite a bit of detail in this combox discussion.

In assailing God for these killings, AA has revealed that he actually does believe in objective morality. If he doesn't, then what is he complaining about what God did for? Maybe God just wanted to kill someone. Who is AA to tell anyone else what they are doing is wrong? After all, right and wrong really don't exist. He says, "Even though morality is relative, it does not mean we can do whatever we wish. We still have a responsibility to our friends and family and there are various secular moral systems that have been developed throughout history that can guide us through this morally relative world." If we have a responsibility to our friends and family, then AA has pinpointed a moral reality that is objective, unless he's willing to admit that this is not an objective imperative, to which I'd ask why he brought it up in the first place. If this family responsibility is objective, then by the deductive reasoning of the moral argument, God exists.

He says, "After all, even religion's morality is relative. It's dependent upon god's commands." He's either being dishonest or still doesn't get it. If morality is based on God's nature, then it is objective. It is a real reality that exists independent of any of us. If God created us, then we are obligated to follow His moral nature or face the consequences. Also, the moral duties God gives us are not arbitrary, but flow directly from His moral nature.

So, AA has shifted back and forth to wanting a moral objectivity when it comes to assailing God, to denying moral objectivity. But he's failed at giving us any reason to think morality is relative, he's failed at refuting the theistic response to the Euthyphro dilemma, and he's failed at refuting this argument in any way.


1 Hector Zagal, Aquinas on Slavery: An Aristotelian Puzzle, http://www.e-aquinas.net/pdf/zagal.pdf, 5
2 Ibid. 6

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Have You Forgotten?


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Dumb Idea Reveals Historical Ignorance

I think it's a dumb idea for the Florida pastor to be burning Korans on 9/11. It's only meant to provoke anger, and that isn't Biblical. That said, I am also surprised at some Muslim's ignorance of their own history. If they want to get mad at someone, get mad at the guy who held the first Burn the Koran day shortly after Mohammed's death. After Uthman ibn Affan gained power, he had all versions of the Koran that he didn't like burned, which is the only reason there aren't more Koranic variants. There were several suras that are just gone (an early Koran contained 117 suras).

So why let this get to you, my Muslim friends? The early Muslims didn't!

HT: Mike Feller

Does the Indeterministic World Objection work with an Omniscient God?

Ok, this is the first time I've recorded a response, but I'm getting sick of typing the same thing out over and over again, and it seems to be hindering communication. Basically, my point is that if we're in an indeterministic world, then God can't change people's free choices and them remain free, and if He isn't changing people's choices, then they have alternative possibilities, just as the PAP requires.



Kane writes, "if free choices are undetermined, as incompatibilists require, a Frankfurt controller like Black [or God in this case] cannot control them without actually intervening and making the agent choose as the controller wants. If the controller stays out of it, the agent will be responsible but will also have had alternative possibilities because the choice was undetermined. If the controller does intervene, by contrast, the agent will not have alternative possibilities but will also not be responsible (the controller will be)" (Robert Kane. A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will. New York: Oxford, 2005. 88.)

So, omniscience is really irrelevant to whether this works or not.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Quick Thought on Frankfurt Counterexamples

I'll write more on this subject when I feel like it down the road at some point. I wanted to quickly jot down one reason why these examples don't really affect those of us who are indeterminists about free choices and our adherence to the Principle of Alternate Possibilities (PAP). Frankfurt counterexamples require that some controlling agent have access to the the mind of a creature where they are able to see prior states that would give some "tell" about what the chooser will in fact choose. Since they can see this, they would be able to flip a switch or something to cause the person to choose differently if the person isn't going to choose to their liking. If the controller doesn't have to flip the switch (because the chooser is going to choose according to the liking of the controller) then the person is still responsible for the choice, since no coercion was applied.

Here's one reason why this fails. Indeterminists claim that there can be no prior states that give the "tell" that the Frankfurt examples use. As William Vallicella points out, "Suppose Black has all the powers of a Laplacean demon: in a deterministic universe he can predict any state from any temporally prior state. These powers won't help him, however, in an indeterministic universe. Before Jones chooses, Black cannot predict what he will choose" (found here). In other words, we must assume that compatibilism is possible in order to grant that these Frankfurt counterexamples even have a chance at disrupting our confidence in the PAP. But in an indeterminisic universe, the controller has no way of definitively knowing what the chooser will choose. He has to wait for the choice to be made. In that case, libertarian free will (LFW) exists, there is simply a coercive agent who will make the chooser do what he didn't choose if he uses his LFW in a way that is displeasing to the controller.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Swift Responses to Hawking

Hawking has popularized the old "the universe created itself" canard in a recent article on his forthcoming book.

