REPLY #99e TO
This is the fifth 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.
[RE: We are dealing with distant past events of over 15 billions year ago that are not observable, testable, or repeatable.]
You're wrong about this. We can and do readily observe the results of what happened.
(R) The *results* or (effects) of a cause are not the same as the *cause.*
(MB) Quite true, but that's not what you were arguing in your previous statement. Also, it is known that many effects can only be produced from a very limited set of potential causes. Therefore, if an effect is observed, a cause can be reasonably proposed.
(R) For example, tire tracks are not proof of a car; their proof of a TIRE.
(MB) Again, you didn't think this through very well. First, perhaps what looks like tire tracks might be something which was created by some other method that didn't involve a tire at all. Second, if the tracks are genuine, we can also deduce many other things. For example, the depth of the tracks will indicate the weight of the vehicle. The tread pattern will suggest the type of tire and the manufacturer. Other qualities may lead us to reasonable conclusions about the speed and size of the vehicle as well as how long ago the tracks were produced.
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.
(R) Particle accelerators, quantum tunneling, superstring theories, and all other such extrapolations are based on a mathematics which employs many key assumptions that have never been proven, such as the assumptions involving the operation and behavior of physical laws at the moment of the Big Bang and shortly thereafter.
(MB) I can't tell if you are being genuinely or deliberately ignorant here. All known subatomic particles were first predicted mathematically before their existence was proven. Same with the four fundamental forces of nature (electromagnetism, strong and weak nuclear forces, and gravity). The fact that this process works is proof that you are being nothing more than argumentative in denying it.
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.
(R) This table turns both ways. If you truly believe your arguments, then you can't possible maintain your atheistic/materialistic beliefs since none of them are observable, testable, or repeatable in relation to the origin of the universe. You don't hold your own beliefs to the same standard you demand of theism.
(MB) So, once again, you commit the "tu quoque" fallacy of supporting your views by claiming that science has similar flaws (even though your criticisms are incorrect)? You refute your own case very effectively. As such, you really don't need me to bury it for you (although I'm quite happy to do so).
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) Blanket statements which assume all the critical points will get you no where.
(MB) How is this either a blanket statement or an assumption? You, yourself, have agreed with it. You actually boast that theism does not require evidence. You agree that evidence exists for the scientific view, but you just refuse to accept it. Therefore, I can only conclude that you are doing nothing more here than being argumentative.
[RE: Almost all cosmological theories of the universe's inception are highly untestable and appeal largely to unprovable hypothetics and fantastic scenarios.]
Again, it should be clear by now that this is an assertion of yours which is based on nothing more than personal incredulity.
(R) This "assertion" of mine is nothing short of a simple observation of facts. It is a FACT that the proposed materialistic theories for the origin of the universe are based on untestable varieties and unprovable hypothetical scenarios that theorize events of the distant past, not prove them.
(MB) To make such a claim is to admit nearly total ignorance concerning the current state of cosmology and astrophysics. Explain to me exactly why you consider scientific theories of universal origins to be "untestable" and "unprovable".
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) I do not reject "science" as you are stereotypically suggesting.
(MB) Nonsense. You are certainly not *accepting* science by denigrating its theories and methodology, are you?
(R) I am rejecting the materialistic assumptions that are underlying the entire framework of your origin theories.
(MB) I'm afraid that I cannot personally accept any credit for these theories. If you equate science with "materialism" and then reject everything that you find to be "materialistic", aren't you also rejecting science? That's the problem with buzzword rhetoric. It always ends up being internally inconsistent since the proponent never really understands what he's arguing about.
(R) Furthermore, I do not accept theism based on its provability or its testability, but upon it *probability* based on what *is* provable and testable, when compared to the atheistic/naturalistic scenarios of mindless incidence.
(MB) I await your presentation of the probability calculations which will support your preference for theism along with the presentation of whatever it is which is "provable" and "testable" in support of those calculations.
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.
