Monday, August 04, 2008

Stung

John Evo posted a quote from Victor Stenger in "response" to my post on evidentialism.
Just stop for a moment and consider the irony of posting a guy's complaint about a lack of evidence to reply to a post that demolishes the very foundation for the existence and utility of evidence if his worldview is true. Let it sink in.

Now, I've listened to a couple of Stenger's debates, and he never justifies this argument. He just says we "should" expect this and that, but I don't grant him those "should"s. They are questions that deal a priori with the identity of God - Stenger expects and assumes the god he's denying, but to do that, wouldn't he need to tell us that up front? Why so amateurish about this, expecting his audience to read his mind? Where is the exegesis of the god's purported self-revelation?

Stenger said:
The God worshipped by the billion of followers of the monotheistic religions either exists or he does not.

Correct.


And his existence is a legitimate scientific issue.

Incorrect.
1) How would we go about proving/disproving a metaphysical question by physical means? What possible science experiment could be performed to test whether God exists?
2) Without God, I'd like to see Stenger/someone respond to the critique of the evidentialist worldview I've laid out in this post. W/o such a defense, no appeal to "science" is even worthwhile; the idea that scientific study could lead to true beliefs is hamstrung w/o such a justification.
3) Stenger then goes on in this quote to make UNSCIENTIFIC statements. If he doesn't take his proposed method seriously, why should I or anyone else?


If God is the intelligent designer of life on Earth, then we should find evidence for that in observations of the structure of life

What is the argument for that?
1) TGOTB is under no obligation to reveal anythg to anyone. He doesn't have to leave His fingerprints.
2) As it stands, TGOTB *has* left fingerprints, but He has specifically said that He hides Himself from the unrepentant, blasphemers, and sophists among the ranks of the unbelievers. John Evo 100% qualifies.


We do not.

Of course, I don't grant that either, but again, this is not even worth discussing until an answer for the evidentialist problem is brought forth.
John Evo seems not to understand this at all, which is too bad. His position is in jeopardy from the metaphysical side, and he's giving me (very shaky) physical opinions. Not too impressive.


If God has endowed humans with immaterial souls and is the source of morality, then we should find evidence for that in observations of human behavior. We do not.

Where is the argument?
1) What kind of evidence is he looking for? Evidence that minds survive death?
2) Don't the vast majority of people in most cultures think that it's wrong, for example, to kill one's own child? Etc.
3) Haven't the vast majority of people throughout human history been (mono/poly/pan)theistic, not atheistic?
4) We've seen over and over again on this blog how atheists can't get even close to being consistent with their atheistic stance, which allows the justification of no moral system as objective but only person-centered. Again, if they won't take their own beliefs seriously, why should anyone else?


If God answers prayers, then we should see miraculous effects of prayer. We do not.

What is his argument for why God "should" answer prayer?
And of course, we don't grant that God doesn't answer prayer, but that's another topic.


If God has revealed truths to humanity, then those truths should be empirically verified. They are not.

Again, no argument as to why we should expect that.
The Bible says that God created the world in an instantaneous process. Just for the sake of argument, doesn't the Big Bang fit that? Why would Stenger say categorically "they are not".


If God is the creator of the universe and the laws of nature, then we should find evidence for that in astronomy and physics. We do not.

I'm not sure what evidence one could expect to find for this.
Although I would like to know Stenger's argument for why we shouldn't presume a Lawgiver where laws exist.


If humans are a special creation of God, then the universe should be congenial to human life. It is not.

Um, the earth is pretty congenial to it.
Therefore, the universe is congenial to human life - the earth exists and humans live there.

This quote from Stenger, if it reflects most of his argumentation in his larger work (which it certainly does of his debate material), shows how out of his depth the man is in this line of argumentation. Better to stick to his branch of physics than to carry on with such continual self-embarrassment.
Thanks to John Evo for posting the quote. With opponents like these, who needs friends?

17 comments:

NAL said...

Rho:
The Bible says that God created the world in an instantaneous process. Just for the sake of argument, doesn't the Big Bang fit that?

The Big Bang is about the creation of the universe, sans our world. The creation of galaxies came much later. The creation of our solar system came much, much later.

Rho:
Although I would like to know Stenger's argument for why we shouldn't presume a Lawgiver where laws exist.

Does the law of gravity need a lawgiver? Again, no argument as to why we should expect that.

Paul C said...

p.s. "I'm rubber, you're glue" is a strictly American thing. Also, it makes you sound like an idiot.

Paul C said...

Whoops, wrong combox. What I meant to say was:

Although I would like to know Stenger's argument for why we shouldn't presume a Lawgiver where laws exist.

You do realise that it's only a semantic accident that we call them the laws of physics, don't you?

I guess not.

Jaxon said...

I would highly suggest for you, and any one else interested to read the book ""The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions." by self-professed secular Jew and mathematics/philosophies teacher David Berlinski.
This tells the story of a Jew who was forced to dig his own grave prior to being shot by a German soldier. Prior to being shot, the old Jewish man advised the German that “God is watching what you are doing.” The Jewish gentleman pointed what i think is the real problem with atheism. "If you have the time please check the book out

Rhology said...

Paul C,

Anyone can see the way you've been acting and your comments at the JN's thread.



NAL,

That law-lawgiver thing is sthg I don't fully understand right now, actually.
But Stenger needs an argument for how they just -bam!- came about.
It seems like there is definitely a need to account for how order came out of nothing/chaos.
A physical law, after all, is an observed pattern for the way stuff usually works. Why are there laws at all? This is another example of the alchemic nature of atheism - chaos magically became order.

NAL said...

Rho:
This is another example of the alchemic nature of atheism - chaos magically became order.

