REPLY #99r TO
This is the eighteenth 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 your case has any merits whatsoever, there must be at least one piece of objective and empirical evidence to support it. But, you don't have any, do you?
(R) There is one objective piece of empirical evidence to support my arguments - it's called the universe.
(MB) See previous rebuttals.
(R) Now, obviously you are going to challenge my theistic interpretation of this evidence,...
(MB) Only because it is totally unsupported and makes no sense because the existence of the universe is not evidence for how it was created.
(R) ...and I will challenge your atheistic interpretation.
(MB) That will be fruitless since I don't *have* any atheistic interpretations of the evidence for how the universe came to be.
(R) But the evidence itself is *already* there.
(MB) The universe is there, but it's not "evidence" in and of itself for anything other than that it's there. Once again, if you claim that's all the evidence you have, then you have nothing at all and your proposal can't hope to succeed.
The only arguments you have are things that you simply want to believe are true. Even at that, all you've mentioned so far is that there is nothing to "disprove" an intelligent designer. Everything else has been a misguided and/or ill-informed attack against what you misunderstand about science. This is not a good way to make a compelling case.
(R) The above is nothing but your spin commentary and it can rightly be dismissed as irrelevant gibberish.
(MB) Gee...another dismissal. How unusual.
*LOL* Do you truly fail to understand that there is plenty of evidence within your scenario? The body exists and is clearly dead from a bullet wound. A candidate murder weapon is also there and could be proven to be the murder weapon through ballistics and fingerprint evidence. A note with handwriting exists and the handwriting could be analyzed by forensic experts to determine whether or not the victim produced it himself.
(R) The body is only evidence of a body, and bullet is only evidence of a bullet, a gun is only evidence of a gun, and the note is only evidence of a note.
(MB) Of course, but this scenario is not a simple case of determining whether or not those individual things actually exist. It is the interaction of these different things which provides the evidence upon which to base a proper determination of what happened.
That being said, your argument here is inconsistent with your earlier argument about "pots being evidence of potters", etc. If you believe what you said this time around, then, to be consistent, you will have to amend your earlier argument to say that a pot is only evidence of a pot, an engine is only evidence of an engine, and so on. In reality, a pot can't conclusively be said to be evidence of a potter, since pots could be made by non-potters. Also, since a "pot" is only a hardened clay object, it is possible for one to have formed entirely by natural processes. Undoubtedly, it is a reasonable conclusion to assume a potter if one sees a pot, but this is because the two are normally connected in our accumulated base of experience.
(R) Determining the existence of an actual killer is a matter of playing "connect the dots". Or in this case - connect the evidences.
(MB) Correct. Each piece of evidence may either support or refute one or more possible solutions (or be inconclusive either way). But, no possible solution can be supported if none of the evidence lines up behind it. No one solution needs to be 100% proven in order for that solution to become the most probable answer. And, certainly, no reputable forensic expert will exclude any possible scenario from the necessity of having supporting evidence in its favor before it can be believed.
(R) The killer not existing at the crime scene does not mean that the killer did not exist somewhere else, or that he did not cause those evidences.
(MB) If it is determined that a killer is the most probable solution, then it becomes obvious that this killer was at the crime scene to commit his crime. This does not, however, support any proposals as to who that killer might be. If the forensic expert goes to court and testifies that "God did it", he had better bring some serious evidence which would prove that claim beyond a reasonable doubt or he'll be laughed out of court.
(R) Likewise, God not existing within the universe does not mean that God does not exist in some other way, or did not cause the universe.
(MB) With no evidence to support the claim that God exists anywhere at any time in any way, it is not possible to draw meaningful conclusions as to what he may or may not have done. Any attempt to do so must necessarily presuppose the very proposal being argued and inevitably ends up being circular reasoning.
There is nothing here that has to appeal to the supernatural, to transcendence or to anything other than purely natural and understandable processes.
(R) Of course, but there *IS* plenty of indirect evidence here that appeals to the existence of a cause-agent of the "killer" variety.
(MB) Yep. Of course, there is not one shred of that evidence which violates any known laws of the natural world nor is outside of our current base of knowledge. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that a killer was responsible.
Once again, I find I must repeat a tough question that you left out of your response. Where is the similar evidence that can be examined by anybody of any faith or belief system to produce an unmistakeable and objective conclusion that God (either in general or specific terms) exists?
(R) Likewise, the universe being so complex, structured, and balanced strongly appeals to a cause-agent of the "intelligent designer" variety.
(MB) No, it doesn't. Again, this is an argument from personal incredulity since it is based on not understanding how any other possibility could have produced the same universe.
