Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

A first answer to AS on “The simple fact is that religious dogmas are made up. They have no existence in reality beyond human imagination.”


Sometimes, we see a classic comment by objectors that reveals much about what we face. Accordingly, it is appropriate to headline the remark and a response (which I will use original post powers to augment slightly):

Here is AS:

Rebuttals of what? The simple fact is that religious dogmas are made up. They have no existence in reality beyond human imagination. The boot is one the other foot. If you have evidence of the objective reality of some religious concept, then, bring it on.

Here is my response:


>> AS:

I saw Timaeus commenting [–> cf. here, especially], who is always worth a read. In your exchange with him you tossed this atheistical talking point, which drips with contempt and inadvertent revelation:

[AS:] The simple fact is that religious dogmas are made up. They have no existence in reality beyond human imagination.

On what grounds do you know that “religious dogmas” — loaded and neatly vague terms — are “made up”?

With all due respect and on fair comment, you come across here as inappropriately contempt-filled, dismissive and ignorant, if you can pardon direct words that are as direct as your own.

I will explain.

First, we all have worldviews which at core have faith commitments that are unprovable. Otherwise the quest for certainty or “proof” leads to infinite stepwise regress and/or circularity. The issue is what faith-point we hold, why.

A summary of why we end up with foundations for our worldviews, whether or not we would phrase the matter that way}
A summary of why we end up with foundations for our worldviews (whether or not we would phrase the matter that way}


[I add Feb 3,]  this leads to the turtles all the way down vs turtles in a circle vs the last turtle has to stand on adequate footing challenge:

"Turtles, all the way down . . . " vs a root cause
“Turtles, all the way down . . . ” vs a root cause

[I add Feb 2,] the late Dallas Willard on worldviews, here, is worth a watch, if you find readings on worldviews a chore:

[youtube X6hwsG7AUZ0]

Second, ethical theism is at first level philosophical, not a matter of a “dogma.”

That is, it is a reasonable and defensible faith-point on comparative difficulties, to hold for first pre-theistic instance that the best explanation of a fine tuned cosmos and of life that from cells on up is chock-full of coded information, organised algorithm executing machines, and functionally specific complex organisation is design.


Complex plane poles and zeros drive system response, linking mathematical concepts to empirically evident reality
An illustration of the real-world power of mathematical concepts, using z transform analysis of frequency response. Complex plane poles and zeros drive system response, linking abstract mathematical concepts to empirically evident reality, and in the wider context of the astonishing Euler expression 0 = 1 + e^i*pi

Where too — in a world where there is no more reason to doubt the general testimony of conscience that we are under the government of ought than to doubt our ability to access mathematical realities and to perceive the external world — the only serious candidate for a foundational IS that grounds OUGHT is the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being. (Cf. here and here on what this is about.)

Next, you need to face the dogmatic implications of the sort of a priori evolutionary materialist scientism that has been drummed into the zones of our civilisation that hold intellectual pretensions. For instance, here is Lewontin’s frank acknowledgement [in his 1997 NYRB review of Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World], which your cited remark quite directly echoes:




. . . the problem is to get them [hoi polloi] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [–> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . .

It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [–> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [–> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door . . . [From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. In case you imagine this is “quote-mined” I suggest you read the fuller annotated cite here.]

This declares a cultural agenda and triumphalistic narrative, rooted in a priori — thus, dogmatic in the bad sense — imposition of evolutionary materialism, contempt to those who differ and adherence to the notion that “science” so defined is the fountainhead of truth and knowledge. Implicit, is the view that if one dares to differ (especially on theistic grounds) one can only be ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked. That theme starts in the title for Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World . . . given the loaded nature of that term in our time. It continues through the dismissive notion that theism is delusional, and it culminates in a triumphalism that is at best ill advised and question-begging.


Fail, precisely because of ill-advised contempt for serious worldviews level reflection driven by naive and self-referentially incoherent scientism:

scientism . . . 2. the belief that the assumptions and methods of the natural sciences are appropriate and essential to all other disciplines, including the humanities and the social sciences. [-Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc.]

You will also note that I have focussed on a worldview approach so far, as opposed to that broad-brush dismissive term, “religion.” That is to emphasise the first level of the issue.

I am not letting slide that the above is primarily meant to attack the Judaeo-Christian worldview, and particularly the faith of Christians who have not compromised with the dominant atheism of the intelligentsia.

I suggest on this, that you may find here on at useful first level, a summary of the historically anchored warrant for Christian faith and discipleship. (Including a useful introductory video.)

[vimeo 17960119]

While many Christians — as are most people in general — are not particularly academically sophisticated or inclined, the Christian Faith is not merely a matter of imaginary notions imposed by priestcraft.

