REPLY #99n TO
This is the fourteenth 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.
Also, one does not have to deny ALL gods in order to be atheistic. For example, I'm sure you would agree that your views are atheistic in regards to the existence of any deity other than Yahweh, correct?
(R) No, that is incorrect. I am open to the possibility that the intelligent designer may be different than the Judeo-Christian portrayal.
(MB) Fat chance -- especially in light of your denials of the existence of any other deity. Don't these denials and your unquestioned acceptance of Yahweh make you atheistic concerning the existence of other deities? As a Christian fundamentalist, you have committed your life and your mind to the existence of Yahweh. There is no room for any other position within that philosophy unless you wish to abandon fundamentalism. If you do so, this would suggest that you never really knew what "fundamentalism" was in the first place.
(R) But I do not see evidence to support that possibility as of yet.
(MB) You use this as an argument to deny the existence of other deities, but you don't accept it as an argument when one does not accept the existence of your own preferred deity and apparently see no problems with playing on both sides of the rhetorical street. How does *that* work?
Now, you like to claim that atheism is "wrong", yet you use many of the same atheistic arguments in your denials of the existence of deities other than Yahweh. If these arguments are logical and reasonable when you use them against other deities and religions, why do you consider them to be illogical, unreasonable and "wrong" when they are used against your deity and your religion? It would seem that atheism is not "wrong" after all and the best you can do is to say that it just doesn't apply to your own deity and religion. Of course, if you try to do this, you will need to explain why -- and this will once again lead you to the debate on comparative theism that you seem to fear.
In this way, you are more atheistic that I am since I allow for the possible existence of numerous possible gods, while you only allow for the existence of one.
(R) Since your assumption was incorrect, so is your conclusion based on it.
(MB) Neither my assumption nor my conclusion are incorrect. The proof is in your self-declaration as a Christian fundamentalist. That philosophy has no room for any deity other than Yahweh.
It's been said that the difference between a "strong atheist" and a "Christian" is that a strong atheist simply disbelieves in one more god than does a Christian.
(R) Yes, I am quite familiar with that line of rhetoric.
(MB) If so, I would think that you would have an effective counter-argument for it. Instead, you just brush it aside. This implies unspoken agreement.
[RE: If ANY deity exists, atheism and materialism would be false.]
True, but you are *still* not going to argue that Vishnu might actually exist and that Yahweh might not, are you? Therefore, your argument is not consistent with what you are eventually going to support (if you ever get around to actually supporting anything).
(R) It is quite nonsensical and rhetorical to ask a question and then answer it yourself in the same paragraph.
(MB) Is it? No, it's not...*grin* The bulk of philosophy is based upon asking questions and then proposing answers to them. You wish to call this approach "nonsensical"? If so, you don't understand philosophy, either.
(R) Anyways, my whole point is that it *does not matter* which deity I believe in because if ANY of them exist, your atheistic/materialistic arguments would be false.
(MB) One more evasion of the opportunity to admit to what you truly believe. One has to wonder if your God is keeping track of all the times you are denying him. Make no mistake about it. If you admit that some other deity might be the intelligent designer, you are denying the unquestioned supremacy and exclusivity of Yahweh as taught by your own religion. Wouldn't this be a violation of your First Commandment and constitute a mortal sin?
[RE: So it boils down to a "Theism vs. Atheism" + "Materialism vs. Transcendence" debate.]
This is not true because there are many scenarios where those are not connected issues. A theistic argument does not need to include transcendence and does not necessarily exclude materialism. That's why I keep hammering for details. If you prefer to remain generic, you have no meaningful argument at all since there are so many contradictory possibilities.
(R) Materialism is almost ALWAYS intertwined with atheism, and transcendency is almost ALWAYS intertwined with theism.
(MB) The "almost" part is the key here. This just points out the false dichotomies in your arguments.
(R) The exceptions are so few that they are hardly worth altering the course of a debate.
(MB) Just because you are not equipped to consider them does not mean that they have no place or importance. Indeed, the very existence of these other possibilities prove your dichotomous argument to be wrong and force you to provide the positive evidence which supports your case above all others. As such, they do not "alter" the course of the debate -- they *shape* the course of the debate!
(R) The details you keep hammering for are irrelevant to the argument I am advancing in this debate.
(MB) Again, the details *are* the debate. Nobody is going to win a debate on undefined and ill-considered generalities alone. Eventually, you're going to have to put some meat on your arguments instead of continuing to rattle old bones.
(R) The intelligent designer does not need to be all-powerful, omniscient, merciful, holy, or any other such attributes in order to be the intelligent creator of the universe.
(MB) Quite true. But, this just devolves back into your tautological argument about the intelligent designer being "intelligent" and a "designer". If such an entity exists and if that existence is as unquestionable as you wish to claim, certainly there must be *something* else that can be said on his behalf. Of course, the point is moot since we all know which deity in whose favor you are really arguing. If you're going to prove his existence, you're going to have to own up to supporting his supposed qualities.