(R) Your apparent inability to discern empirical methodology from theoretical constructs based on philosophical assumptions of materialism, is what is "amusing."
(MB) One more time. Science is not "philosophy" -- "materialistic" or otherwise. Your sermons to the contrary won't change that. If you don't even understand what science really is, I don't see how you can expect to make any comments about it that should be taken seriously. I certainly see no need to defend your inaccuracies. In the meantime, you continue to avoid a positive presentation of your own views.
(R) Try as you may, your attempts at dismissing my arguments as "personal incredulity" have no merit whatsoever.
(MB) Then, I can see that you have no idea what "personal incredulity" means. You reject the scientific view simply because you don't believe it. You can provide no specific arguments against it and you can offer up no general arguments which do not apply at least as strongly to what you *do* choose to believe. This is not a logical approach, but it seems to be the best you have to offer.
I can provide the scientific evidence to you and you can (and do) choose to reject it off-hand.
(R) Loose references to theories and their respective authors hardly represents "scientific evidence."
(MB) Correct. It's the theories themselves and not the references to them which matter. If you'll bother doing your homework to research the theories and read the published material from the men I've mentioned, you'll have all the evidence you should need. Of course, you'll still just reject it all for no better reason that simply labeling it all as "materialistic assumptions" without bothering to define what assumptions are being made, why they are wrong, and what version of materialism you are referencing, right?
(R) You need to decide what grounds you want to argue for your atheistic/materialistic views on.
(MB) I've already done so and have done so consistently throughout this debate. I'm arguing on the grounds of what the evidence will or will not support. You, on the other hand, are arguing on the grounds of what your personal beliefs will or will not accept.
(R) If you want to argue for them based on "scientific evidence," then you need to present the ACTUAL evidence of the materialistic origin of the universe, along with all the respective proofs.
(MB) I've already provided enough for you. I want to start hearing some detailed refutations and/or the positive case in support of your own views. If you're not going to do any more than say, in essence, "I don't believe it", this debate will not progress.
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?
(R) Since I am not arguing for theism on scientific grounds, I do not need to furnish "scientific evidence" as it's support base.
(MB) Then, on what basis is one to believe it? On what basis is one to contrast it with science? On what basis is it to be considered "better" than science? And, why would it even be necessary to attack science at all? You're basically doing the same thing as the guy who argues, "Football is better because baseball sucks." Whether or not baseball sucks, that guy will still have to demonstrate the merits of football in order to have his argument become acceptable.
(R) I am arguing for theism based on its higher probability of being the correct theory of origins.
(MB) A probability which, of course, you can't even begin to demonstrate, right?
(R) YOU are the one who is arguing for materialistic origins on "scientific" grounds. Consequently, you are not exempt from the burden of empirical evidence.
(MB) Obviously true, since that is the very foundation of scientific methodology. I have previously provided you with references to a great deal of the evidence and, therefore, have satisfied my burden of responsibility. The fact that you merely reject it all with a casual wave of your rhetorical hand does not mean that I have not presented evidence for you.
[RE: 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.]
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) You spent a lot time deviating from my obvious point. The point to be drawn from the analogy was that natural processes are not capable of meeting the requirements necessary for creating a universe out of nothing.
(MB) You just continue to say this (while continuing to incorrectly add the "out of nothing" stipulation) without explaining *why* the universe could not have been created by natural processes. Again, you rely on nothing more than personal incredulity (and dreadfully illogical examples) to support a weak case. Are there any other reasons?
(R) If you claim that you "don't know" what created the universe, then you cannot very well claim to know what *didn't* create the universe. (i.e., a transcendental cause.)
(MB) Sure, I can! I can name any number of things which did *not* create the universe on the basis that such things do not possess the power to do so. You are committing the fallacy of claiming that all possibilities are equal and reasonable if the truth is not known.
