Intelligent Design

Fair Question

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In a comment to my prior post “AnimatedDust” writes:

Fascinating discussion. I have spent hours reading it. However, it seems to me that A_B [i.e., “Acartia_bogartis’ is] assuming the position of a superior tennis player who stands at the center of the baseline and by his superior play is causing all of the UD heavy hitters to have to run all over the court.

Of all the substantive arguments that you make, he disregards them at his pleasure and hits the ball to yet another corner, and you willingly respond and dutifully hit it back.

You seem oblivious to the fact that he cares nothing about your substantive answers and is merely here for his own facile amusement.  His targets constantly move– his objections constantly change.  He is unconvinced at all because he is after all, your garden-variety atheist who believes himself at this moment in time to be intellectually superior to the lot of you.

Why do you keep playing tennis? . . .  you all run, breathlessly, hitting the ball right back at them, waiting for them to come up with another question the send you breathlessly running after it.  Give an atheist a thousand reasons for the existence of God he will demand 1001. It never ends.  When will you figure that out?

AD, you raise a fair point, one which I have pondered several times. Why bother?  And the answer is this:  We know we will never convence A_B and his ilk.  We do not play for their sake.  We play for the folks in the stands, as it were.  Tens of thousands of people visit this site every month.  Only a tiny fraction of them participate in the combox discussions, but many of them watch the debate with interest.  There is even internet jargon for those folks – lurkers.

In summary, we play for the lurkers, and they – not A_B and his fellow travelers – are the ultimate beneficiaries when we knock the atheists’ arguments out of the park again and again.

61 Replies to “Fair Question

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    ,,,Coach John Madden recalls (Kenny) Stabler saying, “The fans sure are getting their money’s worth today.”

    The play that followed is what legends are made of.,,,
    http://bleacherreport.com/arti.....der-memory

  2. 2
    jerry says:

    In summary, we play for the lurkers, and they – not A_B and his fellow travelers – are the ultimate beneficiaries when we knock the atheists’ arguments out of the park again and again.

    I have maintained for years that the most fascinating part of the ID debate is the behavior of the participants. ID adherents hone their arguments as the anti-ID exhibit irrational adolescent behavior. Sometimes the ID proponents let this behavior get under their skins.

  3. 3
    fossil says:

    I am one of those unnamed thousands who are in the bleachers. I have comparatively little education in the sciences so I seldom can add anything meaningful. I sit way up in the nose bleed section and can’t see the details. All I can see is the general play and know when a point has been scored. So I am thankful for those of you who have spent time studying science and philosophy, who have answers to give to those who ask who can do the actual playing and plan out the details of the game.

    I must admit, however, that from my viewpoint Christianity, in particular, has at times been its own worst enemy by using arguments that were not the best and at times using arguments that are no longer valid. To me the honest seeker for truth whether he is an atheist or one who believes in a supreme being will be open to new ideas and pursue them until a dead end. If he is truly honest he will then drop that idea and pick up another until he finds something that actually works and keep it until something better comes along. To me that is the process of real science. It is not an entrenchment of dogmatism because when that happens science barely moves and certainly those who choose to enforce their rutted views on everyone else only make matters worse and end up putting science in reverse. Science never stays put – it is dynamic in its pursuit of truth and go wherever it leads.

  4. 4
    scottkennedy says:

    As anecdotal confirmation of Barry’s point, I’ve been a lurker on this site for many years, have followed the arguments closely, and am much the wiser for doing so.

  5. 5
    Dionisio says:

    Yes, I think it’s good to keep these discussions, for many, including myself, could learn a few interesting things from some of the things that get written in here. 🙂

    Actually, I have taken time to ‘promote’ some interesting comment/posts within some threads, so others, specially anonymous visiting onlookers, won’t miss them. For example, see this link: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-513411

    Some people (for example gpuccio) seem more gifted than others to explain things over and over again, very nicely, to the same interlocutors, regardless of their attitude. That’s commendable. 🙂
    For some unknown to me reason, I definitely lack that capacity 🙁

    Still, I believe there are some basic requirements for a discussion to be effective. Both sides in a discussion must be highly interested in knowing the truth about the discussed topic. Both must be open-minded to all arguments. Both must be very interested in understanding the other side’s point. Both must agree to a common communication protocol (including language). Obviously, both must have sufficient spare time to discuss.

