Last Update: 01 Jan 01

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This is the sixteenth 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 science is "completely secondary to this debate", why do you demand so much from it? When you claim that arguments about your own views are "secondary", you just brush them aside and say that you don't have to address them.
(R) I am not demanding anything from science that it does not already demand from itself.
(MB) Yes, you do. You demand that it explain concepts and theories that it does not propose (such as the existence of "nothing"). You demand impossible levels of proof. You require science to explain or incorporate philosophies such as atheism and materialism. All this shows that you really don't understand science at all -- you just criticize it for no better reason than that it is a threat to one of your cherished personal beliefs.

(R) You are the one making science an issue in this debate by throwing around strict scientific criterias as a requirement for my *philosophical* claims.
(MB) Since no amount of pure philosophy is going to ever settle the issue of how the universe was created (or any other question of empirical fact), we must rely on another method of inquiry. What better method is there than the methodology of science?

(R) I am demanding so much from you because you are the one attempting to use science as the support for you philosophical claims. As such, your philosophical claims must meet the scientific requirements.
(MB) My claims about the origin of the universe are not philosophical. They are purely scientific. The fact that you disagree with me does not change philosophy into science or vice-versa.

I've already discussed your lack of understanding of materialism (outside of flinging around the buzzword).
(R) You've successfully "discussed" nothing more than your dismissive ignorance of what I understand about materialism. Try again.
(MB) Since you have not defined the philosophy of materialism correctly, since you mistakenly attempt to equate it with atheism and science, and since you haven't even bothered to answer the questions about which form(s) of materialism you wish to invoke (if you even know what they are), the only ignorance on display here is your own.

You're combining two different things into one protest besides the already-discussed problems of carelessly invoking materialism, atheism, and science. The denial inherent in atheism is that there is any evidence supporting the existence of gods. Proving materialism is a different and unrelated question.
(R) Theism as I have defined it in this debate is a belief that God was the first cause of the universe as an intelligent designer who structured the universe. If you are atheist to this claim, then the only possibility remaining is that the material universe created itself.
(MB) Incorrect. I have already outlined several other possibilities for you (uncreated universe, unintelligent designer, machine designer, unintentional creation, God created by universe rather than vice-versa, and so on). Your preferred false dichotomy is far too simplistic.

(R) Materialism is a philosophy that claims the universe created itself. Therefore, I do not see how atheism can be extracted from materialism's assumptions, or how materialism can be extracted from atheism's assumptions. Consequently, materialism and atheism are indeed quite related.
(MB) Materialism is not a philosophy of how the universe was created nor does it require a concurrent atheistic philosophy. Materialism does not come into play until *after* the universe has begun and produced anything "material". Since the possibility exists for a deity to have created an entirely materialistic universe in which he no longer intervenes, your basic misunderstanding is one big reason why you are so incredibly and ignorantly wrong with your case against non-theistic views.

[RE: But the only way you could have shown that atheism is the only logical position is if you had presented the immutable evidence for universal materialism, which you DID NOT do. You merely "claimed" that such evidence exists. That is why I said you must "prove" that statement, not merely "claim" its truth.]
Again, you're mixing apples and oranges here.

(R) Of course, because popular atheism is an apples-and-oranges pie!
(MB) Only if you don't understand it and why it is not synonymous with materialism. Your failed attempts to equate the two are what produce your apples-and-oranges arguments.

(R) If you disagree, ask yourself how many atheists you've personally known that were NOT materialists.
(MB) I don't ask them that question because it doesn't matter whether or not they are materialists, nor is such a concurrent philosophy either necessary or required.

If there is no evidence to support the existence of gods, then the only logical position is the disbelief in their existence.
(R) The supporting evidence *is* the universe and all that has been created - just like a pot is evidence of a potter, a painting is evidence of a painter, and an engine is evidence of an engineer.
(MB) Except, of course, that there is abundant independent evidence of the existence of potters, painters and engineers aside from what they create while there is no independent evidence of a creator of the universe. First and foremost, this is because there is no compelling reason to believe that the universe *must* have been created at all!