(R) By virtue of your own analysis, you effectively identified the intended parallel for my analogy:
(1) All that exists is natural processes. [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 natural processes. [by syllogism]
(5) By (2), (3) and (4), it must be true that natural processes must have "experiences" and must, therefore, be alive.
(MB) *Roaring with laughter* You have made the egregious blunder of an invalid substitution. Your original analogy focused on a single discrete and composite object, i.e., a "car", to which the observer is completely separate and distinct. Your invalid substitution attempts to parallel such an object with an entire set of physical laws, forces and interactions of which one particular combination would *produce* the observer. Therefore, in a manner of speaking, the observer *is* a natural process and the line of reasoning would be valid.
Oh, by the way, this whole riotous misadventure of illogic could have been avoided by correctly stating (1). This should have said "All that exists are the results of natural processes" instead of your mistaken version. If you had not made that error, you might have been OK. As is, however, you've done nothing but demonstrate the folly of reasoning which proceeds from false propositions.
(R) By syllogical parallel, you have correctly identified the incoherent premises of your own materialistic assumption. Congratulations.
(MB) You are really going to have to consider enrolling in Logic 101 before you make yourself look any more foolish. The first question you can ask the course instructor is what he thinks of the word "syllogical". Even if you had known the actual word ("syllogistic"), you still wouldn't have applied it properly since the line of reasoning in question is not a syllogism, but an induction.
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) As shown by parallels to your own syllogical reasoning, that conclusion is based on a false a premise.
(MB) Besides the fact that I've already trashed your "parallels" (not to mention your incorrect terminology), what possible justification can you have for the claim that supporting evidence for a proposition does not increase the probability that the proposition is true? If that's your position, I'm going to be greatly interested in how you will go about justifying your idea that theism is "more probable" than science.
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) Again, you assume precisely what you conclude, along with a little more peppering of stereotyping.
(MB) Again, I state only the facts. Again, you disagree just to be disagreeable without providing any argument in refutation.
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) You are not claiming that you "do not know" what the cause of the universe was. You have clearly, and adamantly argued that the origin of the universe is the result of materialistic processes.
(MB) No, I've argued that the origin of the universe is the result of natural (as opposed to supernatural) processes. Those processes may or may not be "materialistic". Your scenario of Creation by God could involve the use of materialistic methods, but not natural ones. You really need to learn the difference rather than just assuming that typing those words constitutes any sort of argument.
(R) Not only that, but you have also suggested that the cause *was not* transcendental, and certainly not a divine being. That's a lot of positive claims for someone who supposedly "does not know".
(MB) I don't have 100% knowledge. Therefore, I can't "know" for certain what actually happened. However, I *do* know, without question, where the evidence points. I also know, without question, that there is no evidence for *anything* "transcendental". Therefore, there is no reason to consider any such thing as a possible answer to the question of how the universe was created. None of this will change until you produce supporting evidence for anything transcendental.
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?
(R) How can you both claim "I don't know" and say that you have no blind acceptance if you are holding fast to a materialistic assumption?
(MB) Because you don't understand the difference between not having 100% knowledge and knowing where the available evidence leads. Acceptance of anything is not "blind" if that acceptance has evidential support.
(R) If you don't know and still believe something, it is blind acceptance.
(MB) Which is exactly where theism stands, right? After all, "blind acceptance" is acceptance without or despite evidence and you are already on the record as arguing that theism is not subject to or dependent upon evidence. Therefore, you believe something that you don't know and do so with nothing upon which to base that belief -- except the personal emotional appeal of the belief itself.
(R) Moreover, it is the factors of statistical probability, legal evidence, and logic that leads me to a theistic conclusion as opposed to a materialistic conclusion.
(MB) Once again, I call for you to present the basis for this claim. How do you calculate the probabilities? What "legal evidence" are you invoking? We've already experienced your dreadful grasp of basic logic, so, for now, I'll settle for answers to the other two questions.
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.
(R) You are making a horse-load of assumptions here.
(MB) How much is a "horse-load" and how does this answer my question?
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