For me, at first level, the mere fact that I am sitting here to type this is a reminder that apart from a miracle of guidance in answer to prayer I would have died of a chronic disease decades ago. Millions across the ages have a similar direct experience of encounter with the living God, which is not going to be surrendered in the face of mere skeptically dismissive notions, even those that are dressed up in the lab coat. A reality beats a rhetorical talking point every-time.

And, the failure of the dismissive skeptics to seriously engage with the broad reality of experience of God in life for millions across time and across the globe (ironically, a failure to be adequately empirical), is a red flag sign to many of these same ordinary people. A sign that they are dealing with closed minded indoctrinated selective hyperskepticism backed up by glib talking points. And, too often by intimidation in institutions, as Timaeus has aptly summarised.

I further put it to you, that there is indeed a fairly aggressive radically secularist agenda at work across our civilisation, one that has rewritten history to make “religion” out to be the enemy of “progress.” One that imagines that dressing up in a lab coat and taking science hostage to materialism is the vanguard of progress. One that fails to realise the fatal flaws in such materialism that have been on record since Plato’s warning in The Laws, Bk X, 2350 years ago — yes, the pagan philosophers took the measure and found materialism sadly wanting long ago, even before theism was a major force in our civilisation:

Ath. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

[Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT.] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”)], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse], and not in legal subjection to them

Domineering, dogmatic factionalism driven by ideologies that have in them no foundational IS capable of grounding OUGHT precisely describes what we face today, to the detriment of our civilisation.

I close with a warning from one of the Hebrew prophets, Isaiah, a warning that looks likely to become the epitaph of our civilisation, on current trends:

Isa 5:18 Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood,
who draw sin as with cart ropes,
19 who say: “Let him be quick,
let him speed his work
that we may see it;
let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near,
and let it come, that we may know it!”

20 Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!

21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
and shrewd in their own sight! [ESV]



We need to understand what we face, and where it can all too easily end up. END

PS: Andre, in the comments below, refers motors in the living cell.

Let us picture the flagellum:

flagellum diagram

. . . and the ATP Synthase enzyme:



Follow-up: https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/intelligent-design/id-foundations/functionally-specific-complex-organisation-and-associated-information-fscoi-is-real-and-relevant/ kairosfocus
Andre, No one will answer your question, simply because the answer to your question has been well documented in textbooks through years: it just happened, somehow, at some point, somewhere out there, beneath the sunny or cloudy sky. Ok, did you get it now? That's it. Take it or leave it. If you don't like that detailed explanation, then join the third way folks to see if they can figure out another explanation. :) Dionisio
KF On the money. Piotr is an expert on linguistics, I wonder if he can tell us how the system of speech transmission, encoding and decoding could have evolved in a stepwise fashion. Here is a simple example..... http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_1VPL8YvEyAY/RxNJ8hcgRlI/AAAAAAAAAeo/cSNEFnQ_FAc/s400/Transactional+Model.gif I really want to know how or am I just being unreasonable again? Andre
Andre, providing you mean the heavily endothermic information rich molecules and key-lock fitting components in the nanotech machines required for the living cell, they don't, and especially, not in our observation. Nor do codes (languages) and algorithms (step by step procedures) assemble themselves out of molecular noise in warm salty ponds etc. In general, the notion that functionally specific complex organisation and associated information comes about by blind chance and mechanical necessity is without empirical warrant. But, institutionalised commitment to Lewontinian a priori evolutionary materialism has created the fixed notion in a great many minds that this "must" have happened and that to stop and question this is to abandon "Science." So much the worse for the vera causa principle that in explaining a remote unobserved past of origins, there must be a requirement that we first observe the actual causes seen to produce such effects and use them in explanation. If that were done, the debates and contentions would be over as there is but one empirically grounded cause of FSCO/I; intelligently directed configuration, aka design. KF kairosfocus
I see no attempt by anyone to answer my question... How do molecular machines design and build themselves? Anyone? Andre
Brent, he hasn't; he has only shown that he dismisses it. Maybe if he were in my position and actually saw a few miracles . . . but then we don't have a right to demand such and being where miracles happen is usually not a very comfortable situation. My read on Thomas is, he knew his fellows, the whole city knew the situation just outside its walls, he had enough. The price tag for more than enough can be pretty stiff. As in, can you drink from the cup I am facing or take the baptism I am going to go through. KF kairosfocus
AS @16, Was that an attempt at comedy? 2+2=3 2+2=7 2+2=4 2+2=5 They can't all be right, so . . . they are all wrong??? Oookay. If any claim is, according to you, unprovable, then why do you dogmatically say it isn't true? You've debunked water into wine, and levitation??? Wow! Brent
F/N 2: I must also comment on the abuse of "anecdotal." What is really meant is to dismiss eyewitness report and record and good chain of custody on same; the very stuff of history. When, it does not suit the agenda. In short, classic selective hyperskepticism. KF kairosfocus
F/N: Just as one point of further drawing out, perhaps you may find this discussion on the self-moved, reflexive centre of being and identity known as the soul may be a useful further point of thought, from the same context in The Laws Bk X that has been noted on. Note the cosmological design inference made from the organisation of the cosmos: _______________ >> Ath. Then, by Heaven, we have discovered the source of this vain opinion of all those physical investigators; and I would have you examine their arguments with the utmost care, for their impiety is a very serious matter; they not only make a bad and mistaken use of argument, but they lead away the minds of others: that is my opinion of them. Cle. You are right; but I should like to know how this happens. Ath. I fear that the argument may seem singular. Cle. Do not hesitate, Stranger; I see that you are afraid of such a discussion carrying you beyond the limits of legislation. But if there be no other way of showing our agreement in the belief that there are Gods, of whom the law is said now to approve, let us take this way, my good sir. Ath. Then I suppose that I must repeat the singular argument of those who manufacture the soul according to their own impious notions; they affirm that which is the first cause of the generation and destruction of all things, to be not first, but last, and that which is last to be first, and hence they have fallen into error about the true nature of the Gods. Cle. Still I do not understand you. Ath. Nearly all of them, my friends, seem to be ignorant of the nature and power of the soul [[ = psuche], especially in what relates to her origin: they do not know that she is among the first of things, and before all bodies, and is the chief author of their changes and transpositions. And if this is true, and if the soul is older than the body, must not the things which are of the soul's kindred be of necessity prior to those which appertain to the body? Cle. Certainly. Ath. Then thought and attention and mind and art and law will be prior to that which is hard and soft and heavy and light; and the great and primitive works and actions will be works of art; they will be the first, and after them will come nature and works of nature, which however is a wrong term for men to apply to them; these will follow, and will be under the government of art and mind. Cle. But why is the word "nature" wrong? Ath. Because those who use the term mean to say that nature is the first creative power; but if the soul turn out to be the primeval element, and not fire or air, then in the truest sense and beyond other things the soul may be said to exist by nature; and this would be true if you proved that the soul is older than the body, but not otherwise. [[ . . . .] Ath. . . . when one thing changes another, and that another, of such will there be any primary changing element? How can a thing which is moved by another ever be the beginning of change? Impossible. But when the self-moved changes other, and that again other, and thus thousands upon tens of thousands of bodies are set in motion, must not the beginning of all this