Friday, August 17, 2007

Breaking down a case against God

I was dorking around today and I came across a blogger's case against God. Thought I'd take me a stab at it. I note that this list is influenced by a book: Atheism, the Case Against God, by George H. Smith.
If this is the best a published author can do (not that I should be surprised, given the low quality of thinking in recent offerings from Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins), then I'd hope nobody is worried. A few of these points are actually pretty amusing. I left this content in a comment there and told him it'd be posted on my blog. I made a few minor modifications to it to pretty it up for posting.


1. Is god supernatural? If god is natural, then we have to entirely redefine our god concept and, essentially, start over from scratch. If god is supernatural, we may continue.
Supernatural.

2. If god is supernatural, then how can humans possess any knowledge of god? Humans are part of nature, and, as such, our knowledge is bounded by nature. The very notion of something existing beyond nature is wholly incomprehensible, given that our knowledge and thought processes are nature-bounded.
He condescended to reveal Himself to humans.

3. Does god possess any characteristics? Characteristics are determinative and limiting. That is, once a being has characteristics, those characteristics lead to certain capacities and abilities. Dogs, for example, can do certain things. However, dogs cannot build an umbrella; doing so would be contrary to their nature and their characteristics. Humans cannot undergo photosynthesis; doing so would be contrary to our nature and our characteristics. If god is possessed of any characteristics, then god is limited by them (if only in the sense that possessing Characteristic X means one cannot possess Characteristic Not-X). If god has no characteristics, then god is indistinguishable from nothingness.
Yes God possesses characteristics.
And of course they limit Him. God is not, for example, illogical. He cannot sin. He can't cease to exist.
God can do anythg that is logically possible.

4. Do you accept omnipotence, omniscience and consciousness as characteristics of god? If you do, we may continue.
Yes to all.

5. Humans live in nature, and our knowledge is bounded by nature. There exists in nature nothing infinite. Therefore, humans have no comprehension of anything being “infinitely Characteristic X.” If humans cannot conceive of infinity, then how are the “omni” characteristics meaningful?
They are in many ways apophatic.
OTOH, humans require a standard against which to compare the imperfections of the human condition.

6. To say a being is omnipotent is to say the being has all power. Therefore, god need not engage in actions, processes or anything else in order to get what it wants. After all, a being possessed of all power need not do anything to achieve its desired results [Upon further consideration, having a desire/purpose also is unnecessary, since it is an extra step with which an omnipotent being should not need to concern itself.] In short, god’s power is incomprehensible since it involves getting its way without first possessing desires, taking actions or executing processes. How is this meaningful?
God can do anythg that is possible, that's the working def. of "omnipotent".
Just b/c sthg is incomprehensible in its entirety doesn't mean that it's impossible or incomp. in its part. I can't fathom how hot the sun is but I can know that it's hot outside now.

7. To say a being is omniscient is to say the being has all knowledge. In the natural world in which humans live, knowledge is gained by study/observation (learning) and verification (confirmation of that which is observed/learned). God never could have learned anything nor had any information verified, since that would imply a time during which god lacked comprehensive knowledge. Thus, god’s knowledge is wholly dissimilar to our own and utterly incomprehensible. How is this meaningful?
Yes, God knows all that there is to know.
See #6 for comments on incomprehensibility.
That's also kind of the point - God boggles our tiny minds b/c we are limited. It's one of those things that's supposed to teach us humility.
But we need a standard, again, to know anything. God's omniscience is the template by which we know anythg. So what if God doesn't learn? We do; God has ordained us to.

8. Free will cannot co-exist with an omniscient, creator deity. Let us say that I am a ten-year-old boy. God, being omniscient, knows that, on my thirtieth birthday, I will rob a convenience store and shoot the clerk. Is there any way for me to disprove god’s foreknowledge and not commit this heinous crime? If so, then god is not omniscient, since its foreknowledge can be disproved. If not, then I lack free will, since my actions are determined before they occur, and I cannot possibly change my destiny.
Just b/c God sees it all doesn't mean we don't have some degree of free will.
You'd need to prove that God has preordained everythg in a deterministic fashion.
Also, many atheists, such as Dan Barker are on record as saying that, as naturalists, they believe humans have no free will - biological determinism. You have some trash to clean up in your own camp.

9. Omniscience and omnipotence are incompatible and lead to insoluble contradictions. Suppose that, on Monday the 14, god knows, based upon its omniscience, that it shall smite Bob Washburn on Thursday the 17. Come Wednesday the 16, can god change its mind and decide to spare Bob Washburn? If so, then god can disprove its own foreknowledge and cannot be categorized as omniscient. If not, then god cannot be called omnipotent, because it lacks the ability to change its mind (and thus disprove its own foreknowledge).
God doesn't change His mind.
You're trying to create a "can God microwave a burrito so hot He can't eat it?" false quandary. Why would God change His mind? His plan and will are perfect from the beginning. He can do whatever is possible. Ceasing to exist is not possible. Changing His mind like that is not possible. Creating a universe IS possible. Etc.

10. Is god conscious? Consciousness, as understood by humans, who are bounded by nature since we are products of nature, is an emergent quality of some biological life. Humans can conceive of no consciousness divorced from biological life, since such does not exist in nature and any such consciousness would be different not in degree but in kind. How do Christians resolve this?


God is conscious; His consciousness is the template out of which our consciousness flows.
Why should anyone accept a strictly biological formulation of consciousness anyway? That's begging the question, and is refuted by scientific evidence.

11. Does god have any similarity with humans? It seems not. For example, humans have some knowledge, whereas god has all knowledge. However, we neither comprehend knowledge of an infinite kind (since humans only comprehend limited things) nor understand what knowledge might mean in a supernatural realm, which itself cannot be comprehended (since we are bounded by nature and cannot conceive beyond it). As another example, humans have some power, whereas god has all power. However, in god’s exercise of power, it does not employ purposes, actions or processes, since such would be encumbrances to limitless power—an obvious contradiction. This being the case, the word “power,” especially in an incomprehensible supernatural realm, signifies something of an unknowable, altogether different, kind. Christians, can this be made sensible?

This makes me laugh.
"Does god have any similarity with humans? It seems not. For example, humans have some knowledge, whereas god has all knowledge. "

Anyone lacking an overarching agenda will recognise you've answered your own question. God has KNOWLEDGE. People have KNOWLEDGE. So yes, they do have things in common.
And why would God's acting w/ a purpose be a limit to His power?
12. Most Christians admit that god cannot cause logical impossibilities to occur. For example, god cannot craft a circular square or a deceased living rabbit. The theist might say nonsense is nonsense, and the deity cannot actualize an inherent contradiction. However, most Christians also say that god’s omnipotence allows it to perform miracles, which might be something as silly as making a desk lamp respire. However, is this not also logically impossible? A desk lamp is possessed of certain characteristics, which, in themselves, define it as being a desk lamp—and are both limiting and determinative. A square boasts four 90-degree angles and four straight, equally long sides. A desk lamp is inanimate, used to illuminate a workspace and does not respire. As such, a desk lamp cannot breathe anymore than a square can be a circle. Thus, omnipotence reveals itself as purveying logical impossibilities, be they obvious or subtle.
How is a miracle that is supernatural in nature comparable to creating a square circle? What logical law do miracles violate?
Just saying, "They're not scientific!" doesn't count. "Science" is not a law of logic.

Peace,
Rhology

24 comments:

Christoph said...

I like #8, free will and omniscience. Baffled me before until I realized that it's a total confusion of category. I can stand on top of a building and see two cars on collision course that can't see each other, and I know they will collide. To say I am responsible for the collision is nonsense.
I also know what my wife would do in certain situations, e.g. who she would vote for in an election. Again that doesn't make me responsible for her actions.

d-mc said...

is it just me or do you also find yourself tired and bored answering the same old arguments that have been asked and answered 10,000 times?

The Jolly Nihilist said...

1) Supernatural.

Fair enough. Prove the supernatural exists. Prove something beyond the natural is comprehensible to nature-bounded humans. Think of it this way: Humans can reveal themselves to ants. However, given their nature, ants cannot comprehend humans even after we reveal ourselves.



2) He condescended revealed Himself to humans.

Prove this. Prove that humans, being fallible primates, didn’t screw up the revelation and draw all the wrong conclusions. Think back to my ant analogy. We are thousands of times greater than ants. As such, we are incomprehensible to ants. Now then, if your god character exists, that god is infinitely greater than humans are. Therefore, the level of incomprehensibility should be infinitely higher than in my ants-to-humans example. I want hard proof to back up your certainty.



3) Yes God possesses characteristics.
And of course they limit Him. God is not, for example, illogical. He cannot sin. He can't cease to exist.
God can do anythg that is logically possible.


