Last Update: 01 Jan 01

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This is the fourth 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.

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) So far you have not detailed any of this supposed evidence or shown how that evidence proves the claim you are making. Consequently, there is nothing for me to refute.
(MB) Given your past history in other debates (both here and elsewhere), you are incapable of specific and detailed refutation. You just continue to deny the evidence and claim that you don't have to play by the rules. You know full well what the scientific evidence is. You can start by refuting inflation theory, the Wave Function of the Universe, the Big Bang model, superstrings and quantum mechanics. I assure you that a Nobel Prize (probably more than one) will be yours if you can succeed in doing so. If you just brush this all off (yet again), then we'll know that you're not arguing from a position of strength.

[RE: "Science," or rather, the philosophy of materialism, HAS failed to bear the necessary burden of proof for the existence of such a natural process.]
Once again, you resort to incorrect definitions, associations, buzzwords and stipulations in order to continue grasping at thin straws.

(R) And once again you resort to making a laundry list of false accusation against me instead of supplying the actual evidence for your claim.
(MB) "False accusations"? Have you shown why science should be better described as "the philosophy of materialism"? Have you shown where science has failed? Or, have you just continued to do nothing more than say that you just don't believe it?

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) If you think that science is practiced by machines in a virtual vacuum, perhaps it could be considered nothing but a "methodology." But we know such is not the case, and "science" has no meaning or practice apart from scient-ISTS.
(MB) The scientific method of inquiry is not restricted to "scientists". It is a methodology that anybody can and should use to search for the answers to the questions they have. Why do you eschew this method?

(R) As such, the methodology and any theories produced from it are totally subject to the interpretation, assumptions, and philosophical influences of any and all human scientists involved its production. To deny or overlook this would be perfectly naive.
(MB) In a manner of speaking, that is true. Science does assume that there is a basic set of natural laws which govern the operation of everything in the universe. As such, its main goal is the discovery and understanding of those laws. Once discovered, these laws can be applied to the process of answering any and all questions about the universe. We have no reason to believe that such laws do not exist. Therefore, we can have confidence in the answers which are determined through their application. Again, I must ask you why you would eschew this method?
    Also, I must ask why you didn't bother to answer the second and third points in the referenced quote? To refresh your memory, they were:

  • Second, science also included 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 sceince and why?

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.
(R) There was nothing invalid about my assertion because you have not proven the supposed existence of this materialistic process which is defined by it's ability to create complex, ordered universes, nor have you shown what it's mechanism is or how it operates.
(MB) Do you even bother to read what I write before going back to your prepared sermons? Explain to me why the supernatural exists just because science hasn't been proven to your satisfaction.

(R) Therefore, your assumption that it DOES exist at this juncture is a prime example of a "materialism of the gaps" belief.
(MB) Do you have any idea how silly that sounds? Consider, if there was any truth to that "materialism of the gaps" blithering, what is it that is *outside* the gaps? It would have to be the supernatural. However, for that to be the case, you would be saying that everything we currently know is supernatural and that no natural realm exists.

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) Your analysis couldn't be more incorrect.
(MB) Given your "understanding" of basic logic, I'll take that comment as a compliment...*grin*

(R) I am not denying that theistic claims are included in this "gap" fallacy to a small degree. It is impossible not to resort to such assumptions in light of all that we *do not* know about the origin of the universe. The difference is which claim has a better statistical probability of being the correct assumption.
(MB) Until such time as you provide any evidence upon which to calculate the probable correctness of theism and allow us to directly compare it with science, it is science which will unquestionably provide the more likely answers. But, you can't do that since you continue to argue that you don't have to play by the same rules, right?

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) Now you are the one making illogical arguments. If all natural processes are *part* of the universe, yet created the universe, then the natural processes created themselves as did the universe. Please explain in detail exactly how the universe created itself and explain how such events would not contradict the laws of physics.
(MB) My argument does not become illogical simply because you distort what I'm saying. I said that "natural processes exist". I did not say that all such processes are a part of our universe. You really need to read the documents concerning inflation theory and scalar fields.

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.
(R) You apparently are unable to recognize the gaping holes in your own logic.
(MB) That's because there are no holes in my logic -- gaping or otherwise.

(R) A camel is natural. A car is natural. Therefore, a camel created a car?
(MB) Are you proposing that a camel is a "natural process"? *giggle*

(R) Just because there are *some* natural processes that exist does not mean that EVERYTHING is the result of a natural process.
(MB) Correct. However, if everything we know is the result of a natural process, and nothing that we know is the result of a supernatural process, then we can have high confidence in the conclusion that everything we *don't* know will also be the result of a natural process.

(R) If I were to take the 30 components to a simple blender and put all the parts into a bag, shake it around for an infinity, would I ever at any point have assembled a complete, fully functional, working blender? No. Because assembly requires intelligence and tools to build. The act of "shaking" is an inadequate "process" to assemble a blender.
(MB) This demonstrates insufficient thought. It is highly unlikely that one could assemble a blender in such a manner, but it is not impossible. If the probability of any given event is non-zero, then, given enough time and trials, that event *will* occur. It may not, however, be wise to bet one's rent money that it will happen any time soon (although, it could certainly happen on the very next trial).

(R) The universe is infinitely more complex than a blender, and it has infinitely more parts.
(MB) How is the universe more complex than a blender? Indeed, if superstring theory is correct, the universe is fundamentally a very simple thing. Sheer size and number of component parts do not equate to "complexity".