motion be the change of the self-moving principle? . . . . self-motion being the origin of all motions, and the first which arises among things at rest as well as among things in motion, is the eldest and mightiest principle of change, and that which is changed by another and yet moves other is second. [[ . . . .] Ath. If we were to see this power existing in any earthy, watery, or fiery substance, simple or compound-how should we describe it? Cle. You mean to ask whether we should call such a self-moving power life? Ath. I do. Cle. Certainly we should. Ath. And when we see soul in anything, must we not do the same-must we not admit that this is life? [[ . . . . ] Cle. You mean to say that the essence which is defined as the self-moved is the same with that which has the name soul? Ath. Yes; and if this is true, do we still maintain that there is anything wanting in the proof that the soul is the first origin and moving power of all that is, or has become, or will be, and their contraries, when she has been clearly shown to be the source of change and motion in all things? Cle. Certainly not; the soul as being the source of motion, has been most satisfactorily shown to be the oldest of all things. Ath. And is not that motion which is produced in another, by reason of another, but never has any self-moving power at all, being in truth the change of an inanimate body, to be reckoned second, or by any lower number which you may prefer? Cle. Exactly. Ath. Then we are right, and speak the most perfect and absolute truth, when we say that the soul is prior to the body, and that the body is second and comes afterwards, and is born to obey the soul, which is the ruler? [[ . . . . ] Ath. If, my friend, we say that the whole path and movement of heaven, and of all that is therein, is by nature akin to the movement and revolution and calculation of mind, and proceeds by kindred laws, then, as is plain, we must say that the best soul takes care of the world and guides it along the good path. [[Plato here explicitly sets up an inference to design (by a good soul) from the intelligible order of the cosmos.] >> _______________ I'd say, the soul is not "proved" so much as perceived from our first fact of conscious being, self-awareness. Then, it is recognised in others. Then, it has to be suppressed through powerful indoctrination to make it seem to be ill-informed unscientific nonsense. Where in fact, the responsibly free rational individual beyond blind GIGO limited computation on a substrate of refined rock is a premise of the credibility of science. The self-referential incoherence of evolutionary materialist scientism strikes again. KF PS: Someone who, with 500 unstoppable witnesses has shown power over life and death, will have no problems doing in a moment what he upholds through the workings of nature every year, make water into juicy grapes that with a spot of fermentation becomes wine. The truth is, the root objection is to the reality of God, multiplied by a naive scientism and crude I have not witnessed a miracle and those in circles I accept haven't so it cannot be real. To such I reply that just that I am alive to answer is answer to prayer by my mother facing a dying child and guided to a doctor she never would have otherwise found. The last miracle I witnessed (a double-manifestation of the supernatural . . . the evil/ chaotic/ destructive to try to intimidate or impress through spectacle [ --> oddly, of levitation, specifically!], the superior to suppress then free from oppression) was within the past year, in front of dozens of witnesses. And there are many, many many witnesses across the world and going back across centuries. Dismissiveness to the miraculous -- starting with the resurrection of one who they could not keep nailed -- is little more than bias and irresponsible closed mindedness. kairosfocus
AS, I see you too want to play the it has infographics and linked vids so I dismiss card; rather superficial. Beyond, you are failing to engage the worldviews warrant- foundations challenge, which does not just face human societies, it faces each of us. Societies have worldviews because we all have to answer to worldviews issues. So, the issue is to address the substance. Perhaps 15 above will be a useful start-point for you, as you patently refuse to address linked information. KF kairosfocus
Piotr (& attn, AS): I must draw your attention back to what is actually on the table in the OP, noting that you have consistently dodged on the novel irrelevancy: oh, you use multimedia elements to make or augment your point. On that, I will say that as I composed the in-thread reply, it was soon evident that this should be headlined. So it was composed based on linking details elsewhere and in expectation that a headlined form would lay out the main points in summary or in forms accessible to those who do not like to read but might watch or listen at least. A good first point is where I began, attacking the dismissive notion, "dogma." Notice, both the points form, illustrated infographic and the summary statement:
First, we all have worldviews which at core have faith commitments that are unprovable. Otherwise the quest for certainty or “proof” leads to infinite stepwise regress and/or circularity. The issue is what faith-point we hold, why.
The very first word links to a more detailed discussion, that begins:
First, we must accept that all worldviews have foundational or core "first plausible" basic -- foundational -- beliefs that are not subject to further proof: they are where our proofs must start from. For, to warrant a claim, A, as worthy of trust and acceptance -- i.e. as credible, or even as knowledge -- we need B, and B would need C, and so on. It would help us to see this, by briefly defining the key term, worldview: world·view (wûrldvy) n. In both senses also called Weltanschauung. 1. The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world. 