How did you ascertain these characteristics? Prove them true. By the way, if god truly is infinite and so on, then nothing can limit god. Infinity cannot be limited. So, if god can be limited, god is not infinite.



5) They are in many ways apophatic.
OTOH, humans require a standard against which to compare the imperfections of the human condition.


Negative theology is fallacious. If god truly is ineffable and incomprehensible, then negative theology fails as miserably as positive theology. In order to possess knowledge of what god is not, one must already possess some knowledge of what god is. If one does not possess any positive knowledge of god’s nature, then one cannot say anything is incompatible with that nature—nothing can be incompatible with an incomprehensible void. Negative theology’s great sin is presupposing positive theology’s veracity.

The need for a “standard” against which to compare human existence does not mean that standard actually exists in some conscious form. There is a vast range of smelliness in the world. That does not mean there is a pinnacle of smelliness existing somewhere in the cosmos as a foundation for all comparison. Similarly, there is no need for extant omniscience or omnipotence simply because degrees of knowledge and power exist.



6) God can do anythg that is possible, that's the working def. of "omnipotent".
Just b/c sthg is incomprehensible in its entirety doesn't mean that it's impossible or incomp. in its part. I can't fathom how hot the sun is but I can know that it's hot outside now.


The sun does not exist in an alternate, immaterial realm.

According to Christian mythology, god is omnipotent. The problem is, since god cannot be bothered with desires, actions or processes, power for god is something altogether different than power for humans. And, let’s not forget that “power” is only meaningful as a word in its proper context—the material realm. Taking human words, which were created in and are bounded by nature, and trying to apply them to a supernatural being in a different realm is like trying to use the word “red” to describe volume. You are wrenching words from their context and, as such, making them incomprehensible and veridically worthless.

If natural language can be applied to god, then god is part of nature. If god is outside nature, god also is outside the bounds of natural language.



7) Yes, God knows all that there is to know.
See #6 for comments on incomprehensibility.
That's also kind of the point - God boggles our tiny minds b/c we are limited. It's one of those things that's supposed to teach us humility.
But we need a standard, again, to know anything. God's omniscience is the template by which we know anythg. So what if God doesn't learn? We do; God has ordained us to.


“Knowledge” is a word that was created to describe a phenomenon in the natural world. It was created by primates existing in nature, and is applied in a natural context. When you attempt to use the word “knowledge” with regard to the supernatural, you are wrenching the word from its proper context and making it unintelligible. Again, this is like trying to use the word “muscular” to describe something’s color. Context lends words their meanings. Natural language cannot function outside nature.

If god exists outside nature, then human language cannot apply to god.



8) Just b/c God sees it all doesn't mean we don't have free will.
You'd need to prove that God has preordained everythg in a deterministic fashion.
Also, many atheists, such as Dan Barker are on record as saying that, as naturalists, they believe humans have no free will - biological determinism. You have some trash to clean up in your own camp.


Let’s use Ted Bundy as the example here. As god was in the process of creating Mr. Bundy, did god have foreknowledge about the serial killings Mr. Bundy eventually would commit? If so, then god, in essence, crafted Bundy to be a serial killer. If not, then god cannot be called “omniscient,” whatever that term means.



9) God doesn't change His mind.
You're trying to create a "can God microwave a burrito so hot He can't eat it?" false quandary. Why would God change His mind? His plan and will are perfect from the beginning. He can do whatever is possible. Ceasing to exist is not possible. Changing His mind like that is not possible. Creating a universe IS possible. Etc.


Prove your possible vs. impossible examples. Prove that god cannot change his mind, as I suggested might be possible. Prove that god can create a universe. Prove these things, rather than just stating them as givens. The burden of proof is all on the theist, my friend.



10) God is conscious; His consciousness is the template out of which our consciousness flows.
Why should anyone accept a strictly biological formulation of consciousness anyway? That's begging the question, and is refuted by scientific evidence.


Prove that god’s consciousness is the template out of which our consciousness flows. I’m not simply going to “grant” your (I would argue) incomprehensible assertion. If our consciousness flows from god’s own, you should be able to prove it with evidence.

We’re not talking about whether consciousness is naturally emergent or not. We’re talking about whether god is conscious and, more importantly, how the word “consciousness,” which was created to serve and describe the natural realm, might be applicable to a supernatural being in a supernatural realm. Again, remember that words only are meaningful in their proper contexts. You continually wrench words from their natural context and try to say they function exactly the same way in other contexts, such as a supernatural realm. I already have given two examples demonstrating how loss of proper context makes words like “red” and “muscular” become incomprehensible. I argue the same incomprehensibility holds true when “power,” “knowledge” and “consciousness” are wrenched from the natural world and shoved into a supernatural one.



11) This makes me laugh.
"Does god have any similarity with humans? It seems not. For example, humans have some knowledge, whereas god has all knowledge. "

Anyone lacking an overarching agenda will recognise you've answered your own question. God has KNOWLEDGE. People have KNOWLEDGE. So yes, they do have things in common.
And why would God's acting w/ a purpose be a limit to His power?


People have knowledge as we understand that term. Our understanding of that natural term involves observation, learning and confirmation. We observe something, learn from those observations and try to have what we’ve learned confirmed. Through this process, we gain knowledge. On the other hand, when applied to god, knowledge does not involve observation, learning and confirmation. The word means something different—and this is the case even when ignoring the fact that natural language cannot be applied to a supernatural being in a supernatural realm. If natural language is applicable to something, that something is natural. Human communication was not designed to be functional in other realms—such would be wrenching words from their context.



12) How is a miracle that is supernatural in nature comparable to creating a square circle? What logical law do miracles violate?
Just saying, "They're not scientific!" doesn't count. "Science" is not a law of logic.


To say that a particular square is circular would be to deny the essence of a square. That is, circular characteristics are in violation of a square’s nature. This is also the case for many claims of the miraculous. If you believe god could make a desk lamp respire, you fall into this trap. A desk lamp also is possessed of an essence and a nature. To say a particular ceramic desk lamp can respire is to deny the ceramic desk lamp its nature. A ceramic desk lamp that respires no longer is a ceramic desk lamp, just as a square that is circular no longer is a square. One cannot rationally deny something its nature.

Thanks for your indulgence.

David Bryan said...

"You're trying to create a 'can God microwave a burrito so hot He can't eat it?' false quandary."

Love that episode. Seriously, though, when people would give me that kind of thing, I'd go, "Yes, He can. And then He'd eat it once He made it." Just to tick them off.

"However, most Christians also say that god’s omnipotence allows it to perform miracles, which might be something as silly as making a desk lamp respire. However, is this not also logically impossible? A desk lamp is possessed of certain characteristics, which, in themselves, define it as being a desk lamp—and are both limiting and determinative."

It's also true that a virgin girl "is possessed of certain characteristics, which, in themselves, define her as being a virgin—and are both limiting and determinative." Didn't stop God (in our view) from causing her to conceive a child without sexual contact with a man. As we say in the hymns of my tradition (Eastern Orthodox), "Where the grace of God operates there the order of nature is overcome."

d-mc said...

All of the scientific laws state that "all other things held equal" thus and thus will happen if such and such happens.

But when God intervenes, all other things are not held equal. There is an external interference.

If I am playing pool and strike the ball at a certain velocity I can calculate the distance it will travel given the mass of the ball, the force with which it is hit and the drag created by the felt.

But if I reach down and pick up the ball, all things are not held equal and a different result than calculated will occur.

Well, sometimes God may pick up or move the ball. Nothing scientific has been violated at all.

You can thank CS Lewis for the illustration.

The Jolly Nihilist said...

Hey d-mc,

I think a good first step in this equation might be demonstrating that god exists. Your god character cannot intervene in the natural world unless said god character is extant. I have not been convinced to this point - by you or anybody else.

So, using evidence and rationality, demonstrate that god exists. And, since I presume you are Christian, I don't want any lazy proofs that might also be applicable to Vishnu. I want proof the Christian god character exists, to the exclusion of all other god characters.

Then, we can debate the deity's characteristics, nature, properties, capabilities, preferences and fetishes.

Yours,
JN

d-mc said...

JN,
Please explain to me how the universe came into existence.

The laws of physics tell us that the universe had a beginning, so infite regress is not an option. (Unless the scientists are wrong. Do you want to go there?)

So if the universe had a beginning, how did matter not exist then exist.

If you can explain this, you will be the first in history to do so.

SO-if this cannot yet be explained, it is REASONABLE, not definite but REASONABLE, to believe that some external force created it.

Help me see where I am wrong.

And btw, this post is about the properties and capabilities of God, so I did not see that as out of line.

