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REPLY #98c TO
This is the third 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.
(R) So whether or not such questions are really even appropriate for "science" is another debate in itself.
(MB) It should be clear by now what is "appropriate" for science and what is not. It all boils down to one word. Evidence. Science has it and theism does not.
(R) Almost all cosmological theories of the universe's inception are highly untestable and appeal largely to unprovable hypothetics and fantastic scenarios.
(MB) Again, it should be clear by now that this is an assertion of yours which is based on nothing more than personal incredulity. In addition, if you support the rejection of science on this basis, how can you defend the untestable and unprovable propositions and fantastic scenarios of theism?
(R) On such flimsy grounds of actual evidence, most origin theories are far more philosophical than they are "scientific" to begin with.
(MB) Personal incredulity on your part does not establish any dividing lines between science and philosophy. It's also extremely amusing to witness your continual denigration of science on "flimsy grounds of actual evidence" at the same time as you devoutly hold on to a view for which you can't provide any evidence whatsoever. I can provide the scientific evidence to you and you can (and do) choose to reject it off-hand. But, you can't even begin to provide any evidence in support of theism, can you? I can't examine, accept, or reject that which has never been provided, can I? What is it that suggests that theology, in its entirety, does not reside purely within the realm of philosophy?
Now, since our experience and all available evidence has shown us that natural processes are all that exist, it is reasonable to assume that the answer to any "I don't know" is to be found in the natural realm.
(R) If our experience told us that all that exists is cars, yet we have a fully assembled blender, are we to just blindly assume that a car *must* have assembled the blender even though we are fully aware that the requirements for assembling a blender are far beyond what a car could perform? No, and the same is true for natural processes.
(MB) This argument fails utterly from the very first clause. Consider the following line of reasoning which proceeds from your argument:
(1) All that exists is cars. [Your proposition]
(2) It is our experience that (1) is true. [Your proposition]
(3) If we have "experiences", then we exist and are alive.
(4) By (1) and (3), we must be cars. [by syllogism]
(5) By (2), (3) and (4), it must be true that cars must have "experiences" and must, therefore, be alive.
Are you trying to argue a point by claiming that cars are alive? If so, you would be talking about cars which do not exist in our reality. How do you know that such cars could not assemble a blender?
Now, if we grant your absurd scenario, what can we conclude from it? The unquestioned presence of a blender would be evidence only that our prior experience was either incorrect or incomplete. If we couldn't account for its presence, the best explanation for how it got there is "I don't know". We still could not simply assume the existence of a supernatural or transcendental cause as that only leads to additional unanswered questions without providing any real answers. In the absence of any and all supporting evidence, the conclusion that the blender arose from a transcendental cause would be just as unworthy of consideration as a conclusion that the blender was placed there by an extraterrestrial, hyperdimensional, invisible, three-legged, two-headed creature who was wearing a fez and an "Austin 3:16" t-shirt.
(R) If we "don't know" what a cause is or how it operates, then we cannot "know" that it was "natural."
(MB) Obviously, we can't "know" this, but the probability of such a cause is greatly enhanced if such causes are all that is supported by evidence. In such a case, it is reasonable to propose such a cause as a hypothesis.
(R) Your above appeal is simply for a blind devotion to materialistic philosophy.
(MB) Not at all. It's intelligent recognition and understanding of where the available evidence points. Theistic alternatives are nothing but devotion to blind faith in what one "wants" to be true.
(R) In other words, we must blindly posit a materialistic conclusion in the gap of any knowledge.
(MB) Gaps in the sum total of our knowledge do not invalidate the knowledge that we do possess, nor do they require that we should consider filling the gaps with ideas that are inconsistent with all other evidence and experience. Much better to say "I don't know".
(R) This is nothing more than a plea that we should blindly subscribe to a "Materialism of the Gaps" fallacy.
(MB) There is no blind acceptance of anything in place here. Why don't you apply your own argument to your theism and see where it leads you?
All you have done here is to avoid positive support for your own views by substituting the word "Materialism" in place of "God" and claiming that the resulting corruption is an equivalent argument. But, this is clearly not the case.
