REPLY #99i TO
This is the ninth 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.
If you are going to attempt this "golden oldie" argument, you must realize its flip side. To wit, nobody was around to observe the "intelligent designer" create the universe. Therefore, by your argument, it is not reasonable to accept that any such thing actually happened. It's even worse since there is no evidence which points to such an event.
(R) You are misinterpreting my point. I was not arguing that because no one was around to observe the materialistic origin of the universe, it is therefore false. My point was that considering there is no direct observational data for the origin of the universe, it should hardly be considered a "scientific" endeavor to begin with.
(MB) You're being disingenuous here. You have been merely parroting a popular argument among fundamentalists which has been successfully refuted for quite a while. The argument continues to be popular only because it "sounds good" to those who haven't given it sufficient thought. You used a variation of the same argument while failing to refute evolution in a previous debate.
You're also demanding an impossible level of proof here. Consider that the only way to directly observe the creation of our universe (either by natural or supernatural causes) is to recreate it ourselves! (This is, in fact, what Kent Hovind demands in his bogus "challenge" to prove evolution.) However, this is not necessary at all. If our theories are correct, any creation scenario will have observable and predictable consequences. Since all of our current observations are in compliance with the predictions of scientific theories, we can have increasing confidence in the overall scenario. Theism provides no such predictions. The best it can do is to advance after-the-fact "God did it" mantras.
There is no such thing as "categorical materialism", so your argument is meaningless.
(R) If you want to banter over definitions, fine.
(MB) This just continues to demonstrate that you're using buzzword arguments with no real understanding of what you're saying.
(R) My point was that materialism, categorical or otherwise, is not scientific since it is untestable, unobservable, and unverifiable.
(MB) Again, there is no such thing as "categorical" materialism, so any claims from you about what is or isn't "scientific" about it don't mean a whole lot. Not that it matters in any case since no form of materialism is relevant to this debate.
Why must I defend an inaccurate assessment of the theories of science?
(R) You are playing games now.
(MB) No, I'm not. If you're going to attack the theories of science, isn't it reasonable for me to correct you when you misstate or misinterpret them? If I don't defend your inaccurate assessments, how does that suggest that your arguments have any validity?
(R) You believe that the origin of the universe is the result of natural process. Do you believe in natural processes that are guided by a mind? I assume you don't; which therefore only leaves mindless natural processes to do the job.
(MB) A natural process could conceivably be invoked by an external cause. However, while that process was taking place, it would obey the laws of physics since it couldn't do otherwise and still be "natural". Therefore, to say that the universe is the result of natural processes is not the same as saying that these processes must be "mindless". Science passes no judgments on that question. However, any claim that any external agent actually exists simply because such a thing is conceivable is hardly the sort of stuff around which a sturdy case can be built.
So, my point is that science does not declare the origin of the universe by natural processes to be "mindless". Your argument is that an external causal agent exists and that this somehow invalidates the scientific view. Your misinterpretation of science has been shown and the necessary hard evidence for your preferred argument has yet to be presented.
You're reaching for more straws. As stated quite clearly and explicitly, the fact that you neither agree with the evidence (even though you acknowledge its existence)...
(R) I do agree with the evidence.
(MB) How? You've gone to great and tiresomely repetitive lengths to proclaim that no such evidence exists.
(R) I agree that a complex, ordered, highly structured, physical universe exists. That is the only "evidence."
(MB) This is not "evidence" for anything other than a circularly referential statement that the universe's existence proves that the universe exists. The simple existence of the universe is not evidence for how that existence came to be.
...nor with the conclusions obtained from it does not mean that there is no evidential support for the scientific view.
(R) It is true that I do not agree with the materialistic conclusions drawn from the evidence.
(MB) Just what "materialistic" conclusions are those? I haven't referenced any such thing.
(R) However, here is yet another instance where you equate materialism with what you call "the scientific view."
(MB) OK, I'll bite. Which words in my statement indicate either explicitly or implicitly that I have equated materialism with science? It is only you who is putting the buzzword
"materialism" into your description of the scientific view.
(R) The true scientific view of the origin of the universe is "not enough data - I don't know."
(MB) Not exactly. The true scientific view is to develop theories which are in accordance with the available evidence and which have useful predictive value for future discoveries. Needless to say, anything less than 100% knowledge is going to leave room for "I don't know" answers. Yet, it is not necessary to reach the 100% level in order to have strong theories in which we can have a high degree of confidence. This doesn't mean that any level short of 100% knowledge mandates that 0% proposals such as theism deserve any consideration.