But go ahead, school me.

d-mc said...

And btw, I am not attempting to explain christianity to the exclusion of all others yet because we have to get to step one first, diety.

d-mc said...

...or deity.

:)

and btw, that shb "infinite" regress.

but you knew that already.

The Jolly Nihilist said...

JN,
Please explain to me how the universe came into existence.

The laws of physics tell us that the universe had a beginning, so infite regress is not an option. (Unless the scientists are wrong. Do you want to go there?)

So if the universe had a beginning, how did matter not exist then exist.

If you can explain this, you will be the first in history to do so.

SO-if this cannot yet be explained, it is REASONABLE, not definite but REASONABLE, to believe that some external force created it.

Help me see where I am wrong.

And btw, this post is about the properties and capabilities of God, so I did not see that as out of line.

But go ahead, school me.




I do not know how, billions of years ago, the universe came into being. I know the Big Bang occurred, which marked the beginning of space and time. However, I do not know how that dense singularity upon which the Big Bang acted initially came into being.

However, that does not mean we are justified in presuming an immaterial, supernatural intelligence “creating” that dense singularity, matter or anything else. One theory, which to me seems tantalizingly possible, is that we live in a grand cosmic multiverse. In this multiverse, “mother” universes birth “daughter” universes in perpetuity. Lee Smolin has advanced this idea, thinking that black holes might play a key role in universe reproduction. Look it up, should you be interested in the specifics.

This might seem “out there,” and perhaps it is, but it certainly is possible. And, to me, it seems much more probable than a supernatural designer deity does. Why? A designer deity would represent what Richard Dawkins has termed “The Ultimate 747.” A deity, especially the Christian character, is such an improbable and fantastically complex being that the odds of such a being simply existing by chance are vanishingly small. To use god to explain the existence of the universe is to compound the problem immeasurably. Besides, if the universe is so incredibly complex that it requires an intelligent designer to have crafted it, then surely god is so incredibly complex that the deity, too, would require an intelligent designer. And, of course, that designer also would require its own designer. This continues ad infinitum. Citing god leads to an infinite regress from which no escape is possible.

The only way—besides design—that vast complexity can be created is through gradual, small, evolutionary steps. And, I do not think most Christians want to say their god character evolved into existence through gradual progression. To use the terminology of Daniel Dennett, the only way a “sky-hook” can come into being is through a “crane.” Postulating a sky-hook as the starting point is irrational.

The lack of an adequate explanation for the universe’s existence does not mean one is justified in presuming god anymore than one is justified in presuming Smolin’s multiverse idea. Indeed, citing god is vastly problematic for anybody wanting to avoid infinite regression.

Just one final thought: Theism is defined as possessing a belief in god or gods. Atheism is defined as lacking a belief in god or gods. As such, theism makes a positive claim about the world, while atheism, in itself, makes no positive claim about anything. Thus, the burden of proof is 100% on the theist, since nobody is obligated to prove their lack of belief in anything. Atheism, in itself, is an entirely negative stance, positing no positive claims. Thus, where theists fail to prove their case adequately, atheism wins by default. Just like, when people who believe in magical elves fail to prove their case, people who lack a belief in magical elves win by default, pending new evidence.

d-mc said...

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/atheism

1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.

Atheism states positively that no God exists. Which seems to me to assume to know all information to the universe to conclude positively such a fact.

I appreciate your admission that you do not know how the universe began. Neither do I.

If one defines God as an infinite being, as Christian do, then infinite regress does indeed apply to God. (Dawkins steps way over bounds in his conclusion in the 747 analogy.) Not that this God needs a creator, but it is theoreticlly possible that this God existed infinitely. You cannot prove it is not so. This is not your fault. It is terribly difficult, if not impossible, to prove that some things do not exist.

The existence of the universe is a powerful, albeit non-conclusive evidence that such a God may in fact exist. For an atheist to state that it is impossible for a God to exist is to go beyond the evidence.

And btw, I did not argue from design so attempting to refute it is irrelevant. For the record, I think design is not a bad argument. Just not perfect.

I have studied much about the multiverse theory. There is no evidence for this theory so explain how that is more science based than believing in a deity. They are both based on faith.

Rhology said...

I'll be able to contribute to the discussion either Monday or Tues, probably Tues.
But anyone interested can note that I dealt w/ Dawkins' Ultimate 747 Gambit recently. It had been heartily recommended by another atheist; I was not as impressed.

Quick note though - JN doesn't want to posit a Creator God but he's cool w/ a multiverse theory. That makes me chuckle.

The Jolly Nihilist said...

1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
Atheism states positively that no God exists. Which seems to me to assume to know all information to the universe to conclude positively such a fact.


I am an atheist, so let me assure you that the definition you cite is wrong. Sometimes dictionaries are fallible, and you have proved that.

The world is divided between theists and atheists. There is no third option to be found. Theists possess a belief in god. Atheists lack a belief in god. These two categories are comprehensive. [I will come to agnosticism in a moment.]

Conventional definitions categorize theists as those who believe in god, whilst atheists disbelieve in god. The insurmountable problem with those definitions is that they do not apply to a great many people. Consider somebody who is completely unfamiliar with the concept of god. Alternately, consider somebody who is too young to comprehend the god hypothesis, such as a two-year-old child. Those people would be unclassifiable going with the wrongheaded definitions in which you put stock. With my definitions, the person unfamiliar with the concept of god and the young child unable to conceive of god are atheists, albeit of an implicit (as opposed to explicit) variety. Why are they atheists? Because they lack a belief in god, of course.

Among self-professed agnostics, there are theistic and atheistic varieties. Theistic agnostics possess a belief in god, but believe god’s nature and characteristics are unknowable to man. Atheistic agnostics lack a belief in god, but believe god’s existence itself would be unknowable to mere man. Note: Agnostics’ opinions about man’s limited knowledge with respect to god do not allow them to escape theist vs. atheist categorization. They neatly are classified.



I appreciate your admission that you do not know how the universe began. Neither do I.

And I appreciate your admission. But, luckily for me, stepping into the role of pure atheist here, I have no burden of proof whatsoever. My stance is entirely negative, with no positive principles or essential truth-claims.



If one defines God as an infinite being, as Christian do, then infinite regress does indeed apply to God. (Dawkins steps way over bounds in his conclusion in the 747 analogy.) Not that this God needs a creator, but it is theoreticlly possible that this God existed infinitely. You cannot prove it is not so. This is not your fault. It is terribly difficult, if not impossible, to prove that some things do not exist.

I think you are putting the theological carriage before the horse here. Christians define god as an “infinite being”? From whence was this knowledge derived? I should think you have to prove god is an infinite being before using that presupposition as a basis for dodging the infinite regress objection. Why should I grant you the luxury of your theology whilst in the midst of a debate about whether god exists in the first place? Premises must be proved before they can be built upon.

In any case, citing god as infinite does not actually help. Your god character still is highly complex and highly unlikely simply to have arisen “by chance.” You are left with a problem of statistical improbability. I guess you might attempt to prove god is a necessary being, but that is another challenge entirely.



The existence of the universe is a powerful, albeit non-conclusive evidence that such a God may in fact exist. For an atheist to state that it is impossible for a God to exist is to go beyond the evidence.

I am not an atheist who says it is impossible for god to exist. Some atheists say that but, in doing so, they are going beyond atheism and into positive claims about the natural order. Atheism, let me repeat, is a wholly negative position referring to a lack of belief in god or gods. Atheism, in and of itself, makes no positive claims about anything.



And btw, I did not argue from design so attempting to refute it is irrelevant. For the record, I think design is not a bad argument. Just not perfect.

Care to be more specific about why, in your judgment, the universe cannot be eternal? [Of course, I recognize that the universe can take many forms; therefore, I want to know why its essential mass-energy cannot be eternal. I only can refute what you explicitly posit.]



I have studied much about the multiverse theory. There is no evidence for this theory so explain how that is more science based than believing in a deity. They are both based on faith.

Your comment here is interesting. In trying to shoot down the multiverse theory, you say it has no evidence to support it. Then, you make an equivalence argument comparing it with faith in a deity. So, by implication, are you admitting there is no scientific evidence for your deity, either? Just asking.

In any event, the scientific specifics of Smolin’s multiverse theory are irrelevant at this point. Now that we have correctly defined theism and atheism, we have come to the point where the onus is entirely on you. I have taken the stance of pure atheism, which is to say a purely negative stance forwarding no essential principles or truth claims. You, as a theist, are positing truth-claims. Prove them, or the negative position wins by default.


Yours,
JN

d-mc said...

