REPLY #99b TO
This is the second of a twenty-part reply. Select the "Go to next reply" link at the end of each part to read the next part of the reply.
(R) If no god or gods are responsible for the creation of the universe, only material itself is left to be its own creator.
(MB) You're also failing to consider the possibility that there was no creation event -- natural or supernatural -- whatsoever. In such a case, "material" (it would be more accurate to say "matter") would not be its own creator since it would always have existed.
It shows only a strong rejection of the God which you choose to worship. This does not require atheism. The same rejection could be stated by a strong believer in any other deity. My statement applies only to your preferred version of "God" and says nothing about any other particular deity or about theism in general. Once again, your narrow focus results in an invalid extrapolation.
(R) In that case, we were not on the same page because I had ALL theisms in mind when I was discussing "God" in that context. Apparently, you were assuming I was referring to Christian Theism exclusively, which I was not.
(MB) Plenus equi stercoris. There is absolutely *zero* chance that you are going to advance any Creator proposition that is not in accordance with the deity in whose existence you choose to believe. To even suggest such a thing would be a mortal sin against that deity and would get you in some pretty hot water with him. Is this what you are intending to do?
[RE: The conclusion that theism has "yet to receive any evidential support" is merely a claim for which you did not define "evidential" or what constitutes "support."]
This statement is obtuse and evasive. If you truly don't know what constitutes evidence and/or support for a proposition, you have no business engaging in debate.
(R) My statement was not evading anything nor was it obtuse.
(MB) Even though it answered no questions and showed ignorance of basic concepts?
(R) Rather, my statement was homing in on the fact that your previous statement was completely overlooking the fact that any entity or body of data that is deemed to be "evidence" is something that is totally subject to interpretation, as well as any conclusions yielded.
(MB) Nonsense. Evidence is evidence regardless of how it is interpreted or if it is even recognized or understood. Evidence exists independently of what you choose to believe. Evidence exists even if you don't know what it is evidence *for*! Your connotation of "evidence" is that it is something which has already been successfully interpreted in the context of an attempt to answer a question. The fact that you then go on to say that such evidence "is totally subject to interpretation" is not only a redundancy, but demonstrates that your reasoning is being clouded by presuppositions and insufficient understanding.
(R) If you can't understand that then YOU have no business spouting off about a "lack" of a thing you have not even defined.
(MB) As long as you keep up that sort of muddled thinking, you'll never have to worry about winning any debates on any substantive issues. You'll just end up making a career out of getting your clock cleaned. The truly sad thing is that for all of those beatings, your cherished views will likely not change one little bit.
Not quite, since whatever appeared could *claim* to be God without actually being God.
(R) Okay, then your disagreement is not with me but with any person who demands such "evidence."
(MB) Nope. It is reasonable to demand such evidence. He who wishes to prove any claim of being God or support any claim of God's existence bears the burden of proof. Until that person successfully bears that burden, all he has are the words he uses to make his claims.
Objective and empirical evidence is something which can be unambiguously observed, freely and repeatedly analyzed, properly interpreted and which is available to all. This applies to God as well as to any other proposition. Is it not well within the abilities of your God to provide such evidence? Is there any better way to prove anything's existence? If not, then I have provided the justification you demanded.
(R) I agree that objective and empirical evidence is the best standard to determine the truth of a proposition. However, God is not simply a proposition. God is also defined as an ancient *entity* that functioned as the primary cause for the universe and the creator of life billions of years ago.
(MB) Without evidence in support, such a claim can never rise above the level of a proposition. Consider that one could substitute the names of hundreds of mutually-exclusive deities for "God" and make the exact same claim. Since they can't all be true, the only way to determine which one(s) might be correct is to examine the objective and empirical evidence. But, since there *is* no such evidence to examine, all that's left are the competing propositions. Even if you generalize the proposition into near-meaninglessness, it still has no such evidence to back it up. The proposition doesn't become "important" or worthy of consideration simply because the subject matter is a deity.
(R) That is a much different animal than something like gravity where we drop apples onto the ground over and over again measuring velocities, volumes, masses, etc.
(MB) I agree. There is empirical and objective evidence with which to study and theorize the causes of falling apples. Anybody who studies those causes will eventually arrive at the same answer.
(R) You are making the classic fallacy of assuming that any theistic hypotheses must be capable of simplifications all the down to the same levels of gravity, motion, entropy, etc, in order for them to be valid. Such an expectation ignorantly neglects the fact that the two are completely different types of proposition, and CANNOT operate with the same standards, observability, or repeatability.
