REPLY #99f TO
This is the sixth 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) The copious number of documented cases of paranormal activity may very well fall "outside" the realm of "natural" phenomena.
(MB) Please give me a few examples of any paranormal claim which has been shown to be true. I hope you understand that nothing becomes true simply because somebody believes it to be so. I also hope you understand that people have been making wild claims to explain or cover their ignorance for as long as Homo sapiens has possessed awareness. Are you aware that the James Randi Educational Foundation offers a prize in excess of $1 million for proof of anything paranormal or supernatural and that this prize has never been claimed?
What relative amount of total knowledge of the fundamental reality of the universe is represented by the "gaps"? Very little.
(R) The question of simply "what exists" is not in dispute. The question of how all "fundamental reality" came to be *is* what is in question. Also, the amount of things we "do not know" FAR out-number the amount of things we *do* know about the universe.
(MB) On what is that claim based?
(R) And when we get into the realm of knowledge concerning the universe's origin, we know *even less.*
(MB) Agreed. But, once again, the evidence points in only one direction. There is nothing to suggest that research into the question is proceeding in the wrong direction.
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?
(R) Well, I guess we would consider a theistic idea unless we blindly grant all of your underlying false contingencies for theism.
(MB) Before you simply brush off another uncomfortable argument as being "false", perhaps you could make an attempt to refute it? Explain why theism is not totally inconsistent with and in violation of our accumulated body of knowledge. Explain why such an inconsistent proposition should be invoked to fill any gaps in our current body of knowledge.
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.
(R) Your above response summarizes your three major errors which are as follows. You falsely assume that:
1) "Science" and materialistic assumptions are the same thing.
(MB) I've said no such thing, nor do I believe it, nor is it true. Science and materialism overlap, of course, but they are *not* identical. If you understand what materialism actually is, it is also possible to make materialistic arguments in a theistic scenario. Your argument has the additional flaw in that it assumes that if science and materialism are equal, that means that they are both false. Since you have yet to demonstrate where *either* is false, since it is doubtful that you disagree with all of science, and since you still seem to be shaky about the very definition of materialism, you have nothing upon which to base any claims of falsehood.
(R) 2) Materialism ("science," according to you) has provided empirical proof for materialism's universal truth, specifically regarding the origin of the universe.
(MB) I would not make the circular reasoning blunder of claiming that anything proves its own truth. This illogic is reserved for Bible thumpers and those who advance teleological arguments in favor of God. Also, "materialism" is a philosophy. It is not evidence, nor does it provide evidence. It makes predictions which must be supported through investigation using the methodology of science.
(R) 3) A proposition must be *replaced* with another in order to shown false or severely flawed.
(MB) Untrue. Any proposition must present a positive supporting case in order to gain acceptance. Without such a case, that proposition cannot be accepted whether or not any competing propositions have been shown to be false. Theism has the additional problem of sorting out all of the competing stories which fall under that general umbrella. In that respect, it is not a proposition in and of itself. It is a general class containing a great many specific and competing (and mutually-exclusive) propositions. As such, one can't possibly say that "theism is true" since it has self-contradictory parts. To defend the truth of theism, one must inevitably reduce it to support for one specific proposition supporting one specific deity.
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) Total materialism is the universal assumption that all events of the past, present, and future involved strictly material cause and effect.
(MB) If this is the definition upon which you wish to hang your rhetorical hat, then your case is already lost. "Total materialism" can't possibly be an explanation for the origin of the universe since no matter would have existed prior to that origin. It also fails since the evidence of science leads to an uncaused origin of the universe.
(R) If you positively claim that all events throughout the entire universe's history were exclusively of a material order, then it is your responsibility to support that claim.
(MB) If we understand that the "universe's history" can only contain events which occurred *after* its creation, then the evidence points completely in the direction you are denying and lends strong support to the view you so casually brush aside. If you positively claim that even so much as *one* event of a non-materialistic or supernatural nature has occurred, then the burden of proof is on you to support that claim. How will you do that without evidence?
(R) Referencing a infinitesimally small span of observational data, such as what we have gathered in our puny time of human observation, will not suffice since it is utterly miniscule in relation to the huge cosmological time-scale involving all unobserved events.