Scientist John Lennox has responded here.

Also, check out these videos from William Lane Craig and Robert J. Spitzer on this strange idea. (here and here)

See my blogger buddy Rhology's assessment here.

Another blogger friend here.

I think there are about a zillion other responses out there. Feel free to post them in the comment section.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

AA Simply Doesn't Get Those Cosmological Arguments

While working on part four of the refutation of AA's supposed refutation, he has posted supposedly what is a refutation of my refutation of his refutation. I don't have the time or desire to deal with everything he presents, but I will deal with a few ridiculous things he said.

One point he makes (that I didn't bring up in my post at all) is that David Bohm's deterministic model of quantum physics isn't widely held by physicists. So what? Most of the models of quantum physics are deterministic, and just because perhaps most physicists use the indeterministic model at the moment, it does nothing to prove that it is the correct model, and neither the argument from contingency nor the Kalam argument are damaged by the indeterministic model anyway. Both of those arguments work just fine on an indeterministic model of quantum physics; namely because the quantum world needs to exist for this activity to occur, and it didn't at one point.

AA then says,

As I’ve said before just because our “common experience” tells us something is true doesn’t make it so. Where is the evidence that this event has a cause? Brennon has once again utterly failed to do this and is that not also a basic principle of the scientific method? Base your theories on evidence? Something that Brennon is not doing. He’s simply saying there must be cause, but he’s just speculating and has given me no evidence why this might be so. So it’s not I who is disregarding the scientific method, but him

If AA were to remain consistent with this view, there would be no way he could function in life. First off, unless there is a great defeater (ie some evidence) for what is common experience, it is unjustified, irresponsible, and frankly stupid to deny it. Common experience tells us it isn't a good idea to fall out of an airplane. Just because I lack first-hand empirical data of this, I'm not going to deny it. He accosts me for not providing evidence for my position (which is silly, since the big bang model enjoys the most evidence of any model), but the irony here is really mind boggling, as there is no evidence that things can happen uncaused! Even on indeterministic quantum physics, the cause of the random elementary particles appearing and disappearing is the highly structured quantum vacuum, which is a sea of energy and is bound by physical laws. The quantum vacuum and the energy therein is the cause of these particles. The whole reason cosmologists are trying so hard to develop eternal models of the universe is to retain the intuition that all events do have causes!

He then cites more of retired (since 2000) cosmologist Victor Stenger. Stenger has been out of the loop for 10 years, and as Craig showed in his debate with him recently, hasn't really been keeping abreast of current cosmology. He cites Stenger,

Craig has retorted that quantum events are still “caused”, just caused in a nonpredetermined manner - what he calls “probabilistic causality.” In effect, Craig is thereby admitting that the “cause” in his first premise could be an accidental one, something spontaneous - something not predetermined. By allowing probabilistic cause, he destroys his own case for a predetermined creation.

If there was some quantum existence prior to the big bang singularity, Stenger might have a point. But Craig's whole point that the universe has come into being uncaused out of nothing, and this is supported by modern cosmology. The big bang model isn't the postulation that there was this dot in outer space that exploded at some point. Rather, it is a model of the universe suddenly coming into being, all time and matter and space, at a single point and then expanding rapidly beyond that. As Richard J. Gott has put it, "The universe began from a state of infinite density."1 Just think about infinite density and what that would entail. Density is how tightly packed together a group of objects are. In this case, all of the universe would be infinitely dense. If something is infinitely dense, then its measurements are 0. "Infinite density" is synonymous with "nothing."

PCW Davies comments,

If we extrapolate this prediction to its extreme, we reach a point when all distances in the universe have shrunk to zero. An initial cosmological singularity therefore forms a past temporal extremity to the universe. We cannot continue physical reasoning, or even the concept of spacetime, through such an extremity. For this reason most cosmologists think of the initial singularity as the beginning of the universe. On this view the big bang represents the creation event; the creation not only of all the matter and energy in the universe, but also of spacetime itself.2

Cosmologists J. Richard Gott, James E. Gunn, David N. Schramm, and Beatrice M. Tinsley write of the beginning of the universe that, "Space and time were created in that event and so was all the matter in the universe."3 Craig also cites John Barrow and Frank Tipler (cosmologists) as saying, "At this singularity, space and time came into existence; literally nothing existed before the singularity, so, if the Universe originated at such a singularity, we would truly have a creation ex nihilo."4

The rest of Stenger's quote just misses the whole point. Events happening in a purely probabilistic context at the quantum level still have causes. They are not deterministic causes, but are causes nonetheless. There is a similar analogy to this in the human mind. Those who hold to an agent-causation view of libertarian free will say that there are undetermined causes of human thoughts and actions, namely the mind behind them. Indeterministic causes are no problem for either cosmological arguments.