(MB) Unfortunately for your case, if you have two propositions which each seek to answer the same question, the only way they can be truly evaluated against each other is to apply the same standards of inquiry to them. Theism isn't exempt from this just because it's "theism". That is the classic fallacy (called "special pleading").
The Old Testament tells many stories (emphasis on the word "stories") about God appearing before his people and taking clear and direct action either for or against them. Yet, his people were still rife with disbelief. Is he that uncompelling?
(R) You are making the same mistake that every other critic has made throughout the ages. You ignorantly and automatically assume that the problem is with God as opposed to people, and then pretend that your own myopic, humancentric predilection is somehow superior to God, and therefore God cannot exist.
(MB) Oh, please. Do you believe that the OT stories are true or don't you? If they are true, then God's "chosen people" repeatedly turned away from belief in him even though he was presenting them with clear, unmistakeable and often deadly signs of his existence and power. What mistaken assumptions are being made here? How can you blame the people for the ravages wrought by God upon them? How is this not an indication that God was not considered to be a compelling figure? If God does not have the ability to inspire unquestioned belief and to completely eradicate non-belief in something as puny and insignificant as a human being, then he is not all-powerful. But, if he not all-powerful, then he can't possibly have created the universe. If he doesn't know that people will sin, then he is not all-knowing. But, if he's not all-knowing, then he's not God. If he knows people will sin, does nothing about it, and punishes them anyway, then he is not just or all-benevolent. Again, this flies in the face of the Christian definition of God. All we are left with is the conclusion that the Christian God does not exist because their own "infallible" scriptures deny the very definition of that deity.
Considering that it has been an unsupported presupposition for many thousands of years, on what basis are we to believe that its past and present lack of support will not continue in perpetuity? If there will never be any support for it, why should anybody believe it?
(R) Your first sentence consists of a statement that assumes precisely what it concludes. These naked assertions do not accomplish or prove a thing to anyone but you.
(MB) You didn't read what I wrote. Despite the thousands of years of belief in God, there is still exactly *zero* evidence with which to support his existence. My question was whether or not there is any reason to believe that this situation won't continue on into the future? If you disagree, you will need to provide the evidence that everybody else has failed to notice or tell me why you believe such evidence will be found in the future.
Atheists are atheists due to the realization that there is nothing with which to support the belief in theism. As such, atheism is a rational and logical position which *is* concerned with evidence (or lack of).
(R) No, atheism is not defined as belief in "lack of evidence," but "lack of belief in god."
(MB) Please reread my statement and tell me where I defined atheism as "belief in lack of evidence". You are going to have to deal with what I say rather than mangling it into something else.
(R) Evidence has nothing to do with the definition of atheism.
(MB) Correct, but I didn't say that it did. One more time, atheists do not believe in the existence of deities on the basis that there is no evidence with which to support such existence. This is the same rationale used to declare that one doesn't believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or leprechauns.
(R) Again, you are overlooking the fact that what people consider to be "evidence" is largely subject to interpretation.
(MB) I've already discussed the problems with that idea.
(R) My original point was that you cannot presume that all atheists would accept a new evidence for God. In fact, I would wager they would reject it, and try desperately to find any loopholes they could to evade theistic implications, just like they have been doing for millennia. Again, it is an issue of *interpretation* of evidence, not the existence of evidence.
(MB) On what basis would you make that wager? Since atheism is an intellectual philosophy, it makes no sense that an atheist would not accept solid evidence. Atheism is not a philosophy of personal preference. Since it is based upon the total lack of supporting evidence for deities, if that lack was rectified, there would be no basis upon which to continue to be an atheist. All you or any other believer has to do is to present just one piece of objective and empirical evidence which supports the existence of the deity you worship and you will eradicate atheism overnight as a viable philosophy. But, you can't do it, can you?
Theism, on the other hand, is a system which is not concerned with evidence (and largely ignores contradictory evidence) and which values "faith" above all else.
(R) Theism is a multi-faceted, diverse, and a very fluid system of belief that takes on many shapes and forms. Your narrow, monolithic characterization is merely atheistic stereotyping. Certainly, some theists may care nothing for evidences, but certainly, some do.
(MB) If theists actually cared about evidence, they wouldn't be theists since there is *no* evidence to support such beliefs. If theism had any truth in reality, it wouldn't be "multi-faceted, diverse, fluid", etc. That's because there would be one truth and not thousands of different versions of the story. Your flowery description of theism only covers up the fact that it is disjointed, paradoxical, unorganized and just plain wrong.