(R) Materialism, on the other hand, is the philosophical world view that positively assumes that all reality, and all events, are the result of strictly material cause and effect. Unless and until you acknowledge and accept that difference, you will never understand my line of argument.
(MB) The problem with your argument is that materialism wouldn't come into play until *after* the universe has already come into existence. Therefore, it is not something which is relevant to the origin of the universe. Unless and until you acknowledge this, you are simply demonstrating an inadequate understanding of your own argument. It's essentially the same fallacy employed by those who try to reject evolution because it doesn't explain the origin of Life, the Universe and Everything.
It is theism which works from desired conclusions backwards and rejects anything which does not support those conclusions. Science does not do this.
(R) This is nothing than more atheistic banter dosed with a heavy helping of stereotyping.
(MB) Once again, you don't deny the truth of what was said. Rather than face up to it, you resort to trying to deflect attention from that truth by applying meaningless negative labels to it.
So, you admit that there is no evidence to support your views? I've supplied some to support mine. Therefore, our views are not equal.
(R) Where did I admit any such thing?
(MB) You have said previously not only that there is no evidence to support your views, but that no such evidence is even required due to the nature of transcendental proposals.
(R) If anything, I was admitting that I had not yet begun to supply these evidences, which was true since it was only my first installment in the debate.
(MB) This remains true up to the current point in this current installment. I suspect that this will continue to remain true throughout the rest of this response and throughout any and all future responses.
(R) I have supplied some support to my views throughout this installment and have rebutted and challenged the support you have given in favor of your views thusfar.
(MB) You have "supported" your views primarily by doing nothing more than stating them, restating them and insisting that they are worthy (or "more likely" despite a lack of any evidence from which to judge that likelihood). You have "rebutted and challenged" mine primarily by doing nothing more than referring to them as being "atheistic" and/or "materialistic" (with, of course, inadequate or inaccurate understandings of each and no specific and detailed arguments).
(R) Therefore, our views are not equal.
(MB) Which is exactly what I said above, right?
You "allowed" me to present my case "first" because you have no other choice. You have no case of your own to present!
(R) At this point, you have managed to dodge, evade, and outright fail to answer my challenges.
(MB) I have provided numerous references to relevant theories (which you have not bothered to research). I have pointed out the logical fallacies in your arguments (which you have failed to understand). I have corrected the inaccuracies in your terminology (which you continue to repeat). There is absolutely no reason or need for me to "dodge" your "challenges". They are far too simplistic and too easily defeated. On the other hand, you continue to run around basic questions concerning what evidence supports your views and you can't even bring yourself to admit which deity you are supporting (even though the answer is unquestionable).
(R) I have presented my case, and will continue to do so as we go along.
(MB) If you have "presented your case", the jury is thoroughly unimpressed. You may wish to put a bit more effort into it.
[RE: Obviously, I disagree that what you are calling "scientific evidence" is scientific at all.]
On what basis? Simple disagreement is not the same thing as refutation.
(R) On the basis of your inaccurate characterization of materialistic assumptions being the same as "science" or the "scientific view."
(MB) Since I have not done this, you are inventing things to "refute". This is most likely because you are unable to successfully refute what I *am* saying. Why not provide some detailed arguments as to why none of the theories I've referenced thus far can't be called "scientific"? I submit that you believe this only because they lead to conclusions which are in opposition to what you prefer to believe.
My view has support. Yours does not. You admit as much.
(R) *sighs* I haven't seen this "support" presented yet. In fact, I don't think you have clearly presented your views in detail.
(MB) You've "seen" it presented. You just brush it aside since you don't, can't and won't accept it (or even acknowledge it). I've presented my views in detail and the best you can do is to mangle them into other things and then attack the corruptions.
When one view is supported and an opposing view is not, the supported view is the more reasonable position. When the unsupported view is a positive existential claim and fails even to attempt to bear the necessary burden of proof, it is not reasonable to accept that view in light of a supported opposing view. This is not a "revolving door" argument. This is basic logic whether you like it or not.
(R) Describing basic fundamentals of logic is not the same as showing that your's applies to the supported position, and mine to the unsupported. You are assuming these connections, not demonstrating them. That is the basic fact, whether YOU like it or not.