(R) Our physical reality is so complex, integrated, fluid, dynamic, and amazingly structured that an intelligent cause for it is far better supported than the atheistic interpretation which assumes that everything is the result of billions of accumulated coincidences.
(MB) Personal incredulity concerning how the universe could have become the way it is does not constitute evidence that it must have been the product of divine creation. Remember that people used to consider thunder and lightning to be produced by the battles between gods in the sky because of their personal incredulity as to the real cause of those phenomena. In fact, even if you would have provided the proper explanation to a nomadic shepherd 4000 years ago, it's highly unlikely that he would have believed you. The truth, however, does not cease to be the truth simply because somebody is not willing or able to understand it.

That is not a position which shoulders the burden of proof. It's a matter of basic logic.
(R) If you take a position which states that atheism is the most logical position, then you must show how atheism is even a logical position at all which entails expositing all the relevant details of how the universe came to be materially and by natural processes alone.
(MB) Once again you are mixing apples and oranges. The philosophy of atheism and the scientific view of universal origins are not one and the same. Until you can get this straight, your arguments will continue to be nonsensical. Atheism is a more logical position than theism for a basic reason: It is the logical opposite of a positive existential claim (theism) which bears the burden of proof and which has 0% evidential support. It's no different from saying that disbelief in the existence of Santa Claus is a more logical position than is the belief in Santa Claus. Um... I *can* assume that you don't believe in Santa Claus, right?

Materialism is not an atheistic philosophy, so your attempts to tie the two together are further proof that you don't understand what they are about.
(R) Again, I challenge you to name all the atheists you've known, or even know of, who are NOT materialists. I would wager to say that the percentage of atheists that are materialists (and vice versa) is so high that tying the two together would not be an "attempt" at anything, but a basic observation.
(MB) This is fallacious reasoning. Most of the atheists I know are intelligent Caucasians, but it would be illogical to conclude that if you belong to one group, you must also belong to the other. Most atheists may well be materialists (and vice-versa), but there are also theistic materialists, so there is no inevitably synonymous connection. For somebody who's fond of bashing "stereotypes", you apparently don't see any problems in using one here.

[RE: All you need to do is posit the existential claim "blind natural process that mindlessly create universes out of nothing" in place of the "giant pink bunnies" and you are Bob in the context of that analogy.]
If I actually posited such a thing, then you might have a point. Since I don't posit such a thing, you're just running around the point yet again.

(R) Oh? So what part of my postulation do you not agree with? Is it the mindless, the blind, the natural process, or the universe being created from nothing? Which part do you not believe in? Since you do believe in exactly what I described, I will agree with you that I have a point.
(MB) As already pointed out, science does not say that the universe was created from nothing. It does not propose that "nothing" does or ever could exist and it also does not require that the universe was "created" or that it had a beginning. Also, it is unnecessary and redundant to insert the words "blind" and "mindlessly" into your already-mistaken idea of what science has to say. Those words indicate a presupposition of a creator and are only used for negative connotational impact. So, it is clear that I do *not* believe exactly what you described and, therefore, you have no meaningful point.

[RE: In addition, I've never asked you to prove the nonexistence of God.]
Then, you'd better reread several of your previous arguments.

(R) I have reread them and I couldn't find a single instance where I asked you to prove the nonexistence of God.
(MB) If not, then you read about as clearly as you think. What would you consider challenges to prove that atheism is true? What do you consider statements that God exists because there is no proof that he doesn't? What do you consider boasts that theism is "more probable" and "more likely"? Finally, what do you consider the above-quoted and mistaken claim that science posits a "blind natural process that mindlessly creates universes out of nothing"? All of these things are calls for proof of the nonexistence of God.

