REPLY #99k TO
This is the eleventh 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.
Ask yourself why there is so much useless, wasted junk in the universe if it was deliberately created by an intelligent designer.
(R) How would you know what is "useless" and what is "junk", especially in terms of 15 billion years of time?
(MB) Your previously-stated religious views do not include acceptance of a 15 billion year age for the universe. In fact, you have previously stated (in another debate) that you supported an age of no more than 500,000 years (without explaining why). If the universe was created exclusively for an end result of the production of Man, please inform me as to what purpose is served by all of the things within the universe which do not contribute directly to that end (or which may even be detrimental to that end)?
(R) Just because you do not see an immediate "purpose" for certain attributes of the universe does not mean a purpose does not exist or that it was not intelligently created.
(MB) Quite true. However, you are the one who is proposing that such a purpose exists. Therefore, this is yet another positive existential claim and you have the burden of proof. It doesn't matter whether or not anybody else can see the supposed purpose. You are obligated to demonstrate that it actually exists.
(R) Furthermore, if we are to use your logic further, we could look at the trillions of tons of waste compiling in the world's junkyards and deduce that humans are not intelligent designers because waste is produced from the things they make! It should be obvious that your logic breaks down on every level.
(MB) No, we couldn't conclude any such thing. The only thing that we could accurately conclude is that Man is not perfect since none of Man's creations last forever. Examination of each piece of trash will help suggest the purpose it served while still in a functional condition. You really need to give more thought to your examples.
Ask yourself why humans are constructed so imperfectly if they were the product of an intelligent designer.
(R) You initially advised me not to think that aesthetic arguments were valid, yet you are now making the opposite argument - an appeal to imperfection. I don't see how one is valid and the other is not considering they are both based on subjective interpretation. It sounds like you are going to make the classic mistake of assuming that flawless, engineering excellence must be the primary objective of an intelligent designer in order for an intelligent designer to exist at all.
(MB) This is not an aesthetic or subjective argument at all. There is a litany of obvious and completely objective evidence to prove that Man is imperfectly constructed. If this is the best that an all-powerful intelligent designer can do, one has to have serious doubts about his powers. It would certainly make it much easier to support the existence of such a designer if his "pinnacle of creation" had no obvious flaws. Unless, of course, that you will try to argue that your designer intentionally does substandard work and then still demands praise for his efforts.
Ask yourself why a universe (or anything in it) is necessary at all to any intelligent designer.
(R) It was not "necessary" for airplanes to have been created. Does this mean that intelligent-designer humans should not exist simply because airplanes were not "necessary" to them?
(MB) I have to laugh since your evasion got the argument backwards...*grin* And, of course, it completely failed to give a direct answer to my point. Men are not all-powerful intelligent designers. Man needs to create things to help himself do things he could not otherwise do (or do easily). Therefore, airplanes *are* a necessary thing for Man to have created for himself. Now, once again, why is a universe (or anything in it) necessary to an all-powerful intelligent designer?
(R) I fail to see the relevance or coherency of your logic.
(MB) So, you decided to run around it and barf up another bass-ackwards example. What else is new?
Ask yourself why an intelligent designer who has the power to create universes would need anything so infinitesimally insignificant as a human being.
(R) Ask yourself why you are assuming that the intelligent designer would be creating anything out of "need" in the first place.
(MB) Ask yourself why anybody creates anything in the first place if not to fulfill some practical, emotional, psychological or expressive need. I submit that you can't suggest even one example where no "need" of any kind was the basis of any effort of creation of anything at all. Now, please reconsider my previous point and see if you can offer any real answer.
Ask yourself why an omnipotent intelligent designer needs humans to help him do "his work".
(R) As an intelligent designer, God would be at liberty to choose whatever "means" God desires to meet whatever "ends" God determines. If God desired to include humans as part of that "means", than so be it. Who are you to judge that? On what basis are you implying that humans are insignificant or worthless to the proverbial intelligent designer?
(MB) Bible thumpers are fond of proclaiming that we are here to "do the Lord's work". Yet, one very rarely, if ever, hears any specifics about just what that "work" is supposed to be. If nobody can say what this "work" is, nor how humans are supposed to help accomplish it, nor how an omnipotent deity is somehow incapable of doing his own work by himself, then there isn't much of a case which can be made in support of the notion that such a deity needs humans at all.
Who am I to judge? I'm a human with a functioning mind who has been given no reason to believe any of your claims. Just because somebody prefers to think of himself as "chosen", "special" or "needed" doesn't automatically make that the case. I'm also somebody who understands the meaning and implications of omnipotence. I understand that most theists just use that term as another comforting buzzword without bothering to think it all the way through. There is nothing that an omnipotent being can't do on his own accord and nothing that he doesn't already have. Therefore, the creation of humans can't possibly provide such a being with anything new. This is the basis for understanding that humans can't be anything but insignificant or worthless to any such entity. If you are claiming that humans are not worthless to such an entity, then you are admitting that this entity is not omnipotent. This would seriously undermine a tenet of your particular version of theistic beliefs. Is this what you mean to do?
