Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Answering the Challenge From Arizona

Google has led me to the blog of one Arizona Atheist. He has posed a challenge to theists to deal with what he's written. He's written a lot, and I'm not sure I want to go back and read it all and then respond to it all, so I hope we can focus on one or two topics if he responds to me. I really want to see an argument from him for atheism. Then I would like to take his objections to some of the more famous theistic arguments and defuse them.

My initial comment on his challenge:


From what I've read, what you've written interacting with scholars such as Bill Craig has been spotty. You've offered meager responses to his work and have ignored the vast amount of material he's written to deal with the very objections you've put up.

For instance, in dealing with his cosmological argument, you've written, to dispute the first premise that everything that begins to exist has a cause, "According to modern physics, however things can seemingly happen without cause.  There are several things we observe that appear to have no cause."

This is just ignorant. You would seemingly claim that things, in this case, can come into existence uncaused out of nothing and that quantum physics has corroborated this. But this isn't the case at all. For starters, the quantum vacuum where these particles seemingly pop into existence is not nothing. This quantum vacuum is demonstrably not nothing. As Craig writes, "a quantum vacuum is a sea of continually forming and dissolving particles, which borrow energy from the vacuum for their brief existence. This is not "nothing," and hence, material particles do not come into being out of nothing. Popular presentations of these models often do not explain that they require a specially fine-tuned, background space-time on the analogy of a quantum mechanical vacuum. The origin of the observable universe from this wider space-time is not a free lunch at all. It requires an elaborately set table, which must be paid for," and, "a quantum vacuum...is a rich physical reality possessing physical properties: it is not creation from nothing."

That's not to mention the sketchy waters we get into with quantum vacuum models, since there are several that take the same data those who present this indeterministic model and develop deterministic models.

That's just one instance.

To respond to your questions here:

I welcome one and all to attempt to refute any argument I place on my blog

Ok. Please point me to one of your arguments for atheism. A refutation of an argument, which I've seen you have attempted quite a few of, is not an argument for your position. Could you give me a good positive argument that there is no God?

Do you think you can prove the existence of the supernatural

It depends on what you mean by "prove." This word has become very vague since the epistemologic systems like verificationism and logical positivism were introduced. It is near impossible to prove 100% much of anything. Can you prove to me that you're not a brain in a vat being stimulated to sense the external world? What kind of evidence could you give for that?

Now, I could give you some good reasons to think that there is a realm of supernatural activity, some would be philosophical arguments such as the cosmological or moral arguments. I could give you good reasons to think that the resurrection of Jesus was an historical event.

can you prove that atheism caused the atrocities by the communists

That's for historians to decide, I suppose. From my reading, most communists were atheists and their philosophical worldviews did lead them to do things those who look to a higher moral authority might not have otherwise done, but the question is ultimately uninteresting when it comes to the question of whether or not God exists.

do you think you can prove any god exists (the one exception being a Deistic god)

Again, depends on what you have in mind when you say "prove." Can you prove God doesn't exist?

**By "evidence" I mean factual, scientific proof

What do you mean by factual and scientific? I think there are truths that are untouchable by the scientific method that we can know to be true. Do you mean empirical evidence? How do you know empirical evidence is a good means of discovering truth? Empirical evidence is useless unless it is examined and interpreted. This seems like deck stacking, and it's not fair in a debate to set the boundaries to your presupposed epistemology.

64 comments:

Arizona Atheist said...

bossmanham,

Thank you for your comments, though it’s obvious you erected a strawman because regarding Craig’s first premise, that of everything needing a cause, I presented scientific evidence that this is not so. You attempt to counter this by going around my argument and claim that I’m arguing “ that things, in this case, can come into existence uncaused out of nothing and that quantum physics has corroborated this.” No, I’m only countering his first premise - that all things must have a cause for their existence and as I show this isn’t the case. After all, I was deputing Craig’s claim about causation, not existence.

“Now, I could give you some good reasons to think that there is a realm of supernatural activity, some would be philosophical arguments such as the cosmological or moral arguments. I could give you good reasons to think that the resurrection of Jesus was an historical event.”

I’ve already dealt with most of the common arguments in favor of the supernatural in the link above about the supernatural.

“That's for historians to decide, I suppose. From my reading, most communists were atheists and their philosophical worldviews did lead them to do things those who look to a higher moral authority might not have otherwise done, but the question is ultimately uninteresting when it comes to the question of whether or not God exists.”

The Communists did things that “those who look to a higher moral authority might not have otherwise done” is so historically inaccurate I’m shocked you wrote this sentence. The history of religion is covered with individuals and groups whose beliefs either inspired them or were used to justify horrible atrocities.

“Again, depends on what you have in mind when you say "prove." Can you prove God doesn't exist?”

There are degrees of truth and probability and the question of god, at least at this point in time, seems to be pretty much settled, unless more evidence turns up in the future. Though the fact that theists must still resort to hundreds of years old recycled theology I don’t see this happening. But the fact that naturalistic explanations do such a great job at explaining and deciphering the world (and are often verified by further observations and experiments) it’s more than likely that the supernatural is a figment of peoples’ imaginations, which would include god. This is not some conclusion that was developed because of some philosophical bias but because of the mere lack of evidence. See this discussion I had a while back. If god did exist, there would be some evidence of him since he is said to work within the world. Prayers would be answered (and I’m not talking about confirmation bias), among other things.

Cont.

Arizona Atheist said...

“What do you mean by factual and scientific? I think there are truths that are untouchable by the scientific method that we can know to be true. Do you mean empirical evidence? How do you know empirical evidence is a good means of discovering truth? Empirical evidence is useless unless it is examined and interpreted. This seems like deck stacking, and it's not fair in a debate to set the boundaries to your presupposed epistemology.”

Deck stacking? Not at all. If someone comes to me and argues that prayer healed their cancer I’m going to want some evidence of this. I’m going to want a double blind study showing that prayer did something - something more than what a simple placebo already does in medical trials.

By evidence, as I said, I mean something that has been studied over a decent period of time, and has multiple double blind studies (when possible) confirming the original conclusion. And this is just one example. How do I know this method is good at discovering truth? Well, your computer works doesn’t it? Scientists are able to successfully predict things using this method, and it’s increased the human life span! I’d say these few things are proof positive that the scientific method works rather well. If science wasn’t discovering the truth (or at the very least peeling back layer upon layer and therefore getting closer to truth) these things would not work and their predictions would fail.

You failed to present a single argument in favor of your positions and you neglected to deal up front with the fact that things can happen without cause, which destroys Craig’s entire premise as I’ve explained.

Thanks.

bossmanham said...

Thanks for the response, AA.

Thank you for your comments, though it’s obvious you erected a strawman because regarding Craig’s first premise, that of everything needing a cause, I presented scientific evidence that this is not so.

I'm not sure how that would be a straw man exactly, even if that were true. However, you have incorrectly cited the first premise of the Kalaam argument. The first premise is "anything that begins to exist has a cause." As Craig says, this is far more plausible than it's negation (which would be everything that begins to exist does not have a cause). It seems like a metaphysical given that this would be true. Nothing in our experience that begins to exist, whether an event or an object, comes into existence uncaused out of nothing.

You say you have provided evidence for that, but I said, and quoted Craig to the effect, that you are simply incorrect about that. I will elucidate with two points.

1) Wholly separate from the fact that it is disputed as to whether these virtual particles actually do exist, there are many physicists that don't agree that they are uncaused. The model that paints them as uncaused is the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics. Many of these physicists are exploring the completely deterministic models proffered by people like David Bohm. Actually, most of the models of quantum physics are deterministic in this way.

2) As I already stated and quoted Craig to show that he has already dealt with the objection, the models are not an exception to that premise. The quantum vacuum is demonstrably not nothing. As Craig and James D. Sinclair write, "Even on the indeterministic interpretation, particles do not come into being out of nothing. They arise as spontaneous fluctuations of the energy contained in the subatomic vacuum. Popularizers touting such theories as getting 'something from nothing' apparently do not understand that the vacuum is not nothing but is a sea of fluctuating energy endowed with a rich structure and subject to physical laws. Such models do not, therefore, involve a true origin ex nihilo" (From Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, ed. JP Moreland and William Lane craig, p. 183).

So, quantum physics is not as cut and dry as you are painting it and even if it were, virtual particles in the quantum vacuum are not a case of coming into being uncaused out of nothing.

I’ve already dealt with most of the common arguments in favor of the supernatural in the link above about the supernatural.

I haven't seen much of anything substantive from you. Let's start with the moral argument.

1) If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist.
2) Objective moral values exist.
By modus tollens we get:
3) God exists.

Which premise do you disagree with?

The Communists did things that “those who look to a higher moral authority might not have otherwise done” is so historically inaccurate I’m shocked you wrote this sentence.

The communists wordview provides them with justified reasons to commit the atrocities they did. Either social darwinism or complete moral relativism, either way they have a reason according to their worldview. Christians who have committed atrocities (which, by numbers, were a drop in the bucket compared to atheist atrocities, not that that justifies it) are going against their worldview and thus being incosistent. Atheists are being consistent.

bossmanham said...

There are degrees of truth and probability and the question of god, at least at this point in time,

No there aren't degrees of truth. Something can't be 95% true or pretty true. Something is either true or not.

Though the fact that theists must still resort to hundreds of years old recycled theology I don’t see this happening.

If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, there's no reason to change theology.

the fact that naturalistic explanations do such a great job at explaining and deciphering the world (and are often verified by further observations and experiments) it’s more than likely that the supernatural is a figment of peoples’ imaginations, which would include god.

1) You're assuming that naturalistic explanations DO a great job of explaining all of reality. That isn't the case at all. Just a few examples, naturalism fails to provide an adequate explanation for acts of knowing. It also fails to give an adequate grounds for the necessary conditions for scientific realism, which seems to be your view of science. How do we know that our cognative abilities furnish us with true conclusions. Things working out doesn't mean something is true.

2) A lack of evidence for God says nothing about whether God exists or not, assuming there is a lack of evidence, which there isn't. A lack of evidence could only justifiably lead one to a condition of agnosticism, not atheism.

If someone comes to me and argues that prayer healed their cancer I’m going to want some evidence of this.

Isn't their tesimony some evidence? Sure, I'd like maybe a doctor's report that they did have cancer to begin with too, but the testimony itself is evidence. Not to mention that evidence can be misinterpreted. Empiricism is not a fool proof means of aquiring truth.

I’m going to want a double blind study showing that prayer did something

What in your worldview grounds the notion that these types of studies are good ways of aquiring truth?

You failed to present a single argument in favor of your positions and you neglected to deal up front with the fact that things can happen without cause, which destroys Craig’s entire premise as I’ve explained.

Actually, that's not true. Simply arrogantly stating so doesn't make it true. The record here shows I have refuted your claim that indeterministic quantum vacuum models give an example of something coming into existence uncaused, which means the Kalaam argument still stands, and I offerd the moral argument as well.

Let the record also show that I asked you for an argument for atheism, which you have not given. Give me a reason to think that God does not exist. Until you can truly tear down the theistic arguments and provide arguments of your own, I think your hubris is unfounded.

A.M. Mallett said...

There are degrees of truth

Are there any examples of this hypothesis?

Arizona Atheist said...

I'm not sure how that would be a straw man exactly, even if that were true. However, you have incorrectly cited the first premise of the Kalaam argument. The first premise is "anything that begins to exist has a cause." As Craig says, this is far more plausible than it's negation (which would be everything that begins to exist does not have a cause). It seems like a metaphysical given that this would be true. Nothing in our experience that begins to exist, whether an event or an object, comes into existence uncaused out of nothing.

It is a strawman because I was discussing a different issue, not a quantum vacuum and the supposed creation of the universe. I cited the fact that "[w]hen an atom in an excited energy level drops to a lower level and emits a photon, a particle of light, we find no cause of that event” as one example of events happening that have no cause.

You say you have provided evidence for that, but I said, and quoted Craig to the effect, that you are simply incorrect about that. I will elucidate with two points.

1) Wholly separate from the fact that it is disputed as to whether these virtual particles actually do exist, there are many physicists that don't agree that they are uncaused. The model that paints them as uncaused is the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics. Many of these physicists are exploring the completely deterministic models proffered by people like David Bohm. Actually, most of the models of quantum physics are deterministic in this way.

2) As I already stated and quoted Craig to show that he has already dealt with the objection, the models are not an exception to that premise. The quantum vacuum is demonstrably not nothing. As Craig and James D. Sinclair write, "Even on the indeterministic interpretation, particles do not come into being out of nothing. They arise as spontaneous fluctuations of the energy contained in the subatomic vacuum. Popularizers touting such theories as getting 'something from nothing' apparently do not understand that the vacuum is not nothing but is a sea of fluctuating energy endowed with a rich structure and subject to physical laws. Such models do not, therefore, involve a true origin ex nihilo" (From Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, ed. JP Moreland and William Lane craig, p. 183).


Again, I’m not discussing how the universe itself came to be but how certain events, such as with the decay of a radioactive nucleus, can seemingly happen without cause. The Bohm interpretation is not a very widely accepted theory [1] and even this interpretation says nothing about the behavior of an individual nucleus or atom. These things are still happening unpredictably, seemingly at random, and seemingly without cause. There may be some dispute, but it’s still an issue that has yet to be resolved. You can’t simply dismiss it because others disagree. Until more knowledge is gained it’s still a viable interpretation.

Arizona Atheist said...

So, quantum physics is not as cut and dry as you are painting it and even if it were, virtual particles in the quantum vacuum are not a case of coming into being uncaused out of nothing.