I know AA wants to find some source that will undo Craig's premise here, but Stenger has failed to do so. His arguments really aren't that impressive. And, since none of his counterexamples to Craig's premises are supported by anything but a very hazy and theoretical segment of science, all they are are possible counterexamples. So AA's contention that he has "disproved Craig’s scientific arguments" is just hubris-laced rhetoric. None of these things are proven at all, and aren't counterexamples anyway.

He then goes on to say how science has disproved other things that seemed to be the case, such as geocentricism. First off, I don't think geocentricism would have ever been a common experience view, since common experience rarely deals with things at that level. Common experience for most people at that time would have had nothing to do with how the earth moves in space. However, there were pre-Gallilean scientists who did think that the sun moved around the earth. This was their model, which was shown to be faulty. Science is constantly morphing their theories and improving (hopefully) their models.

AA says, "And as I noted in my paper refuting Craig, even if everything did happen to have a cause, the universe included, it's an illogical leap to automatically assume god did it." I've already explained this several times, and it has gone ignored.

Amazingly, AA then says, "And science does not always follow logic, just as I explained with the example of the earth being in the center of the universe." This really just makes one want to facepalm. AA is conflating the rules logic with "consensus view" here, one which may not follow the other. The rules of logic must be followed if the scientific method is to be accurate. If the rules of logic are broken, then something is wrong with the model science developed. Both the geocentric and the heliocentric models of our solar system MUST follow these rules if they are to be valid scientific models. And they do! It's just that one explains the empirical data better than the other. Seriously, if one can't understand that, then they have no business attempting to refute anyone's arguments.

On the cosmological arguments not proving the Christian specific God, AA again asks, "How does any theist know that it was even their god that was the cause?" I'm not sure if there's some sort of mental block that is keeping AA from getting this or not, so I'm going to write this in really big bold text: COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENTS AREN'T INTENDED TO SHOW A SPECIFIC GOD, BUT ARE PART OF A COMPREHENSIVE CASE FOR GOD'S EXISTENCE!!!

What the cosmological arguments do show is that if all space, time, and matter were brought into being by something, this being couldn't be bound by the universe. The thing that causes all of space, time, and matter to come into being cannot itself be in space, time, or made of matter. Therefore, it must be an immaterial, timeless, extremely powerful, personal causal agent. Ockham's razor would shave off unnecessary duplicates, and, therefore, we are left with a description of the God of monotheism, which could be the Muslim, Jewish, Deistic, or Christian God.

On my question on why we shouldn't think that things can come into being uncaused out of nothing, he says, "I rejected the first premise because, again, it was asserted without evidence as I noted in my paper." What!? Are you kidding? We have no evidence that nothing comes into being uncaused out of nothing? How about every single thing that happens in life? How about we know for a fact that these computers we are using had a cause for their coming into being? The very text on the screen has a cause for its coming into being. He is also referencing his "rebuttal" to the principle of sufficient reason, which is silly, since this is not that. This premise is "everything that begins to exist has a cause" which is not equivalent to the PSR (though it is somewhat similar) and cannot be lumped in with it. The fact is, the burden of proof is on the person that says things can come from nothing, and there is nothing in the universe that resembles that claim. If AA wants to reference indeterministic quantum events again, then he has missed the point.

AA again ignores the philosophical arguments against actual infinites existing, which means that he has not even begun to refute the argument. I'm still waiting...

AA then gives a weak response to my refutations of some alternate models of the beginning of the universe. He leaves the Hartle-Hawking refutation untouched (I cited my source) and then says, "During the discussion with the scientists [Vilenkin and one other, I believe] I was privy to, they said how Craig’s description of the theorem was simplistic and Vilenkin outright said that the theorem doesn’t disprove an eternal universe." Thing is, Craig never says the BGV theorem disproves a past eternal universe. He says, as does the theorem, it disproves the past eternal universe which is on average expanding. Another straw man.

AA then brings up Anthony Aguire's model, which does avoid the BGV theorem. But, as Craig and Sinclair point out, Aguire's model temporally and causally disconnects previous universes from our own. "The other side of the de Sitter space [outside of our universe] is not our past. For the moments of that time are not earlier than t or any of the moments later than t in our universe. There is no connection or temporal relation whatsoever of our universe to that other reality."5 In other words, other universes have absolutely nothing to do with ours, on this model, and so wouldn't "connect" to make an infinite past universe.