JN, I'm amused that you get to define what atheism means but I dont get to define what God means.

though your definition of atheism is different from the 4 dictionaries I just looked in, I'll accept your definition. I actually think your definition is better. Although you must admit there are many atheists that do fit the dictionary definition. If you cant admit it, I can introduce you to many.

We define God as infinite because that is the claim that our book of fairy tales known as the bible claims. Since we believe that book, we accept that definition. Whether the bible is true is another debate entirely, but other monotheistic religions believe the same so I am a bit confused that you act like this is new information to you.

I am completely at a loss for why you assume that a highly complex infinite being must have arisen by chance or design by another complex being? My assertion is that "god" is the uncaused first cause. I am sure you are not unfamiliar with this age old argument (which is why I get easily bored with these discussions).

I say the universe cannot be eternal because that is what scientists tell us. Do you disagree? i thought you affirmed the big bang in an earlier post.

Your comment here is interesting. In trying to shoot down the multiverse theory, you say it has no evidence to support it. Then, you make an equivalence argument comparing it with faith in a deity. So, by implication, are you admitting there is no scientific evidence for your deity, either? Just asking.

I was merely pointing the hypocrisy of your position. You say you do not beleive in god because there is no scientific evidence, yet appeal to the multiverse theory for which there is no scientific evidence. nice try trying to turn it around on me, but I was holding the mirror up to your argument.

You, as a theist, are positing truth-claims. Prove them, or the negative position wins by default.


I attempted to prove it by pointing to the existence of the universe. It is my opinion that a creation requires a creator unless it exists by infinite regress. The universe does not involve infinite regress so it must have had a creator.

I asked you to prove me wrong by telling me how the creation came into being and you cant.

My "scientific" evidence is only that the universe exists. I cannot go further on the scientific evidence for God's existence on this point. But neither did I claim that science is the only method of accumulating knowledge.

I can reasonably apply scientifically to intelligent design. But we are not there yet. You have yet to admit that it is at least theoretically possible for a deity to have created the universe.

All I have proven is that it is not unreasonable to believe in a creative deity.

I will continue to believe in a creative deity until you can give me an explanation as to how the universe came into existence.

The Jolly Nihilist said...

JN, I'm amused that you get to define what atheism means but I dont get to define what God means.

Though your definition of atheism is different from the 4 dictionaries I just looked in, I'll accept your definition. I actually think your definition is better. Although you must admit there are many atheists that do fit the dictionary definition. If you cant admit it, I can introduce you to many.


I am glad you prefer the correct definition, which is the one I articulated. That will make discussion much easier, since we are working from the same definitional foundation. I just wanted to make one additional point on that subject (which, in hindsight, I was remiss not to make previously). My definition of atheism is better not only because it makes every single person on this planet classifiable (since every single person either possesses a belief in god or lacks such a belief), it is also truer to the word’s etymology. When you add the prefix “a” to a word, that prefix literally means “without.” Atheism, on a literal level, means “without theism.” As such, to be an atheist is to declare what one is without—not what one is “with.”

There are many atheists who declare that god does not exist, or assert that god is impossible. Clearly, those are truth-claims. However, they go beyond the scope of atheism. There are capitalist atheists and communist atheists. There are liberal atheists and conservative atheists. The reason atheists are so varied is that atheism, in itself, has no positive tenets, philosophical principles or underlying ideology. Atheism denotes a lack, and only a lack. Enough said on that.



We define God as infinite because that is the claim that our book of fairy tales known as the bible claims. Since we believe that book, we accept that definition. Whether the bible is true is another debate entirely, but other monotheistic religions believe the same so I am a bit confused that you act like this is new information to you.

It is not new information to me. Rather, I simply demand that premises be substantiated before they are built upon. If you can prove that god is infinite, then I will accept it as a premise in another argument. However, you cannot stipulate a highly questionable premise and then build arguments on its flimsy back. Just imagine if I were to compose The Book of the Jolly Nihilist. Imagine this book is 1,000 pages and contains hundreds of thousands of truth-claims. Then, imagine I were to make an argument that god is impossible. In that argument, I liberally use truth-claims from The Book of the Jolly Nihilist as essential premises. When you question those premises, I say, “I believe in the Book of the Jolly Nihilist and, thus, I accept its truth-claims.” You would laugh me off and say my argument is veridically useless since it is based on unverified premises. I say the same, until you prove your claims true.



I am completely at a loss for why you assume that a highly complex infinite being must have arisen by chance or design by another complex being? My assertion is that "god" is the uncaused first cause. I am sure you are not unfamiliar with this age old argument (which is why I get easily bored with these discussions).

You are claiming a “highly complex” deity such as the Christian god character exists. Any vastly complex deity is statistically improbable. Why? Because vast complexity is statistically improbable. Vast complexity of any kind demands an explanation. Surely one can say that utter nothingness, from a statistical point of view, is much more probable than a deity that can answer prayers, create a universe, monitor everybody’s thoughts and rule over a supernatural realm. Why is there a deity rather than utter nothingness? How were the laws of improbability defeated, allowing your deity to “simple be”?



I say the universe cannot be eternal because that is what scientists tell us. Do you disagree? i thought you affirmed the big bang in an earlier post.

Our universe, in its current incarnation, began with the Big Bang. That much is true. However, the Big Bang did not spontaneously create our universe’s mass-energy. The dense singularity, to which I already have referred, itself was composed of our universe’s mass-energy. So, I am positing that this mass-energy might always have existed, taking various forms through the eons. One form was the singularity. One form is our current universe. Who knows what other forms it might have taken. Where do you find scientific fault with this as a possibility? Again, this is not a fact I am positing. Rather, it is a tantalizing possibility in a sprawling library of others.



I was merely pointing the hypocrisy of your position. You say you do not beleive in god because there is no scientific evidence, yet appeal to the multiverse theory for which there is no scientific evidence. nice try trying to turn it around on me, but I was holding the mirror up to your argument.

But I am not a proponent or defender of the multiverse theory. It might be correct and it might be utterly wrong. But, it is possible. You presume god since we do not know how our universe came to be. I merely mean to show that one could presume 100,000 different starting points for our universe. Your god character could have invented it. Aliens from another realm could have planted a cosmic seed, from which our universe grew. Our universe could have been birthed by another universe. An ethereal cosmic catfish could have belched our universe out its divine mouth. Who knows? I do not. Lacking positive evidence, each potential explanation ends up about even. I rather like the cosmic catfish.



I attempted to prove it by pointing to the existence of the universe. It is my opinion that a creation requires a creator unless it exists by infinite regress. The universe does not involve infinite regress so it must have had a creator.

I asked you to prove me wrong by telling me how the creation came into being and you cant.

My "scientific" evidence is only that the universe exists. I cannot go further on the scientific evidence for God's existence on this point. But neither did I claim that science is the only method of accumulating knowledge.

I can reasonably apply scientifically to intelligent design. But we are not there yet. You have yet to admit that it is at least theoretically possible for a deity to have created the universe.

All I have proven is that it is not unreasonable to believe in a creative deity.

I will continue to believe in a creative deity until you can give me an explanation as to how the universe came into existence.


Since we both already have agreed that man does not yet know how the universe’s mass-energy originated, it is unfair and intellectually dishonest to say I must explain how the universe began before you will reconsider theism. It is enough to say that, while god theoretically is possible as the uncreated creator, the ethereal cosmic catfish also is possible as the uncreated creator. The aliens from another realm also are a possibility. The multiverse theory also is a possibility. Perhaps magical elves created our universe’s mass-energy. You have selected a single possibility, from a sprawling library of them, and embraced it zealously, despite the fact that your preferred possibility does not have any more evidence supporting it than any of the ones I baselessly have invented here tonight.

Your truth-claim amounts to: Since I believe the universe must have been created, I believe in god. Somebody else might say, “Since I believe the universe must have been created, I believe aliens from another realm planted a seed and our universe grew.” I put both of you on the same level, which is to say, a level of those making unjustified truth-claims that do not move me from my default negative stance.

d-mc said...

Now we are actually moving along. If I understood you correctly, I dont want to put words in your mouth, you admitted that it is theoretically possible that a creator could have created the universe. Yes, you find this as equally possible as the cosmic catfish theory, but you admit it is theoretically possible. Correct?

The Jolly Nihilist said...

Is a creator of the universe theoretically possible? Yes. A creator of the universe indeed is theoretically possible. However--and you might disagree on this point--that is not a major or substantial concession on my part.

The cosmic catfish is theoretically possible. Invisible garden banshees are theoretically possible. White-haired closet goblins are theoretically possible. Magical elves are theoretically possible. Heck, almost any fantastical creature is theoretically possible. The question is, what can you support with evidence?

Also, you still have to explain statistical improbability.

Finally, in my nearly 900-word reply, you found nothing to which to object?