    That said, here are a few wise reminders quoted from the book of books:

    A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. [Proverbs 18:2]

    Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.
    Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes
    [Proverbs 26:4-5]

    Taken together these verses illustrate the point that no proverb is intended to cover every possible situation. The apparent contradiction in the two proverbs indicates that proverbs must be appropriately applied. One situation demands that we avoid playing the fool’s game by giving an answer, while another demands that we expose the folly so that the fool is not considered wise.

    Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. [Matthew 7:6]

    what is holy. A reference to the evidences of the kingdom, such as the healings and the exorcisms, which may explain why Jesus did no miracles for unbelievers. But “what is holy” would also include the preaching of the kingdom; believers should not continue to preach to people who have rejected the gospel with contempt and scorn (10:14; 15:14). The Book of Acts illustrates the principle in practice (Acts 13:44–51; 18:5, 6; 28:17–28).

    [here all biblical references are (ESV)]
    [Commentaries from Reformation Study Bible by Ligonier Ministries]

  6. 6

    AnimatedDust:

    Why do you keep playing tennis?

    Barry:

    We play for the lurkers, and they…are the ultimate beneficiaries when we knock the atheists’ arguments out of the park again and again.

    I think I see the problem.

  7. 7
    Moose Dr says:

    I am the moderator of another blog. On that blog we have one very busy objector. There was a while where the busy objector was not participating. The conversation got boring really quickly. Blogs need A_Bs to keep ’em from being nothing more than a cheering section.

    The other advantage that A_Bs offer is that they are excellent cross-checkers of truth. If ID cannot stand under scrutiny, then it is in error. Let it be challenged.

    I cannot remember a time when A_B has scored a major point, so to me he stands in the middle of the court pretending to be the superior tennis player, but loosing every game.

  8. 8
    Dionisio says:

    #3 fossil

    Science never stays put – it is dynamic in its pursuit of truth and go wherever it leads.

    No philosophical chitchat, just raw ‘plain vanilla’ technical stuff:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-513063

    But let’s stay away from pseudoscience that sells well, with controversial titles (click baits), that attract the herds that don’t think by themselves.

    Science has too much work to do, hence can’t afford to detour resources to pseudoscientific issues.

  9. 9
    Dionisio says:

    #3 fossil

    I am one of those unnamed thousands who are in the bleachers.

    This OP seems to refer to the many anonymous visitors who don’t have any avatar name registered in this blog, but read the OPs and associated follow-up comments, without writing any comments.

    Only a tiny fraction of them participate in the combox discussions, but many of them watch the debate with interest.

    That does not seem to be exactly your case.

  10. 10
    News says:

    Moose Dr: One of A-B’s problems with the subject of late life care ethics seems to me that he sounds like he has no skin in the game. He wants to score points.

    (Maybe he has and just sounds otherwise.)

    For many people, Barry and me included, these are real issues. Some of us deal daily with the many ethical questions that arise and certainly cannot do without ethics goalposts.

    The earliest statement I ever hear of about not practicing euthanasia was the Hippocratic Oath, not developed by a Christian. Of course, Jewish and Christian sources elaborated the ethical background to late life care and care of persons with deficient or failing intellects. That might be expected, as a single directive must be unpacked over multiple cases over millennia.

  11. 11
  12. 12
    Jehu says:

    I agree with Moose Dr., I appreciate Acartia, Larry Moran, Matzke, and others who come here and provide some sport.

  13. 13
    fossil says:

    Dionisio, I am not going to argue with you to any real extent but to be honest I didn’t say I never comment. What I did say is that they are rare (at least compared to the number you have posted) and they are by and large nontechnical. So, I am really not in the game like all the rest of you are and must sit and listen far more than display my ignorance by submitting comments.

    Now on your comment #7 I can appreciate what you are saying but let’s face it, science is not all hard facts. There is interpretation of those facts and in order to keep the interpretation from getting out in left field science needs philosophy. It is the logical compass that informs science about how it is thinking. Personally I very much appreciate people like Thomas Nagel who has a problem with the way science has been viewing the facts it has before it. Because of these things I don’t feel very comfortable separating philosophy from science and saying that all we need is raw facts.