I've dealt with this quote ("The very idea that the big bang was the beginning of the universe is a distortion of what the big bang is.") above in citing many different cosmologists who obviously disagree with how Victor Stenger apparently portrays the Big Bang model. Fact is, the Big Bang model shows the coming into being of all space and time and matter from nothing, and does answer most of the questions brought up. Modifications can and are being made to this standard model, but the general scenario the Big Bang model presents us with is an absolute beginning of the universe. With the philosophical arguments that show that an actually infinite past is incoherent, this is what we should expect to see.

He brings up Hawking's model which relies on imaginary time, but fails to recognize that Hawking's model does include a closed universe, just one with a beginning curve instead of a beginning point. As John Barrow points out, "This type of quantum universe has not always existed; it comes into being just as the classical cosmologies could, but does not start at a Big Bang where physical quantities are infinite."6 Barrow still says this is a creation out of nothing, but without a "definite point." Quatnum models imply the beginning of the universe as do the standard models.7

He then cites Vilenkin (who for some reason doesn't know how to spell Craig's name) as admitting that his theory presupposes a B-theory of time, which is unsubstantiated. The Kalam argument presupposes an A-theory of time. If the B-theory is correct (which there is little to no reason to accept) then we would fall back on the Argument from Contingency, as the eternally existing timeline would be a contingent feature of the universe.

Concluding his quote from Vilenkin, AA says, "Since it’s obvious neither I nor Brennon are experts in this field it’s essentially come down to an argument from authority and each one of us can argue until we’re blue in the face that what each individual says is accurate, but I suppose Craig will just have to duke it out with Vilenkin if he wants." Well that is something we agree on, and I would love to see Vilenkin and Craig discuss their thoughts on the issue. But this doesn't undo the philosophical arguments Craig provides also, which have not been addressed.

I address his entire next paragraph above. He accuses Craig of cherry picking, but obviously has not read Craig's comprehensive works (from Reasonable Faith and the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology) where he addresses Hawking's theory. He doesn't use support without saying why other theories fail.

Vilenkin then addresses how Craig and Sinclair handle Aguire's model (as I have cited above) and apparently doesn't get the point.

The point is we don't have an actually infinite past! With that model, you have multiple finite pasts in different, unconnected universes. AA then mentions that Vilenkin has a forthcoming book where he addresses some of Craig and Sicnlair's points. Well, since neither of us can get the book yet, it's a bit presumptuous to say that what they wrote has been refuted. AA then says, "It’s very good and makes a few of the same points I do coincidentally, such as the argument that philosophical logic can’t really tell us anything about the world." 1) How could he say that a book that hasn't been released is very good? 2) He says that logic can't tell us anything about the world? Well, then we can't know anything about the world, because philosophical logic is the basis of Science. We use the methods of induction (which are always logically fallacious) and deduction that we get from philosophical logic. I seriously doubt that Vilenkin said anything so ridiculous.

So, as we have seen, the models that propose to show an infinite past either actually have a finite past or lack sufficient evidence for them. They also fail to deal with the philosophical arguments that show an actually infinite past is an incoherent idea, and thus can't exist in reality! Just as philosophical logic shows that a married bachelor cannot exist, so too does it show that a past infinite is incoherent. I don't know why AA wants to deny that things that come into being have causes and then at the same time defend that the universe could be eternal. If things can pop into existence uncaused out of nothing, he doesn't need an eternal universe, and vice versa! He's simply being inconsistent.

Despite all his practiced rhetoric, AA hasn't refuted anything.

*Update*


I took it upon myself to email Dr. Vilenkin to see if he actually said what AA says he said. I asked what he does with the philosophical arguments against actual infinites, to which he replied, "Multiverse explanation of fine-tuning does not rely on the existence of actual infinities. For the explanation to work, the universe does not have to be infinite; it just has to be very large -- and in inflationary cosmology it becomes arbitrarily large with time." Apparently there's some confusion here, since I was not asking about the fine-tuning argument, but about a past-infinite universe.

I then asked if he actually did say that, as AA put it, "philosophical logic can’t really tell us anything about the world." Dr. Vilenkin said, "No." (Apparently I mistakenly attributed this to Vilenkin when AA meant it to be attributed to Stenger, though I'm not sure Stenger would ever agree with that statement either, as it's ridiculously naive and simply incorrect).

Dr. Vilenkin also informed me that he has not read Craig and Sinclair's piece in the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, and has had only limited correspondence with Dr. Craig.


1 Quoted in William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008) 127 (footnote 60)

2 Quoted in Craig, 126

3 Quoted in Craig, 127 (footnote 60)

4 Quoted in Craig, 127

5 William Lane Craig and James D. Sinclair, "The Kalam Cosmological Argument," in William Lane Craig and JP Moreland, eds., Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2009) 157 (emphasis theirs)

6 Quoted in Craig, 135

7 Ibid.