(MB) Irrelevant. All evidence that we have gathered to date and all rational predictions of future evidence all support the scientific view. No evidence whatsoever supports the theistic view. Total observation time is not an issue. If you believe otherwise, than you will have to explain why the theistic view is supported since it, too, has only been a going concern for the briefest relative instant.
(R) As for any alleged "bifurcation fallacy," if you would like to introduce additional possibilities and give the relevant reasoning for why you posit them, be my guest. Otherwise, your allegations of fallacy are meaningless.
(MB) The number of possible alternatives is many and varied. In addition to the thousands of mutually-exclusive theistic claims, it is possible that our current scientific view is wrong and that the correct theory of universal origins has yet even to be conceived. There may well be natural forces and processes of which we are yet unaware and which may be responsible for the universe. It is also possible that the universe itself is a sentient entity and brought itself into existence without the need for an external deity to do so. It is possible that nothing actually exists and that what we think we perceive is actually nothing more than a dream. It is also conceivable that there is a third state of existence that doesn't fall into what we now call "natural" and "supernatural". The existence of these possibilities -- no matter how remote or fanciful -- demonstrates the bifurcation fallacy in your simplistic arguments. It also adds additional force to the necessity that you must support your case positively since the failure of science would not automatically make theism correct (and vice-versa) by default.
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) If there is no supporting evidence which clearly shows ALL events relating to the origin of the universe are materialistically self-inclusive, then transcendental assumptions are not only warranted, but more probable.
(MB) In light of the previous paragraph, you may now wish to reevaluate this claim. Also, if you believe that this latest example of your mangled logic is valid, then you must also believe its corollary. To wit, if there is no supporting evidence which clearly shows ALL events relating to the origin of the universe are transcendentally self-inclusive, then materialistic assumptions are not only warranted, but more probable.
Bottom line here is that *no* assumption is warranted (and, certainly, none is "more probable") unless there is some evidential support for it. Once again, I remind you that you have already removed your views from the necessity of having supporting evidence.
(R) So far you have not shown that all events in the entire history of the universe were exclusively of a material order. Because of that failure, you have no grounds whatsoever to dismiss transcendental possibilities.
(MB) Yes, I do. The grounds are simply that there is no evidence with which to support an argument that anything transcendent exists. Because of that, and because there are not two and only two possibilities for explanations of the universe, such things can not be a fallback position if an alternative fails. To have your views taken seriously, you *must* support them with a positive case -- no matter what your opinion of science might be.
(R) I have already defined materialism, and you and I both know it is not a "buzzword," but a well-known philosophical world-view.
(MB) We both know that it is philosophy, but I'm the only one in this conversation who knows what it actually means (as has already been demonstrated). I previously gave you the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge by telling me which version of materialism you were invoking and you didn't even bother to answer the question (probably because you couldn't do so). Therefore, it's highly likely that your use of the term is for buzzword effect only.
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.
(R) I will give the definition of materialism AGAIN - Materialism- a philosophical supposition that claims ALL causes and events: past, present, and future can, have, has, and will exist(s)(ed) exclusively in material, physical form.
(MB) Using the term "philosophical supposition" is an indication that this "definition" has been borrowed from standard apologist writings. At best, the term is a redundancy since *all* philosophy is, essentially, supposition. The term also carries a negative connotation in the context being used which is not true of philosophy in general. The definition is also a bit silly in that neither "causes" nor "events" are made of anything -- physical or otherwise -- nor does either "exist" until it actually happens, so projecting your definition to the future is foolish. It's no wonder that your case is so weak when it is based on such a shaky understanding of basic principles.
(R) I am not suggesting that your lack of ability to prove the truth of such a claim is automatic evidence for transcendental propositions.
(MB) That is not what you have attempted to claim in the past. You said that a lack of proof for the scientific view means that transcendentalism is not only valid, but more probable. Just which side do you want to take?
(R) What I AM suggesting is that your lack of ability to prove the truth of such a claim allows you no grounds whatsoever for your cavalier dismissal of transcendental possibilities or atheistic assumptions.