I never said it was that simple. The very fact that scientists are still learning and are unsure about certain aspects of the world - particularly the quantum - and the fact there are disagreements between scientists, it shows that theists can’t claim victory in arguing that this or that has a definite cause (of course neither can an atheist) but it just goes to show that things aren’t as simple as people like Craig make it out to be (that all things need a cause). Even if it did that is still no proof that a god is the cause. That’s just bad logic.

I haven't seen much of anything substantive from you. Let's start with the moral argument.

1) If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist.
2) Objective moral values exist.
By modus tollens we get:
3) God exists.

Which premise do you disagree with?


More unsubstantiated claims and disrespectful behavior; why not answer my arguments? There is no such thing as objective morality anyway, as I briefly discussed in the piece in question.

The communists wordview provides them with justified reasons to commit the atrocities they did. Either social darwinism or complete moral relativism, either way they have a reason according to their worldview. Christians who have committed atrocities (which, by numbers, were a drop in the bucket compared to atheist atrocities, not that that justifies it) are going against their worldview and thus being incosistent. Atheists are being consistent.

Atheism isn’t a “worldview”. It is one aspect of a particular worldview and such a worldview can certainly have moral rules attached to it. There are many secular moral systems that an atheists can make use of. See here.

No there aren't degrees of truth. Something can't be 95% true or pretty true. Something is either true or not.

There are probabilities that one can assign to something to attain its truth or falsity, even if we don’t know for sure. I was also referencing the limits of human knowledge. We may learn certain things and we may not, but again, we can determine the most probable answer.

1) You're assuming that naturalistic explanations DO a great job of explaining all of reality. That isn't the case at all. Just a few examples, naturalism fails to provide an adequate explanation for acts of knowing. It also fails to give an adequate grounds for the necessary conditions for scientific realism, which seems to be your view of science. How do we know that our cognative abilities furnish us with true conclusions. Things working out doesn't mean something is true.

2) A lack of evidence for God says nothing about whether God exists or not, assuming there is a lack of evidence, which there isn't. A lack of evidence could only justifiably lead one to a condition of agnosticism, not atheism.


How am I assuming? The fact that, as I said, science makes successful predictions and creates workable machines, medicines, etc. is proof that science is on the right track. If it weren’t true, it wouldn’t work! Furthermore, the lack of evidence for the supernatural, which you have still not addressed, is evidence that the naturalistic explanations are the right ones.

Arizona Atheist said...

Isn't their tesimony some evidence? Sure, I'd like maybe a doctor's report that they did have cancer to begin with too, but the testimony itself is evidence. Not to mention that evidence can be misinterpreted. Empiricism is not a fool proof means of aquiring truth.

I didn’t say it was fool proof, but it certainly is more reliable than mere human testimony. Take the example of a court room. How many people have been put on death row for murder based upon eye witness testimony? An estimated 1 in 20 people on death row are found to be innocent. [2] Clearly, testimony isn’t as effective as you believe. Not to mention the fact that memory is not the highly effective data retrieval system many make it out to be. [3]

What in your worldview grounds the notion that these types of studies are good ways of aquiring truth?

What in my worldview? It has nothing to do with worldviews, but the simple fact that the more variables you control the more likely you’re going to get more accurate results.

Actually, that's not true. Simply arrogantly stating so doesn't make it true. The record here shows I have refuted your claim that indeterministic quantum vacuum models give an example of something coming into existence uncaused, which means the Kalaam argument still stands, and I offerd the moral argument as well.

Let the record also show that I asked you for an argument for atheism, which you have not given. Give me a reason to think that God does not exist. Until you can truly tear down the theistic arguments and provide arguments of your own, I think your hubris is unfounded.


I’m not arrogantly stating anything. I cited the examples in my post, but you ignored them. Again, I also was not discussing the universe itself but atoms and radioactive processes. But if you want to talk about the universe, the universe could be eternal, destroying the theists’ reliability on god. But as I said before, it’s illogical to posit god as the ultimate cause when 1. there is no direct evidence of god and 2. how does one go about proving their particular god created the universe? The naturalistic scenarios are the most likely since that’s all that has been observed are natural processes to begin with.

I don’t see why theists are always asking for an “argument for atheism.” The very lack of evidence of a god is evidence for atheism’s truth.

The record actually shows that my argument about causes was still not answered and I have torn down the arguments for god. Things can happen without cause; the supernatural has yet to be proven; the universe could be eternal thus casting god aside; and design has been a horribly faulty premise as has been exposed the last several years. I also cannot believe you accused me of “hubris” since you’re the one saying I’m ignorant and arrogant when you’ve failed to even address what I’ve said to begin with about causes. Again, I’m not discussing the universe and vacuums. Later on, I do cite Stegner discussing vacuums and the origin of the universe, but that was simply his theory about a naturalistic way the universe came to be, not whether or not it was caused. That’s a separate issue so I would definitely call it a strawman.

Thanks.
1. God: The Failed Hypothesis, Stegner; 124
2.
A Question of Innocence

3. Memory Distortion: How Minds, Brains, and Societies Reconstruct the Past; there are many examples of a person’s memory being completely accurate and the very way our brains create memories can create problems.

bossmanham said...

I cited the fact that "[w]hen an atom in an excited energy level drops to a lower level and emits a photon, a particle of light, we find no cause of that event” as one example of events happening that have no cause.

Um, you cite the cause of that event right there. We may not know why it happens, but we know the cause, namely the energy level dropping. That is the cause, and it doesn't happen out of nothing, since there is the existing atom and physical universe in which this happens.

Again, I’m not discussing how the universe itself came to be but how certain events, such as with the decay of a radioactive nucleus, can seemingly happen without cause.

But we know the causes of these things. Plus, nothing is coming into existence out of nothing here, so this isn't a counterexample.

The Bohm interpretation is not a very widely accepted theory

So what? The Copenhagen theory is the most widely accepted, but there are more that are deterministic than not. Such is the state of quantum physics.

You can’t simply dismiss it because others disagree.

I didn't dismiss it, and in fact gave a reason why even that interpretation wouldn't affect the Kalaam argument.

it shows that theists can’t claim victory in arguing that this or that has a definite cause

Until there's an actual example of an uncaused thing coming into being out of nothing, the burden of proof is on the person who thinks it's possible for this to happen. If it is possible, then I don't see why anything and everything doesn't happen this way.

Even if it did that is still no proof that a god is the cause. That’s just bad logic.

According to the logic of the Kalaam argument, it would have to ba an immaterial cause, because it brought into existence all matter. It would also have to be personal, since the only immaterial thing that is able to cause something would be a mind, as abstract objects are causally effete.

More unsubstantiated claims and disrespectful behavior

Where's the disrespectful behavior? I presented a logically valid argument and asked you which premise you disagreed with. How is that disrespectful? You're the one who claims that these arguments are bad. Why?

why not answer my arguments?

So far, I haven't seen you offer any here.

Atheism isn’t a “worldview”

Well I said "communist worldview," so I'm not sure why this matters.

There are probabilities that one can assign to something to attain its truth or falsity, even if we don’t know for sure

Okay, but you said there are degrees of truth also. Probability doesn't determine of something is true or not, but it gives a guide to determine whether a proposition is plausible.

bossmanham said...

The fact that, as I said, science makes successful predictions and creates workable machines, medicines, etc. is proof that science is on the right track. If it weren’t true, it wouldn’t work! Furthermore, the lack of evidence for the supernatural, which you have still not addressed, is evidence that the naturalistic explanations are the right ones.

The practicality of a model doesn't determine it's truth either. FOr a long time, scientists employed the theory of the aether, and it worked and provided a model to test the way things work. Also, Newtonian physics is very practical, but it isn't correct, as relativity theory has shown. Just because a scientific model works doesn't mean it's true.

I already said that a lack of evidence is not evidence of a lack.

I didn’t say it was fool proof, but it certainly is more reliable than mere human testimony.

Human testimony is what is interpreting the evidence.

What in my worldview? It has nothing to do with worldviews, but the simple fact that the more variables you control the more likely you’re going to get more accurate results.

It does. If your worldview is completely naturalistic, then I contend that you lack a suitable grounds for claiming that empirical evidence is a reliable source of truth, because you lack empirical evidence that the mind-independent world even exists.

Again, I also was not discussing the universe itself but atoms and radioactive processes.

Which is irrelevant to the first premise of the Kalaam, as I have shown.

the universe could be eternal, destroying the theists’ reliability on god.

The universe could not be eternal, beacause an actual infinite cannot exist. Craig goes into great detail to show this in his arguments for Kalaam. I very briefly summarize his arguments here. He discusses it here.

Plus, all cosmological evidence so far points to a universe with a beginning. It is you here who is battling against science.

as I said before, it’s illogical to posit god as the ultimate cause when 1. there is no direct evidence of god

Excepting the beginning of all space and time.

2. how does one go about proving their particular god created the universe?

The Kalaam isn't formulated to do that, though with Ockham's razor, the Kalaam would reduce the field to the monotheistic religions. Rather, it's part of a cumulative case for Christianity. Muslims and Jews can use Kalaam as well, they'd just leave out Christian specific arguments in their case.

bossmanham said...

The naturalistic scenarios are the most likely since that’s all that has been observed are natural processes to begin with.

There is no naturalistic scenario for the beginning of the universe.

I don’t see why theists are always asking for an “argument for atheism.” The very lack of evidence of a god is evidence for atheism’s truth.

Wrong, because as (I think it was) Bertrand Russel admits, the atheist could defeat all of the theist's arguments, and it could still be the case that there is a God. Saying, "there is no God," is as much a truth claim as saying, there is a God," and requires equal justification. You need a positive argument for God's non-existence.

The record actually shows that my argument about causes was still not answered and I have torn down the arguments for god.

Even if this were true, it wouldn't follow that there is no God. All that would follow is that the Kalaam argument doesn't display God.

Things can happen without cause

You still haven't shown that.

the supernatural has yet to be proven

The currently available theistic arguments give good reasons to believe in a supernatural being, and you've given no arguments to show that the supernatural couldn't exist. Given that I have good reasons to believe, and no good reasons not to, I think your position is weak. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

the universe could be eternal thus casting god aside

There are good philosophical and scientific reasons to reject this, which I've already stated. Furthermore, it wouldn't follow that there is no God if the universe could be eternal. It would only damage the Kalaam argument.

I also cannot believe you accused me of “hubris” since you’re the one saying I’m ignorant and arrogant when you’ve failed to even address what I’ve said to begin with about causes.

Well it wasn't meant as an insult, but was meant to comment on the tone of your website. I said your claim about things coming into existence was ignorant. You may be ignorant about that, but that's not a personal insult.

bossmanham said...

Correction, when I say there is no naturalistic scenario for the beginning of the universe, I mean there is no plausible scenario that escapes an absolute beginning of all space and time and matter.

bossmanham said...

Oh, and the example Stenger gives happens in the quantum vacuum, which exists and is not nothing. The same argument I have proffered applies there.

bossmanham said...

BTW, for your edification, William Lane Craig and Victor Stenger debated in Hawaii a while back here. They also debated this year, but I don't know if the audio is available online. Craig discusses the debate here.

drwayman said...

My question in talking with atheists is "what kind of proof would you accept?" What I have found is that no matter what is presented, that is the retort, "that is not enough proof." I read AA's blog. He seems like the kind of guy who could be the kind of friend that would challenge my thinking. It's not good to just have theist friends as then one can become myopic.

bossmanham said...

I agree, Dale, which is why I'm attempting this dialog. I've enjoyed our conversation so far. He's been pleasant to talk to, though he thinks I'm ridiculing him, which I wasn't even trying to do.

Skeptical Rationalist said...

My question in talking with atheists is "what kind of proof would you accept?" What I have found is that no matter what is presented, that is the retort, "that is not enough proof."

My honest answer is that I don't know. Is there any experience I could have or evidence that I could see that would not make me first doubt my own sense or sanity? Is there any circumstance which an omnipotent eternal god wouldn't be an infinitely larger assumption? I don't know.

But, if God is omniscient, and he really does want me to believe in him, then he knows exactly what it would take. I can't personally think of anything, but I don't know that it's impossible. I hope that's a fair answer.

I've enjoyed our conversation so far. He's been pleasant to talk to, though he thinks I'm ridiculing him, which I wasn't even trying to do.

I feel the same way about yourself, Brennon. It's why I come by.

Cheers

drwayman said...

SR - I appreciate the honesty of your answer.

Let's turn that around, "what would be proof to a Christian that God did not exist?" There are times of doubt but I don't ever recall a time where I was absolutely convinced that there was no God.

To me, agnosticism makes more sense that Atheism. To be absolutely sure that something does not exist seems harder to prove than doubting something does not exist. IMHO

bossmanham said...

SR, as always, thanks for your comment. I appreciate the honesty and tone of your answer, and I think it sheds light on the issue. It seems that skepticism is so strong for some people, that no amount of evidence would convince them of God's existence. I think one of the problems is the overriding naturalistic presuppositions that act as the glasses that some view everything else in life through. That is why when some skeptics put forward their misgivings, I want to see if they use the same standards on other things in life. Rarely do I meet anyone that treats evidence for anything like they do evidence for God's existence.

Furthermore, I want people to think whether their naturalistic framework is itself able to be sustained. Does it give us a sufficient framework to be able to be sure that certain thing are true? Is it consistent within its own framework?

if God is omniscient, and he really does want me to believe in him, then he knows exactly what it would take.

You're correct. He also knows whether anything at all would ever convince you. It could be the case that whatever evidence He showed you, He knows you'd reject it. Whatever the case, rest assured that He has and/or will extended His grace to you. He leaves it up to you whether to respond or not.

I feel the same way about yourself, Brennon. It's why I come by.