2. A collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group. [Translation of German Weltanschauung.] The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. The terms "perspective" and "beliefs" point to the implications of the chain of warrant challenge just outlined. For, in the end we face the proverbial "turtles all the way down" forever; or else circularity; or else, if we are to be logically coherent and rational, we must stop at "first plausibles" that are reasonable: [turtles all the way down diagram, I will add to the OP . . . ] Now, a vicious infinite regress is absurdly impossible for finite, fallible thinkers such as we are: we would never get far back enough to get started with proving, nor could we trust ourselves to be right all along the chain. Looping back through "turtles in a circle" is little better: it ends up assuming what should be shown. That is, the last turtle has to stand somewhere. We are thus forced to stop at some set of first plausibles or other -- that is, a "faith-point" (yes, we ALL must live by some faith or another, given our finitude and fallibility) -- and then we need to compare alternatives and see which "somewhere" -- which worldview foundation -- is least difficult. Illustrating: [first plausibles infographic already in the OP] (NB: At this level, all sets of alternative first plausibles bristle with difficulties. Indeed, the fundamental, generic method of philosophy is therefore that of comparative difficulties.) John Locke aptly summed up our resulting humbling dilemma in section 5 of his introduction to his famous essay on human understanding:
Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them, since he hath given them (as St. Peter says [NB: i.e. 2 Pet 1:2 - 4]) pana pros zoen kaieusebeian, whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life, and the way that leads to a better. How short soever their knowledge may come of an universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great concernments [Prov 1: 1 - 7], that they have light enough to lead them to the knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties [cf Rom 1 - 2 & 13, Ac 17, Jn 3:19 - 21, Eph 4:17 - 24, Isaiah 5:18 & 20 - 21, Jer. 2:13, Titus 2:11 - 14 etc, etc]. Men may find matter sufficient to busy their heads, and employ their hands with variety, delight, and satisfaction, if they will not boldly quarrel with their own constitution, and throw away the blessings their hands are filled with, because they are not big enough to grasp everything . . . It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 - 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly. [Emphases added. Text references also added, to document the sources of Locke's biblical allusions and citations. Yes, they are indeed patently there.]
So, we must make the best of the candle-light we have. At worldview choice foundational level, a good way to do that is to look at three major comparative difficulties tests: (1) factual adequacy relative to what we credibly know about the world and ourselves, (2) coherence, by which the pieces of our worldview must fit together logically and work together harmoniously, (3) explanatory relevance and simplicity: our view needs to explain reality (including our experience o f ourselves in our common world) elegantly, simply and powerfully, being neither simplistic nor a patchwork where we are forever adding after-the-fact patches to fix leak after leak. Now, let us not lose sight of what we are doing: something truly radical, that cuts across what the avant garde and their wanna-be hangers on really want: to discuss the newest ideas and issues within their comfortable world- system. As a rule, they are NOT really interested in an upending foundational critique that is going to start from exposing the rottenness of roots or the fatal cracks in foundations, or worse, looming icebergs in the path of the Titanic. However, when a system (even one that imagines itself to be the radical, progressive replacement of old fashioned outdated "religious" thought -- notice how "God," "religion," "Christianity," "The Scriptures" and "faith" are practically dirty words in many quarters today . . . ) is fatally flawed, that is necessary. And in this case, we are going after an assessment of foundations of worldviews from the roots up . . .
Now, I note that instead of facing this pivotal issue you ran off on an attempt to categorise the Bible with various ancient mythologies. That is a fallacy of distraction and appeal to prejudice that also hints at a smear against design thought. I draw your attention, therefore, first, back to this pivotal point. The above constitutes an analysis of the warranting structure of worldviews. You brushed aside an in a nutshell and an infographic outline, studiously ignoring a link that gives a 101 level expansion for training purposes. But it is patent that the analysis is relevant: to accept or warrant A when challenged we move to B, thence C etc. Infinite regress is not on the cards as a feasible option, circularity results in question-begging where one does not address truly foundational questions at worldviews level on comparative difficulties. Doing that leads to finitely remote first plausibles constituting a reasonable faith. Start points that are points taken as credible trust points. Onwards I addressed for instance how contemplating a bright red ball A on a table leads to the marking of a distinction and world partition: World, W = {A | ~A} From this, the first three core plumbline principles of right reason are immediately, self-evidently present and knowable. That is, identity, non-contradiction and excluded middle. We can go on to a discussion of modes of being and the weak form principle of sufficient reason that on seeing said ball, asks and seeks the answer, how comes a ball A? From this we see that there are possible or impossible beings [the latter being mutually contradictory in core characteristics, like the classic square circle], and contingent or necessary beings. Contingent beings like a fire are dependent on external enabling on/off factors . . . necessary causal factors that if absent lock out the fire or the like. Where the sufficient conditions for A must include all such enabling factors. Necessary beings by contrast have no such dependence, for instance the truth in 2 + 3 = 5. Thus, we are back at the implication that in at least one possible world, a contingent being is as a sufficient cluster of causal factors is present, and in at least one possible world, such is absent as the conditions are not met. Thus we see what contingency is about. But by contrast a serious candidate necessary being -- flying spaghetti monsters etc need not apply -- will be impossible or else actual in any possible world. To see such, imagine a world in which the truth in 2 + 3 = 5 does not obtain. There is none, it never began, always obtains, cannot cease. In that context, we see the significance of nothing, non-being. Non-being patently has no causal powers, cannot enable something. So, if there ever were an utter nothing, nothing would forever obtain. But, obviously, we have a