Because of this, theism is neither rational nor logical. I've often heard theists say that they won't abandon or change their beliefs even if proven to be wrong (usually because they rationalize that they *can't* be proven wrong), but you'll never hear an atheist say that he will continue to disbelieve in God even if proven wrong. It is easy to prove an atheist to be wrong. One solid piece of evidence is all that is required. But, no such evidence has been produced by any of the thousands of Man's theistic belief systems over the several thousand years they have been in existence.
(R) This is purely anecdotal commentary, and more empty bantering.
(MB) Translation: "Damn! Nailed again! Back to the brush-offs."
If you consider my statements to be "empty", you have only to provide the supporting evidence which I say doesn't exist. Again, only one piece will be necessary. Is that so difficult to do?
While this is well-supported, this only proves my point that emotional or faith-based belief systems are irrational and illogical. However, since neither science nor atheism are such systems, your complaint is unwarranted. Demanding supporting evidence is a rigorous standard, but it is a method that produces results in which any thinking person can have the highest confidence. Those who do not demand evidence for their own beliefs, but who loudly shout "Where's the proof?" in reference to all other systems are not only being disingenuous and intellectually dishonest, but they are actually arguing against the rationality of their own beliefs.
(R) What I have proposed was not a "complaint" as you suggest. It was an honest evaluation of the true state of human beings and their preferred belief systems, which INCLUDES atheists.
(MB) Uh-huh. You can't claim that theism and science are equally valid systems of explanation unless you are willing to apply the same standards to both. If you seek to divorce theism from the necessity of supporting evidence, then you have no reason to demand consideration of its propositions as competitors to science. The true state of human beings is that some have the intellect to understand that a rigorous standard of evidence is the best way to find the truth while others abandon intellectual inquiry in order to turn to "faith" for their answers.
(R) You continue to beat the same old drum of stereotypically coloring theism as "emotional" and atheism as "intellectual." This is more of the same old atheist propaganda which assumes precisely what it concludes by trying to pit intellectualism against theism. Atheism is not necessarily intellectual nor is theism necessarily emotional. To believe otherwise is perfectly naive.
(MB) If this is your argument, then you understand neither intellectualism *nor* emotion. Atheism and theism are at opposite ends of the spectrum in relation to the relative importance of evidence and faith. As such, they can't be harmonized and you certainly aren't going to try to do so in the course of this debate. As you said, to believe otherwise is perfectly naive.
(R) My original point was two-fold - 1) You cannot presume to think for millions of atheists, thereby predicting their acceptance or rejection of evidence, and 2) You cannot assume that atheists are immune to emotional or personal biases against god-concepts, or that such biases would not interfere with their acceptance of evidences.
(MB) Both parts of your point have been shown to be ill-considered. Even if you don't or won't agree with that, I can certainly speak on my own behalf. I've already told you that I'm willing to believe absolutely anything which can be supported by evidence. Knowing that, are you confident that you can present sufficient supporting evidence to bring me around to adopting your theistic beliefs?
[RE: You cannot merely *claim* that all the available evidence supports the universe being created by a natural process.]
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) Now honestly, do you really expect people not to notice that you are not supplying the very evidence you claim exists? Instead of giving this evidence, you have decided to "think" what you "think" I know. How about giving this "all available evidence" and detail exactly how and why it shows that natural processes are capable of creating the universe uncaused from nothing?
(MB) You've obviously written this before reading the rest of Reply #98b. Now, it would be impossible for me to provide every piece of evidence and detail every theory which exists. But, that should not be necessary -- even for *your* edification. The point was your claim that *no* such evidence exists and this has been soundly refuted. Whether or not you have the necessary intellect and desire to research and understand the theories and evidence for yourself is beyond the scope of this debate. If you want even more food for thought, check out these documents:
FAQ in Cosmology
Big Bang Reading List
The Official String Theory Web Site
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) You just spent a huge paragraph rattling off pointless commentary when you could have used that same time and space to detail how and why "all available evidence" supports the conclusion that natural processes are capable of creating the universe mindlessly. These tactless evasions are obvious for all to see.
(MB) I think you're forgetting that you tried this same tactic in our evolution/creationism debate and ended up taking a severe beating. I've told you just a few of the names whose theories you should investigate. There's a building called a "library" (it's the big building with all the books with no price tags) that will be very useful in that effort. Once again, you are not asking for "all the details". You are claiming that no supporting evidence for the scientific view even exists! If you acknowledge that it does exist, then you will need to demonstrate where the theories are wrong. The proponents have already done the work of supporting them. If you disagree, it is necessary for you to provide the refutations. When you've done your homework, come back and ask your questions. Just don't wimp out with those blanket brush-offs about "atheistic assumptions".
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