Same to you, and you're always welcome here. And for whatever it's worth to you, I pray for you and other atheists I engage with.

bossmanham said...

Dr. Wayman,

To me, agnosticism makes more sense that Atheism. To be absolutely sure that something does not exist seems harder to prove than doubting something does not exist

To an extent, I think you're correct. If the atheist cannot show that the idea of God is an incoherent position (on the level of a married bachelor) then it seems to me that they would have to have all knowledge of the cosmos to justifiably say that God doesn't exist.

Arizona Atheist said...

Um, you cite the cause of that event right there. We may not know why it happens, but we know the cause, namely the energy level dropping. That is the cause, and it doesn't happen out of nothing, since there is the existing atom and physical universe in which this happens.

Hmm... how did I mention the cause when I didn’t? Even that quote, which I got from Stenger, says the cause is unknown. You’ve failed to answer this argument about causes.

But we know the causes of these things. Plus, nothing is coming into existence out of nothing here, so this isn't a counterexample.

Again, you seem to be confusing two separate subjects: that of events that have no cause and the argument that things can or can’t come from nothing. You’ve failed to answer my objection about causes, and when I cited Stenger about his natural scenario for the origin of the universe that takes into account an eternal universe that had nothing to do about things coming from nothing. Neither argument has anything to do with things coming from nothing which is why I feel you don’t seem to have a very good grasp of the arguments I made.

The subject isn’t “something from nothing” but refuting Craig’s argument that all things (except god according to Craig) need a cause.

So what? The Copenhagen theory is the most widely accepted, but there are more that are deterministic than not. Such is the state of quantum physics.

My point was simply that you argued that the Bohm interpretation contradicted the standard one and I mentioned how it wasn’t very well accepted, so you’re arguing from a theory that doesn’t seem very valid. Though you’re right, things could change in the future.

Arizona Atheist said...

I didn't dismiss it, and in fact gave a reason why even that interpretation wouldn't affect the Kalaam argument.

This goes back to your misunderstanding about “something from nothing.” With Craig’s Cosmological Argument from Contingency, which is where I made that argument, I was not discussing “something from nothing” or what have you, but the fact that there are events that do not have a cause. Now, with Craig’s Kalam argument, I did mention the previous argument briefly, since it’s essentially the same as the first. However, as I said in my post, the argument that only things that begin need a cause is foolish because Craig is only relying on logic, which as I show in my paper is not always reliable and this is where science can lend a hand in figuring out the truth. Craig cites no factual argument in support of his case and I also show why his scientific argument he uses is also flawed.

Until there's an actual example of an uncaused thing coming into being out of nothing, the burden of proof is on the person who thinks it's possible for this to happen. If it is possible, then I don't see why anything and everything doesn't happen this way.

The point is that no one knows for sure about this yet and we’ll just have to wait for further discoveries.

According to the logic of the Kalaam argument, it would have to ba an immaterial cause, because it brought into existence all matter. It would also have to be personal, since the only immaterial thing that is able to cause something would be a mind, as abstract objects are causally effete.

Like I said, it’s bad logic. The argument is built around the theists’ desire - just as I said in my paper on Craig’s arguments - for his/her god to have been the one to do the creating, but why coudn’t it have been some other being? Why not an impersonal force? This is never explained. Why not a material cause? This is never explained.

Where's the disrespectful behavior? I presented a logically valid argument and asked you which premise you disagreed with. How is that disrespectful? You're the one who claims that these arguments are bad. Why?

In your very first post to me you called me ignorant, when it was you who misunderstood the argument to begin with as I’ve gone over several times throughout our discussion. Then you accuse me of rude behavior when all I did was call you out on your unnecessary name calling. You also made statements that I took offense to, such as, “I haven't seen much of anything substantive from you” when it was not only wrong, but sounded condescending and rude to me. You also accused me of “hubris” when I didn’t call you any names.

Of course, I suppose I don’t have as much patience as I used to with things like that and take more offense than I used to because of the two year long smear campaign and getting bombarded with insults by a few christians. I will accept that you did not mean it intentionally.

I’ve been telling you why your arguments are wrong, not to mention a misunderstanding as I’ve gone over a few times already.

Arizona Atheist said...

So far, I haven't seen you offer any here.

I was referring specifically to my arguments against the supernatural which you’ve refused to address, and simply dismissed out of hand. Plus, you’ve still failed to show why my argument about events happening without cause is incorrect.

Well I said "communist worldview," so I'm not sure why this matters.

Allow me to quote you in full:

“The communists wordview provides them with justified reasons to commit the atrocities they did. Either social darwinism or complete moral relativism, either way they have a reason according to their worldview. Christians who have committed atrocities (which, by numbers, were a drop in the bucket compared to atheist atrocities, not that that justifies it) are going against their worldview and thus being incosistent. Atheists are being consistent.”

Yes, you said “communists wordview”, however you clearly implied that atheism was a factor and said, “Atheists are being consistent” which implies that atheism leads to a lack of morality, or is a worldview that nothing really matters. By including atheists in general with that last sentence I felt you were referring to atheism itself. Many others also seem to lump together communism and atheism. This is how I interpreted that sentence. If that’s not what you meant I apologize.

Okay, but you said there are degrees of truth also. Probability doesn't determine of something is true or not, but it gives a guide to determine whether a proposition is plausible.

When I said this I was implying what I discussed about probabilities. As an example, evolution is true, and yet certain aspects of it may be false. So in one sense it’s true but also false. Looking back I don’t think wording it that way was very understandable.

The practicality of a model doesn't determine it's truth either. FOr a long time, scientists employed the theory of the aether, and it worked and provided a model to test the way things work. Also, Newtonian physics is very practical, but it isn't correct, as relativity theory has shown. Just because a scientific model works doesn't mean it's true.

I already said that a lack of evidence is not evidence of a lack.


In some cases I agree, however, if you go to a doctor and he hands you medicine that knocks out, say, a cold and it also worked very well in trials, then I’d say that the theories and whatnot employed (like the idea of natural selection with HIV/AIDS) are true.

Human testimony is what is interpreting the evidence.

You didn’t respond to my counter-argument that human testimony can be horribly flawed, which is why the testing of ideas is so important. You seem to be saying that it’s human beings who interpret the evidence, but again - and this is something I’ve gone over before - our senses and opinions can be flawed, but we have the scientific method to double check what our senses and opinions tell us. If one or the other are out of sync then we’ve got a problem and it tells us that we need to do more investigating. This is what I’ve interpreted your response to be: that even a scientific test could still could be in error because we still rely on our fallible senses to decipher the results. But I don’t believe that’s a viable counter-argument for reasons I just answered.

Arizona Atheist said...

It does. If your worldview is completely naturalistic, then I contend that you lack a suitable grounds for claiming that empirical evidence is a reliable source of truth, because you lack empirical evidence that the mind-independent world even exists.

We were discussing the dependability of scientific tests and you asked what in my worldview tells me that this is a reliable method of finding truth. Again, it has nothing to do with a worldview. It has to do with the fact - that is independent of anyone’s worldview - that over time as a theory is tested over and over again, and is confirmed over and over again that confirms it’s validity. Evolution is one such example. Evolution is a theory about the world but it has been tested over one-hundred years and is still being confirmed and built upon. As of now not a single piece of evidence has put it in doubt.

What do you mean when you said I “lack empirical evidence that the mind-independent world even exists?” Before I answer I want to be sure of your meaning.

Which is irrelevant to the first premise of the Kalaam, as I have shown.

I have addressed your misunderstanding of my argument above already.

The universe could not be eternal, beacause an actual infinite cannot exist. Craig goes into great detail to show this in his arguments for Kalaam. I very briefly summarize his arguments here. He discusses it here.

Plus, all cosmological evidence so far points to a universe with a beginning. It is you here who is battling against science.


If you would have read my paper on Craig more fully I addressed the issue of an eternal universe at length and why the scientific theory of the big bang does not rule out an eternal universe. There are theories of the universe that take into account an eternal universe that are compatible with all known laws of science. I gave references in my post. So, no it is not I who is battling against science, but Craig and any other theist who insists the universe couldn’t be eternal. Craigs’ arguments about it being a logical impossibility for there to be an eternal universe are not convincing. It goes back to a major theme I discussed in my paper, which is the fact that logic is not always the best guide for truth; ideas must be tested. And scientifically it is possible to have an eternal universe.

Excepting the beginning of all space and time.

As I just said, this is not necessarily the case. And again, even if the universe were to be found for certain to have an absolute beginning it wouldn’t prove it was the christian god by far. It would simply mean the universe had a beginning. Anyone who would automatically posit god would be jumping to conclusions.

The Kalaam isn't formulated to do that, though with Ockham's razor, the Kalaam would reduce the field to the monotheistic religions. Rather, it's part of a cumulative case for Christianity. Muslims and Jews can use Kalaam as well, they'd just leave out Christian specific arguments in their case.

I wasn’t referring to the Kalaam argument but how you, or another christian, would know that it was truly your god that created the universe? Is it based on faith? Is it based upon what scripture tells you? How do you know?

There is no naturalistic scenario for the beginning of the universe.

Sure there is. There are several scenarios and one of them I cited was developed by other scientists, and Victor Stenger worked out the mathematics and simplified it, which in his latest book, The New Atheism, explains how so far no errors has been pointed out by any scientist, cosmologist, or philosopher. He admits, however, that “this picture of the origin of the universe is not widely recognized [and that it is presented merely] as a scenario consistent with all of our knowledge by which the universe occurs naturally [...].” (171)

Arizona Atheist said...

Wrong, because as (I think it was) Bertrand Russel admits, the atheist could defeat all of the theist's arguments, and it could still be the case that there is a God. Saying, "there is no God," is as much a truth claim as saying, there is a God," and requires equal justification. You need a positive argument for God's non-existence.

Wrong? I very much disagree because there is no evidence for unicorns or leprechauns, even though people could make up reasons that they exist, but we still don’t believe in them since there’s been no proof of their existence. Even though there is no evidence either way people still don’t think it’s absurd not to believe in these things. Due to the lack of evidence for their existence it’s perfectly logical to dismiss them. I do the same with god.

Even if this were true, it wouldn't follow that there is no God. All that would follow is that the Kalaam argument doesn't display God.

I wasn’t just talking about the Kalaam argument but all the arguments for god that have been put forward. But I think I would agree that a refutation of the arguments for god wouldn’t prove there is no god, however it surely defeats any intellectual reason for belief, which I think puts the theist in a precarious position. With no foundation for their beliefs other than pure faith how does the theist justify their beliefs other than simply stating that’s what they believe?

It’s true there could be some god out there and perhaps the scriptures of all religions have just gotten it wrong? Maybe it’s just an impersonal creator as the Deist believes? Either way, there is no evidence for such a thing and so I rightfully dismiss it.

You still haven't shown that [things can happen without cause].

Sure I have, you just seem to ignore it when I argued that I cited the fact that "[w]hen an atom in an excited energy level drops to a lower level and emits a photon, a particle of light, we find no cause of that event” and how the decay of a radioactive nucleus can seemingly happen without cause. You’ve yet to refute either of these examples of things happening without cause. You simply said in your attempt at a counter-argument, “Um, you cite the cause of that event right there. We may not know why it happens, but we know the cause, namely the energy level dropping” No, that is the event that takes place, it was not the cause. Why does the energy level drop and emit a photon? That’s the event that scientists have failed to find a cause for, and it seems there is none until proven otherwise.

The currently available theistic arguments give good reasons to believe in a supernatural being, and you've given no arguments to show that the supernatural couldn't exist. Given that I have good reasons to believe, and no good reasons not to, I think your position is weak. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

It is the theists who claim there is, in fact, an immaterial realm and a supernatural being. Thus far, non-believers have struck down each of these arguments leaving the theist without an intellectual justification for their beliefs, as I explained previously. There have been no supernatural healings, no prayers answered. All claims of the supernatural have been shown to be false or are currently unexplained, and just because they are unexplained doesn’t mean it was a supernatural cause. Because of the fact that all we’ve found are natural causes and/or hoaxes, it is the simplest explanation that should be favored, and that is a naturalistic universe. It goes back to what I said before about probabilities and truth. Based on the evidence we have the likelyhood of there not being a supernatural realm and being are great. We may not be able to prove this 100% but with enough certainty to say that god and the supernatural most likely do not exist.

Simply arguing that something we don’t understand is supernatural is jumping to conclusions. Like I said, the supernatural has yet to be proven.

Arizona Atheist said...

There are good philosophical and scientific reasons to reject this, which I've already stated. Furthermore, it wouldn't follow that there is no God if the universe could be eternal. It would only damage the Kalaam argument.

If you had read my paper more carefully I refute Craig’s “scientific” argument that the universe couldn’t be eternal and as I said before, philosophy isn’t grounded in fact. Just because something seems logical doesn’t make it less likely.

Well it wasn't meant as an insult, but was meant to comment on the tone of your website. I said your claim about things coming into existence was ignorant. You may be ignorant about that, but that's not a personal insult.

Hmm... this discussion was between you and me, not what I’ve said throughout my entire website. My tone is polite to others on my site when they deserve it and I make no apologies for this. Besides, you accuse me of being rude when I haven’t been to you personally. That has nothing to do with the discussion at hand.

Correction, when I say there is no naturalistic scenario for the beginning of the universe, I mean there is no plausible scenario that escapes an absolute beginning of all space and time and matter.

On the contrary earlier I cited Stenger as giving an example of exactly how this could occur and he says this “scenario for the natural origin of the universe has the feature of an unlimited past and future.” (171) The scenario he gives is natural, is in line with all of the facts we know of the universe, and is consistent with an eternal universe. I’m sorry, but it seems you need to keep up with the research that’s being done. No longer is a beginning of the universe the only answer. Science has begun to see that an eternal universe is possible.

