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REPLY #98b TO
This is the second of an eleven-part reply. Select the "Go to next reply" link at the end of each part to read the next part of the reply.
You have this somewhat confused since these are not mutually-exclusive claims. When I say that the positive existential claim "God exists" bears the burden of proof and that non-belief is the logically superior position until sufficient evidence is presented to support that claim, that's as far as it goes. "The universe was created by natural processes" is a separate claim which has been supported by all available evidence. It is possible for both of these claims to be true since it is possible for God to actually be a product of the universe rather than the other way around.
(R) You cannot merely *claim* that all the available evidence supports the universe being created by a natural process.
(MB) I can do so if it's true -- and it is true. I think you know this, but can't bring yourself to admit to it. To say that no evidence exists, that it doesn't support the theories of science, or that it actually supports your version of theism is pure ignorance.
(R) You must provide this evidence in detail...
(MB) What about all of those books you have claimed to own and read? Have you never been to a library nor browsed an astrophysics website? Have you never taken physics, astronomy, or cosmology courses? Are you familiar with Einstein, Hawking, Feynman, Planck, Penrose, Bohr, Gamow, Linde, etc.? If you are truthful in claiming not to know about the multitudes of evidence which are available, then your education is in need of a more drastic augmentation than what I could ever hope to accomplish in any number of e-mail messages. I suspect, however, that you really only have problems with the conclusions drawn from the evidence and not with the existence of the evidence itself. It's similar to those Creationists whose only real problem with evolution is when Homo sapiens is included along with all other species.
(R) ...and show how and why the evidence should be interpreted to support the conclusion that the universe was unncaused by nothing, out of nothing, and for nothing - mindlessly and materially.
(MB) Quantum mechanics provides the proof of uncaused events and the proof of the creation of particle pairs from within a vacuum state. Linde's inflation and multiverse theories tie together the mechanics of scalar fields and the collapse of false vacuum states in universe-creating events. The mathematics behind these theories have been proven and have been demonstrated in computer simulations. The physical proof back to the merest fraction of a section after the Big Bang has been provided in particle accelerator experiments. The predictions of Big Bang cosmology have been strongly supported by COBE data and other experiments. The mathematics behind 10-dimensional superstring theory have also been proven. All of this points definitively towards an origin of the universe which is knowable, understandable, and natural in all respects. Nothing has ever been found or demonstrated for which a supernatural explanation is required. As I've said before, if the evidence and the conclusions drawn from it are all that this debate is about, it has already been won by science. You will need to build a powerful positive case in support of your own ideas if you can hope to challenge anything. Incredulity, by itself, won't do this.
As to your added stipulations which are not a part of any scientific theory, it is only theism which posits creation "from nothing" and which requires any sort of higher purpose for the universe. Why is any such higher purpose required? Can't the universe simply *be*?
That is not my claim. I claim only that the universe has an origin grounded in natural processes -- many of which we understand and some which we don't. It is you who is adding the additional stipulations.
(R) You need to be more specific than using ambiguous claims such as "origin grounded in natural processes."
(MB) I think I've accomplished that. Now, it's your turn to make a positive case in favor of your own views. Remember that doing nothing but assaulting a competing position does not provide support for your own side of the story.
(R) Also, you are begging the question of whether or not any such process exists if its one that we *don't* understand.
(MB) Not at all. It is a given that there are still things which exist that we don't understand. If this was not true, there would no longer be any questions about anything. Consider how many things we know today that weren't even dreamed about throughout much of our history.
(R) The only stipulations I am claiming is that the origin of the universe is MORE LIKELY the result of an intelligent, trancendental cause than a material, mindless one.
(MB) So you have claimed. However, you have yet to provide the first positive argument in favor of such a belief. Personal incredulity is *not* a positive argument. First, you will need to demonstrate the existence of anything "transcendent" -- intelligent or otherwise. Second, you will need to demonstrate why any such thing is "more likely" than a process behind which all the evidence lines up. Third, you will need to demonstrate and define the particular "transcendent process" which you support as the one which produced our universe. Fourth, you will need to demonstrate why we should associate Yahweh with this process. Finally, you will need to demonstrate why there couldn't be any transcendent process *other* than that represented by Yahweh which might have been responsible for the whole thing. You have some work to do, my son.
The burden of proof has been met since science has supplied sufficient evidence of the necessary natural processes for us to reasonably accept the claim. It is now incumbent upon those who deny the claim to refute this evidence. This has yet to be accomplished.
(R) Would you care to supply this "sufficient evidence" for the existence of a natural process that has demonstratable ability to create entire life-permitting universes out of nothing, by nothing, and for nothing?
(MB) I have done so (notwithstanding the added unscientific sidebar stipulations). Now, I await the required refutation.
(R) Simply refering to the existence of such evidence without expositing it is a waste of your energy.
(MB) I agree. I assume that you realize that your promotion of a theistic view by nothing more than assertion falls into the same category? I have pointed out evidence in support of my views. Where is the evidence in support of yours?