When you finish honestly considering these things, ask yourself one more question. Ask yourself if isn't more reasonable to believe that the universe is of natural origin than to believe that it is a special and intentional creation.
(R) I don't see any way the universe could be of natural origin, nor do I see how your previous questions are related to this last question.
(MB) Given the demonstrated insufficiency of your understanding and reasoning, I suppose that this last evasion should not be any great surprise. To say that you "don't see any way the universe could be of natural origin" is to prove only that you haven't bothered to research the applicable theories. You may not agree with their conclusions, but they will certainly show you the scenarios. To brush off my last question as being "unrelated" to the ones before it is to be afraid of the conclusion to which the earlier questions lead. The earlier questions make a summary case for the incoherency of the theistic view. Since you seem to be fond of repeating the "most likely possibility" argument and promoting false dichotomies, then, by your own reasoning, if theism is shown to be incoherent, the "most likely possibility" is the non-theistic view. This is why you need to provide actual answers to my questions in support of your case instead of rewordings, brushoffs and evasions.
[RE: The invalidation of a mindless natural process does not proceed from it simply being "mindless."
Then, why make such a big deal out of that quality in your arguments? It must mean *something* important to you to keep bringing it up.
(R) I said that the invalidation does not arise *SIMPLY* from a "mindlessness" attribute. The "simply" was implying that there are *other* parts involved.
(MB) Such as? "Mindlessness" is the only one you ever mention. If there are others, they must not be all that important to you or I'm sure you'd be trotting them out equally as often.
Gee, nobody has ever attempted *that* argument before. Of course, nobody has ever come up with any "improbability" calculation that made any logical, scientific or mathematical sense, either.
(R) Are you blind to the fact that you just made another Argument from Assertion fallacy? You seem so keen on spotting these discrepancies in other people's arguments, yet blind to them when you are the culprit.
(MB) My argument is not a mere assertion since many papers have been published which conclusively disprove the sort of "improbability" calculations upon which you wish to buttress your case. Since you can't even provide me with one single example of these calculations (despite repeated calls for you to do so), one has to wonder if you even know what they are. If you think I'm wrong, I heartily invite you to present something for analysis.
OK, I'll bite. Which particular version(s) of this calculation are you going to advance? Is this something straight out of Johnson, Hovind, Craig, Ham, Ross, Page, Morris or somebody else or is it one you came up with on your own?
(R) Let me guess, every single one of those people came up with bogus calculations? Why don't we cut to the quick - why don't you tell me exactly how and why *any* of those estimations made by *any* of those fellows were wrong? For the record, the only person on that list that I have read anything regarding statistical probabilities is Donald Page. Why don't you start with him.
(MB) I love this! You don't even know the details of your own argument, yet you steadfastly support it anyway! The fact that you can't produce Page's arguments (despite being given a golden opportunity to slam-dunk me with them) is proof that, as you suggested, you have only "read" about them. I submit that you have no idea what the details of his arguments even are, but, of course, you still believe them without question.
Oh, well... If I must do your homework for you (yet again), here we go. First, it's instructive to notice that you have previously referenced the Page calculation in Reply #29d to Evolution vs. Creationism on this site and failed to provide any details about it when challenged on that occasion. Second, you have also referenced the very same calculation in a debate with Cabrutus which is posted on your very own web site! Needless to say, you provided no details at that time either and allowed yourself to be eviscerated in debate by a high school student. Despite this, you now make it sound like you are bringing up something new. Do I have any reason to think that you understand your own argument any better now than you have in the past?
As for the actual Page calculation itself, basically, it's a corruption of a old statement originally made by Roger Penrose concerning the odds against the random selection of the observed isotropic temperature of the universe. Linde's inflation theory solves the problem by providing a model by which all initial universal inhomogeneities are smoothed out. COBE data and other observations of the cosmic microwave background confirm the theoretical predictions. All Page did was to corrupt Penrose's statement into an argument against the natural origin of the universe -- even though this is not the same question which Penrose was addressing -- while ignoring Linde.
I await your learned rebuttal and defense of Page.
That obvious and trivial fact does not automatically give the notion of an intelligent designer any credibility. The actual designer and its nature and properties are going to be an inherent part of *any* argument you want to make. Otherwise, you're not doing anything more substantive than howling at the moon.
(R) I have defined in detail the nature and properties of the intelligent designer hypothesis.
(MB) Let me see. "God did it because he has the power to do so and because we are here. I believe it and materialism is wrong and you're an atheist." You consider this to be a "detailed" argument?
(R) What you are really attempting to do is suck me into is a Christianity vs. Universalism debate.