So, up to this point you’ve still failed to answer my arguments against the existence of the supernatural (which I believe I linked to in an earlier response), you’ve failed to show why my examples of events do have causes, and you’re still insisting that old science is still valid - that of an absolute beginning to the universe - is not necessarily the case as an eternal universe is possible.

Skeptical Rationalist said...

Let's turn that around, "what would be proof to a Christian that God did not exist?" There are times of doubt but I don't ever recall a time where I was absolutely convinced that there was no God.

I'm not absolutely convinced there is no God either, but I'm far from positively inclined, either. It's just a matter that nothing in or about this universe requires a God as its sole explanation, and any other explanation is almost by definition a simpler answer than an invisible being larger, older, and more complex than the entire universe.

To me, agnosticism makes more sense that Atheism. To be absolutely sure that something does not exist seems harder to prove than doubting something does not exist.

Again, this is why I'm one who advocates for the definition of atheism as a negation of theism, as a claim of belief or lack thereof. Agnosticism would be orthogonal to that, being to what degree you claim knowledge for or against. I'm not trying to control the terms of the debate, I just think these definitions are the most communicative. Using "Atheism" as a positive assertion of its own leads, in my opinion, to muddled definitions and arguments that get bogged down by miscommunication and shifting burdens of proof.

Skeptical Rationalist said...

It seems that skepticism is so strong for some people, that no amount of evidence would convince them of God's existence.

An invisible being larger, older, and more complex than the entire universe is a lot to swallow, even before we get into specific claims about its nature and desires. I don't feel too sorry for setting a high bar.

Another problem that I think happens a lot is the ostensible evidence being presented is almost invariably open to interpretation--that is, from a skeptical position, it doesn't build the case that it seems to from the perspective of a believer. As it goes, "believing is seeing," that is to say, unless you already believe, you don't see.


I think one of the problems is the overriding naturalistic presuppositions that act as the glasses that some view everything else in life through. That is why when some skeptics put forward their misgivings, I want to see if they use the same standards on other things in life.

I think the problem is not so much a double standard as that the theistic claims carry a correspondingly extraordinary burden of proof for the extraordinary claims being made. You're probably at least partially right, though. Cognitive dissonance is a universal human condition, which filters out disconfirming arguments. I think I've mentioned it before, but I quite highly recommend Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me). It's a great book on psychology, I think anyone interested in argumentation and differing beliefs would find it useful.

Furthermore, I want people to think whether their naturalistic framework is itself able to be sustained. Does it give us a sufficient framework to be able to be sure that certain thing are true? Is it consistent within its own framework?

I don't think that these are the correct standards by which to judge a philosophical worldview. Theistic frameworks provide a bottomless font of reasons to believe certain things are true, or false, and I see nothing but endless schisms and squabbling to resolve the questions.

Faith leads different people to mutually contradictory conclusions. Theism does not provide certainty, it provides assurance and conviction, the emotions of certainty.

To my knowledge, reason, evidence, and the scientific method are the only tools which can divide ideas which may be true or are most likely true from those which are definitely false and should be discarded.

I feel that it's a smaller, more conservative assertion to start from "the universe exists and we can learn things about it" as a properly basic axiom rather than appeal to an invisible being larger, older, and more complex than the entire universe as our go-to explanation for any given unanswered question. To do so places the conclusion first and leads one to cherry-pick arguments and evidence to support it. Believing becomes seeing.

I don't believe any worldview provides absolute certainty--at best, the illusion of such: the conviction of things not seen and the anticipation of things hoped for. Philosophical Naturalism at least admits that there are limitless things we don't (yet) know. "Mystics exult in mystery and want it to stay mysterious. Scientists exult in mystery for a different reason: it gives them something to do." (1) But as I said before, the impossibility of absolute certainty doesn't preclude one from being certain in a more colloquial, everyday sense.

(1) Richard Dawkins--a great quote, for all that his entire body of work seems hors de combat these days.

Skeptical Rationalist said...

it seems to me that they would have to have all knowledge of the cosmos to justifiably say that God doesn't exist.

Correct. I believe, tentatively, that no gods exist. I would have to have all knowledge of the cosmos to actually make the claim that faeries don't exist, either, but for any pedestrian definition of "to know" I know that they don't.

bossmanham said...

Hmm... how did I mention the cause when I didn’t? Even that quote, which I got from Stenger, says the cause is unknown. You’ve failed to answer this argument about causes.

That's because Stenger isn't that impressive. Stenger says, as you quote, "[w]hen an atom in an excited energy level drops to a lower level and emits a photon, a particle of light, we find no cause of that event." Okay, so first the atom is in an excited level of energy. WHEN it lowers, then it emits a photon...wouldn't we then say the lowering of the level would be what causes the atom to emit a photon? And it is also clear that the photon was caused by the atom. So this isn't a case that would at all controvert premise 1.

It is the atheist position that has become desperate here, as you are now willing to accept that the universe came into being uncaused out of nothing for no reason whatsoever. That's a bit far-fetched.

Again, you seem to be confusing two separate subjects: that of events that have no cause and the argument that things can or can’t come from nothing

No, we're speaking about the Kalaam cosmological argument, which is about the universe coming into being out of nothing. You assert that there are things that come into being out of nothing, and or happen without a cause. This has never been displayed. And, since you have not shown that something can come from nothing, this is a problem for you, because we do know the causes for these events, namely the physical universe they exist in. Like the quantum particles that appear spontaneously for a short amount of time, they are caused by the quantum vacuum. For something to legitimately have no cause, it would have to come from nothing.

and when I cited Stenger about his natural scenario for the origin of the universe that takes into account an eternal universe that had nothing to do about things coming from nothing

Which goes against the current cosmological evidence, and fails to address the philosophical objections to an eternal universe.

You’ve failed to answer my objection about causes, and when I cited Stenger about his natural scenario for the origin of the universe that takes into account an eternal universe that had nothing to do about things coming from nothing

No, I answered that quite extensively. If you can't deal with my answer, then move on.

I was not discussing “something from nothing” or what have you

Then you aren't refuting the Kalaam argument, and you have pages of irrelevant "refutation."

However, as I said in my post, the argument that only things that begin need a cause is foolish because Craig is only relying on logic

1) What's wrong with relying on logic? 2) Craig uses modern cosmology, which is more than "only relying on logic."

which as I show in my paper is not always reliable and this is where science can lend a hand in figuring out the truth.

Logic is always reliable at determining whether an argument is valid.

Science can be used to verify if the premises in an argument are true or not, but Science itself isn't always reliable and is subject to, among other things, technology and the people's interpretations who are performing it. If you show an idea to be philosophically incoherent, you are right every time. Science isn't like that.

Craig cites no factual argument in support of his case and I also show why his scientific argument he uses is also flawed.

Um, he constantly cites scientific evidence.

bossmanham said...

The point is that no one knows for sure about this yet and we’ll just have to wait for further discoveries.

Appeal to ignorance. We don't know if things can come into being uncaused out of nothing, therefore we must conclude that it's possible? That's ridiculous, and simply shows the desperation of your position. We do know that things don't simply pop into being uncaused out of nothing. This is why I'm confident that when I walk down the street I will not be surprised by the brick that randomly pops into being right over my head. When we have events, we always always expect a cause.

Like I said, it’s bad logic

Show that. Assertion is not argument.

The argument is built around the theists’ desire - just as I said in my paper on Craig’s arguments - for his/her god to have been the one to do the creating

Genetic fallacy, not to mention you have no support for it. Even if the argument grows from the theist's desire for there to be a God, it doesn't say anything about whether it is true or not. Furthermore, how do you know it's simply based on the theist's desire? Maybe those who have come to this conclusion did so by the necessity of the argument and the evidence? CS Lewis is a good example. He DIDN'T want there to be a God.

You asked for the reason we should conclude this cause is God, I gave you the reason. Your response is a combination of simply asserting that it's "bad logic" and some bad logic of your own, namely the genetic fallacy.

but why coudn’t it have been some other being? Why not an impersonal force? This is never explained

I just explained that. Read it again.

Why not a material cause? This is never explained.

You just cited me in your response, I said, "According to the logic of the Kalaam argument, it would have to be an immaterial cause, because it brought into existence all matter. It would also have to be personal, since the only immaterial thing that is able to cause something would be a mind, as abstract objects are causally effete."

In your very first post to me you called me ignorant, when it was you who misunderstood the argument to begin with as I’ve gone over several times throughout our discussion

I said you were ignorant about a subject. That isn't a personal insult.

Then you accuse me of rude behavior when all I did was call you out on your unnecessary name calling.

I never accused you of rude behavior. Do you know what hubris means?

You also made statements that I took offense to, such as, “I haven't seen much of anything substantive from you”

I'm sorry you're offended by that. I really haven't seen anything substantive from you in terms of an argument for atheism. It isn't meant to be offensive.

You also accused me of “hubris” when I didn’t call you any names.

Hubris is self confidence. It doesn't have anything to do with name calling.

Of course, I suppose I don’t have as much patience as I used to with things like that and take more offense than I used to because of the two year long smear campaign and getting bombarded with insults by a few christians.

Well I'm ignorant as to those situations. I'm simply trying to dialog with you, which will include direct and blunt conversation. It's inevitable in a debate. I'm not aiming to insult you in any way.

I was referring specifically to my arguments against the supernatural which you’ve refused to address, and simply dismissed out of hand

I haven't seen you offer them here. Please offer them here and I'll address them.

bossmanham said...

which implies that atheism leads to a lack of morality, or is a worldview that nothing really matters

Atheism doesn't necessarily lead to immorality, but it certainly would be consistent with an amoral system.

Communism does not equal atheism, but some communists were atheists.

As an example, evolution is true, and yet certain aspects of it may be false

This is a tad ambiguous. Evolution meaning change over time is true. The theory of neo-Darwinian evolution is a whole proposition, if there is an aspect of it that is false, then the theory must be revised, or it is false as a whole.

In some cases I agree, however, if you go to a doctor and he hands you medicine that knocks out, say, a cold and it also worked very well in trials, then I’d say that the theories and whatnot employed (like the idea of natural selection with HIV/AIDS) are true.

How well something works has nothing to do with how it works. Pragmatism isn't necessarily a good way to determine if something is true. Just because certain models of scientific theories allow us to do certain things, it doesn't mean that the theory is actually 100% true as described.

You didn’t respond to my counter-argument that human testimony can be horribly flawed

Because I agree with you. That means that Science has the potential of being horribly flawed. That is my point here.

our senses and opinions can be flawed, but we have the scientific method to double check what our senses and opinions tell us.

The Scientific method presupposes that we have reliable senses, because we use our senses to verify the scientific data. Therefore, if you are going to discount something solely because human senses are horribly flawed, since science requires human senses, it is also horribly flawed.

We were discussing the dependability of scientific tests and you asked what in my worldview tells me that this is a reliable method of finding truth. Again, it has nothing to do with a worldview.

Your epistemology has everything to do with your worldview. You must have a coherent grounds for discovering truth if you are going to be sure if anything is true. Why do you think that empirical evidence is a good source of truth, when you can't have evidence for that proposition? If empirical evidence is your foundation of knowledge, then you don't have a ground to think that empirical knowledge is reliable.

It has to do with the fact - that is independent of anyone’s worldview - that over time as a theory is tested over and over again, and is confirmed over and over again that confirms it’s validity.

But you have no empirical evidence that it is independent of your worldview.

bossmanham said...

What do you mean when you said I “lack empirical evidence that the mind-independent world even exists?” Before I answer I want to be sure of your meaning.

I mean you have no means of testing to see that the external world is not just an illusion being stimulated by a mad scientist who has your brain in a vat.

I have addressed your misunderstanding of my argument above already.

And that means your argument against the first premise is irrelevant.

If you would have read my paper on Craig more fully I addressed the issue of an eternal universe at length and why the scientific theory of the big bang does not rule out an eternal universe

I read your blog post. It doesn't deal with Craig's philosophical arguments about an actual infinite amount of time existing. It is an incoherent idea, thus the universe had to have a beginning.

There are theories of the universe that take into account an eternal universe that are compatible with all known laws of science.

They actually aren't, and most of them fall to the Borde, Guth, Vilenkin theorem that shows that any universe that is expanding had to come into being similar to the Big Bang model, whether they are cyclical, inflationary, etc. This chart shows the failure of these alternate theories of avoiding an absolute beginning of the universe.

So, no it is not I who is battling against science, but Craig and any other theist who insists the universe couldn’t be eternal.

Not only does Craig rely on the consensus and mainstream view of cosmology, but he also provides philosophical reasons why an infinite past is impossible. So yes, you are running against the grain of mainstream cosmology and against philosophical argumentation.

Craigs’ arguments about it being a logical impossibility for there to be an eternal universe are not convincing.

Blind assertion. Why?

It goes back to a major theme I discussed in my paper, which is the fact that logic is not always the best guide for truth

So you think we should be illogical? If logic shows something to be incoherent, then it can't be true. If you want to show otherwise, you need to show that an actual infinite is possible to exist in reality.

ideas must be tested

We use logic when testing ideas.

And scientifically it is possible to have an eternal universe.

Science isn't the only arbiter of truth, and science couldn't possibly touch on the subject of whether an actual infinite could exist, not to mention that there is nothing empirically that constitutes an actual infinite. But you object to belief in God because of the supposed lack of empirical evidence. Why are you comfortable with thinking that an actual infinite nuber of things could exist without empirical evidence?

As I just said, this is not necessarily the case

It is if the Kalaam argument is true.