(R) Your insistence that such details be argued for is as unnecessary as knowing a skier's favorite food, color of hair, or what he likes to do on Saturdays to determine that his skiing caused an avalanche.
(MB) You've already tried this one -- and it was no better the first time. As I said the first time, I will waive the requirement for you to tell me what Yahweh's hair color is.
Explain to me how any theistic argument does *not* include the necessity of positing the existence of some God. Such an existence can't be taken as a given.
(R) I am claiming that the cause of the universe was an intelligent, transcendental, personal being that created the universe with a purpose in mind. This intelligent designer is my theistic claim for God.
(MB) Which also -- not coincidentally, I'm sure -- happens to be a large part of the description of Yahweh, right? If you know these things, there must be some evidence which supports those views. The mere existence of the universe is insufficient. How do you know that this entity is "personal"? How do you know that he had a "purpose" in mind for the universe? What is that purpose? Why must this entity be either intelligent or transcendent? You have a great many questions in front of you which simple mantras won't begin to answer.
You are forgetting that "the simplest explanation" is one which also is supported and which does an equally good job of explaining an observation.
(R) This is true, thats why the intelligent designer as I have defined it equally satisfies the requirements for explaining the universe as a "omnipotent, omniscient, holy, immutable, etc, etc" designer. Therefore, these other attributes are unnecessary for the intended purpose.
(MB) The problem here is that the ID proposal doesn't actually explain anything in a way which can be supported. I have already provided you with a host of alternatives which also explain the existence of the universe but which are also unsupported. Unsupported explanations don't qualify as anything worthy of serious consideration.
Anybody can invent a simple solution that is completely unsupported and quite nonsensical. Occam's Razor does not demand that we select such a solution solely because it is simple.
(R) Yes, but quite irrelevant since no one has claimed that *only* the simplicity of an explanation makes it the best one.
(MB) That's right and that's what I said in referencing Occam's Razor. As I said before, it is not just the simplicity of an explanation, but a simple explanation "which is also supported" that matters. ID is a simple proposal which offers an explanation for the origin of the universe, but it is also totally unsupported by evidence. Therefore, it should not be included in the set of explanations for the origin of the universe which are worthy of consideration.
So, the intelligent designer idea is to be considered to be worthy simply because of a tautology? How does this tautology do anything to shoulder the burden of proof for any claim of existence for an intelligent designer?
(R) There is nothing tautological about my definition of the intelligent designer and your empty and vacuous statement that it is tautological is composed of nothing more than opinion.
(MB) After reading my previous explanation to the contrary, you may now wish to revise this claim. If you still wish to deny the obvious, perhaps you can then answer the question of how your definition does anything to support the claim of existence on behalf of such an entity.
I'm asking that you supply *something* substantive. Tautologies ain't gonna get it.
(R) It seems that you are incapable of identifying a tautology. Here is an example of a TRUE tautology: Intelligent Designer - A designer that intelligently designs. If I had supplied this as my definition, then you would be correct in referencing a tautology.
(MB) But, that's what you *did* supply as a definition! Not only that, you said that this "definition" was evidence in favor of the existence of this entity. I'm still waiting for you to explain why and how.
(R) But as easily shown, my definition was not tautological: "Intelligent Designer: "A causal agent that is transcendent to physics and the dimensional limitations thereof; an agent that is intelligent who acted with mindfulness and design."
(MB) A few extra words in a revised definition do not save you. In fact, they introduce another problem. The first clause in your definition is a non sequitur as an entity does not have to be an "intelligent designer" to be transcendent, nor vice-versa. The second clause is the tautology in full bloom and does not necessarily correllate with the first clause. Not to mention, of course, that no arbitrary definition proves the existence of the entity being defined. To argue otherwise is to engage in circular reasoning.
If you are, as you have said, a fundamentalist Christian, then you *do* fear this because the existence of God is the thing around which you base your entire life. To have that existence challenged or potentially disprove would threaten everything you stand for and would cause you to face the prospect of rethinking everything you've ever done or believed. Funds would rather cling to old dogma than face that prospect. Yes, there is fear involved here.
(R) First, you make the false assumption that all fundamentalist Christians believe the exact same things, and therefore "fear" the same things, which is not true.
(MB) If so, then I submit that you adopted the self-description as a "fundamentalist" primarily because you like the sound of it.
(R) Fundamentalism was/is a general movement within Christianity that stresses the reaffirmation of the historic Christian faith.
(MB) And, is not one of the historic bases of Christianity the affirmation that Yahweh is the one and only God? Christianity was not founded upon the acceptance of alternative deities -- and certainly not on the admission that some other deity might have created Life, the Universe, and Everything.
(R) It was/is a reaction to the strides that liberalism began to make within Christianity during the last three centuries when liberal theologians began to reinvent Christianity in a culturally sensitive manner.
