Last Update: 01 Jan 01

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This is the seventeenth 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.

You have also failed to show why this evidence is flawed or why we would be better served to use it to conclude that it supports the intelligent design idea.
(R) The evidence is not flawed nor I have ever claimed it to be. What I have claimed is that the evidence does not support the materialist assumption that the universe was uncaused, or that all events relating to the origin of the universe were the result of natural processes.
(MB) Those are two different things. As to the first, the philosophy of materialism does not include any claims about universal origins -- caused or uncaused -- so, once again, you are demanding proof of something which is not being proposed. As to the second, until such time as any evidence can be presented to give solid support to the proposal that *anything whatsoever* exists in the realm of the supernatural, the only remaining option is that all things exist in the natural realm.

Since you are advancing a positive claim in favor of the existence of an intelligent designer, the burden of proof is on you. You have flatly refused to accept this burden and have even tried to claim that it is not necessary for you to do so.
(R) I agree that the burden of supporting my theistic interpretation of the evidence is required, but I do not agree with your claim that I possess a "burden of proof". A burden of "proof" applies to scientific claims, which I am not making.
(MB) The "burden of proof" is a basic concept of logic which applies to any positive existential claim -- scientific or otherwise. You can't evade it simply by declaring your views to be unscientific. If you try, all you are doing is saying that I must believe your case even though you are do not feel obligated to prove it. This is a special pleading fallacy since you would certainly not accept such a position if it was stated to you by, for example, a Hindu on behalf of his beliefs.

(R) Since you are stating that your claims are the same as science's, such a burden of proof *does* apply to your claims.
(MB) Agreed. And, while nobody will claim to have conclusively proven the scientific view, there is certainly ample evidence to support it to a high degree of confidence. Since you eschew this methodology in terms of applying it to your own views, they can never hope to inspire anywhere near the same level of confidence.

This shows that you have no understanding of logic nor any appreciation for methods of rational inquiry.
(R) Wrong. I do have an understanding of logic and methods of rational inquiry.
(MB) If so, you certainly have successfully avoided any demonstration of that understanding. Heck, you just finished displaying your ignorance about the basic concept of the "burden of proof" and now you want to tell me that you "understand" logic and rational inquiry?

(R) However, you do not have the right to be the arbiter of the definitions of logic, rationality, or methods.
(MB) I'm not claiming to be any such thing. The concepts and definitions are well-established and widely published. In this debate (and in past debates), I have provided you with book and web site references you can use to verify everything I've said about logic and fallacious reasoning. Have you bothered to give even the slightest look to any of them?

(R) Its real easy for you to believe that any idea that does not line up with your idea is not rational, logical, or methodical.
(MB) Not necessarily. There are certainly rational, logical and methodologically-sound ideas which do not agree with my own points of view. A good example would be the views of some of those who disagree with my position on the Designated Hitter rule in baseball. Ideas are rational, logical and methodologically-sound based solely upon the quality of the arguments used to defend them.

(R) The reason I am saying that my claims do not require the same burden as your claims is because your claims are asserting science as their basis, whereas mine are not.
(MB) Again, whether or not any given claim asserts "science" has no bearing upon whether or not such a claim bears the burden of proof. If you are asserting a positive existential claim, you bear the burden of proof for that claim no matter what the claim is about.

This also shows that you will continue to spout blanket dismissals of any and all evidence supporting science while refusing to provide any to support your own views.
(R) I have not denied any evidence.
(MB) Yeah, just label everything you disagree with as "atheistic" or "materialistic" assumptions and brush it aside without providing any details.

(R) I have denied two basic things - 1) that the evidence is immutable, (which it isn't)...
(MB) When did I ever say this? The word "immutable" has only been used four times in this debate and, every time, you were the one who has used it. Please explain this comment.

(R) ...and 2) that the evidence supports an atheistic or materialistic interpretation.
(MB) I have said that the evidence supports a *scientific* interpretation -- not "atheistic" or "materialistic".

This being the case, please tell me why your arguments should be taken seriously.
(R) Since that isn't the case, it is self-evident why my arguments should be taken seriously.
(MB) No unsupported argument is ever "self-evident". Like it or not, your case is going to have to pass the test of evidence before it can be taken seriously. But, since you've already refused to submit your case to that standard, your cause would seem to be hopeless.