And again, even if the universe were to be found for certain to have an absolute beginning it wouldn’t prove it was the christian god by far.

No one has claimed it does. I stated earlier, "it's part of a cumulative case for Christianity. Muslims and Jews can use Kalaam as well, they'd just leave out Christian specific arguments in their case."

I wasn’t referring to the Kalaam argument but how you, or another christian, would know that it was truly your god that created the universe?

Which is directly related to the Kalaam argument, which we are discussing. Again, read what you just cited me as saying.

bossmanham said...

Wrong? I very much disagree because there is no evidence for unicorns or leprechauns,

We have good evidence that such beings don't exist. We know that unicorns are mythical creatures created in stories, and we know that leprechauns don't exist because we know what rainbows actually are, namely refractions of light with no end. We don't base out disbelief in these creature simply on a lack of evidence, but also on positive evidence of their non-existence.

I'm asking you for similar evidence in the case of God. Give me an argument or evidence against the existence of God.

I said: "Even if this were true, it wouldn't follow that there is no God. All that would follow is that the Kalaam argument doesn't display God."

You said: I wasn’t just talking about the Kalaam argument but all the arguments for god that have been put forward

What I said there was in response to when you said, "The record actually shows that my argument about causes was still not answered and I have torn down the arguments for god."

Even if you showed that the argument about causes is wrong, that wouldn't disprove God, it would simply damage the Kalaam Cosmological argument. There are still other arguments for God.

And even if you tore all of those arguments down, which you haven't (I'm working on a series of posts to show this), you still haven't disproved that God exists. Rather you have shown that the classical arguments for Him don't work. You STILL need to provide a positive case against the existence of God, which you haven't done.

this discussion was between you and me, not what I’ve said throughout my entire website.

1) You're the one who keeps referencing your blog posts. 2) I was commenting on your self confidence in your arguments. I don't think you have a reason to feel that great about them. I don't think they're that good.

Besides, you accuse me of being rude when I haven’t been to you personally.

I never accused you of being rude. In fact, I explicitly said about you in this combox, "I've enjoyed our conversation so far. He's been pleasant to talk to."

On the contrary earlier I cited Stenger as giving an example of exactly how this could occur and he says this

Please elucidate on his model, which I believe is the Hartle-Hawking model. See below as I deal with that.

bossmanham said...

So, up to this point you’ve still failed to answer my arguments against the existence of the supernatural

Since, as you just said, "this discussion was between you and me, not what I’ve said throughout my entire website," I would appreciate if you would present the arguments here so we can deal with them here. I can't deal with something I haven't seen.

you’ve failed to show why my examples of events do have causes

No I haven't. These examples aren't causeless events. They have causes, whether it's the existing atom or the existing energy within the quantum vacuum.

and you’re still insisting that old science is still valid

Actually, Stenger has been out of the loop for quite a while since he retired. The theory he's presented is the Hartle-Hawking model, I believe, which was formed in 1983. Hawking uses imaginary numbers (square root of -1). He simply fails to convert back into real numbers. Furthermore, this theory doesn't avoid a beginning of the universe, but only avoids a beginning point.

Hawking states about this theory, "Only if we could picture the universe in terms of imaginary time would there be no singularities.... When one goes back to the real time in which we live, however, there will still appear to be singularities" (Hawking, Brief History of Time, pp. 138-139).

So Hawking doesn't eliminate the initial singularity, but only conceals it behind the unintelligible and unsupported idea of imaginary time.

So the one relying on old science is Victor Stenger. He also still fails to address the VBG theorem and the philosophical arguments against the actual infinite past.

bossmanham said...

In fact, as Craig states, "The prediction of the standard model that the universe began to exist remains today as secure as ever—indeed, more secure, in light of the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem and that prediction’s corroboration by the repeated and often imaginative attempts to falsify it. The person who believes that the universe began to exist remains solidly and comfortably within mainstream science."

Skeptical Rationalist said...

Hypothetical question: Let's say in a few years, the scientists working on the LHC announce that their newest discoveries give strong indications of a naturalistic explanation of what caused the universe to begin to exist and how--and that it isn't anything one might label godlike.

What then?

Arizona Atheist said...

That's because Stenger isn't that impressive. Stenger says, as you quote, "[w]hen an atom in an excited energy level drops to a lower level and emits a photon, a particle of light, we find no cause of that event." Okay, so first the atom is in an excited level of energy. WHEN it lowers, then it emits a photon...wouldn't we then say the lowering of the level would be what causes the atom to emit a photon? And it is also clear that the photon was caused by the atom. So this isn't a case that would at all controvert premise 1.

It is the atheist position that has become desperate here, as you are now willing to accept that the universe came into being uncaused out of nothing for no reason whatsoever. That's a bit far-fetched.


So now having been unable to give me an answer about things happening without cause, you simply blurt out an answer, which isn’t correct. Scientists have yet to figure out what causes the dropping of the level, not just the emitting of a photon. You’re missing the point. I’m sorry but the only desperate one here is you. Grasping at straws in trying to answer an argument is an obvious act of desperation. It’s also funny that you mock atheists when for centuries theists have believed that some uncaused being has just happened to exist and is eternal, thus not only contradicting yourselves, but causing yourselves to be immense hypocrites because your god can be eternal and uncaused, but the universe can’t.

No, we're speaking about the Kalaam cosmological argument, which is about the universe coming into being out of nothing. You assert that there are things that come into being out of nothing, and or happen without a cause. This has never been displayed. And, since you have not shown that something can come from nothing, this is a problem for you, because we do know the causes for these events, namely the physical universe they exist in. Like the quantum particles that appear spontaneously for a short amount of time, they are caused by the quantum vacuum. For something to legitimately have no cause, it would have to come from nothing.

First off, as I’ve shown over and over again, things can seemingly happen without cause. I presented an example that you’ve yet to refute and so that cuts off the Kalam argument in its tracks. I further showed that, while scientists are divided over the issues, it’s possible for the universe to be eternal, once again cutting the Kalam argument down since it’s possible the universe didn’t have a beginning in the first place.

Which goes against the current cosmological evidence, and fails to address the philosophical objections to an eternal universe.

Please reread my paper. An eternal universe isn’t against any scientific principle. In fact, even the scientist Craig quoted, Alexander Vilenkin, told me via email that it’s still possible to get around his equation given various "subtleties." And there are cosmological theories I cited, such as one by Anthony Aguirre, that is compatible with Vilenkin’s theorem. So nothing I say is against any form of cosmological evidence.

Arizona Atheist said...

No, I answered that quite extensively. If you can't deal with my answer, then move on.

I’m sorry, but which discussion are you reading because it sure isn’t this one. Allow me to quote some of your “objections”:

“These examples aren't causeless events. They have causes, whether it's the existing atom or the existing energy within the quantum vacuum.”

“This is just ignorant. You would seemingly claim that things, in this case, can come into existence uncaused out of nothing and that quantum physics has corroborated this. But this isn't the case at all. For starters, the quantum vacuum where these particles seemingly pop into existence is not nothing. This quantum vacuum is demonstrably not nothing. As Craig writes, "a quantum vacuum is a sea of continually forming and dissolving particles, which borrow energy from the vacuum for their brief existence. This is not "nothing," and hence, material particles do not come into being out of nothing. Popular presentations of these models often do not explain that they require a specially fine-tuned, background space-time on the analogy of a quantum mechanical vacuum. The origin of the observable universe from this wider space-time is not a free lunch at all. It requires an elaborately set table, which must be paid for," and, "a quantum vacuum...is a rich physical reality possessing physical properties: it is not creation from nothing."”

“Okay, so first the atom is in an excited level of energy. WHEN it lowers, then it emits a photon...wouldn't we then say the lowering of the level would be what causes the atom to emit a photon? And it is also clear that the photon was caused by the atom. So this isn't a case that would at all controvert premise 1.”

Here are some, or most, of your supposed rebuttals to the fact that some things seem to happen without cause. In each you fail to show what caused the energy level to drop in the example of the atom - not to mention the decay of a radioactive nucleus. In the third you seem to misunderstand the phenomenon I’m describing entirely. The very fact that an atom drops to a lower level and also emits a photon those are the actions which we find no cause for. It’s not, as you wrongly say, the dropping of the atom causes the emission of a photon. The entire string of actions seem to occur without cause. So yes, you have failed to answer this argument.

Then you aren't refuting the Kalaam argument, and you have pages of irrelevant "refutation."

Umm... the Kalam argument as stated by Craig is as follows:

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

I showed that the universe didn’t have to have a beginning, unlike what he claims. If the universe didn’t have a beginning then it doesn’t need a cause as the Kalam argument states, and the argument is refuted. My arguments aren’t irrelevant at all.

1) What's wrong with relying on logic? 2) Craig uses modern cosmology, which is more than "only relying on logic."

I don’t completely dismiss logic. It can be helpful in many cases, I just like to keep my fallible brain in check by the methods of science. After all, people used to think it was crazy talk for people to go into space, but we’ve done it a number of times. Just because someone can think up (like Craig does) supposed reasons why something is allegedly illogical doesn’t make it so.

And again it seems you didn’t read my paper close enough because I refuted Craig’s “scientific” arguments for this cosmological argument.

Arizona Atheist said...

Logic is always reliable at determining whether an argument is valid.

Science can be used to verify if the premises in an argument are true or not, but Science itself isn't always reliable and is subject to, among other things, technology and the people's interpretations who are performing it. If you show an idea to be philosophically incoherent, you are right every time. Science isn't like that.


Not so. Craig uses philosophy to argue, for example, that all things need a cause, however, I’ve given examples of events that take place with no cause. There is one example of the failure of purely philosophical thinking in determining truth. As I’ve said, philosophy must be fact-checked by the scientific method to ensure they match up to reality.

Um, he constantly cites scientific evidence.

Please reread what I wrote. I said that Crag presents no factual argument to support his case. By this I’m referring to purely philosophical argument. When he does attempt to use science I demonstrate why he is wrong.

Appeal to ignorance. We don't know if things can come into being uncaused out of nothing, therefore we must conclude that it's possible? That's ridiculous, and simply shows the desperation of your position. We do know that things don't simply pop into being uncaused out of nothing. This is why I'm confident that when I walk down the street I will not be surprised by the brick that randomly pops into being right over my head. When we have events, we always always expect a cause.

There’s nothing wrong with shrugging our shoulders when we’re not sure about something. It’s usually the theist who needs and asks for absolute certainty, but science isn’t like that. Either way, as best we can tell right now, the science tells us that the universe may have been born from a quantum event or in the standard big bang model, both of which aren’t nothing, which would be an enormous strawman by Craig. [1]

Show that. Assertion is not argument.

Hmmm... you must have skipped everything I wrote directly after that snip you quoted from. I did explain why I felt it was illogical.

Genetic fallacy, not to mention you have no support for it. Even if the argument grows from the theist's desire for there to be a God, it doesn't say anything about whether it is true or not. Furthermore, how do you know it's simply based on the theist's desire? Maybe those who have come to this conclusion did so by the necessity of the argument and the evidence? CS Lewis is a good example. He DIDN'T want there to be a God.

You asked for the reason we should conclude this cause is God, I gave you the reason. Your response is a combination of simply asserting that it's "bad logic" and some bad logic of your own, namely the genetic fallacy.


Actually, what you gave me was more theistic mumbo jumbo about how the cause has to be immaterial, and it just has to be personal but you didn’t explain why. Why does it have to be these things? Like I said, these things are never explained. We’re just supposed to accept it apparently because it fits the god christians worship. Just as I said: theists invent a god with a particular set of attributes and claims that a cause of the universe needs just those attributes to have come into being. That’s just silly to be honest.

Arizona Atheist said...

I just explained that. Read it again.

I’m sorry but you didn’t do any such thing. Just spouted the usual theology about how god just has to have been this or that and the universe must be this or that way. You didn’t explain why.

You just cited me in your response, I said, "According to the logic of the Kalaam argument, it would have to be an immaterial cause, because it brought into existence all matter. It would also have to be personal, since the only immaterial thing that is able to cause something would be a mind, as abstract objects are causally effete."

Like I said all you did was cite the usual theistic mumbo jumbo. Why does the cause need to be immaterial? Physical, material causes can certainly bring things into existence, like quantum events, which is one possibility for the origin of the universe.

I said you were ignorant about a subject. That isn't a personal insult.

As I said previously, I’ve been called names and insulted many times throughout several discussions so when people call me any names I tend to get defensive ever since that happened. But calling me ignorant I don’t think was very appropriate, especially when it was you who misunderstood my argument in the first place.

Hubris is self confidence. It doesn't have anything to do with name calling.

Yes, I know that, but when I read your response it seemed at the time to me that you felt I was acting improperly in some way. I thought you meant arrogant and snotty, or rude, which I didn’t feel I was being. If someone absolutely proves me wrong on something then I thank them. Then I’m that much closer to the truth. It’s just a matter of fact that very few people have poked holes in my arguments. It’s not that it’s not possible to do that, but it just hasn’t happened. I don’t think that’s arrogance. I’m just saying you’re wrong, please give me facts to back up your claims that jive with what we know about the world. I’m just stating facts.

Well I'm ignorant as to those situations. I'm simply trying to dialog with you, which will include direct and blunt conversation. It's inevitable in a debate. I'm not aiming to insult you in any way.

Thank you. I appreciate that.

I haven't seen you offer them here. Please offer them here and I'll address them.

When I told you I had linked to my arguments against the supernatural you responded with: “I haven't seen much of anything substantive from you.” I took this to mean that you had read the posts in the link and simply dismissed them. If you didn’t read them they can be found here and here.

Atheism doesn't necessarily lead to immorality, but it certainly would be consistent with an amoral system.