As the universe expanded from the Big Bang, the temperature decreased allowing matter (mostly hydrogen) to form. Higher temperatures: more chaos. Lower temperatures: less chaos. No magic required. Which has more chaos, a pot of boiling water or a pot of cold water?

Rhology said...

And lower temp = less chaos, higher temp = more chaos is apparently a physical law as well.
This just moves the question back one step. Why isn't it the opposite?

Paul C said...

They will see me answering your question, refusing to do your homework for you, and then explaining why I find your blogging so inadvertantly funny. Certainly a moral victory for you.

This just moves the question back one step. Why isn't it the opposite?

Ummm... "the impossibility of the contrary"?

Rhology said...

Why is the contrary impossible?

Paul C said...

That's just what you always say - I thought it was a generic rhetorical ploy to avoid answering a question? Maybe I was wrong.

Rhology said...

Maybe instead of always assuming the worst, you could actually respond to the argument.

In this case, was that just empty bloviating, or were you actually planning to make a point?
Or can you answer the question?

Paul C said...

Unfortunately, Rhology, assuming the worst is always the best strategy with you.

I'm no longer actively participating in these discussions, because you've repeatedly shown yourself to be a crown fool. That's what larryniven was pointing out - not the weaknesses of your arguments per se (and believe me, they are weak) but your offensively buffoonish debating style and colossally hubristic pseudo-intellectualism. You have no interest in honest debate, only in making a loud noise and hoping teacher notices you.

("Teacher" is a rather obvious double-reference, incidentally.)

Rhology said...

Paul C,

Given that I can't recall even one comment in your last 10 or so where you even attempted an argument and where you didn't insult me or talk trash like a playground bully, you won't be missed.

Paul C said...

Given that I can't recall even one comment in your last 10 or so where you even attempted an argument and where you didn't insult me or talk trash like a playground bully, you won't be missed.

If you read what I posted in previous comments on your blog, rather than what you imagine I posted, the following things would happen:

1. You would retract that statement, having realised that there was no evidence to support it.
2. We would be able to have a discussion, rather than sessions of me patiently answering all of your questions while you ignore the answers.

You could start here, here or here. You will of course note that in all of these recent threads I provide arguments for my position, and in none of them do I "talk trash" except in response to deliberate obtuseness on your part.

Dr Funkenstein said...

1) How would we go about proving/disproving a metaphysical question by physical means? What possible science experiment could be performed to test whether God exists?

But Christians such as yourself claim God at times exerts effects or acts in the physical world eg via miracles or answering prayer.

Intercessory prayer experiments are one such method of testing for God. You could even set them up for specific denominations of Christianity as Stenger has argued before, and God's answering prayers is backed up by passages in the bible as we discussed a few weeks back.

2) Without God, I'd like to see Stenger/someone respond to the critique of the evidentialist worldview I've laid out in this post. W/o such a defense, no appeal to "science" is even worthwhile; the idea that scientific study could lead to true beliefs is hamstrung w/o such a justification.

Stenger has pointed out that there are two main types of God though - the type deists like that is undetectable by any means and is thus pointless to even talk about, or the type guys such as yourself believe in that is capable of interaction with the physical world. If you propose the former, then science cant detect it. If the latter, then it's open to empirical investigation.

3) Stenger then goes on in this quote to make UNSCIENTIFIC statements. If he doesn't take his proposed method seriously, why should I or anyone else?

I don't think he does [make unscientific claims]- certain 'supernatural' events or claims such as telekinesis, mind-reading, responses to prayer, irreducible complexity etc can easily be tested under controlled circumstances, even if a mechanism may remain unknown (were the claims supported).

I also see no reason why a view such as YEC couldn't have been supported by scientific investigation - there are plenty of observations I can think of that would lead to the conclusion.

Rhology said...

Paul C,

Or maybe I'd be reminded that I *do* indeed know how to count.
Those links are more than 10 comments directed from you to me ago, and not all on this blog. Go ahead, save face, but for God's sake don't make an argument. No telling what that would do to you.


Dr Funk said:
But Christians such as yourself claim God at times exerts effects or acts in the physical world eg via miracles or answering prayer.

1) True. At maximum, this would allow for limited examinations of ACTIONS of God, not whether God exists.
2) Of course, examining an action of God presupposes that God exists, which is not where you want to go, I shouldn't think.


Intercessory prayer experiments are one such method of testing for God.

But now that we've presupposed that God exists, we're not there yet. God can see the future and has interests. What is your argument for the idea that His interests necessarily include performing answer to prayer that are scientifically testable, as if He were a circus monkey?


If the latter, then it's open to empirical investigation.

Once again, presupposing that God does exist, which defeats Stenger's whole premise.
This is wholly different than scientifically testing whether God exists. This is testing certain effects, but on Christianity everything is an act of God. We don't rule out 2ndary causes, but God has ordained everything that comes to pass.


I don't think he does [make unscientific claims]

Well, what is your argument that the numerous "should expect to find" statements he makes are scientific? Where did he observe those statements in nature? Where do they grow? Of what elements are they composed? How many times did he repeat the experiment, and in which laboratory?

"Skeptical" is not the same as "scientific".


I also see no reason why a view such as YEC couldn't have been supported by scientific investigation - there are plenty of observations I can think of that would lead to the conclusion.

Honestly, I see what you're saying, but the problem lies, as I've said before, with the instrumentation, knowledge, methodology, and assumptions of the researchers, not with God or the evidence.

Paul C said...

Yah, that's right. No actual evidence to back up your claim; and of course no inclination to address the points that I actually made. The reason I'm not making an argument here is because you have repeatedly failed to address the previous arguments I've made, as shown in the comments threads that I linked to.