Yours,
JN

Rhology said...

I did, JN. And dang, you're about as verbose as Orthodox, erstwhile poster here. I'll try to keep up, w/ limited time at my disposal.

I have gleaned the following from reading the entire interaction so far here, and I'll try to post it at your place too, but my own blog takes precedence, as I'm sure you can understand.

1st of all, here's where I'm coming from, and this will be the backbone for most of my argumentation.
I presuppose God exists. You presuppose God does not exist. These become the grid thru which we see any and all facts, assigning some facts value as "evidence" and others as "irrelevant." Now what we have to do is take on the other guy's worldview and examine reality in light of it, to see if it comports. Thus, when you make comments about "proof" and "evidence", they are automatically disqualified, b/c I may see X as evidence and you may not. We have to go some other way.
Why do I continue to believe that the God of the Bible (TGOTB) exists? B/c of the impossibility of the contrary. I do not grant that you as an atheist have no burden of proof. You'd have to make an argument why your position is the "default," for one thing. I *might* be more willing to concede to agnosticism as the default. However, Romans 1:18-20 and following reveals that all people at all times know that God exists, but they suppress that knowledge in wickedness. Thus you are suppressing it. The default position is to believe in TGOTB.
W/o TGOTB, there is no rationality. There is no logic. There is no morality. There is no induction. We can't even communicate.

#1 - prove supernatural exists

God exists.
Prove the supernatural DOESN'T exist. You can't - that's a universal negative. Therefore I am justified in believing in it.


#2 - prove God condescended

The Bible says He did.
Again, prove He did NOT condescend.

Prove that humans, being fallible primates, didn’t screw up the revelation and draw all the wrong conclusions

Prove they did.
Again, if they did, then we have no way to communicate nor reason. God has to exist.

god is infinitely greater than humans are.

Yes, that's kind of the point of self-revelation. TGOTB desires to be understood in part, loved, and worshiped by people. Thus He revealed Himself.

#3 - prove God possesses characteristics

The Bible is evidence that He does.
Any being that exists possesses characteristics. I don't really understand your objection.
Finally, prove He DOESN'T have characteristics. You can't - that's a universal negative. Therefore I am justified in believing in it.


So, if god can be limited, god is not infinite.

God is not infinite in everything. He is not infinite in the sense of being able to do impossible things. He is self-limiting in certain ways.
His "size", however, is infinite. His grace is infinite. His knowledge and power of all that is possible is infinite. His holiness is infinite.


#5 - negative theology is fallacious...Negative theology’s great sin is presupposing positive theology’s veracity.

Since God is infinite and I am finite, I reach the bounds of my understanding quickly as relates to God's being. That does not mean I can't know anythg at all.
And again, the positive theology is the knowledge of the impossibility of the contrary.

In order to possess knowledge of what god is not, one must already possess some knowledge of what god is.

Yes, God revealed Himself, so that's taken care of.


There is a vast range of smelliness in the world. That does not mean there is a pinnacle of smelliness existing somewhere in the cosmos as a foundation for all comparison.

It means that there is a "not-smelliness" in the world somewhere. There is a standard.


there is no need for extant omniscience or omnipotence simply because degrees of knowledge and power exist.

Maybe, maybe not, but that's not the basis of my argument for TGOTB's existence.

The sun does not exist in an alternate, immaterial realm.

That's fine.
I was using it as an example of humanly incomprehensible heat.

#6 - The problem is, since god cannot be bothered with desires, actions or processes, power for god is something altogether different than power for humans.

Where did you get that?
God does desire. God does act. God does use processes.
Remember, I get my worldview from the Bible - when critiquing my position, critique the biblical position. If you don't know the biblical position in Issue X, you may ask me or you may study harder. Either way. :-)

let’s not forget that “power” is only meaningful as a word in its proper context—the material realm.

Why should I accept that definition?

If natural language can be applied to god, then god is part of nature.

Not if TGOTB condescended to reveal Himself.

#7 - It was created by primates existing in nature, and is applied in a natural context.

An unprovable assumption on your part.
I'd say that part of TGOTB's self-revelation includes knowledge.

#8 - As god was in the process of creating Mr. Bundy, did god have foreknowledge about the serial killings Mr. Bundy eventually would commit?

Yes. He knows everythg, remember?


If so, then god, in essence, crafted Bundy to be a serial killer.

How is that the same? The Bible states that God created man upright, but he has sought out many devices. Why blame God for the man's actions?

Prove that god cannot change his mind, as I suggested might be possible.

1) Numbers 23:19 says He can't and doesn't.
2) His will is perfect from the beginning, why would He change?
3) His knowledge is perfect, why would He change?
4) He doesn't learn, why would He change?
Don't make the mistake of anthropomorphising TGOTB too much.

Prove that god can create a universe.

1) If He didn't, then there would be nothing.
2) there is sthg.
3) therefore, He did.

4) He is all-powerful; creating a universe is easy.
5) You have no supportable hypothesis for how the universe came about.

multiverse

You who ask for proof all the time advance a hypothesis w/o any shred of evidence. That's rich.
And the multiverse hypothesis just moves the infinite regress problem back a step. Go back to the nth multiverse; where did it come from? How did it start?

I don't know how the BB happened

God made it happen. There is no other possibility.

God needs a designer

One of the reasons we posit a designer Creator God is b/c we want to AVOID the impossibilities of an infinite regress or spontaneous generation of the universe.
Fortunately, as a theist, I don't have to cling desperately to impossible conceptions of origins.

only way complexity can happen is by small successive steps

That's just a bare assertion. Complexity COMES FROM God; He is the template.

Your god character still is highly complex and highly unlikely simply to have arisen “by chance.”
How were the laws of improbability defeated, allowing your deity to “simple be”?

God didn't "arise." He always was.
God is the One out of Whom laws of reason and logic, such as probability and improbability, flow.
If you disagree, provide a different mechanism and use an atheistic universe model. I don't envy you that task.

Care to be more specific about why, in your judgment, the universe cannot be eternal?

I have discussed that at length here and here if you care to check.

Any vastly complex deity is statistically improbable. Why? Because vast complexity is statistically improbable. Vast complexity of any kind demands an explanation

The explanation for God's complexity is that complexity is impossible (as is existence) w/o His existence. He is that being out of which the concept of complexity flows.
If you disagree, you need to provide a different mechanism. And you have to do so in an atheistic universe, which rules out a universe that came to be, that began. You must use the infinite regress model (which is also logically impossible. Sorry, but that's all you have).

Surely one can say that utter nothingness, from a statistical point of view, is much more probable than a deity that can answer prayers,

What a foolish thing to say!
Sthg exists; of that we can and must be certain.
Absolute nothingness is not the case. It is impossible.
You yourself have said God's existence is not logically impossible. You stand refuted.

#10 - Prove that god’s consciousness is the template out of which our consciousness flows.

Prove it isn't.


If our consciousness flows from god’s own, you should be able to prove it with evidence.

Yes, the Bible tells us it does.
If it doesn't, whence does it come?

Charles Darwin said: "With me the horrid doubt always arises, whether the convictions of a man's mind, which have been developed from the mind of lower animals, are of any value or are at all trustworthy. Why would anyone trust the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there were any convictions in such a mind?"
Sounds like he was further along than you in reaching the logical conclusion of his worldview.


You continually wrench words from their natural context and try to say they function exactly the same way in other contexts, such as a supernatural realm.

I follow the Bible's example in using human words to explain God to an extent, to an understandable degree.
It's part and parcel of God's condescension to His creation.

#11 - If you believe god could make a desk lamp respire, you fall into this trap.

Oh, how does a lamp respiring, or a bush burning w/o being consumed, deny the essence of fire, bush, respiration, or lamp?



I have no burden of proof whatsoever., Atheism, in and of itself, makes no positive claims about anything.

On the contrary, see above: you have quite a few things to prove.

Christians define god as an “infinite being”? From whence was this knowledge derived?

From the Bible.

I demand that premises be substantiated before they are built upon

W/o TGOTB, you have no way to reason towards any conclusion one way or th'other.

Peace,
Rhology

d-mc said...

Is a creator of the universe theoretically possible? Yes...--that is not a major or substantial concession on my part.

...The question is, what can you support with evidence?

Also, you still have to explain statistical improbability.

Finally, in my nearly 900-word reply, you found nothing to which to object?


Thanks JN, First let me apologize for my previous sarcasm. I generally try not be sarcastic in these discussions and I lost my way the past couple days.

Yes, I found plenty to question in your previous post. But as my very first post above to rhoblogy mentioned, I get weary with these discussions (as I'm sure you do as well), so I was trying to cut to the chase. I will do so even more rapidly now because I am really really bored.