(MB) Again, this is a bifurcation fallacy as previously discussed. This is not a two-horse race.
I suspect that you are unwittingly disputing and fumbling around with "naturalism" rather than "materialism".
(R) That is an incorrect suspicion. Naturalism and materialism have almost identical definitions.
(MB) This is untrue, but let's see how you'll shoot yourself in the foot this time...
(R) Lets take a look a the "stunning" difference in the definitions of materialism and naturalism...
ma·te·ri·al·ism (me-tîr¹ê-e-lîz´em) noun
1. Philosophy. The theory that physical matter is the only reality and that everything, including thought, feeling, mind, and will, can be explained in terms of matter and physical phenomena.
nat·u·ral·ism (nàch¹er-e-lîz´em, nàch¹re-) noun
3. Philosophy. The system of thought holding that all phenomena can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws without attributing moral, spiritual, or supernatural significance to them.
(MB) The fact that you have gone to a dictionary (and, in one case, had to go down to a third definition) instead of consulting a philosophy text demonstrates your real lack of knowledge on this subject. I'm sure that the difference has whizzed right over your head, but it is very significant, indeed.
Hopefully, you must notice that materialism says nothing about the potential influence of any force which is outside of our reality. Naturalism would reject such a concept. Materialism says that all things are matter, but does not consider abstract concepts to be "things". It also doesn't account for non-physical dimensions such as "time". Naturalism accounts for abstract concepts by attributing them to natural processes. Because of these differences, your denials in favor of theism are more appropriately directed towards naturalism. The fact that you continually use (and mangle) the term "materialism" instead is why I've been chiding you for basing your arguments on buzzwords. And, of course, you still haven't told me which version of materialism you've been wanting to invoke.
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.
(R) This would be true if the existence of ALL natural processes was the point in contention. That is not the case.
(MB) You've made it the point with your insistence that transcendentalism must be warranted and more probable if there isn't 100% proof of natural processes as the answer.
(R) The point in question is whether or not there exists a specific natural process that is marked by it's ability to create universes out of nothing. So far, there is no supporting evidence for such a process' existence.
(MB) Nor does science claim that such a thing exists, so there is no need for me to defend against your mistaken charge. Science does not posit the existence of "nothing". The ancient Greeks argued that it's even a difficult philosophical concept.
(R) If you claim there is, it is your job to posit, define, explain, and elucidate all the relevant facts for how this process exists, operates, and creates all matter, energy, and space - mindlessly, and naturally. Unless and until you meet that task, the only evidence that is mounting up rapidly is doing so only within your imagination.
(MB) Since you're asking for proof of something which science does not posit, you're just howling at the moon while continuing to avoid the positive presentation of your own case. You would be well-advised to educate yourself on what science *does* posit before arbitrarily deciding that you don't want to believe it.
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.
(R) Again, there is tremendous evidence that some natural processes exist. I am not disputing that, so your above reasoning is inapplicable.
(MB) You're not disputing what I'm saying, yet you still don't believe any of it? How does *that* work? You agree that natural processes exist. Therefore, the possibility exists that one or more is responsible for the origin of the universe. There is no evidence that anything transcendental exists. Therefore, invoking anything of that sort as an explanation for any other phenomena is irrational.
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) You have established that evidence supports the existence of a materialistic process for the creation of the universe no more than a meteorologist can establish that evidence supports the faces on Mt. Rushmore were created by wind corrosion.
(MB) Who is claiming that Mt. Rushmore was produced by wind erosion (not "corrosion")? On the other hand, who says that such a thing would not be possible (no matter how improbable)? This failed analogy merely pits one natural cause against another. It does not support the existence of a transcendental cause.
(R) I accept any evidences, but not all interpretations of evidences.
(MB) That's not what you said before. You have previously made no distinction between evidence and interpretation. At least you are now coming closer to what I've been trying to show you. Is there a chance that I'll finally see you provide an example which positively supports transcendental interpretations of evidence?
(R) Furthermore, I have, and will continue to codified my case for theism throughout the ENTIRETY of this exchange.
(MB) Thus far, your "codification" has been limited to simple declarations that theism is not only warranted, but more probable. You have yet to go any further than that.
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