(MB) Nice speech. Where did you copy it from? By the way, isn't accepting the possibility that a deity other than Yahweh might be the Creator one of those "strides of liberalism" that fundamentalism wants to squash?
(R) That is all fundamentalism is and it's composed of millions of people who cannot be cavalierly boxed into your convenient little stereotype.
(MB) How do you figure "millions"?
(R) In light of this fact, your assertion of some alleged "fear" loses all meaning.
(MB) Not as of this writing, it doesn't. If you run away from your beliefs, that doesn't make *me* wrong about them.
[RE: Also, I never claimed that gods exist simply because I disagree with non-belief in them - now did I?]
You don't seem to have any other reason to believe in them. Let's remember that your main argument is that atheism must be proven or else the existence of gods is the more likely possibility.
(R) I have given numerous reasons why I believe in God as the intelligent designer and I will continue to give them as we go.
(MB) "Numerous reasons"? So far, you have a tautological description, an aversion to "materialism", a nebulous calculation you can't produce, and misunderstandings concerning basic logic and other religions. Is this the best you can do? Not to mention that your statement doesn't even begin to address my point. As such, I can assume that you agree with my summary of your main argument. Of course, that argument is illogical nonsense, but I suspect that fact will also merely be brushed aside as being "irrelevant".
(R) And my main argument is not what you described. My main argument has two parts - 1) *materialism* must be proven otherwise atheistic assumptions have no advantage over theistic assumptions,...
(MB) Since you don't even know what form of materialism you wish to argue about, and since you can't understand that materialism and atheism do not depend on each other, this part of your argument fails before it starts.
(R) ...and 2) the nature of the universe and physics strongly imply that transcendency is more probably true than materialism, and therefore, theism more probable than atheism.
(MB) This is just a rewording of what you just denied as being your main argument. Not to mention that you have yet to produce a single piece of evidence to support the claim that theism is "more probable" than atheism.
[RE: Since the creation event of the universe is not an observable, testable, or repeatable event, I need not provide hard core scientific evidence of an empirical variety for the cause I believe acted at that time.]
*laughing* Yet, you demand the very same evidence for my views and denigrate them by using the very same "not observable/testable/repeatable" argument.
(R) *laughing* It should be obvious that such evidence IS required of you since you are the one touting science as the backdrop for your arguments. Are you willing to admit the truth and concede that your atheistic views are not based on "science," but merely philosophical prejudice? If so, I'd be more than happy to relinquish the expectation for such evidence.
(MB) *laughing* You *do* have a talent for arguing both ends against the middle and failing on all counts! Science has provided evidence in support of the "observable" and "testable" parts in the form of quantum physics, superstring theory, inflation theory, the COBE data and will soon fill in a major piece of the puzzle with the pending verification of the discovery of the Higgs boson. Needless to say, the "repeatable" part would involve creating a new universe in the laboratory -- which is rather unlikely. So, it is not I who must concede any portion of his views in the light of reality.
You support your own views by saying that they don't require the very things whose supposed absence is claimed to be the failing of mine. How do you justify this inconsistency? Why are your views immune to the application of the same standards of evidence that are required of everything else?
(R) As I just pointed out, you are the one who is "science thumping" as a form of argument for your atheistic claims.
(MB) Point of order -- I am not making "atheistic" claims. Sorry to stomp on your buzzwords.
(R) If you wish to relegate science as the basis for your arguments, then such empirical standards are *required*. I, on the other hand, am not resorting to science as the basis for my arguments so it should be obvious that such scientific requirements do not apply.
(MB) Which is nothing more than an admission that you refuse to subject your views to the same standards of evidence which you demand in the evaluation of alternatives. Unfortunately, you can't make direct comparisons between proposals if you don't evaluate them in the same ways. If you are disavowing science, all you have are your own personal beliefs -- and those prove exactly nothing other than that you have them.
[RE: The type of evidence I need to provide is evidence that is indirect, corroborative from multiple lines of inference, and elicits conclusions that jive with probability.]
*laughing wildly* In other words, you only need to do what you have been denying?
(R) What have I been denying?
(MB) You have denied that no hard, objective, positive evidence exists to support your beliefs. Then, you flip-flop and boast that your views don't require any such evidence. I'm not sure that either one of us really knows what you want to argue.
(R) All I have denied is that my arguments for God are scientific, and therefore, require empirical proof.
(MB) If so, then your arguments are worthless for the purposes of convincing any reasonable, thinking person that they should be considered. You're not going to convince anybody to believe as you do simply by maintaining that you believe what you believe. Without any sort of empirical proof, all you have is what you choose to believe.
(R) The criteria I described above is specific to the theistic interpretation of the evidence that exists.
(MB) Which means only that it is what you believe and not anything that you can support with factual evidence. As already shown, the mere existence of the universe is not "evidence" and that's all you say you have to support your views. Therefore, your "theistic interpretation" has nothing to interpret!
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