world. Consequently, something always was, of adequate causal capacity to ground the world in which we live. A necessary being. One capable of explaining a world that exhibits major signs of design in both the physics of the cosmos that sets up a world that sits at a locally isolated operating point that makes C-Chemistry, aqueous medium, terrestrial planet, information system using cell based life possible. A world in which we find ourselves under the eye of conscience and the clear regulation of moral government. And more. There is but one serious candidate: the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being, the root of existence. You (or more likely onlookers . . . ) will observe, this is not a case that is based on any religious tradition or scripture; it is a philosophical argument informed by the general state of the world and our circumstances, including testimony in outline from the sciences. As the OP notes, the typical reply to it is a priori evolutionary materialism dressed up in a lab coat. Philip Johnson's reply to Lewontin is apt:
For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them "materialists employing science." And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) "give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose." . . . . The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]
In short, you and others of like ilk have committed the fallacy of projection and turnabout accusation. By, refusing to address worldviews grounding and the resulting challenge of comparative difficulties across first plausibles and the projection of the error, a priori evolutionary materialist scientism. Have you shown that per observation a quasi-infinite material multiverse exists and is adequate to account for our observed cosmos? No, and no. Have you shown that reasonable chemicals in a warm pond or a comet core etc can per observed blind chemistry or physics account for algorithmic, coded information using self replicating cell based life? Not at all. Indeed, in any other context not ideologically controlled by materialistic and scientism-driven question begging, such functionally specific complex organisation and associated information (FSCO/I) would immediately be taken as a signature of the only empirically warranted, needle in haystack search analytically plausible cause. Intelligently directed configuration, aka design. So, once we expose ideological imposition for what it is, design sits at the table as a scientifically reasonable, philosophically grounded serious alternative from the root of reality up and from the root of the tree of life up. This is not theism. As I suggested in the OP, it is pre-theism. For, we find ourselves as responsibly free, thinking, reasoning, deciding, warranting, knowing, enconscienced acting beings in our world. Where, rocks refined and re-organised as computational processors . . . already so chock full of FSCO/I that blind chance and mechanical necessity are not reasonable explanations . . . are still blindly mechanical and cannot explain self-aware rationally conscious, responsibly free mind. Which is exactly what leading advocates of evolutionary materialism have repeatedly publicly stated, usually by trying to dismiss what we find true about ourselves as illusion. Failing, to recognise that such is self-refuting as the very theory they advocate relies on the responsible mind they would dismiss. If you doubt me, here is Provine at the U of Tenn 1998 Darwin Day address, as just one clear case:
Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . . The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . .
If we are not responsibly free, we are not free enough to think for ourselves. This is self-undermining and collapses; unable to bear its own weight. So, generic ethical theism informed by foundational philosophical reason and de-ideologised scientific findings is plainly a serious alternative. It is not blind dogmatism. The strawman evaporates. That would already be enough warrant to seek and acknowledge God. But, there is a clear primary target, Judaeo-Christian, scriptural tradition anchored theism. To the attacks on this, I simply reply that there is no good a priori to dismiss the miraculous, starting with the power of prophecy and its fulfillment in a Messiah who comes, walks among us, challenges our comfort zones, lifts the down-trodden, and thus is viewed as a threat by the powers. Who literally nail him, to get rid of him as they play their power games, ignore justice and the pleas of their wives to protect the patently innocent. Only, he does not stay nailed. With 500+ unstoppable eyewitnesses, and in the teeth of the schemes of the powers, he rises from death launching the very same Christian Faith that those who would not have such a Lord as would teach the Sermon on the Mount so plainly despise today. Here is Frank Morison's reply to all such:
[N]ow the peculiar thing . . . is that not only did [belief in Jesus' resurrection as in part testified to by the empty tomb] spread to every member of the Party of Jesus of whom we have any trace, but they brought it to Jerusalem and carried it with inconceivable audacity into the most keenly intellectual centre of Judaea . . . and in the face of every impediment which a brilliant and highly organised camarilla could devise. And they won. Within twenty years the claim of these Galilean peasants had disrupted the Jewish Church and impressed itself upon every town on the Eastern littoral of the Mediterranean from Caesarea to Troas. In less than fifty years it had began to threaten the peace of the Roman Empire . . . . Why did it win? . . . . We have to account not only for the enthusiasm of its friends, but for the paralysis of its enemies and for the ever growing stream of new converts . . . When we remember what certain highly placed personages would almost certainly have given to have strangled this movement at its birth but could not - how one desperate expedient after another was adopted to silence the apostles, until that veritable bow of Ulysses, the Great Persecution, was tried and broke in pieces in their hands [the chief persecutor became the leading C1 Missionary/Apostle!] - we begin to realise that behind all these subterfuges and makeshifts there must have been a silent, unanswerable fact. [Who Moved the Stone, (Faber, 1971; nb. orig. pub. 1930), pp. 114 - 115. Cf. He Walked Among Us, here.]