I cannot even bother to support anything with evidence until you accept that it is theoretically possible for a creator to create the universe. you have now done so so we can proceed.

The statistical probability, with no other evidence than we have so far agreed on is 1 to the possible explanations for the universe. In other words, currently, we can agree that the possibility a divine creator created the universe is 1 to Infinity. We should also be able to agree that the statistical probability of the Multiverse theory being true is 1 to Infinity.

Now, are there other aspects we can bring in to the discussion that can narrow the field of possibilities and therefore increase the statistical probabilities of either argument?

I believe so. Please understand that I will assert my proposition now but I will not defend it. Not because I cant, but because I am bored and do not expect you to come around to my position anyway. I will however, point you to some resources that support my view and you can study them, or not, and make your own mind up.

Please understand that I am choosing this because of the limited resources of time for what I have come to experience as endless online debates. Sometimes I wear out the othe person and they give up, sometimes I give up.

So here we go-I am a Christian for two main reasons.

1. The universe needs a creator. Although disagree, you accept it as a slight possibility.

2. Jesus Christ is God who came in the flesh. He proved it through his resurrection from the dead. (Dont bother appealing to Mithra. Asked and answered many places.) For a powerful defense of the resurrection please read the many books by Gary Habermas, particularly, The Case for the Resurrection.

The resurrection is the hinge that all of christianity swings on. If you want to take christians out, you will need to start here.

3. Since Christ was God, I will listen to what he said. He affirmed the Old Testament. The New Testament was written about him by his apostles and their associates.

4. The Bible has been demonstrated to be historically accurate and internally consistent. Amazing for a collection of books written by over 40 authors over thousands of years.

5. Since it is theoretically possible that a creator created the universe, and Jesus proved he was God through his resurrection, and he affirms the Old Testament which claims God created the universe, I now have real evidence for God as creator.

I have now made an assertion that Jesus proved his divinity via the resurrection. I have given you a key place to began studying the arguments for and against the resurrection.

If you can give me evidence that disproves the resurrection (that Gary Habermas and others hasnt already answered) I will become an atheist.

JN, I realize that it is a bit unfair for me to make such a proposition and then not sit here and argue about it for days. I truly apologize, but I have a job, a family, and other things to do than sit around and debate with someone who i do not expect to convert.

If you can give me an argument though against the resurrection (with the qualifications given above) I will GLADLY re-engage. You can email me anytime at:
david@voyagethroughthebible.com

I have enjoyed our friendly conversation.

The Jolly Nihilist said...

Good evening, Rhology.


Sorry for the delay... I'll try to keep up, w/ limited time at my disposal. And I've posted the same comment on my own post.

No problem. Below, please find Part One of my rebuttal. I will post Part Two very soon—within 48 hours. If you would be so kind, please do not respond to this publicly until I have completed and posted Part Two of this response. An immediate response from you, I fear, would lead to hopeless confusion as to who is responding to what. Thank you kindly.



I have gleaned the following from reading the entire interaction so far here, and I'll try to post it at your place too, but my own blog takes precedence, as I'm sure you can understand.
1st of all, here's where I'm coming from, and this will be the backbone for most of my argumentation.
I presuppose God exists. You presuppose God does not exist. These become the grid thru which we see any and all facts, assigning some facts value as "evidence" and others as "irrelevant."


I hate to shoot down your summary right off the bat, but you have mischaracterized me. You, indeed, might presuppose god exists. However, I do not presuppose god’s nonexistence. Rather, I lack theistic belief. I did not say, “Your god character does not exist.” I did not say, “Your god character is impossible.” On the contrary, I simply stated that I lack a belief in god. Lacking a belief in god involves no presuppositions and entails no positive claims. It is a purely negative stance.

In contrast, your presupposition is irrational.



Now what we have to do is take on the other guy's worldview and examine reality in light of it, to see if it comports. Thus, when you make comments about "proof" and "evidence", they are automatically disqualified, b/c I may see X as evidence and you may not. We have to go some other way.

No. There is no truth without examining evidence. To discount evidence is to eschew truth. As to your claim that I might reject your evidence, the only reasons I would do such a thing would be if the evidence was either unconvincing or unsubstantiated. I never would discount evidence that both was convincing and was substantiated. Doing so would be irrational, and I take great pains to be rational at all times.

If you present convincing and substantiated evidence, it will affect my views and, perhaps, alter my perception of reality.



Why do I continue to believe that the God of the Bible (TGOTB) exists? B/c of the impossibility of the contrary. I do not grant that you as an atheist have no burden of proof. You'd have to make an argument why your position is the "default," for one thing. I *might* be more willing to concede to agnosticism as the default. However, Romans 1:18-20 and following reveals that all people at all times know that God exists, but they suppress that knowledge in wickedness. Thus you are suppressing it.

OK, you already have jumped into your first unsubstantiated claim. You have not proven that god’s non-existence is impossible. Forget proof—you have not even presented any evidence to indicate god must exist (and cannot possibly not exist). Making unsubstantiated assertions gets us nowhere.

Whether atheism is a “default” or not is more complex than we need to get into at the moment. I will explain why I have no burden of proof, though. I am an atheist. The word “atheist” describes an individual who lacks a belief in god. The word, in itself, does not imply outright denial of god. The word, in itself, does not mean one declares god impossible. No, the word means an individual without theistic belief. In short, atheism describes what one lacks, not what one possesses. As such, the atheistic position makes no truth-claims. Where there are no truth-claims, there is no burden of proof.

Citing the Bible is a waste of time. You have not substantiated the Bible yet, so it has no value in furthering your arguments. If you prove the Bible is inerrant and a perfect vessel of truth, then I will accept the Bible’s truth-claims and give its proclamations the weight of fact. However, to this point, you have not proven anything with respect to the Bible’s veracity. In other words, while you believe the Bible is the inspired word of god, I lack that belief. Prove your claim, or else put the tome away.



The default position is to believe in TGOTB.
W/o TGOTB, there is no rationality. There is no logic. There is no morality. There is no induction. We can't even communicate.


This is your dogma—not rational argumentation. If you cannot prove god exists, or provide evidence god exists, your claims with respect to god deserve no consideration at all. That which can be asserted without evidence also can be dismissed without evidence. The same goes for your subsequent truth-claims. Prove that god is the root of rationality, logic, morality, induction and communication. PROVE THESE THINGS WITH EVIDENCE. Otherwise, your words are meaningless. They are like me saying, “Without the ethereal cosmic catfish, there can be no logic, reason, science, communication or existence. Everything flows from the ethereal cosmic catfish.”



God exists.
Prove the supernatural DOESN'T exist. You can't - that's a universal negative. Therefore I am justified in believing in it.


Please…. Prove god exists or walk away from the subject quietly. Prove the supernatural exists or do the same. The burden of proof rests on the person making the truth-claim. I shall not grant you god anymore than I would grant somebody magical elves or invisible garden banshees. Substantiate your beliefs, or remain in the realm of the irrational.



The Bible says He did.
Again, prove He did NOT condescend.


The burden of proof is not on the doubter! If you refuse to accept the basic principle that people making positive claims must substantiate those claims, then we truly have nothing to discuss. It is not my job to prove your dogma wrong anymore than it is my responsibility to prove there are no white-haired closet goblins. If you want to use the Bible as a source of truth, you must prove it is such a source. If you want to build arguments upon god’s condescension, you must prove god condescended. The doubter has no responsibility to do anything except consider the evidence. Without evidence, the doubter can dismiss you out of hand.



Prove they did.
Again, if they did, then we have no way to communicate nor reason. God has to exist.


Yawn. You still have not proven (or even attempted to prove) that god is necessary in order for communication or reasoning to exist. Your claim is analogous to saying, “Without magical elves, we have no way to communicate or reason.” Again, either present your evidence or live silently with your dogma in the realm of unreason.



Yes, that's kind of the point of self-revelation. TGOTB desires to be understood in part, loved, and worshiped by people. Thus He revealed Himself.

Proof? Also, on what reliable evidence can you conclude god desires to be understood in part, loved and worshipped by people? From whence did you gain knowledge of god’s desires? If you must cite the Bible, you first must prove the Bible is a flawless vessel of truth (as you claim it to be). That claim, in itself, is utterly unsubstantiated.



The Bible is evidence that He does.
Any being that exists possesses characteristics. I don't really understand your objection.
Finally, prove He DOESN'T have characteristics. You can't - that's a universal negative. Therefore I am justified in believing in it.