Since you haven't even bothered to answer the questions put to you and haven't even attempted an argument as to why "Bob" is wrong, I can only assume that you are protesting in order to avoid having to admit that my point is solid.
(R) Obviously I have responded to this topic earlier in this message.
(MB) "Responding" is not the same thing as "answering the questions". Heck, a hearty belch would have been a "response" -- and would have provided just as many answers.

(R) However, your point was only solid within the contrived scenario you concocted. There is no connection between your scenario and my arguments - none, zip, zilch, zero. Of course you are attempting to imply a connection so your own claim appears stronger.
(MB) The connection is the necessity for any positive existential claim to bear the burden of proof. "Bob" made such a claim in my scenario. You have made such a claim in your arguments. Both of you are in the same boat and it's springing more leaks all the time. BTW, my claim doesn't get stronger because you refuse to support yours. That just makes your case weaker and, therefore, "less likely" and "less probable".

(R) But as I pointed out previously, the "Bob" connection can be just as easily applied to your claim of a natural process creating an uncaused universe from nothing.
(MB) Except, of course, that I have proposed no such claim. Please try to get this right in the future.

(R) In my book, the existence of such a process can be placed in the same category as giant, pink, Martian bunnies.
(MB) In what category within your book does "God did it" belong?

If you don't agree with this, please show me where you are not doing just what "Bob" is doing in my scenario.
(R) I am not doing what "Bob" was doing because the evidence for an intelligent Creator would be intelligent creation.
(MB) Unless you are going to be tautological again, you will need to show positive evidence supporting that claim that the universe actually demonstrates "intelligent design" and could not possibly be the way it is as the result of any other scenario.

(R) It just so happens to be the case that creation overwhelmingly shows the attributes of intelligent structure and balance, whereas in your scenario, there was no predicted or actual manifestation of the effects of bunnies.
(MB) First, the "attributes of intelligent structure" are only what you personally believe them to be and, thus, are anything but "overwhelming" -- other than to somebody whose mind is easily overwhelmed. You have not shown that they are absolutely necessary, nor have you shown that they could not have come to be through any scenario other than a deliberate act of creation by an intelligent designer. As to Bob's bunnies, their existence could be conclusively and unarguably proven by venturing to the far side of the Moon and observing one. How could one ever possibly gain an equal level of proof for the existence of an intelligent designer?

(R) Furthermore, I am not, and have not, claimed that you need to "prove" the non-existence of God, whereas Bob was claiming that Fred had to prove the non-existence of the bunnies.
(MB) Since I've previously shown this claim of yours to be false, you and Bob are still in the same leaky boat.

(R) The only thing I asked you to prove are - the materialistic origin of the universe, and the respective natural process. You have failed to do so.
(MB) Same song, umpteenth off-key verse. See previous rebuttals.

You're right about one thing, though. I did concoct a contrived scenario. But, the point is to highlight the illogic of the arguments being used to support Bob's claim and the fact that you are using exactly the same tactics. If there was any chance that I was wrong, I'm sure you could point out the flaws in detail rather than having to rely on the standard blanket brush-offs and condemnations.
(R) I will agree that the illogic of *BOB'S* arguments were highlighted in your analogy. However, there is nothing in either that analogy or in my arguments which demonstrates that I am using the same tactics as Bob. This is where your entire effort breaks down.
(MB) Once again, please refer to previous rebuttals. It would seem that I was correct when I predicted that you would have nothing better to offer against "Bob vs. Fred" than the standard blanket brush-offs and condemnations.

Again, it will be interesting to hear your responses to what I have already offered up in this message. I predict that you will simply brush it all aside as "atheistic/materialist assumptions" and not bother to address or argue any point in any detail. I further predict that you will continue to avoid presenting the positive support for your own views in favor of more blanket denials of what you misunderstand about science.
(R) Both of those predictions are wrong since I have answered your responses to the degree of detail they were given.
(MB) How were my predictions wrong? What details have you offered in rebuttal of any referenced theory of science? Where have you corrected your misunderstandings about science? Aren't you still generically condemning my views as "atheistic" and "materialistic"? How have you not avoided presenting the positive support for you views when you have been telling me that they are not scientific and have no objective supporting evidence? Or, do you consider "I believe theism is true" to be a conclusive argument? Indeed, it would appear that my predictions have been dead on the mark.

(R) Maybe in your next message, you will actually divulge how the evidence supports your materialistic assumptions instead of giving another laundry list of theories and their generalities.
(MB) *grin* What better proof that you just brush aside anything and everything presented to you? I have referenced the material necessary for you to educate yourself on what science actually says. Why can't you be bothered to check out this material? Even if you won't bother to do so, how can you go so far as to deny that I have presented anything in support of my views? Indeed, if you are uneducated as to what these theories say, how can you claim that they don't support my views?