As you know or should know, this is the central warranting case of the Christian Faith as was noted down by Paul of Tarsus, writing to those who questioned his legitimacy and message in Corinth, 55 AD . . . 25 years after the events, in the context of his preaching there c 50 AD and his meetings with the core witnesses in Jerusalem dating to 35 - 38 AD. Far too short a time and in a most inauspicious location for making up myths. And, note the implicit invitation to inquire of the then still live and kicking majority of the 500 . . . where, there is simply no evidence that such disagreed with Paul and every evidence to the contrary that this is the core, agreed official summary of the eyewitnesses:
1 Cor 15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers,[a] of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received:
[a] that Christ died for our sins [b] in accordance with the Scriptures, [c] 4 that he was buried, [d] that he was raised on the third day [e] in accordance with the Scriptures [Cf Isa 52 - 53 etc, this being c 700 BC], [f] 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. [g] 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. [--> invitation to seek independent confirming witnesses . . . the eyewitness lifetime record in hand makes clear that the core 20 - 30 witnesses stand in concurrence, for most at the cost of their lives] [h] 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. [i] 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.[--> criterion of embarrassment]
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. [ESV, note discussion here on as linked in OP, with a video as embedded in the OP]
You are free to reject such testimony, for -- despite the implications of your worldview -- you are free. But what you cannot responsibly do is dismiss this blood-bought testimony of the eyewitnesses as mere myth. And, in that light, I and many others will take the attitude to the scriptures that you will find in the Sermon on the Mount, on the credit of the Teacher who walked among us and showed himself Lord of life, Lord of death by the power of the resurrection. They, are not mere mythology. I suggest to you, that you need to reassess your attitude and reasoning. Then, your rhetoric. KF kairosfocus
Piotr @12, I will agree with your revisions, as nothing in them contradicts the point of the original post above. drc466
P.S. The natural sciences don't attempt to "prove" anything in the absolute sense of the word. Proofs are best left to mathematicians. Scientific knowledge consists of working hypotheses -- some tentative, some so well tested that they come as close as anything to being "facts". If you demand "proof beyond the shadow of the doubt", you misunderstand science. The shadow of the doubt is always there. Piotr
drc466, The dictionary definition of "cosmos" is, "The world or universe as an ordered and harmonious system" (OED). "Universe", in turn, is defined as "All existing matter, space, time, energy, etc., regarded collectively, esp. as constituting a systematic or ordered whole; the whole of creation, the cosmos." Hardly a satisfactory definition, but OK, I could agree for the sake of the argument that space-time and matter/energy make up the Universe we know. I know that the Universe exists. I don't know if anything else does (however one defines "existence"). I don't "know" with 100% certainty that the world wasn't created last Thursday, which doesn't mean I regard this possibility as likely. Based on my understanding of scientific evidence, I know beyond reasonable doubt that the Universe is much older than 18,527.372 years, and that it was not created whole, with the Earth fully formed from the beginning. I wasn't there, but there's a lot of solid if indirect evidence pointing in the same direction. The evidence is there, no matter if God or gods exist. I have acquainted myself with it and find it vastly more credible than Genesis, the Audhumla saga, Rigveda 10:129, or any other traditional myth. Piotr
Piotr @8
I’m not sure what you mean by “the Cosmos”.
Try a dictionary. Making up your own nonsensical definition which rules out nothing, including God and special creation, is a fairly weak strawman of an argument. Since liljenborg was providing a generally-accepted summation of the materialist position, you've basically skewered your own side as believing a pointless tautology that doesn't lead to the conclusions they claim. Own goal?
By contrast, “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” could be regarded as a falsifiable (and false) proposition if taken literally, since we know at the very least that the Earth was not “created in the beginning”.
Oh really? And how do you "know" that? Provide for me one single evidence that proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, with no unprovable assumptions or foundations, that God did not create the universe 18,527.372 years ago (to make up a number out of a hat)? To quote the incomparable Inigo Montoya, "You keep using that word ["know"] - I do not think it means what you think it means". You have proven one thing, however - that you either missed, or are not capable of, comprehending the point of the post. Your beliefs (including the one that you "know" the world wasn't created by God in the beginning) will always revert to an unprovable foundation. drc466
#9 AnimatedDust, OK, evidence I find acceptable. Of course I have contemplated the possibility I might be wrong or blinkered by prejudice. But I don't think I had a consistent worldview before I looked at the evidence. My worldview has co-evolved with what I have learnt about the world. Far be it from me to deny your right to disagree with my view. Piotr
@Piotr "All the evidence known to me suggests that they are produced by processes occurring in the physical substrate of the brain,..." Consider carefully that your assertion that "all the evidence known to me" might be more accurately stated as "all the evidence -accepted by- me.." We can't know your heart. But your -desires- for your worldview might just outweigh its actual factual accuracy. Ever considered that? My cynicism says you'll disregard it out of hand and accuse me of the same. :( AnimatedDust
Piotr, let me summarize the argument, since you seem to have missed it.
Thanks for your kind help. I don't know what I would 've done without it. I was so distracted by all those special effects in KF's OP!
Point one: “The Cosmos is all that is, all that ever was, and all that will ever be” is as religiously dogmatic a statement as “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”.