Actually, there is such a process. It's called quantum indeterminacy and has been proven to exist. That makes it more acceptable than any "intelligent designer" idea or any appeal to the supernatural.
(R) *laughs* Okay, would you care to explain exactly how the uncertainty of the position and the velocity of an object has ANYTHING to do with proving the materialistic origin of the universe?
(MB) There is no such relation since the origin of the universe has nothing to do with materialism.
(R) And while your at it, you should note that quantum indeterminacy is not a "process", but a principle.
(MB) Quantum indeterminacy is much more than the popular name by which a major component is known (i.e., the "Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle"). It includes everything from radioactive decay to that which results in the creation of virtual particles to the collapse of scalar fields to how the Sun shines. None of these are "principles".
Mountains of evidence for natural processes and science vs. no evidence for the supernatural. It doesn't take a genius to figure out which is more probable. Even the near-infinite odds against an appeal to quantum indeterminacy in your above scenario produce a conclusion which is more probable than any appeal to the supernatural. Of course, both pale rather pathetically in contrast to the rational and natural answer. Again, like you said, it doesn't take a genius to figure this out. So, why do you still think that supernatural answers are reasonable?
(R) Again, you resort to assuming what you conclude.
(MB) No, I don't. I take the facts and compare them by applying common standards. Then, I reach conclusions based upon those comparisons. This is the methodology of rational inquiry. It assumes nothing that the evidence won't support.
(R) You have failed completely to supply these "mountains of evidence" that supposedly favor your natural, universe-creating process.
(MB) I've done the supplying. Now, you need to do the reading. Get back to me after doing so and show me what you've learned.
(R) Until you provide this evidence you claim exists, I can only assume you are good for nothing more than words.
(MB) Um...in the process of typing this diatribe, you forgot to answer my question. I'll give you another chance. Why do you still think that supernatural answers are reasonable?
[RE: This analogy is an appeal to legal evidences. The amount of legal evidences in support of an intelligent designer creating the universe is staggering.]
The problem here is that this is not a question that is decided by legal procedures. It is a question that is decided by the weight of supporting evidence -- and that weight is totally on the side of science. No amount of rhetoric can overrule one piece of empirical evidence.
(R) I didn't say anything about "legal procedures". I am talking about legal evidences, which most definitely require supporting data.
(MB) In what sense are you invoking the word "legal"? This is judicial system terminology and not something which applies to logic or science. In logic, premises and conclusions are valid/invalid or sound/unsound. Neither is ever referred to as "legal". In science, "evidence" is hard data. The evidence itself is neutral. The theories which are built upon the evidence are also not judged as being "legal" or "illegal". Once again, it seems that you've borrowed another impressive-sounding buzzword which has been improperly applied and poorly understood.
BTW, you've previously said that there is only one piece of evidence supporting the ID proposal -- the universe. Now, you say that the amount of evidence supporting this proposal is "staggering". (Of course, you haven't offered up so much as one shred of this "staggering" amount.) Which is it? One piece of evidence or a "staggering" amount? And, if the amount is "staggering", then you need to withdraw all of those "one piece of evidence" arguments and start producing some of this "staggering" amount.
(R) Again, you can talk the talk all you want, but you have yet to show that all the weight of supporting evidence favors your view.
(MB) I've referenced much of the supporting evidence for my views. You have offered up only one thing which has been incorrectly called "evidence" in support of yours. Therefore, all of the evidence which is currently on the table supports my views. Where am I wrong?
(R) (NOTE: You once again blur the distinction between science and materialist philosophy).
(MB) NOTE: You once again demonstrate your lack of understanding of both.
No, that's a factual statement based on the numerous demonstrated instances of logic blunders and misunderstandings you have already committed.
(R) Wrong, that is merely your spin which uses meaningless, self-validating rhetoric. The only thing that there is "numerous demonstrated instances" of is your ongoing spouting of the mouth, cleverly phrased insults, and opinionated badgering that has not even one objective fact to back it up.
(MB) Even though I've been pointing out where you have been committing your mistakes?
I've already demonstrated how you don't even understand your own scenario.
(R) No you didn't, you demonstrated that YOU don't understand legal evidences.
(MB) By using terminology which doesn't exist in either science or logic, you prove my point.
In the meantime, you have neatly evaded yet another opportunity to directly address the issue of the total lack of evidence in support of the supernatural.
(R) To require natural evidence for a supernatural reality is like requiring supernatural evidence for natural reality. It is a contradiction in term and a false requirement.
(MB) Since when did I specify that you must provide "natural evidence". I've been asking for *any* kind of evidence and you have failed/refused to deliver. And, so, the evasions continue...