(R) Now, instead of playing Mr. Prophet, why don't support your own views instead of making predictions about mine?
(MB) I have done and will continue to do both -- and I'll be accurate in both cases.

Can you truly tell me that you are unaware of any scientific evidence whatsoever (whether or not you agree with it or understand it)? Or, do you just reject everything which disputes theism with no further consideration or study of it?
(R) I can truly tell you that there is no scientific evidence which refutes theism or proves materialism as the creator of the universe.
(MB) Science is not concerned with refuting theism, nor does it claim that materialism is the creator of *anything*. Now, please answer the questions which I actually asked of you.

(R) Rather, the evidence strongly suggests that the universe was caused, and that this cause was intelligent.
(MB) I still await the presentation of the case which supports these conclusions. If the evidence "strongly suggests" these conclusions, you should have an easy task in front of you.

By the way, the score is now two usages of "naturalistic super-process" to two usages of "materialistic super-process". Perhaps the battle of the buzzwords is a best-of-seven series?
(R) *laughs* While this commentary is humorous, it does nothing more than show your dependency on semantics as a tool to discredit my statements.
(MB) What it shows is that you use arguments constructed around terminology that you don't understand (and probably borrowed from another source because it sounded impressive). Since I *do* understand this terminology, your incorrect usages stick out like a sore thumb and beg to be corrected.

There is no evidence for the existence of "pixies" nor for any claim that they produce any sort of dust nor for the implied notion that they could produce such dust in quantities sufficient to produce something the size of the Moon in a manner which would produce a stable orbit of that body around the Earth.
(R) What you described is not a *violation* of any known principles of physics.
(MB) Yes, it is. It would violate the known laws of celestial mechanics in regard to how planetary satellites are formed.

(R) The lack of evidence for pixies is not a *violation* of any principle, but a lack of ability to meet the *requirement* of a principle.
(MB) What "requirement" might that be? BTW, the lack of evidence for any proposal concerning pixies doesn't violate any laws of physics, but some of the conclusions reached by lines of argument which proceed from such proposals may well do so.

Now, one can see why you find theism so easy to believe. You don't bother to apply any critical thought to any given idea before spouting it or believing in it.
(R) Nope, thats not true even in the slightest.
(MB) Unfortunately, this has yet to be demonstrated as evidenced by the numerous and gaping holes of basic logic in the arguments you are offering.

(R) I am firmly dedicated to analyzing all aspects of ideas before I support them.
(MB) Except, of course, for any aspects of those ideas which would present uncomfortable problems for your continued belief. Your "firm dedication" claim flies in the face of your steadfast refusals to answer simple questions about those beliefs.

(R) My belief in theism is the *result* of such critical thought, not the absence of it.
(MB) Stercus tauri times ten billion to the 124th power. Where have you given any consideration to competing theistic views? How have you shown your views to be superior to them? Where, indeed, have you shown that you even *understand* them?

(R) But of course you will believe otherwise since it is convenient for your rhetoric.
(MB) Your own incorrect answers and comments concerning other theistic views show that my statement is supported by much more than "convenience".

"Indirect" evidence is nothing more than drawing faulty conclusions based upon presupposed ideas.
(R) I guess you conveniently forget that the event of the universe's origin is unrepeatable, untestable, and directly unobservable.
(MB) As shown previously, I haven't "conveniently forgotten" this because it simply isn't true as regards the scientific view (outside of the obvious impossibility of reproducing a full-scale "Big Bang" in a laboratory). Those arguments *do*, however, apply to the theistic view. But, that doesn't stop you from continuing to believe in that view, does it?

(R) Therefore, the only evidence that could ever exist for it would be of an indirect nature. The question is: which interpretation of the indirect evidence is best supported by probability.
(MB) And, how are you going to calculate that probability?

A ton of nonsense is still nothing more than nonsense.
(R) I agree, but whether or not what I am proposing is "nonsense" is exactly what is in contention. Of course, you are free to assume exactly what you conclude on this point, since you have already been doing this numerous other times throughout this debate.
(MB) I'm hardly assuming anything as I have laid out a great many reasons why your arguments are properly categorized as "nonsense". The aforementioned (and still unproduced) "probability" calculation which supposedly favors theism is a prime example.

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