I'm not sure what you mean by "the Cosmos". If you mean the totatily of existence (past, present, future, and perhaps, shall we say, subjunctive) the statement is simply a definition -- a tautology ("all there is = all there is"), not a dogmatic statement. By contrast, "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" could be regarded as a falsifiable (and false) proposition if taken literally, since we know at the very least that the Earth was not "created in the beginning". The creation story in the Bible is every syllable as fictitious as innumerable other cosmogonic myths of that kind world-wide. To rationalise it, you have to insist it must be interpreted symbolically rather than taken at face value. But in that case it's no better than the story of Audhumla the cow in Norse mythology -- you can read some sort of sense into both, if you try hard.
[skip] The human imagination is not real, and yet its existence is a constant part of our experience. The products of the human imagination, be it religious dogmas, the laws of logic, or abstract mathematics are not “real” in the sense that they have no mass nor take up space. Yet many of these imaginary things end up being central to reality and existence.
Natural phenomena are ordinarily defined in terms of arrangements, relations and interactions involving physical objects. They don't have to be "things" in order to be real. The same goes for human ideas. All the evidence known to me suggests that they are produced by processes occurring in the physical substrate of the brain, and are not transmitted to us from outside the Universe. A religious dogma may be of central importance to some people here on Earth, but the Universe is a vast place and it would be extreme hubris to claim that its existence has anything to do with the products of our parochial imagination. Piotr
Piotr, let me summarize the argument, since you seem to have missed it. Point one: "The Cosmos is all that is, all that ever was, and all that will ever be" is as religiously dogmatic a statement as "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth". If it is true that "all religious dogmas are made up" then materialism is as invented an idea as theism. The references to Sagan's "Demon Haunted World" demonstrate an awareness that science doesn't lead inevitably to naturalism, but rather an a priori (that is religious) commitment to naturalism leads to creating a culture in which science is accepted as the only valid source of "objective knowledge". Point two: the existence of information in nature and evidence of design in the universe and living organisms points to a mind outside of the universe of matter, energy, space, and time. Which supports the latter of the two religiously dogmatic statements being reflective of reality rather than the former. Even the statement in question, that religious dogmas have "no existence in reality outside of the human imagination" reveals the inherent contradiction of the claim. The human imagination is not real, and yet its existence is a constant part of our experience. The products of the human imagination, be it religious dogmas, the laws of logic, or abstract mathematics are not "real" in the sense that they have no mass nor take up space. Yet many of these imaginary things end up being central to reality and existence. liljenborg
I don't know. I seem to have a different 'take' on the concept of 'contempt', from the one in common usage, KF, to whit, that it is only meaningful when expressed by a superior towards an inferior. I regularly express contempt for the bedrock beliefs, the foundations of the world-views of the atheist scientists on here, and justifiably so, but if I started to express contempt for their understanding of the actual scientific nitty-gritty they have acquired, even when I suspect they are [SNIP!], to blind me with science (as I believe W_S does, when cornered), be that science never so putative, my contempt would be, well, vacuous, meaningless; farcical even. And that's how I see Aurelio's putative expressions of contempt for religion and its adherents. It is only a notional contempt on the part of an inferior (in the context) for a superior, so you and custom*, if it comes to that, flatter atheists by identifying their vacuous expressions of contempt, which are in fact, notional, as signifying anything intelligible. Christ was said to have been treated with contempt at his Passion by the rag-bag of villainous hirelings and establishment jackanapes. But was that possible, in the sense of 'meaningful'. In my opinion, no. Indeed, I read somewhere that, though they thought they were judging him, in reality, it was he who was judging them. Christ, ironically, was all together too exalted, as their Creator, for a corresponding contempt for them on his part to be meaningful, also, even if his infinite love as their creator had permitted it, I can't have contempt for that full-stop, I've just written. Axel
F/N: I find a Dallas Willard presentation on worldviews, interesting and useful for those wanting a video 101: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6hwsG7AUZ0 KF PS: added to OP. kairosfocus
Piotr, I am sure you observed several key links. These go to substantiation, and the linked video will help those who are disinclined to read and ponder. Lewontin's remarks and Sagan's book cover, properly pondered, are also quite instructive. As for the infographics there is more substance in them than you acknowledge. And, that also holds for the promoted comment. In short, you have exerted the same hyperskeptical dismissiveness that I responded to. KF kairosfocus
I have to aks our materialist friends..... We have recently discovered a 3rd rotary motor that is used by cells for propulsion. http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822%2814%2901506-1 Please give me an honest answer how on earth can you even believe or hang on to the hope that this system not only designed itself but built itself? This view is not in accrodance with what we observe in the universe. I want to believe you that it can build and design itself but please show me how! I'm an engineer and I can promise you in my whole working life I have NEVER seen such a system come into existence on its own. If you have proof of this please share it with me so that I can also start believing in what you do! Andre
You provide a lot of multimedia entertainment and some invective above, KF, but where's the rebuttal? Piotr
F/N: AS has made a revealing summary remark on attitude to theism ("religion") that needs to be headlined with a first-level response. KF kairosfocus

Leave a Reply