Once again, you fail to address the point put to you in favor of repeating the same failed argument. Have you nothing whatsoever to say in direct response to the "Bob and Fred" scenario? Does Bob bear the burden of proof or not?
(R) Strictly within the hypothetical scenario as you described it, Fred does not bear any burden of proof since he is not the one bringing the positive claim into existence, BOB IS.
(MB) Thank you. Now, you are making a positive existential claim in favor of God. Why do you not feel that you bear the burden of proof just as Bob does for his claim?

Is your position better than Bob's?
(R) Bob's position is not analogous to my position at all in this context, and yes, mine is far better in light of the evidence.
(MB) Your position is exactly equal to Bob's since you are both advancing positive existential claims. If Bob bears the burden of proof for his claim (as you have agreed), then so do you for yours. As far as the evidence goes, Bob actually has more than you do. We have unquestionable and empirical evidence that bunnies exist. We just don't have such evidence that huge, pink bunnies exist on the far side of the Moon. You have *no* unquestionable and empirical evidence for the existence of God -- and have said that none exists or is needed. Therefore, Bob is closer to proving his point than you are to proving yours. Now, how can you claim that yours is "far better"?

(R) If an intelligent designer were to have created the universe, the universe would be complex, dynamic, balanced, structured, and ordered, all of which are the hallmark attributes of intelligently designed entities. Guess what, the universe possesses all those attributes.
(MB) This is circular reasoning. It is the logical equivalent of the following circular argument:
1) If I had created fish, they would have fins, scales and gills.
2) Fish are observed to have fins, scales and gills.
3) Therefore, I created fish.
    You need to explain why an intelligent designer would have created the universe with the attributes you describe instead of creating one that is simple, static, unbalanced, unstructured and disordered (or any combination). You also need to explain why the attributes you described are impossible except as a result of the actions of an intelligent designer. After all, there are many examples of natural phenomena on Earth and elsewhere which exhibit complexity, balance, structure, order and are dynamic and are not deliberately created. Therefore, these attributes are do not fall exclusively within the realm of intelligent design. Finally, you wil also need to explain why none of the other possible creation scenarios that I have pointed out to you would be incapable of producing a universe like the one in which we live.

[RE: You have positively claimed the existence of a natural super-process that creates uncaused universes out nothing.]
No, I have not done so since science does not theorize such a thing (not to mention that I know what a "super-process" actually is). You simply find it necessary to add stipulations in order to maintain some semblance of an argument.

(R) Semantics aside, you DO in fact believe that a natural process created the universe.
(MB) This is correct. But, I also understand that there are more than two possibilities for the creation of the universe -- none of which can be considered "right" just because an alternative might not be proven. As far as your "semantics" brush-off goes, don't you consider it important to understand terminology before you use it in an argument?

(R) The actual existence of such a "natural process" is a positive existential claim that you have made and have not proved.
(MB) It is not proven, but there is a substantial body of accumulated evidence in its favor. This puts the scientific view *far* ahead of your version of theism. It also means that the "more likely and more probable" argument actually applies to the scientific view.

(R) In addition, it is *you* who finds it necessary to evade required stipulations in order maintain some semblance of a rebuttal.
(MB) What "required stipulations" have I avoided? This is a curious statement coming from somebody who still can't bring himself to give a simple "Yes" or "No" answer to a question about whether or not he believes in his own God.

Earlier in your response, you announced that you were going to begin to make the positive case in support of what you believe. When are you going to get started?
(R) I am providing a positive case for what I believe and I will continue to add to that case as we progress.
(MB) How? You've declared almost every question about your case to be "irrelevant". You've declared the mere existence of the universe to be the beginning and ending of the evidence which supports your case. You've left yourself with nothing positive left to add! This means that the presentation of your positive case is over without ever really having begun.

(R) In your next response, I am interested to see if you will actual begin proving the existence of this alleged natural process that creates uncaused universes from nothing.
(MB) Again, it is not necessary for me to prove what I do not propose. Do your reading, learn what science actually says, and then try your arguments again. BTW, you won't be able to do the necessary learning on an apologetics web site.