Communism does not equal atheism, but some communists were atheists.


Well, atheism, by it’s very nature is amoral. As I’ve said it’s just a negative and contains no ideology of it’s own. An atheist must look at philosophical systems and use their reason to choose which beliefs about morality he/she feels is the best way to live. Because of this, both good and bad people can be atheists and have an immoral ideology guiding them, like the Communists, who believed anything was justifiable in attaining their utopia based upon the idea of having everything in common and desolving all classes. That’s why I argue it wasn’t atheism, but the Communist ideology which lead to their horrible actions.

But I do not see how religion can be any better. Religion itself does contain ideologies that can and have lead to murders and persecution, such as the belief that one true god sent a message that all should worship him and must be saved. Inquisitions anyone? Crusades? The ideology of religion can easily lead directly to this kind of thing.

Arizona Atheist said...

This is a tad ambiguous. Evolution meaning change over time is true. The theory of neo-Darwinian evolution is a whole proposition, if there is an aspect of it that is false, then the theory must be revised, or it is false as a whole.

I wouldn’t say it’s ambiguous. That’s just the nature of science and you’re incorrect about how science operates. You don’t just throw out an entire theory because one or two things turn out to be false. Scientists try to revise their theories to make them more accurate with the new data that is collected. For example, it was found that natural selection was not the only force acting upon species, but there are also genetic drift and founder effects. These things have reduced the role of natural selection to a degree and some scientists disagree about how strong a role each of these forces plays in evolution, but the fact remains that evolution itself is true. Natural selection and evolution haven’t been falsified, only built upon and better understood.

How well something works has nothing to do with how it works. Pragmatism isn't necessarily a good way to determine if something is true. Just because certain models of scientific theories allow us to do certain things, it doesn't mean that the theory is actually 100% true as described.

No it doesn’t mean it’s 100% true, but at least mostly true. I don’t think any true scientist would argue that any theory was 100% true since scepticism is a large part of science. It’s a possibility that one day something could contradict the law of gravity, but (and this goes back to the previous discussion above) instead of throwing out the entire theory of gravitation a scientist would try to figure out what happened instead of just throwing everything out out right.

Because I agree with you. That means that Science has the potential of being horribly flawed. That is my point here.

Sure it does, as does any method of finding truth, but over time as things are tested and studied further we often confirm old ideas and discard old ones that we find are not valid. That’s the best method of finding truth. Don’t assume you’re right (like religion) but constantly test your ideas against what we find in reality/nature. But just because science can be flawed doesn’t mean it should be distrusted. As I said, over time a theory gains more acceptance if it continually makes correct predictions. I agree nothing is perfect but it seems you’re asking for some ultimate method for finding truth and trying to make science adhere to this high bar you’re setting, but that’s just not realistic. You just have to go where the evidence leads you at that point and if it turns out to be wrong, well then, so be it. At least a person who does this is open minded and flexible enough to change their minds should new evidence become available that would discredit or cause a change in their beliefs. But over time a person will get ever closer to the truth. Besides, what other forms of truth finding is there? Revelation? Some holy book? I don’t think so. Holy books have been found to be wrong on so many levels, and revelation has yet to be nothing more than an individual who pretends to hear voices from beyond. And then, of course, what happens when two revelations contradict one another, like those of christianity and those of mormonism, where Joseph Smith was supposedly visited by god and jesus and told that all other forms of christianity were false. How do you figure out which is true? What methods do you use to figure this out?

The Scientific method presupposes that we have reliable senses, because we use our senses to verify the scientific data. Therefore, if you are going to discount something solely because human senses are horribly flawed, since science requires human senses, it is also horribly flawed.

Cont.

Arizona Atheist said...

This goes back to what I just said. You’re asking science to be completely flawless when that’s just not realistic. You’re setting an impossible standard. And our senses aren’t totally without fail since they do a pretty good job of deciphering the world and judging the distance from cliffs so we don’t fall off for example. They are also acute enough to allow us to hit a swiftly moving fast ball, and can often tell when someone is lying to us, so our senses should not simply be dismissed.

Your epistemology has everything to do with your worldview. You must have a coherent grounds for discovering truth if you are going to be sure if anything is true. Why do you think that empirical evidence is a good source of truth, when you can't have evidence for that proposition? If empirical evidence is your foundation of knowledge, then you don't have a ground to think that empirical knowledge is reliable.

I would disagree with your first sentence, because, as I said before, whether or not a person accepts prayer for example (thus also accepting the immaterial) has nothing to do with whether or not it actually works. It either does or it doesn’t. So far all attempts to test prayer have failed and therefore the evidence would (or at least should) lead someone to the conclusion that prayer is nonsense. This isn’t about accepting a worldview because regardless of a person’s views prayer either works or it doesn’t. Now, a person who accepts the supernatural and the power of prayer will obviously make excuses but that doesn’t make prayer any more true. It
hasn’t been shown to work, period.

I’ve given you evidence for why empiricism is a reliable form for finding truth. But as I said, it’s not perfect, but nothing is.

But you have no empirical evidence that it is independent of your worldview.

Sure I have. Something either works or it doesn’t. Just because a person believes in the supernatural doesn’t mean it actually exists. A person will either be able to heal someone through prayer or not. A person will be able to read the mind of another or not. If not, then whether or not a person’s worldview accepts the supernatural is irrelevant. It’s all about following the evidence. That’s what I was trying to get across to the christian in this discussion. Eventually, I saw he wasn’t going to see the truth of the matter and so I respectfully bowed out of the discussion. I wasn’t adhering to some dogma as he argued (and it seems that you’re saying) but looking at where the evidence pointed to come to my conclusions. The reason I accept a naturalistic universe is because that’s all that’s been observed. Nothing more. How can I go by other methods when others have been shown to be false, such as supernaturalism or immaterialism? It would be foolish for me to because there is no evidence for that view of the world.

I mean you have no means of testing to see that the external world is not just an illusion being stimulated by a mad scientist who has your brain in a vat.

I don’t think this really matters for the discussion at hand. Either way, if this were happening and the evil being wished to trick us we wouldn’t be able to distinguish between ourselves actually sitting at our computers, or the evil being causing us to believe we are sitting at our computers. All we have, as I said, is what our experiences tell us and they tells us that we aren’t brains in vats. Again, nothing is fool proof, but that’s all we have to go on, so I don’t see the point in proposing such questions because, while somewhat interesting, are ultimately pointless. How do you know you know you’re not a brain in a vat? Do you have access to knowledge I, or any other human being, doesn’t have? No, you don’t.

And that means your argument against the first premise is irrelevant.

I’ve already explained in this reply in more detail why your criticism was unfounded.

Arizona Atheist said...

I read your blog post. It doesn't deal with Craig's philosophical arguments about an actual infinite amount of time existing. It is an incoherent idea, thus the universe had to have a beginning.

As I’ve said, Craig’s philosophizing is pointless because there are actual facts and evidence that refute his armchair philosophy. Simply stating something without evidence isn’t an argument, and the factual, scientific evidence he does cite I show is false by quoting the author of the research he used. You’ve continued to fail to answer this argument. Despite Craig’s beliefs, things can seem to happen without cause, and the scientist he cited refutes Craig’s interpretation of his research.

They actually aren't, and most of them fall to the Borde, Guth, Vilenkin theorem that shows that any universe that is expanding had to come into being similar to the Big Bang model, whether they are cyclical, inflationary, etc. This chart shows the failure of these alternate theories of avoiding an absolute beginning of the universe.

I gave you examples of a theory which didn’t require a beginning but you continue to ignore it in favor of attacking other cosmological models.

Not only does Craig rely on the consensus and mainstream view of cosmology, but he also provides philosophical reasons why an infinite past is impossible. So yes, you are running against the grain of mainstream cosmology and against philosophical argumentation.

As I’ve explained, philosophical argumentation is pretty much pointless, and even the science Craig cites I’ve refuted. So you cannot simply ignore this damning argument against Craig I’ll go ahead and quote it:

During their email exchange Mr. Stenger asked Mr. Vilenkin the following question,

"Does your theorem prove that the universe must have had a beginning?"

Vilenkin replied,

"No. But it proves that the expansion of the universe must have had a beginning. You can evade the theorem by postulating that the universe was contracting prior to some time."

In addition, Craig misuses the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem. In Craig’s “Contemporary Cosmology and the Beginning of the Universe” he says that “any universe which has, on average, been expanding throughout its history cannot be infinite in the past but must have a past space-time boundary.” However, he is misquoting the paper by Borde, Guth, and Vilenkin because their paper actually says that, “almost all” inflationary models of the universe will reach a boundary in the past. For example, this theorem doesn’t rule out Stephen Hawking’s no-boundary proposal which states that time may be finite without any real boundary (just like a sphere is finite in surface area while it has no “beginning”). [2]

Blind assertion. Why?

As I said, because the science contradicts it, as I just explained quite throughly.

So you think we should be illogical? If logic shows something to be incoherent, then it can't be true. If you want to show otherwise, you need to show that an actual infinite is possible to exist in reality.

As I’ve continually shown, according to Craig’s “logic” he believes it impossible for things to happen without cause. I’ve shown this isn’t the case scientifically.

Arizona Atheist said...

We use logic when testing ideas.

To some degree yes, but again, what we believe can turn out to be false when we put them to the test as I just explained above.

Science isn't the only arbiter of truth, and science couldn't possibly touch on the subject of whether an actual infinite could exist, not to mention that there is nothing empirically that constitutes an actual infinite. But you object to belief in God because of the supposed lack of empirical evidence. Why are you comfortable with thinking that an actual infinite nuber of things could exist without empirical evidence?

I consider it a possibility because it doesn’t contradict any of the laws of science. Craig constantly cites the second law of thermodynamics, but always leaves out the first, because that would be consistent with an eternal universe: energy can be transformed but cannot be created or destroyed.

As I said, we’re still learning more about the universe and I’m sure in the future we will get closer to the truth as we gather more data. But to simply argue it’s impossible when the science tells us otherwise is getting ahead of yourself. I’ve also cited several theories that confirm this, such as Stenger’s and Aguirre’s.

It is if the Kalaam argument is true.

And according the the evidence at hand, things can happen without cause so the Kalam fails, as I explained earlier in this reply.

No one has claimed it does. I stated earlier, "it's part of a cumulative case for Christianity. Muslims and Jews can use Kalaam as well, they'd just leave out Christian specific arguments in their case."

No one has claimed it does? Craig does in the paper I refuted in his conclusion of his discussion of the Cosmological Argument from Contingency: “So if this argument is successful, it proves the existence of a necessary, uncaused, timeless, spaceless, immaterial, personal Creator of the universe.”

He is arguing that the cause must be his christian god. While he doesn’t say this explicitly it’s obvious what he believes is the creator. His christian god.

Which is directly related to the Kalaam argument, which we are discussing. Again, read what you just cited me as saying.

And I just quoted Craig as arguing that the cause must have the attributes that his god has. How convenient! As I said, what evidence does one have to know it was the christian god who did the creating? This still hasn’t been answered. You’re arguing in a circle. Because the argument states the cause must have the attributes of your god it must be your god that did the creating. That’s circular reasoning and invalid.

Arizona Atheist said...

We have good evidence that such beings don't exist. We know that unicorns are mythical creatures created in stories, and we know that leprechauns don't exist because we know what rainbows actually are, namely refractions of light with no end. We don't base out disbelief in these creature simply on a lack of evidence, but also on positive evidence of their non-existence.

I'm asking you for similar evidence in the case of God. Give me an argument or evidence against the existence of God.

I said: "Even if this were true, it wouldn't follow that there is no God. All that would follow is that the Kalaam argument doesn't display God."

You said: I wasn’t just talking about the Kalaam argument but all the arguments for god that have been put forward

What I said there was in response to when you said, "The record actually shows that my argument about causes was still not answered and I have torn down the arguments for god."

Even if you showed that the argument about causes is wrong, that wouldn't disprove God, it would simply damage the Kalaam Cosmological argument. There are still other arguments for God.

And even if you tore all of those arguments down, which you haven't (I'm working on a series of posts to show this), you still haven't disproved that God exists. Rather you have shown that the classical arguments for Him don't work. You STILL need to provide a positive case against the existence of God, which you haven't done.


What positive evidence do you have that unicorns or leprechauns don’t exist? Nothing more than the fact that no one has actually observed one, right? Just as with the case of god, the only difference is that an entire industry has been built up around the idea of god and thus work to propagate the idea, so even if no one has ever seen god or been able to prove their experiences happened in reality people still believe despite the lack of evidence.

I find it odd that you’d argue that, even if my arguments against god were correct , all I would accomplish is that the christian god would be false. Well, isn’t that the very objective? Show that your god doesn’t exist? That right there would defeat christianity. But of course, religion and the human mind are creative when confronted with evidence against a particular proposition. People will distort and make up things in order to hold on to that belief. That’s why for many people the christian god is transforming into a more deistic god to many christians and a more traditional god is falling by the wayside. More people in polls are found to be more “spiritual” rather than traditionally religious: "We are becoming a nation of spiritually anchored people who are not traditionally religious," said Serene Jones, president of the Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. [3] This trend is already beginning to take place and has been for several years.

Arizona Atheist said...

1) You're the one who keeps referencing your blog posts. 2) I was commenting on your self confidence in your arguments. I don't think you have a reason to feel that great about them. I don't think they're that good.

Only the blog posts that give you the relevant information for why I take the position I do. You also seem pretty cocky yourself - especially for not being able to answer my arguments as I’ve shown repeatedly.

Please elucidate on his model, which I believe is the Hartle-Hawking model. See below as I deal with that.