To understand this, take a look at everything which is *outside* of the "gaps" in our understanding. Is there anything at all in there which falls outside of the natural realm? Nope. What relative amount of total knowledge of the fundamental reality of the universe is represented by the "gaps"? Very little. Why then would you consider a theistic idea which is totally inconsistent with our accumulated body of knowledge and which is in violation of much of it to be an equally likely (or even *more* likely) possibility to be a "gap filler" than a conclusion which is based upon what *is* consistent and conformant with what is known?
Nope. You are approaching this from the wrong side by committing the fallacy of shifting the burden of proof.
(R) The burden of proof was never in a position to need shifting.
(MB) I agree. That burden has belonged to the theists from the start and should not be shifted in order to avoid their having to provide a positive case for their own views.
(R) If you make the positive existential claim for a natural process that creates universes out of nothing, then the burden of proof for that claim is automatically applied. There is no shifting involved here.
(MB) Science has done its part. When will you do yours? Even if you remain unreasonably obstinate in your opposition to science, you *still* can't avoid the responsibility for making your own positive case in support of what you believe. Without such a case, you have no real answers to offer.
This is done by incorrectly turning the denial of a positive existential claim into a separate claim which you then demand must be proven or else you will somehow consider your own initial claim to have gained credibility. This is bogus logic of the first order.
(R) In order for the proposition of trancendence to be false, total materialism must be proven true.
(MB) There's no such thing as "total materialism". In any case, this argument is illogical since it still demands that the non-existence of something which is not inherently self-contradictory or impossible must be proven (not to mention the bifurcation fallacy of claiming that there are only two possibilities when this has not been demonstrated). Once again, you turn the responsibility of proving the existence of anything transcendental into a call that something else must be proven.
(R) The existence of a transcendent cause is the default conclusion if materialism is a null hypothesis.
(MB) Why? Since there is no evidence supporting the existence of anything transcendental, the existence of such a thing can not possibly be a logically default conclusion. Since you just seem to be using "materialism" as an undefined buzzword, your argument has no force.
(R) Materialism IS a null hypothesis; and if you disagree, it is your job to prove its universal existence and functionality.
(MB) You haven't even defined what you think "materialism" is! How can you, therefore, make a blanket statement asserting that it is a null hypothesis? Furthermore, you haven't provided any evidence to support why anything transcendental must be the default conclusion if "materialism" (however you choose to define it) fails the test.
I suspect that you are unwittingly disputing and fumbling around with "naturalism" rather than "materialism". If so, then the existence of even so much as one unquestioned natural law or process is supporting evidence. Since there are actually a great many such laws and processes, the evidence mounts up rapidly. Furthermore, since everything we know so far conforms to these laws and processes and everything we discover conforms to them, we can have increasingly reasonable confidence that all future discoveries will also conform. If that doesn't qualify as sufficient evidence in favor of my views, then there is likely to be little hope that you will allow yourself to accept *any* evidence at all.
Furthermore, since you won't believe what the evidence supports and since you can't support what you believe with any evidence, your case is futile in both directions.
(R) Furthermore, any claims of "bogus logic of the first order," (or of any order for that matter) are simply appeals of subjective judgement cheraded as a rebuttal.
(MB) Nope. I have demonstrated where your attempted logic fails and have pointed out several instances of classic fallacies in your arguments. Therefore, there are no subjective judgements involved. You would be well served to read the standard text, Copi's "Introduction to Logic".
If you claim "God created Man", then God must be shown to exist for that claim to be acceptable. If you fail to successfully demonstrate the existence of God, then it is more reasonable to believe that he does not exist. If he does not actually exist, then God is nothing more than a conceptual entity produced through the workings of Man's mind. Therefore, "Man created God" would be the reasonable default conclusion.
(R) I do claim "God created Man" and God's existence is far more probable than it's non-existence.
(MB) On what evidence do you base either or both of those claims?
(R) God, by definition, is not a "demonstrable" entity,...
(MB) Then, he is more likely to be a non-existent entity.
(R) ...just like exploding universes are not a demonstratable event.
(MB) Wrong. Exploding universes can be demonstrated through the use of mathematics derived from observation and experimentation in the natural realm.
(R) We only have residule evidences of the event to work with.
(MB) So, you *do* agree that there is evidence? Now, which do you think is the more likely explanation? (A) A Big Bang whose predicted effects have been observed and verified in such things as the cosmic microwave background, or (B) "Let there be light". Explain your answer in detail.
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