The Bible is evidence of nothing, until the Bible is verified as a source of perfect truth (which is what you believe it to be). When you say, “Any being that exists possesses characteristics,” you are utilizing your limited primate brain and appealing to its limited knowledge of the natural world. You possess no knowledge of a supernatural world, which may or may not be extant. Or, at the very least, you have failed to prove you have knowledge of a hypothetical supernatural world. As such, you can draw no grand conclusions about supernatural creatures and whether they must possess characteristics. In any event, the “infinite attributes” to which you eventually appeal are absurd. “Infinite attribute” is a contradiction in terms. And, I believe I already have exhausted the point that the doubter has no responsibility to prove or disprove anything. You are making positive claims; thusly, you must prove them. Otherwise, resign yourself to irrationalism.



God is not infinite in everything. He is not infinite in the sense of being able to do impossible things. He is self-limiting in certain ways.
His "size", however, is infinite. His grace is infinite. His knowledge and power of all that is possible is infinite. His holiness is infinite.


Proof?



Since God is infinite and I am finite, I reach the bounds of my understanding quickly as relates to God's being. That does not mean I can't know anythg at all.
And again, the positive theology is the knowledge of the impossibility of the contrary.


This is really growing tiresome. I certainly mean to be polite and civil in all my discussions with theists and atheists alike, but you act as though I must accept your theology in order to engage you in discussion. Unless this conversation can be held on firmly rational grounds, I quickly will lose all interest. If you believe god MUST exist—that is, god’s nonexistence is impossible—you must prove this. If you cannot prove this, you are just obfuscating the important issues on which we might yet touch.



Yes, God revealed Himself, so that's taken care of.

I am tiring of typing the one-word question “Proof?” over and over. So, from now on, when you make an unsubstantiated assertion, I simply will type “P” followed by a question mark.

Let us try it…. P?



It means that there is a "not-smelliness" in the world somewhere. There is a standard.

Explain why this standard must be extant, rather than theoretical.



That's fine.
I was using it as an example of humanly incomprehensible heat.


If there truly is a supernatural realm in which things are infinite, immaterial, unlimited and entirely beyond nature, then nothing in nature is analogous to those things. Nature is material, finite, limited and comprehensible. If “supernature” is altogether different—indeed, altogether opposite—then no valid analogies can be crafted.



Where did you get that?
God does desire. God does act. God does use processes.
Remember, I get my worldview from the Bible - when critiquing my position, critique the biblical position. If you don't know the biblical position in Issue X, you may ask me or you may study harder. Either way. :-)


I am trying to make use of the word “omnipotent,” which, although absurd as an “infinite attribute,” seems to have some inescapable implications. It makes no sense that an omnipotent being—a being that always gets its ends—would need to toil through actions and processes in order to bring about those ends. A more powerful being would be one able to think its ends into existence (or, perhaps, a being that gets those ends without even having to think them into being). Toiling with processes is for limited things like us.

Again, though, this is secondary and, at this moment, irrelevant. As it relates to god being omnipotent—P?



Why should I accept that definition?

The word “power” was created by primates, which are part of nature, in order to serve themselves and the natural world of which they are part. Language was not created to serve “supernature.” Indeed, you have failed to prove a supernatural realm even is extant.



Not if TGOTB condescended to reveal Himself.

Yes, even if your unsupported condescension occurred. Natural language applies to the natural world. The natural world is the context in which natural language becomes meaningful. When wrenched from the natural world, natural language ceases to be intelligible and becomes utterly meaningless. Primates of millennia ago did not craft their language to serve “supernature,” but rather nature. This is something of which we all can be certain.



An unprovable assumption on your part.
I'd say that part of TGOTB's self-revelation includes knowledge.


This is comical. You call my reasoned analysis an unprovable assumption. Then, in the same breath, you refer to god’s self-revelation as though it is established fact. Prove this “revelation” to which you keep referring. If you cannot prove the revelation, you should abandon it as a point of argumentation. It is dooming you to irrationalism.



Yes. He knows everythg, remember?

How is that the same? The Bible states that God created man upright, but he has sought out many devices. Why blame God for the man's actions?


This is an easy one, even for the theologically untrained (or, perhaps more accurate, un-inculcated). You believe god crafted Ted Bundy as one of his children. You believe, while Bundy was being crafted by god, the deity possessed full knowledge of Bundy’s serial murders and rapes. Yet, incredibly, you place no blame whatsoever on the crafter himself—god. If god truly is omnipotent (once more, unlimited attributes are absurd), then god could have crafted Bundy in innumerable other ways. That is, god could have crafted Bundy as a generous, loving philanthropist or a brilliant and nurturing teacher. Rather, god crafted Bundy to rape, murder and torture. Looking at the world from your perspective, god only can be viewed as a deranged toymaker, and we the unfortunate toys. In short, god is crafting flawed humans and then blaming us for his craftsmanship choices.


Yours,
JN

The Jolly Nihilist said...

Greetings, Rhology!


1) Numbers 23:19 says He can't and doesn't.
2) His will is perfect from the beginning, why would He change?
3) His knowledge is perfect, why would He change?
4) He doesn't learn, why would He change?
Don't make the mistake of anthropomorphising TGOTB too much.


1. Until you have substantiated the Bible as a vessel of truth, Bible verses have no factual weight. The Bible, at this moment, has the same intrinsic merit as the hypothetical Book of the Jolly Nihilist, which is to say none.

2. With respect to god’s will being perfect—P? I refuse to allow unsubstantiated claims into this discussion. If you wish to make a truth-claim, you are obligated to substantiate it. Your dogma/essential truth/underlying theology is of no interest to me, unless you can demonstrate its veracity.

3. The presence, or addition, of knowledge is not necessarily connected with changing one’s mind. This very morning, I fully intended to have Chinese food for dinner tonight. Then, over the course of the day, I slowly changed my mind and decided pizza would be a better choice. I gained no new knowledge during the day on the relevant subjects. Rather, I simply changed my mind. Why would omniscience (an absurd infinite attribute) preclude changing one’s mind? Is not god entitled to his whims?

4. Already answered in my previous response. I changed my mind today without learning anything new about pizza or Chinese food. I simply changed my mind. Why could god not do that?

I hardly can anthropomorphize your god character; I have no idea what your deity even is, or is not. The most Christians have given me is self-contradictory attributes such as infinitely powerful and infinitely knowledgeable. Why are those absurd and self-contradictory? Attributes, by definition, are limited. There is no such thing as infinitely tall. There is no such thing as infinitely fat. There is no such thing as infinitely hairy. There is no such thing as infinitely muscular. Limits are implied by characteristics and attributes. If your deity is infinitely powerful, my next-door neighbor is infinitely Caucasian.



1) If He didn't, then there would be nothing.
2) there is sthg.
3) therefore, He did.


This “proof” is fallacious. I could use the same “reasoning” to “prove” the existence of the ethereal cosmic catfish. Or magical elves. Or aliens from another realm who grew our universe from a cosmic seed. You raise a problem (the origin of our universe’s mass-energy) and then leap frivolously to your god character, refusing to acknowledge that 100,000 other explanations are theoretically possible, and equally probable.



4) He is all-powerful; creating a universe is easy.
5) You have no supportable hypothesis for how the universe came about.


Number four is unproven—utterly lacking in evidence. As for number five, just because there is a gap in human knowledge does not mean you have carte blanche to shove your god character into that gap and declare the battle won. There are infinite theoretically possible explanations for the universe’s mass-energy. I am not married to any. I simply mean to say there is a library of potential explanations and, without convincing and substantiated evidence, I remain “agnostic” about the universe’s origins. If you make a positive claim about from whence the universe’s mass-energy came, you must support that claim with evidence. If you do not, I will dismiss your claim as evidentially unsupported and intellectually anemic.



You who ask for proof all the time advance a hypothesis w/o any shred of evidence. That's rich.
And the multiverse hypothesis just moves the infinite regress problem back a step. Go back to the nth multiverse; where did it come from? How did it start?


I am not “advancing” Smolin’s ideas. I simply mean to say his theory is theoretically possible. It is not self-contradictory and is not logically absurd. Smolin’s theory is one explanation in a nearly infinite library of explanations meant to solve the riddle of our universe’s mass-energy’s origin. You cling zealously to a single explanation, despite the fact it has no more evidence supporting it than the ethereal cosmic catfish does. You should be “agnostic” about the universe’s mass-energy’s origin, like me.

Also, effects need causes in our universe. For me to postulate properties of other universes or realms would be irrational, since I am a primate bounded by nature, both physically and mentally. I do not have the conceptual ability to analyze other universes in a multiverse.



God made it happen. There is no other possibility.

This sweeping statement is so hideously unsupported that I read it twice to make sure I was not mistaken. Support your truth-claims, friend.