You began by stating that you were going to refute atheism and morphed that still-unrealized refutation into an idea that I was making some claim about the nature of the origin of the universe -- to which you have added much additional baggage.
(R) I didn't "morph" anything into something else.
(MB) If not, then explain why you are now running from "refuting atheism" (which requires positive proof of the existence of God) and concentrating more on misinterpreting the scientific view of the origin of the universe? Even if I decided, for the sake of argument, to concede that the current scientific view is wrong, this would still not do anything to help you prove that atheism is false since there are still so many other possibilities. Again, this is why your negative attacks against science are ultimately fruitless and why you *must* succeed in making a positive case in favor of your own views.

(R) You have made claims about the the origin of the universe yourself, and the stipulations that I have required of your claims (which you've given as being the same as "science") are necessary, not "additional baggage" as you have suggested.
(MB) Your "stipulations" are not "necessary" -- they are *incorrect*. As such, you are basing your views upon arguing against my ability to prove something that does not exist in the first place! This does not bode well for your chances of eventual success.

The closest I've come to what you are trying to put into my mouth is to say that there is no evidence to support the theistic claims for the existence of God or an "intelligent designer" and that all available evidence supports an origin of the universe which is derived from natural processes. You have pointed out some of this evidence yourself -- yet you persist in claiming that "none exists".
(R) You are speaking for yourself as I have not put any words in your mouth.
(MB) If distorting my views by including things which I do not propose isn't considered to be putting words into my mouth, then what *is*?

(R) For example, you have made numerous statements that show that you are a materialist, a naturalist, and an atheist.
(MB) Those are your interpretations which have been made since you can't envision any other possibilities (despite my having presented many of them to you). It is also your interpretation that these things are inextricably related and that to disprove one of them will disprove all of them. It is further your interpretation that these are all somehow "negative" things and that they automatically discount anything I might say. You can waste time calling me anything you want to call me. Too bad you don't understand that no amount of labeling or name-calling directed at me or anybody else is going to help you prove your case.

(R) You cannot claim agnosticism and at the same time argue aggressively for atheism, while aggressively denying theism.
(MB) Sure I can! To use one of your favorite lines, I can certainly argue in favor of what I believe to be the "most likely and most probable" position. However, this does not mean that I am able to state with 100% certainty that such a position is the truth. Also, I am not an "atheist" simply because I am certain that *your* version of "God" does not exist. There are a great many other possibilities. Since I honestly and correctly acknowledge that I can't summarily discount all possible theistic scenarios, my overall position can only truthfully be described as agnosticism.

(R) Furthermore, I have not pointed out any evidence which supports materialism as you imply.
(MB) You're changing my words again. I said that you yourself have referenced evidence which supports an origin of the universe which is derived from natural processes. This is not "materialism". Of course, you don't know that since you don't know what "materialism" actually is.

(R) I believe that the actual event of the origin of the universe was natural, but not it's cause.
(MB) You are presupposing that the origin of the universe *had* a cause.

(R) Remember, I am not claiming that the *event* of the origin of the universe was supernatural, but that the *cause* of the event (the Big Bang) was supernatural.
(MB) Fine. But, you will still need to show evidence in support of the supernatural cause of the Big Bang. I think you are in grave danger of arguing yourself into an uncomfortable corner here. Consider, if you are saying that the Big Bang was a natural event, then everything it produced is the result of a natural process and is, itself, natural. This would mean that you will have to accept that materialism is true (despite your protestations to the contrary) and that the scientific view of the universe is also true. This also means that there could be no possible evidence by which to support any theistic creation scenario. No possible evidence means you have nothing on which to claim that any given theistic creation scenario is true. As such, no theistic creation scenario could ever be "more likely" and/or "more probable" than the scientific view and none could ever rise above the level of purely personal belief.

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