(MB) OK, let's break it down even more simply and see if you can understand it this time. You are claiming that an intelligent creator exists and that this entity is responsible for the creation of the universe. Any such claim is a "positive existential claim". Such claims bear the burden of proof since there are an infinite number of them which can be made and only a finite number of them which can be true. To successfully bear the burden of proof for such a claim requires the presentation of positive, objective, observable, testable and verifiable supporting evidence (which does not need to add up to the level of 100% proof). Arguing against other claims (successfully or otherwise) does not constitute a presentation of such evidence. Statements of passionate belief in your claim (no matter how loud, vociferous or repetitive) also do not constitute a presentation of such evidence. Saying that the universe's existence proves it had a creator is to commit the fallacy of circular reasoning. No claim for which the burden of proof has not been successfully met is ever considered "true" simply because any or all competing claims have failed unless it can be demonstrated that a fixed and finite number of possible solutions exists and that all other possibilities have been exhausted. No two claims can be compared against each other unless the same standards are used to evaluate each of them. No positive existential claim (nor any class of such claims) is immune to these requirements under any circumstances.
Now, I've been trying to get you to understand why you must present a positive and supporting case in favor of your views which will successfully shoulder the necessary burden of proof and that this can't be accomplished by any amount of dissent directed towards any other view. I've also been trying to get you to understand that you will also need to distinguish your specific theistic beliefs from those held by supporters of other religious views. You have yet to do this. Therefore, your position is unsupported and is not yet worthy of serious consideration. You can attempt to rectify this by finally getting around to presenting the positive case you keep claiming to have. There is no need for you to continue to display your lack of understanding and education concerning science since that will not contribute towards a successful presentation of your own case.
Not unless you can show that anything transcendental actually exists and that no other explanation is possible. Unsupported arguments do not improve simply because their adherents flatly reject all others.
(R) You cannot show that any cause relevant to the creation of the universe is materialistic in nature,...
(MB) "Materialism" is *your* buzzword -- not mine nor science's.
(R) ...nor have you shown that no other explanations are impossible.
(MB) In fact, I *have* proposed other explanations which don't fall in line with *either* of our views. I did this to refute your claim that there are only two alternatives concerning the origin of the universe. In any case, the discussion above shows that negative arguments against one claim don't constitute positive support for any other claim.
(R) Materialistic arguments do not improve simply because their adherents flatly reject all others.
(MB) OK, so you can copy one of my statements. Too bad you continue to fail to understand that materialism is only a fixation of yours and has nothing to do with my case.
Granted, but it's still religion, right? It still postulates one or more gods and the existence of the supernatural, right?
(R) No, it's philosophical. A religion is based on various creeds and dogmas and is always associated with rituals, practices, observances, festivals, holy days, etc. The Intelligent Designer hypothesis, on the other hand, is a metaphysical theory of origins.
(MB) A "metaphysical theory of origins" which relies upon the existence of one or more gods (around which creeds and dogmas are developed and in whose worship are associated various rituals, practices, observances, festivals, holy days, etc.) and the existence of the supernatural, right? So, how is ID not "religion"?
Where? Science is based upon evidence. What evidence supports your views?
(R) I have already answered this question. The only "evidence" we have is the existent universe as we see it.
(MB) As previously shown, that is an argument based on circular reasoning. If that's the best you can do, your case is in grave trouble.
(R) Any *interpretations* of that evidence, whether atheistic or theistic, are subject to probability in light of all the statistics related to that evidence (the universe).
(MB) Statistics which you have yet to present despite repeated calls for them. Do they actually exist or do you just believe that they do? If they actually exist, then present them for analysis. This will be required in order for your case to have any chance to bear its burden of proof.
My denial of its logical foundation is rooted in the fact that your argument *has* no logical foundation. It is constructed solely upon begged questions, circular reasoning and other logical fallacies.
(R) Your denial of its logical foundation is rooted in nothing more than your philosophical prejudice of transcendental hypotheses. Be real, and quit wasting our time with your dishonesty.
(MB) Once again, we see an appeal to emotional buzzwords instead of real argument. Your "only evidence" was previously shown to be nothing but circular reasoning. As such, how can you deny what I said? You can't just brush it aside as being "prejudice" or "dishonesty" without demonstrating where I'm wrong -- and you won't accomplish that goal by doing nothing more than repeating your disagreement. You can demonstrate that you have a grasp on basic logic by considering the following line of argument:
"An intelligent creator exists. This creator has the power to create a universe like the one in which we live. A universe like the one in which we live exists. Therefore, an intelligent creator created this universe."
There are at least seven errors of basic logic in this line of argument. Can you list them? After doing so, you may wish to take a hard look at this line of argument and consider whether or not it's something you wish to support.
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