(R) The universe "works" in that it has all the right cosmological balances for the laws of physics to produce ordered and complex systems, and so far, there is absolutely no evidence of a natural process or it's necessary mechanism which can be shown to be a sufficient causal agent in producing the results we see in the universe.
(MB) The universe "works" because it is, inherently, a very simple thing. We know almost all of its most fundamental parts already. We're working out the full set of interactions between those parts. We know how almost everything works. And, we *still* haven't found so much as one single thing which requires a supernatural explanation.

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.
(R) My argument is not based on an appeal of equality to your arguments as you are supposing. I am essentially suggesting that my arguments are only equal in terms of actual ability of empirical confirmation (or lack thereof), but *superior* in terms of statistical probability, legal evidence, and logic.
(MB) Oh, brother! On one hand you boast that your views neither have nor require any empirical evidence or verification. Then, you say that they are equal to science in that regard. Then, you use that equality to deny science and unashamedly embrace theism while denying the basic logical fallacy being committed. And, you still have not shown the basis upon which one is supposed to calculate the probability that theism is true.

[RE: You mean a definitive MATERIALISTIC theory.]
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) Your persistence of characterizing everything as a "meaningless buzzword" is becoming a "buzzword" itself.
(MB) If I point out what you're doing, that does not validate what you're doing. You haven't demonstrated that you are using "materialism" as anything *but* a buzzword since you haven't defined what you mean by it nor have you shown which version of materialism you are invoking. You're just substituting the word for the lack of a valid argument.

(R) You are making a key assumption - an explanation can only be "scientific" if it is MATERIALISTIC. You have yet to prove this assumption's actual truth, or show how or why one must accept that criteria. Until you do provide this proof, your entire argument hinges on an empty assumption derived from philosophical biases and definitions.
(MB) I have not equated science with "materialism", so your charge is groundless. An explanation is "scientific" if it is in accordance with observation, experiment and evidence. "Materialism" (however you want to use that buzzword) has nothing to do with it.

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.
(R) I am not "invoking" materialism as you suggest. I have correctly identified it's inextricable presence in your view of what "science" is.
(MB) How have you done any such thing when you haven't even defined what you think "materialism" is?

(R) To you, there is no such thing as a scientific explanation that is not based on materialistic assumptions.
(MB) To me, there is no such thing as a scientific explanation that is not based on evidence, observation and experiment. Materialism has nothing to do with it.

(R) Also, please notice that you have yet to *provide* any "actual evidence in detail" for your materialistic view of origins.
(MB) That's because I don't *have* a "materialistic view of origins". It's not up to me to prove what I'm not saying.

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) The "labels" you refer to are not believed to have "negative" connotations. Why you continue to make these assumptions is a mystery to me.
(MB) Then, what sort of connotations *do* those labels have for you? You're not simply throwing in the word "materialism" because enjoy typing it. So, what's your point? Oh, by the way, you forgot to answer my challenge and refute quantum mechanics and Linde's inflation and multiverse theories.

(R) You have not provided any evidence which links any of the aforementioned theories to the actual existence of any such materialistic process for universe origins. You were merely content with referencing a small grocery list of scientific theories without explaining how they tie into your atheistic assumptions, let alone *support* them.
(MB) Go read the references I've provided for you. Then, come back with specific points of dispute if you still have any. Generic and uninformed doubt is a poor foundation from which to argue your case.

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) I think you are begging the question of what the definition of "science" is.
(MB) Not at all. This definition has been known and agreed upon since at least the time of Aristotle.

(R) You seem to think that philosophical naturalists get the sovereign right to define "science" in totally materialistic terms, and the rest of us all must go along with it.
(MB) If you wish to go against thousands of years of wisdom, be my guest. Just don't demand that any thinking person should go along with you.

(R) My view is that science is a system of discovery which incorporates hypotheses derived from the consideration of ALL evidences, including indirect or suggestive evidences. The basis for holding a transcendency hypothesis is that it is derived from considering many indirect and suggestive evidences from all forms of observable phenomena. In that respect, it can be considered "scientific."
(MB) OK, I'll bite. *ahem* What "indirect and suggestive evidence" is there which supports the concept of transcendancy?

(R) While the actual transcendental cause agent itself may not be testable or examined, the predicted effect of such a hypothesized cause agent CAN be tested and examined.
(MB) How? All you're doing here is working backwards from the conclusion and defining the premise in terms of that conclusion. This is classic circular reasoning which proceeds as follows:
(1) Given: The universe exists in the form in which we observe it.
(2) Hypothesis: A supernatural entity (a "Creator") exists which has the power to create the universe described in (1).
(3) Prediction: By (2), a universe such as the one we observe will exist.
(4) Test: Because we observe that the universe described in (1) exists, (2) is proven and (3) is a successful prediction.
(5) Conclusion: Therefore, the universe had a Creator.
This is what you are arguing. Can you spot the flaws?

(R) No matter how you try to cut it, there is no possible "natural process" that can be predicted to produce the type of universe we observe.
(MB) That is exactly the sort of prediction that science makes. Again, read the material I've linked for you.

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) I was not positing an argument so there can be no contradiction. I was making a reference to what I see YOU ruling out or "rejecting," not science itself. Do you have a "science" complex about yourself? Do you think *you* are "science?"
(MB) Of course not, but I am certainly fluent enough in science and its methods to be able to speak with some degree of authority about them. Again, I'm not flatly rejecting your evidence. This is because you don't *have* any evidence. You have agreed to this yourself and have stated that you have none to offer and that you don't need to do so.

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