I’ll go ahead and deal with that now...

Actually, Stenger has been out of the loop for quite a while since he retired. The theory he's presented is the Hartle-Hawking model, I believe, which was formed in 1983. Hawking uses imaginary numbers (square root of -1). He simply fails to convert back into real numbers. Furthermore, this theory doesn't avoid a beginning of the universe, but only avoids a beginning point.

Hawking states about this theory, "Only if we could picture the universe in terms of imaginary time would there be no singularities.... When one goes back to the real time in which we live, however, there will still appear to be singularities" (Hawking, Brief History of Time, pp. 138-139).

So Hawking doesn't eliminate the initial singularity, but only conceals it behind the unintelligible and unsupported idea of imaginary time.

So the one relying on old science is Victor Stenger. He also still fails to address the VBG theorem and the philosophical arguments against the actual infinite past.


Actually, Hawking specifically says that when taking quantum mechanics into account there simply is no singularity. He said quite plainly in The Illustrated A Brief History of Time: “So in the end our work [Hawking and Penrose] became generally accepted and nowadays nearly everyone assumes that the universe started with a big bang singularity. It is perhaps ironic that, having changed my mind, I am now trying to convince other physicists that there was in fact no singularity at the beginning of the universe - as we shall see later, it can disappear once quantum effects are taken into account.” (1996; 67) [emphasis mine]

So no, it’s not Stenger who is basing his views on old science, but Craig.

Since, as you just said, "this discussion was between you and me, not what I’ve said throughout my entire website," I would appreciate if you would present the arguments here so we can deal with them here. I can't deal with something I haven't seen.

As I explained earlier, this may have been a misunderstanding on my part because I thought you had read those arguments against the supernatural and dismissed them. I linked to them in this response.

No I haven't. These examples aren't causeless events. They have causes, whether it's the existing atom or the existing energy within the quantum vacuum.

I’m sorry, but I explained why your attempts at an answer fail already.

In fact, as Craig states, "The prediction of the standard model that the universe began to exist remains today as secure as ever—indeed, more secure, in light of the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem and that prediction’s corroboration by the repeated and often imaginative attempts to falsify it. The person who believes that the universe began to exist remains solidly and comfortably within mainstream science."

As I have shown, Craig’s statement that “the standard model that the universe began to exist remains today as secure as ever” is way off the mark since the very scientist he quoted disagrees, and Craig misquoted his research as I showed earlier.

Arizona Atheist said...

Thus far, I’ve continually shown your arguments to be flawed; demonstrated that not only you, but Craig have wrongly cited scientists as agreeing you with, and you still have been unable to correctly answer how the dropping of the atom and its release of a photon have a cause.

Because earlier you said that you’re working on a series of posts allegedly showing why my arguments against god are flawed I will go ahead and bow out of this current discussion and wait for the upcoming posts so I can respond to those. I have no doubt you will repeat many, if not all, of your errors in those postings that I’ve already corrected you on here and don’t feel like having two conversations that are virtually the same. Besides, we’re pretty much arguing in circles while I continually prove how Craig’s arguments fail, so I don’t see much point in continuing.

Since I will not reply any further in the current discussion thread I respectfully ask you to address anything said here in your upcoming posts.

I’m looking forward to your future posts and thank you for the civil discussions and I apologize for the few misunderstandings that took place.

Take care.

1. Can a Singularity Be Described as “Nothing?” - accessed 7-31-10
2.
Borde, Guth, and Vilenkin’s Past-Finite Universe
- accessed 8-1-10
3. America Is Becoming Less Christian, Less Religious - accessed 8-1-10

J.C. Thibodaux said...

A.A.,

There's nothing hypocritical about believing in an uncaused God who caused the universe, since the two are in entirely different categories. Things that seemingly happen without a cause do not prove physical events without cause -you're putting forth little more than "non-causative naturalism of the gaps." The experiences of the disciples are proven forensically (rather than empirically) by their testimony beyond any reasonable doubt. If you believe only empirical evidence is admissible, I invite you to prove this empirically.

The cause needs be material, because material causes are themselves caused, leaving you with infinite regress.
The effects of prayer (at least for Christians) can't be empirically tested as impersonal phenomena are, since the fulfillment or lack thereof is contingent upon an intelligent, living Being, not impersonal forces; frankly that you would even suggest such a thing betrays your monumental confusion and ignorance on this subject. Your essays on the supernatural are garbage as far as disproving the supernatural, since proving that there is fake supernaturalism says nothing about whether supernatural things exist at all (any more than Piltdown man 'disproves' human evolution).

Arizona Atheist said...

A.A.,

There's nothing hypocritical about believing in an uncaused God who caused the universe, since the two are in entirely different categories. Things that seemingly happen without a cause do not prove physical events without cause -you're putting forth little more than "non-causative naturalism of the gaps." The experiences of the disciples are proven forensically (rather than empirically) by their testimony beyond any reasonable doubt. If you believe only empirical evidence is admissible, I invite you to prove this empirically.

The cause needs be material, because material causes are themselves caused, leaving you with infinite regress. The effects of prayer (at least for Christians) can't be empirically tested as impersonal phenomena are, since the fulfillment or lack thereof is contingent upon an intelligent, living Being, not impersonal forces; frankly that you would even suggest such a thing betrays your monumental confusion and ignorance on this subject. Your essays on the supernatural are garbage as far as disproving the supernatural, since proving that there is fake supernaturalism says nothing about whether supernatural things exist at all (any more than Piltdown man 'disproves' human evolution).


I’m very put off by your tone and you’re arguing with ideas that have no true foundation. Who says god doesn’t need a cause? Just because it’s an idea held by many doesn’t make it true. Besides, there are gods that are caused so what determines if a god is caused or not? It’s not as if gods can’t have causes because that notion is clearly false because historically we know that many people believed in gods that were born and died so they obviously had causes for their existence. So how do you know your god doesn’t need or had a cause? How can you prove that empirically? Truthfully, you can’t because it’s nothing more than dogma you’re defending.

Furthermore, the immaterial hasn’t been proven and neither has god so in reality, all this debate is pointless unless you can at least prove god and the immaterial exist beyond a reasonable doubt or else we might as well be arguing about how high a pegasus can fly!

If the examples I cite do have causes then prove it. As far as we can tell now they don’t seem to. Science is progressive. As of now, it seems that Craig’s premise is false since some things do seem to happen without cause and until then Craig’s claim is falsified. Simply saying it must be caused by something without explaining what isn’t an argument.

What is this about an infinite regress? So what? I’ve already shown scientifically that the universe could be eternal and so an infinite regress is no challenge to my arguments.

Cont.

Arizona Atheist said...

If my essays on the supernatural are truly “garbage” please explain why instead of spouting garbage yourself. I was debunking typical examples people use to “prove” the supernatural. Besides, how else would I go about debunking something without using the same examples proponents of the supernatural use to prove it in the first place? I’m showing why their examples fail.

The oft used argument that god does not simply do things on a whim (when discussing prayer) is also a bad argument because in my first paper on the supernatural I gave examples of studies which measured the effects of prayer, both from afar and with the person being prayed for and the person doing the praying in close proximity or who knew they were being prayed for. I’ve yet to find a single double blind study showing that prayer does anything when the person isn’t aware they are being prayed for. When they are aware and there does seem to be a slight change in condition, as I explained in my paper, that is tremendous evidence that prayer is nothing more then a sort of placebo effect. If god was truly the cause, the prayer would help regardless where the person being prayed for was because it wouldn’t depend on their belief they are being healed.

I also debunked the idea of prayer, something that is not “fake supernaturalism” and the claim that some aspects of brain function must be immaterial.

Thank you.

bossmanham said...

Just know, I will get to this either tomorrow or in a few days. Am busy ATM.

Arizona Atheist said...

Just know, I will get to this either tomorrow or in a few days. Am busy ATM.

No problem. In case you didn't see it in my last reply, I was hoping you could address these last sets of arguments in the blog posts you mentioned you were writing so we could contain the discussion in one spot.

Thanks!

J.C. Thibodaux said...

AA,

@"Who says god doesn’t need a cause?"

That's what He is by definition: He Who is eternal and self-sustaining.


@"Besides, there are gods that are caused..."

Sorry, only actual gods need apply. Seriously, at least attempt to employ sound logic.


@"all this debate is pointless unless you can at least prove god and the immaterial exist beyond a reasonable doubt "

The resurrection has, therefore your further objections remain pointless as ever.


@"If the examples I cite do have causes then prove it."

For those to really be solid examples of uncaused phenomena, you'd have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they couldn't be caused.


@"I’ve already shown scientifically that the universe could be eternal"

Then present some scientific evidence for the validity of this theory.


@"If my essays on the supernatural are truly “garbage” please explain why"

I already did, The effects of prayer (at least for Christians) can't be empirically tested as impersonal phenomena are, since the fulfillment or lack thereof is contingent upon an intelligent, living Being, not impersonal forces....

Are your arguments so totally broken that you have to resort to asking me what I just stated? Said reasons also being why your other arguments ("I gave examples of studies which measured the effects of prayer...") are bunk: they're trying to test something contingent upon the will of God as if they were contingent upon impersonal forces.


@"I also debunked the idea of prayer, something that is not “fake supernaturalism”"

You debunked "the idea of prayer??" How exactly? By proving prayer doesn't exist? 0_o

Conceptually, that doesn't even make sense! Secondly, are you somehow under the impression that we think prayer itself is what changes things rather than God responding to prayer?

Arizona Atheist said...

First off all, where do you even derive at that definition of a god? That is purely one definition since there are several kinds of gods; as I said gods can also be born and die, to which you argued that “only actual gods” don’t need causes. That makes no sense whatsoever and shows the vacuousness of your argument. The Egyptian gods Seth and even Osiris both were born and died, and those are just two examples. Just because you don’t believe in them doesn’t mean they weren’t “real gods.” They were real gods to the Egyptians, just as your god is real to you. The only differences are the attributes.

And you one up yourself with an even more absurd and outstanding claim, that an example of the supernatural is the resurrection. Well of course! Sure, let’s use as “proof” of the supernatural a story that in none of the gospels the details can be agreed upon and also the fact that there is no proof of this event taking place other than these contradictory and secondhand stories. Yeah, sure that makes perfect sense [sarcasm]. Speaking of “pointless” arguments you’re way ahead of me in that department.

The examples I cite do not seem to have causes. That’s the argument and you’ve failed to show how they might. The burden of proof is on you since there seems to be no cause. If there is show what it might be. You gave no argument whatsoever. More bad logic and another bad argument.

I also did present several examples in my paper debunking Craig some theories of an eternal universe that are consistent with everything we currently know about the universe. Another non-argument.

You’ve still failed to answer my reasoning and evidence against the existence of prayer and on top of it you don’t even seem to grasp the argument I made to begin with. Even the bible says very clearly in both Matthew 21:21 and Mark 11:24 that god answers prayer that whatever you ask for in prayer will be given to you. It seems perfectly reasonable that god would help someone who is a firm believer in him if they pray to him for pain relief, but as I said, we only see prayer working when the person praying for someone is in close proximity with the person being prayed for. The fact that you said I believe that it’s the act of praying and not god who causes the effect makes it all too clear you didn’t even understand my argument.

Your attitude is unnecessary and so I felt it best to throw some heat back your way. Your attitude makes you look even sillier since you don’t seem to even have a basic grasp of the issues under discussion. Your attempts at logic fail miserably and your arguments themselves give away your ignorance.

If you want to continue the discussion I suggest you lose the attitude and actually come back with something other than this half-assed, amateur apologetics hour nonsense.

I tried to be civil with you but your attitude made that difficult so I responded what I feel is appropriate. If you wish to continue the discussion I suggest you clean up your attitude or I may not even bother responding next time, if there is even a next time.

J.C. Thibodaux said...

AA,

@First off all, where do you even derive at that definition of a god?

Not 'a god,' the God, which I believe is the point of discussion.


@That makes no sense whatsoever and shows the vacuousness of your argument.

Look who's talking. The utter insipidity of the statement "The Egyptian gods Seth and even Osiris both were born and died, and those are just two examples" in trying to demonstrate that the Judeo-Christian God can somehow have an origin demonstrates just how completely intellectually bankrupt your position is, as you can't recognize a rather simple categorical distinction.


@Just because you don’t believe in them doesn’t mean they weren’t “real gods. They were real gods to the Egyptians, just as your god is real to you.”

No, I state that by virtue of the fact that they don't exist (Isaiah 45:5). I'm speaking of objective reality, not "real to the Egyptians," which again demonstrates your inability to grasp the issue.


@let’s use as “proof” of the supernatural a story that in none of the gospels the details can be agreed upon

Irrational assertion with no evidence, your typical M.O.


@The burden of proof is on you since there seems to be no cause.

Incorrect, the burden of proof is upon you, since there may be an as of yet unknown causes (and likely are, which is the more rational assumption, considering that things like decay rates in some cases can be affected by factors such as environment, implying some effect upon whatever is causing it).


@You gave no argument whatsoever. More bad logic and another bad argument.

And since you've asserted that I've made 'no argument,' the only argument left by your definitions is your own, therefore you've just admitted that the bad argument is your own. Freudian slip?


@I also did present several examples in my paper debunking Craig some theories of an eternal universe that are consistent with everything we currently know about the universe. Another non-argument.

And now you admit your examples are non-arguments. Nice one. And no, an eternal universe isn't consistent with what we know of science: The 2nd law of thermodynamics firmly refutes that, since an eternal universe would have already hit heat death.


@even the bible says very clearly in both Matthew 21:21 and Mark 11:24 that god answers prayer that whatever you ask for in prayer will be given to you.

Try reading in context.