One of the reasons we posit a designer Creator God is b/c we want to AVOID the impossibilities of an infinite regress or spontaneous generation of the universe.
Fortunately, as a theist, I don't have to cling desperately to impossible conceptions of origins.


Perhaps not. But, as a theist, you must prove god exists. Additionally, if you claim god not only exists but also is an “uncreated creator,” you must prove that. And, you still have to deal with the problem of statistical improbability. Your god character, by your admission, is vastly complex. Vast complexity of any type is statistically improbable. As such, your god is statistically improbable. Therefore, you must explain god’s existence in such a way as to defeat statistical improbability’s long shadow.



That's just a bare assertion. Complexity COMES FROM God; He is the template.

That's just a bare assertion. P?



God didn't "arise." He always was.
God is the One out of Whom laws of reason and logic, such as probability and improbability, flow.
If you disagree, provide a different mechanism and use an atheistic universe model. I don't envy you that task.


I have no burden of proof in anything here, since I am taking an utterly negative position, that of atheism. You allege god “always was.” You allege god “is the one out of whom laws of reason and logic, such as probability and improbability, flow.” Yet, you simply state these as facts, never bothering to explain why you make such queer assertions, and utterly eschewing evidence of any kind. Your bare assertions are of no value to me. As I already have written, I could replace the word “god” with the phrase “ethereal cosmic catfish” in all your responses, and your writings would have the same sense, rationality and truth value—none. Prove your worldview, or my negative stance wins by default.



I have discussed that at length here and here if you care to check.

What is your scientific background? How many peer-reviewed articles have you published in scientific journals? How many National Academy of Science (NAS) members agree with your armchair cosmology? Let us stick firmly with the scientific evidence, and avoid any theological underpinnings when discussing cosmology.



The explanation for God's complexity is that complexity is impossible (as is existence) w/o His existence. He is that being out of which the concept of complexity flows.
If you disagree, you need to provide a different mechanism. And you have to do so in an atheistic universe, which rules out a universe that came to be, that began. You must use the infinite regress model (which is also logically impossible. Sorry, but that's all you have).


I have to laugh. I am sure you are very secure in your Christianity and utterly believe, to your core, that you have discovered cosmic truth in the way of your god character. [With a different upbringing, you surely would be an equally dedicated warrior for Vishnu or Enlil.] Yet, from my standpoint, your theology is a house of cards (just as is the theology of every other religion infesting the planet). You make baffling pseudo-philosophical statements about god being the creature out of which the concept of complexity flows, yet make no attempt to substantiate such statements with evidence. Again, I am not willing to grant you your theology in this discussion. You must prove every inch of your theology, especially when attempting to build more complex arguments upon its flimsy foundation.

Also, our universe could have had a distinct beginning even without your god character. The ethereal cosmic catfish could mark its beginning. Magical elves could mark its beginning. Smolin’s multiverse theory could mark its beginning. Aliens from another realm “planting” a universe seed could mark its beginning. Alternately, our universe’s mass-energy might always have existed, simply changing forms in perpetuity.

Frankly, I have no idea what you mean when you say complexity, rationality, existence, communication, etc. have to “flow from” something. As far as I am concerned, it’s all gibberish for which you have provided no evidence and no coherent explanation. And, lest you forget, that which can be proclaimed without evidence also can be dismissed without evidence. Thusly, I dismiss you on this point.



What a foolish thing to say!
Sthg exists; of that we can and must be certain.
Absolute nothingness is not the case. It is impossible.
You yourself have said God's existence is not logically impossible. You stand refuted.


Nothingness is possible; it just is not the case. There is no law that says something must exist. We merely are fortunate something does exist.

I said that a creator of our universe is theoretically possible. Indeed, a creator of our universe is possible in theory—just not supported by evidence at this point (least of all by evidence you have shared). Any being capable of answering prayers, creating our universe, and ruling over heaven and earth is vastly complex. This seems obvious and self-evident; just imagine the bandwidth necessary to interact with billions of people simultaneously, all whilst ruling over heaven, too. Vast complexity is statistically improbable. As such, your god character is statistically improbable. Therefore, you must explain how god, in defiance of all probability, exists. And, if you believe god is a necessary creature (that is, a creature that must exist for anything to exist), you must prove that hypothesis.



Prove it isn't.

Somebody played a dirty trick on you when they explained how the burden of proof works. For years now, you have been operating on an utterly fallacious and backward concept.



Yes, the Bible tells us it does.
If it doesn't, whence does it come?


Who knows? I am the doubter, the atheist. I am pushing no grand worldview. I simply am doubting your own. As for the Bible, you have not substantiated that tome yet. The Bible, at this moment, has veridical value equal to the Book of the Jolly Nihilist, or Bridget Jones’ Diary.



Charles Darwin said: "With me the horrid doubt always arises, whether the convictions of a man's mind, which have been developed from the mind of lower animals, are of any value or are at all trustworthy. Why would anyone trust the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there were any convictions in such a mind?"

Sounds like he was further along than you in reaching the logical conclusion of his worldview.


Our brains demonstrably are fallible. That goes without saying, since evidence of human mental fallibility is ubiquitous. However, that does not mean we are blind to all knowledge. We have big enough and powerful enough brains to collect some facts, perform some analysis and reach some solid conclusions based upon the evidence we comprehend. There is no such thing as absolute and definitive proof for our meager species, but we can reach tentative facts about the natural world of which we are part. But, remember, I am the doubter here, not the person making frivolous truth-claims. My stance of utter doubt best meshes with human fallibility.

By the way, human imperfections, such as our mediocre brains, argue against a beneficent creator. Our faulty brains represent good evidence that we arose through step-by-step evolutionary modification. Our bodies reflect anything but perfection and diligent design.


Alas, I have run out of time to respond tonight. I shall post a tiny Part Three tomorrow.


Yours,
JN

The Jolly Nihilist said...

Greetings again, Rhology!


My schedule has freed up sufficiently to allow me to finish the job….


I follow the Bible's example in using human words to explain God to an extent, to an understandable degree.
It's part and parcel of God's condescension to His creation.


You have failed to prove “god’s condescension to his creation.” What is more, you also have failed to provide a shred of credible evidence for the condescension to which you continually refer. You simply assert it, as part and parcel of your theology. However, until it is verified through rational examination and credible evidence, your theology is of no veridical value. You bear the burden of proof. You must confront that burden, and justify your truth-claims.



Oh, how does a lamp respiring, or a bush burning w/o being consumed, deny the essence of fire, bush, respiration, or lamp?

A ceramic desk lamp is possessed of certain characteristics. For one, a ceramic desk lamp must be made of ceramic. It also must have been designed to produce light. It also must have been designed to be functional on a desk. More broadly, the word "ceramic" encompasses inorganic non-metallic materials whose formation is attributable to the action of heat. The key word there is “inorganic.” Generally speaking, inorganic compounds are judged to be of mineral, rather than biological, origin. Minerals do not respire. Ceramic does not respire. A ceramic desk lamp cannot respire.

It always is irrational to deny a natural entity its nature.



On the contrary, see above: you have quite a few things to prove.

Not at all. Atheism denotes a belief that I lack—a belief that I am without. To be an atheist, going by the strictest definition of that term, is to be somebody who lacks a belief in god. I have no burden of proof whatsoever as it relates to beliefs I do not possess. I only am responsible for defending and supporting beliefs I do possess. In this particular interaction, it is you who is proposing a detailed worldview, replete with endless truth-claims. For my part, I merely doubt said worldview.



From the Bible.

I am not concerned with an evidentially unsubstantiated tome. Demonstrate that the Bible is a perfect vessel of cosmic truth, or else retire it from intellectual consideration.



W/o TGOTB, you have no way to reason towards any conclusion one way or the other.

I sound like a broken record, but at least the record I keep replaying is a sound one: Prove it.

If god truly were the foundation for reasoning, you would be able to prove it. You would not simply make truth-claim after truth-claim, eschewing evidence as an unnecessary extravagance. If there is one truth-claim I happily shall make here tonight, it is this: “The road to truth is paved with evidence.” Without evidence, there can be no knowledge. Without evidence, there can be no rational discussion. Without evidence, one cannot even live one’s life.

Although a pure, by-the-definition atheist espouses no positive worldview, I momentarily will take leave of that label. My worldview is based upon evidence—its collection, inspection, comparison, analysis, confirmation and preservation. While evidence might not, in itself, be Truth, only through evidence can Truth ever be discovered.


Yours,
JN

Rhology said...

Hi JN,

You've been answered.

Rev.Justice said...

I LOVE YOU GUYS ALREADY THANK YOU FOR YOUR SPIRITS BEING SO PEACEFUL, AS FOR ME BACK TO THE HOLY WARS AGAINST THE KINGS OF BUFFONERY