(MB) Buzzword alert! Where did this sudden reference to "Universalism" come from? Perhaps you need to define your connotation of this one for me, too.
(R) I will not take your bait on this and it should be obvious to everyone that you are trying to elicit a comparative religion debate as a distraction from the intelligent designer hypothesis vs. atheism debate.
(MB) I'm doing no such thing. I'm giving you the opportunity to demonstrate the truth of your particular version of theism and you are not taking advantage of it. It would seem that you are so used to negative arguments that you've never given the required positive case for your views any significant thought.
Of course, it should be readily apparent that there is a significant difference between saying that a god exists and demonstrating that claim to be true. It should also be readily apparent that not all possible gods are ones which are capable of creating universes. So, you still have many things to prove.
(R) On this point, you have gotten off track.
(MB) How? I'm merely showing the insufficiency of your simplistic argument. Theism covers an awful lot of possibilities. To say that you are a "theist" when you only believe in one of those possibilities is a little like saying that you're a "sports fan" when you don't watch or follow anything other than baseball. At some point, you're going to have to start getting specific or you have a meaningless statement.
(R) You initially asked me what "fact" I was referring to, so I answered.
(MB) And that answer was the aforementioned obvious and meaningless simplicity that if any god(s) exist(s), then atheism is wrong. This simplistic answer does not provide any support for the actual existence of any such entities nor of their powers.
(R) Moreover, on what basis do you claim that not all possible gods are ones which are capable of creating universes? What "possible gods" are you referring to?
(MB) I can't believe that somebody who claims to be educated could even ask such a question. Are you truly unfamiliar with polytheistic belief systems where only one of their many different gods was the agent of creation? Polytheism is much older than monotheism and also predominates among all forms of religion. Are you really ignorant of it?
Since Man's different religions have many different and mutually-exclusive stories about various gods which may or may not have created the universe, any claims in favor of an intelligent designer are necessarily going to run up against this problem. To shuffle the problem aside as if it didn't exist is to admit that your argument can never be anything more than rhetorical.
(R) Since I am not arguing for any particular god, it is not a "problem" that my claims in favor of an intelligent designer are going to run up against in the first place. If my purpose in this debate was to argue in support of Christianity in general, and Christian theism is particular, then I would have to deal with the issue of comparative theism. This is not an act of "shuffling aside" the issue, but rather, it is an act of correctly identifying the relevant goals of my argumentation in contrast to the irrelevant rabbit trails you'd like me to chase.
(MB) Once again, you are telling blatant lies in an attempt to obfuscate your eventual goals. Given your self-declaration as being a Christian fundamentalist, there is exactly *zero* chance that your end goal is to support the existence of any deity other than Yahweh. Your squawks to the contrary are the only "irrelevant rabbit trails" in this debate. If you can't even be honest about this, how can anybody take the rest of your case seriously? I'm just trying to cut through the stercus tauri and get to the bottom line.
[RE: You are atheist to ALL those gods, are you not? If so, then it is obvious that if ANY one of them were existent, your atheism would be false.]
Sure, but you're going to have to quit singing it and start bringing it.
(R) Your sly comments are amusing even though they are redundant.
(MB) I think you meant to say "accurate" rather than "redundant" in that comment.
My disbelief in Santa Claus would also be false if the jolly old elf ever put in an actual appearance, but I'm not overly concerned about that ever happening, either.
(R) Nice attempt at a false comparison.
(MB) What's "false" about it? Disbelief in Santa Claus can be disproven if Santa Claus is shown to exist. Disbelief in God can be disproven if God is shown to exist. How are these not equal statements?
But, if somebody *did* show me a car, that car would be of a specific make, model, color, etc., isn't that correct?
(R) Not necessarily. Anybody with a garage and the proper materials could build any type of car they wanted. Ever heard of home-built hobby cars? Guess not.
(MB) Home-built hobby cars have no color or other defining characteristics which would positively identify them?
It would also still have lots of other inherent qualities just to qualify as being a "car", right?
(R) Yes, it would have inherent qualities but would not need specific details such as year, make, model, body type, etc, if the purpose is to show that the thing simply was a "car."
(MB) The details are still necessary since they constitute the very definition of a "car" as opposed to any other type of vehicle. This is especially true since one could simply build a model of a car instead of an actual working vehicle. This is, in essence, what theists do in their descriptions of "God". They build a model instead of demonstrating the existence of any real entity. A model of a car is not a real vehicle, nor is a model of a God a real entity.
(R) Likewise, the inherent qualities to any god proposition should be self-evident and all the additional theological attributes (which you are demanding) are not necessary to the purpose of showing the inherent qualities to be existent.
(MB) The fact that there are so many mutually-exclusive versions of "God" should indicate rather strongly that there are no "self-evident" inherent qualities for such an entity. That is why is it incumbent upon you to detail those qualities on behalf of the version you wish to support.
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