If science had actually failed to bear the necessary burden of proof, that failure would only show that our current scenarios are wrong or are not worthy of belief. It would not provide any support for any other competing claim concerning universal origins. This is because of the possibility that the universe actually arose through natural processes that we have not yet discovered. There is no reason to default to belief in anything supernatural since such things have yet to have any evidential support.
(R) "Science," or rather, the philosophy of materialism, HAS failed to bear the necessary burden of proof for the existence of such a natural process.
(MB) Once again, you resort to incorrect definitions, associations, buzzwords and stipulations in order to continue grasping at thin straws. First, science is not a "philosophy", but is better described as a "methodology". Second, science also includes disciplines (such as psychology) which are not materialistic in nature. Third, there are several differing forms of materialism (reductionist, eliminative, functionalist, dialectical, etc.). Under which of them do you wish to pigeonhole science and why?
(R) To assume such a process exists under the guise of the "possibility" that such a natural process is merely "undiscovered" would be to invoke a "materialism of the gaps" fallacy.
(MB) Nope. That was an answer to your invalid assertion that a natural explanation doesn't exist because we haven't yet proven what it is and that this somehow make a theistic and supernatural explanation more likely. If you truly believe that illogical argument, then you can't possibly believe in theistic explanations because none of them have been proven to exist, either. Your illogic then leaves you with the quandary of now having to support that the failure of any proof for a theistic explanation makes a naturalistic explanation more likely. Since your illogic leads to paradoxical arguments, then one or more of your initial premises must be wrong.
(R) A theist could just as easily claim that in the absence of existential evidence for God, God can be assumed because the evidence is merely "undiscovered."
(MB) No, he can't do that because there is no evidence which even suggests that such a conclusion might be warranted. On the other hand, since science has shown that natural processes exist and since it has found many pieces of the puzzle -- all of which are in compliance with natural laws -- it is reasonable to assume that this evidence leads to a conclusion based on those same natural laws and processes.
(R) In addition, I could just as easily say that if the evidence for a trancendental cause is undiscovered there is no reason to default to belief in a natural process creating universes out of nothing, since no such processes have yet to have any evidential support. This is another revolving argument since the inverse of the claim is just as valid as the claim.
(MB) Once again, this reasoning is invalid because there is nothing to support the existence of *anything* transcendental -- much less something of that nature which could cause the origin of the universe. That makes your argument nothing more than a heaping helping of question begging until such time as you make the positive case I've been calling for. In addition, your common technique of attempting to support your own arguments by claiming that they are just as valid as those of your opponent is known as a "tu quoque" fallacy. The problem with your technique is that you don't accept the opponent's arguments. Therefore, to position your own arguments as being equal to an opposition argument which you dispute means that you have actually done nothing more than argue against your own case by inferring that your own arguments are also flawed.
Not at all. A scientific "I don't know" does not mean that non-scientific explanations are deserving of consideration. It is only an honest evaluation that sufficient evidence is not available for a definitive theory.
(R) You mean a definitive MATERIALISTIC theory.
(MB) The inclusion of that meaningless buzzword has no effect on my argument. You still need to explain why a scientific "I don't know" makes non-scientific explanations worthy of consideration.
(R) You are committing the classic fallacy of confusing the philosophy of materialism with "science."
(MB) I'm not. You are the only one who has invoked "materialism" (in whatever form you want to apply) and made it a linchpin of an attempted argument by personal incredulity. Please notice that you have yet to dispute any actual evidence in detail. You have only resorted to applying labels which you believe to have negative connotations and then dismissing that evidence because of those same labels. I await your specific refutations of quantum mechanics, Linde's inflation and multiverse theories, etc.
(R) Also, if we consider your "possibilities of undiscovery" theory, a trancendental explanation for the origin of the universe may very well be the most "scientific" explanation ever.
(MB) On what basis do you claim that a transcendental explanation of *anything* is "scientific" in any way, shape or form? To make such a claim is to state that there is objective evidence which can be examined and tested. What is this evidence in favor of your views?
(R) You cannot a priori rule out the possibility of trancendental causes under the guise of what is and is not "scientific".
(MB) Your argument is a contradiction in terms. By definition, an a priori rejection of anything is not done in respect to any evidence. Since the methodology of science is dependent upon evidence, it does not engage in such rejections. Simply not considering any given idea due to a complete lack of supporting evidence is not the same thing as rejecting that same idea. Science considers *all* evidence. There just isn't any at all in the case of the idea of transcendental causes.
(R) We are dealing with distant past events of over 15 billions year ago that are not observable, testable, or repeatable.
(MB) You're wrong about this. We can and do readily observe the results of what happened. We can and do test and prove basic principles in the lab. Only quacks like Kent Hovind demand that we recreate the Big Bang in the lab in order to prove the theories. Even at that, particle accelerators can demonstrate the reactions that must have taken place. Mathematics ties it all together into a coherent package.
If you truly believe your argument, then you can't possibly maintain your theistic beliefs since none of them are observable, testable or repeatable. Once again, you don't hold your own beliefs to the same standards you demand of science.
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