@It seems perfectly reasonable that god would help someone who is a firm believer in him if they pray to him for pain relief

Not necessarily.


@The fact that you said I believe that it’s the act of praying and not god who causes the effect makes it all too clear you didn’t even understand my argument.

No, I merely asked that. The fact that you'd jump to such a conclusion when I made no such assertion demonstrates that your reading comprehension and/or reasoning skills are substandard at best.


@You’ve still failed to answer my reasoning and evidence against the existence of prayer

Nor need I, since it's quite evident that prayer exists -I prayed just this morning! More evidence that you're arguing for utterly insane dogma. Beyond that, showing negative examples logically can't "prove" a universal negative (or universally disprove a concept) -a basic logical principle that you seem to have missed.


@Your attitude makes you look even sillier since you don’t seem to even have a basic grasp of the issues under discussion. ... Your attempts at logic fail miserably and your arguments themselves give away your ignorance.

This coming from the guy who's trying to prove that prayer "doesn't exist." You're a laugh riot.

Arizona Atheist said...

Not 'a god,' the God, which I believe is the point of discussion.

Look who's talking. The utter insipidity of the statement "The Egyptian gods Seth and even Osiris both were born and died, and those are just two examples" in trying to demonstrate that the Judeo-Christian God can somehow have an origin demonstrates just how completely intellectually bankrupt your position is, as you can't recognize a rather simple categorical distinction.


You argued that gods cannot die so I gave you some examples. And I also asked how you came to the conclusion that your god, unlike those others, is eternal. That is the point under discussion. You’ve still failed to tell me how you arrive at that conclusion that your god is eternal.

No, I state that by virtue of the fact that they don't exist (Isaiah 45:5). I'm speaking of objective reality, not "real to the Egyptians," which again demonstrates your inability to grasp the issue.

As I said above, it is you who doesn’t understand the issue.

Irrational assertion with no evidence, your typical M.O.

I’ve told you where my evidence is but you’re the one whose continued to fail to give me an answer as to how you came to the conclusion that your god is eternal. I’ve given links but you seem to have not read them. Several of your arguments I’ve already refuted in my paper rebutting Craig, such as the second law argument that you cite later. So, no an eternal universe is consistent with what we know about the universe.

Incorrect, the burden of proof is upon you, since there may be an as of yet unknown causes (and likely are, which is the more rational assumption, considering that things like decay rates in some cases can be affected by factors such as environment, implying some effect upon whatever is causing it).

Actually, since theists are the ones who argue that everything has a cause and I’ve given an example of something that doesn’t seem to you have the burden of proof. And you talk about my supposed lack of logical reasoning. Sheesh! Speak for yourself.

And since you've asserted that I've made 'no argument,' the only argument left by your definitions is your own, therefore you've just admitted that the bad argument is your own. Freudian slip?

What??? I said quite plainly what I just repeated above:

The examples I cite do not seem to have causes. That’s the argument and you’ve failed to show how they might. The burden of proof is on you since there seems to be no cause. If there is show what it might be.

And now you admit your examples are non-arguments. Nice one. And no, an eternal universe isn't consistent with what we know of science: The 2nd law of thermodynamics firmly refutes that, since an eternal universe would have already hit heat death.

What in the world are you talking about? I was referring to your argument. Perhaps it is you who cannot read. I already referred to my paper where I refuted that claim about the second law.

Try reading in context.

You finally cite some kind of evidence for your claims but when you do you cite the completely shameless and discredited J.P. Holding. Classic! At least cite someone reliable for crying out loud.

The ultimate point is that prayer has not been found to work through many different studies. That’s been the entire point all along. Prayer is not answered and is a failed argument for the supernatural.

Arizona Atheist said...

Not necessarily.

Oh, so now you quote the bible to show that god doesn’t always heal people. This is why it’s a waste of time to debate theists sometimes when you’re dealing with issues like this. When a prayer is answered, it’s the power of god! When it fails to work (as it does most often) it’s simply god’s will. These arguments could be thought of by a five year old. “Why didn’t your imaginary friend want to come out and say hello, Timmy?” his mother asks him. “Because he just doesn’t want to,” replied Timmy. Exact same childish reasoning.

All the experiments show prayer doesn’t do anything, except perhaps a mild placebo effect in some cases, but you get the exact same response from a sugar pill in controlled experiments!

No, I merely asked that. The fact that you'd jump to such a conclusion when I made no such assertion demonstrates that your reading comprehension and/or reasoning skills are substandard at best.

And I said if you think this then you don’t understand my argument and I said to go read it again.

Nor need I, since it's quite evident that prayer exists -I prayed just this morning! More evidence that you're arguing for utterly insane dogma. Beyond that, showing negative examples logically can't "prove" a universal negative (or universally disprove a concept) -a basic logical principle that you seem to have missed.

Perhaps I should have been more clear, of course when I’m constantly being insulted and talked down to by a little know-nothing I often do not write as clearly. By 'existence’ I meant the existence of an example of a prayer actually working. Of course people actually pray! I was talking about whether or not any affect was real.

Sorry, but you’re the laughing riot. You’ve failed to give any evidence against anything I said and make bald assertions with no evidence Examples include the actions of the atoms must have some cause. Well prove it! That prayer does work. Prove it! That your god must be eternal. Why? How did you come to this conclusion? The second law refutes an eternal universe. Not necessarily and I even quoted a physicist as saying as much. The same guy, actually, who Craig cited.

So how many bald assertions have I counted in just this one reply? At least four. Hypocrite much?

This is a waste of my time. I’m obviously dealing with an immature, ‘wannabe’ apologist who doesn’t have a good grasp of either logic or the issues at hand. I’ve tried to be as civil as I can in the face of your childish ridicule but when you’re continually dealing with an attitude such as yours and you continually put forth claims for which you provide no evidence it’s hard to take you seriously.

J.C. Thibodaux said...

AA,

@You argued that gods cannot die

No I didn't, I said nothing about 'gods' in some generic sense; further proof to my charge that you aren't reading carefully at all.

@how you came to the conclusion that your god, unlike those others, is eternal

That's what He states of Himself in scripture (e.g. Psalm 41:13).

@I’ve told you where my evidence is

No you haven't, you've stated nothing to me about where your evidence of supposed problems with the gospels is, which indicates that you're intellectually dishonest, or simply and totally ignorant of what's being discussed.

@I already referred to my paper where I refuted that claim about the second law.

What paper? Are you talking about some other conversation?

@I’ve given an example of something that doesn’t seem to you have the burden of proof.

Appealing to lack of evidence as proof that something is uncaused when in fact there are (or are very likely) feasible explanations for such phenomena is the logical error of appeal to ignorance.


@What??? I said quite plainly what I just repeated above

No no, you said I wasn't making an argument and that the argument was bad. Since by your logic, you're the only one of us making an argument and you assert it's bad, then by process of elimination, you can only be conceding that your own argument is bad.

@was referring to your argument.

You only made reference to your arguments, genius.

@do you cite the completely shameless and discredited J.P. Holding

By whom exactly? Of course when you've been thoroughly beaten, you can always scream 'discredited' at the evidence with no supporting data whatsoever.


@The ultimate point is that prayer has not been found to work through many different studies.

You've not addressed the fundamental flaw in your logic, which I've already pointed out:

"The effects of prayer (at least for Christians) can't be empirically tested as impersonal phenomena are, since the fulfillment or lack thereof is contingent upon an intelligent, living Being, not impersonal forces...."

Thus it stands proven that your case relies upon failure to understand fundamental logic. As is well-known in proving mathematical principles, individual examples aren't proof of a universal principle.


@When a prayer is answered, it’s the power of god! When it fails to work (as it does most often) it’s simply god’s will.

Ah, so you are framing it as whether it's prayer itself that grants our wish or 'fails.' Since God isn't an impersonal force, then yes, sometimes prayers aren't answered if they're not according to His will. Thus your 'studies' logically can't prove or disprove anything about whether prayer is answered or not, and thus your argument is pointless.


@And I said if you think this then you don’t understand my argument and I said to go read it again.

No, you didn't; you stated,

"The fact that you said I believe that it’s the act of praying and not god who causes the effect makes it all too clear you didn’t even understand my argument."

J.C. Thibodaux said...

@...of course when I’m constantly being insulted and talked down to by a little know-nothing I often do not write as clearly.

This still doesn't explain why your writing is so incomprehensible now.


@You’ve failed to give any evidence against anything I said

Except for where I did.


@I said and make bald assertions with no evidence

Besides fundamental logic, physical law, and credentialed scholarship.


@Examples include the actions of the atoms must have some cause. Well prove it! That prayer does work. Prove it!

Appeal to ignorance, and again addressing the issue as if prayer itself is what accomplishes things, which is beyond ignorant.


@How did you come to this conclusion?

Which I already answered, proving yet again that you're not reading.


@The second law refutes an eternal universe. Not necessarily and I even quoted a physicist as saying as much.

Necessarily, infinite time would result in inevitable heat death, as there exists no known or even vaguely feasible mechanism for reducing entropy within a closed system such as the material universe.


@So how many bald assertions have I counted in just this one reply? At least four. Hypocrite much?

One backed with inductive reasoning and sound logic, one backed by scriptural record, one that I plainly backed with actual scientific law, and one I asserted nothing about.


@you continually put forth claims for which you provide no evidence

Wrong: I clearly cited my scriptural source for God's eternality (making eternality part of the Christian definition of God), plainly did cite the second law of thermodynamics and inevitable heat death to destroy your eternal universe claims, and cited laws of fundamental logic (e.g. definitions of formal fallacies and the nature of proof) to disprove your fallacious arguments. Yet you spuriously claim I'm providing no evidence. It's thus plain to see from reading these past few posts that you're now resorting to outright dishonesty, as I've caught you in a direct lie.

Arizona Atheist said...

It’s just like a person on a losing end of a discussion to call the other person names. You cite the bible as your proof...so are you a literalist? Either way, using the bible for proof of god’s eternal nature is not proof. Who wrote the bible? Who knows.... If that’s the case, then how do you even know what you’re reading is reliable? The archaeological evidence has shown that much of the bible is false. See ‘The End of Biblical Studies’by Avalos; ‘Who Wrote the Gospels?’ by Helms, and ‘The Bible Unearthed’ by Finkelstein and Silberman. Not only that but the bible also hugely contradicts itself, one example being the resurrection narratives and placing your claim about it being proof of the supernatural on unsteady ground. I've even written about the subject on my blog if you'd care to look. There is my evidence.

I told you where you could find my arguments and I also disproved your false claim about the second law and where to find the quote by the scientist (in my paper refuting Craig) but you ignore that entirely and call me a liar. Like I said before, you’re a waste of time.

Have a good life, alright? No hard feelings...you just need to read what both sides have to say instead of parroting what these (often wrong) authorities (like Craig) tell you.

J.C. Thibodaux said...

AA,

@Either way, using the bible for proof of god’s eternal nature is not proof.

For the Christian definition of what God is, it very well is. The Bible indicates that God is eternal, Christian theology is derived from the Bible, therefore the Christian definition of God includes eternality. If you don't like arguing over God's existence given our definition of Him, go bother some Hindus or neo-Greek polytheists. All you're doing is pointlessly trying to argue with us about what you think our definition of God should be.


@Who wrote the bible? Who knows.... If that’s the case, then how do you even know what you’re reading is reliable?

Most of the authors of the Bible are known.

@The archaeological evidence has shown that much of the bible is false.

Nope, that is completely false, as the archaeological record (including the discovery of Nineveh) backs the biblical record.


@There is my evidence.

Yet further proof your case is garbage.


@Not only that but the bible also hugely contradicts itself, one example being the resurrection narratives

No, it doesn't, and no they don't. You'll have to do better than citing hacks whose work can't stand up to apologetic scrutiny.


@I told you where you could find my arguments

No you didn't. Look in any of your replies to me, it doesn't appear anywhere, and even looking through your conversations I honestly can't tell what paper you're talking about.


@and I also disproved your false claim about the second law

Where? How? By what mechanism could entropy be reversed/stopped in the universe? You've not explained any of this.


@but you ignore that entirely and call me a liar.

No, pointed out that you were lying because you claim that my defenses were "bald assertions" made without evidence, when I plainly did provide evidence for them (at least the ones I made) in the very post you were replying to. Thus you made clearly and unmistakably untrue statements, commonly called 'lying.'


@Like I said before, you’re a waste of time.

Which is of course why you've continued to try and score points anyway, and why my breaking down your sample-based argument for a universal principle (or lack thereof) and exposing its underlying fallacies stands with no significant challenge.

HairyHu said...

Until there's an actual example of an uncaused thing coming into being out of nothing, the burden of proof is on the person who thinks it's possible for this to happen.

No, the burden of proof is on the one who is proposing that God pulled the universe out of nothing.

All arguments for God are special pleading.
1.) Before the creation of the universe there was nothing. Except God.
2.) Nothing comes from nothing. Except, when God pulls everything out of it.
3.) There is no actual infinite. Except God.
4.)Everything has a beginning (since the universe has and before it there was not anything). Except God.
4a.) Everything (which begins) has a cause. Except God.
5.) You cannot traverse through infinite. Except God.
6.) According to Craig, an event is a change in non 0 length time. Except, God can change instantly and even create the universe instantly, that is in 0 length time.
.... etc.

bossmanham said...

Yawn.

1) Not special pleading, because there's a whole argument for it.
2) God isn't nothing. Learn the differnece between a material cause and an efficient cause.
3) No one says God is a numeric actual infinite. God's infinity is qualitative, not quantitative.
4) No one says everything has a beginning.
5) No one says that either.
6) Craig never says that creation is an event in that fashion.