(R) The support for supernaturalism is derived from the testimonies of millions of people throughout the world who have experienced supernatural phenomena, plus numerous eyewitness accounts of supernatural events throughout ancient history.
(MB) So, when people see or experience something they don't understand, supernatural explanations gain credibility? How does *that* work? Personal incredulity, ignorance, lack of education or insufficient technological advancement do not become supporting evidence for the supernatural just because millions of people suffer from them and are willing to testify to what they don't know. This is just as true as the fact that the Earth has never been flat and unmoving at the center of the universe even though "millions of people" used to believe that it was (and there are some today who still believe that it is). Consider Arthur C. Clarke's famous quote which says that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. It points out that those things which are advanced or currently unknown do not become "supernatural".
The bottom line is that there are no cases where anything has proven to be supernatural while there are innumerable cases where "supernatural phenomena" have been shown to be entirely natural.
(R) Furthermore, there are many, many "mysteries" that the natural sciences haven't been able to solve for centuries, which further indicates that supernaturalism is probably true.
(MB) No, that just indicates that insufficient evidence exists to use in the analysis of the "mystery" in order to produce a conclusive answer -- wherever that answer may lie. Again, your argument commits the fallacy of claiming that one proposition is true simply because an alternative hasn't been proven in addition to the fallacy of assuming that a proposition is true simply because of the number of people who believe it to be true.
[RE: First, it should be noted that no supernatural proposition rules out the existence of the natural realm. Supernaturalists believe both realms exist.]
It would be rather silly of them to argue otherwise, wouldn't it? Furthermore, the existence of the natural realm does not, in and of itself, invalidate the existence of the supernatural. Only the total lack of positive evidence in favor of the supernatural can invalidate its existence. Without such evidence, supernaturalists are just spinning their wheels in a pointless exercise in rhetoric.
(R) It is non sequitur to claim that natural evidence is required to verify supernaturalism.
(MB) And, I didn't claim any such thing -- I said "positive evidence". BTW, you apparently don't know the proper usage of "non sequitur" (an inference or conclusion which doesn't follow from the premises), either.
(R) I would love to know exactly what you perceive "positive evidence" for supernaturalism to be.
(MB) As I told you earlier, the James Randi Educational Foundation has a prize in excess of one million dollars for anybody who can present positive evidence of anything supernatural or paranormal. This prize has been offered for many years and has never been claimed. One would think it reasonable to assume that at least one of the great many people who promote and believe in the supernatural would have claimed this prize by now if there truly was actually any such positive evidence to be presented. Anything which would be sufficiently compelling to claim this prize would be something which would have to be considered to be acceptable evidence for the supernatural. Do you think that your "universe is evidence of a Creator" stuff would win?
(R) Furthermore, there is no positive evidence that all causes effecting the universe have been exclusively natural.
(MB) Yes, there is. That evidence is the fact that everything which has currently been discovered and examined falls into the natural realm. Now, this doesn't mean that everything which has not yet been discovered and examined will also fall into the natural realm, but it does make that expectation the only one which has any evidential support and, therefore, makes it the only reasonable expectation.
The belief that the natural realm is the only one which exists is based solely and entirely upon the complete and total lack of evidence in support of any other conclusion.
(R) There is no support for your FIRST conclusion! There is a total lack of evidence for the claim that ONLY natural causes have ever effected the universe, yet you discount transcendental claims because of that very reason. Now, either you are an epistemological hypocrite, or intellectually dishonest. Which is it?
(MB) Neither one. As shown in the previous paragraph, your premise is incorrect, so your argument fails.
[RE: Since you are positing a "materialism of the gaps" and supernaturalists are positing "god of the gaps." Thus, both propositions are on equal grounds.]
No, they are not. Supernaturalists are the only ones who are basing their claims upon what they perceive to be "gaps" and what they want to believe fills them. There is no such thing as "materialism of the gaps". Now, if you want to claim that something which does not exist is an equal proposition with the claims of the supernaturalists, I will agree with you. But, I rather doubt that this is what you intended to say.
(R) At this particular point, you made no counter-argument but merely disagreed with my statement. If all you can do in essence is say "nah ah", there is nothing I can respond to.
(MB) Nice try, but the counter-argument is there. I can understand your wanting to run away from it, but you are going to have to explain why a supernatural proposal for which there is no supporting evidence is to be considered to be "on equal grounds" with the scientific view which, while not 100% proven, is supported by all available evidence. You can't appeal to your "my view isn't scientific" evasion here since you made the claim that your view is "On equal grounds" with that of science. The only way to back up that claim is to evaluate it under the same standards of evidence used by science.
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