  14. 14
    Acartia_bogart says:

    News:

    Moose Dr: One of A-B’s problems with the subject of late life care ethics seems to me to be that he sounds like he has no skin in the game. He wants to score points.

    I think that the ethics of end-of-life care is very important. And I can also see how any type of approval to assisted suicide will open a pandora’s box. But that is not a reason to not discuss it.

    By not discussing it, we are just closing our eyes to the fact that assisted suicide is done all of the time. I would much rather have a discussion about what checks and balances we would need to ensure that it is not abused. Every day, doctors increase morphine doses with the full knowledge that it will shorten the patients life. Very few people would object to this because it is considered (rightly or wrongly) a part of pain management.

    Jehu:

    I agree with Moose Dr., I appreciate Acartia, Larry Moran, Matzke, and others who come here and provide some sport.

    The feeling is mutual. After all, there is no way that Barry’s OP would have surpassed the one hundred comment mark without someone disagreeing.

  15. 15
    AnimatedDust says:

    And since having posed the question, and even while composing it, I am/was aware of the value of the information to interested third parties. When BA posts his information and valuable links, or KF weighs in with his formidable intellect, I get the value for the undecided.

    I think last night it was a moment of cumulative frustration, as so many of the atheists I debate with are of the same cloth, and just bounce back and forth between their favorite objections, while we do all the work. At least that’s how it seems sometimes. That frustration led me to that somewhat rhetorical question.

    KF do you have a quick link to your FCSO/I 6k word challenge, and are you still waiting for takers? 🙂

  16. 16
    rwz46 says:

    I am also a lurker and I thank you guys so much for being there for us who stay in the background but learn so much.

  17. 17
    Axel says:

    fossil, I think you have a very idealized view of science, as it is conducted. Yes, it is dynamic, but much of the dynamism, unfortunately, is expended to defend the person’s own turf. It’s a turf war, basically, isn’t it – between ID and all that isn’t ID?

    It wasn’t for nothing that Max Planck remarked:

    ‘A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.’

    and..

    ‘Science advances one funeral at a time.’

    I’m not sure I understand what you are saying about specifically Christian inputs. True, BA concludes a lot of his posts with some biblical quotations, and music of any and every kind. You know what youngsters are like. I don’t think he’s in his fifties yet. But there’s nothing quite like ‘winding up’ your opponent, any way you can, is there?!

    Crick or Watson (at least one was ‘a piece of work’, admittedly) opined that many scientists are dunderheads, and only their mothers could think otherwise, so science isn’t quite the pure pursuit of truth we start out thinking it is. Heck, there are theologians, very popular and distinguished ones, who aren’t even Christians. Likewise scripture scholars. And bishops who are not at all convinced of the faith!!!

    And the theology looks set fair to being understood as the Queen of the Sciences – a notion scoffed at for a long time now.

  18. 18
    Querius says:

    Personally, I’m not into debate for its own sake. I get really bored when some exchanges evolve into something that resembles Monty Python’s dead parrot skit (if you haven’t seen it, do watch it on YouTube).

    When someone claiming to have credentials in biology and statistics launches completely unsuppported attacks against Mike Behe, referring to his probability estimates as “voodoo” math, I decided to try an experiment. I challenged the person with a really easy question in probability requiring only a basic understanding of the binomial theorum. The short story is that they got the wrong answer.

    The person then later claimed it was a typo, but the sentence structure of their response falsified this lame excuse. So tell me why should I waste my time with a person who’s convinced that their disagreement with any position by itself constitutes irrefutable evidence?

    I might as well be arguing with ELIZA. Speaking of which, I think the source code is available and could easily be reprogrammed from Rogerian psychotherapy to Darwinist apologist. Thinking about it, perhaps this has already been done here! 😉

    I enjoy intelligent, informed discussion and disagreement. I don’t mind conceding a position when reasonable evidence can be presented. For example, for years I had trouble believing that saber-toothed cats could be preditors because even with their jaws dislocated as shown in drawings, it didn’t seem that they could bite anything larger than a gerbil, plus their canine (sic) teeth are relatively thin and fragile.

    It turns out that some really interesting research was completed that gives us convincing clues about their hunting techniques based on common bone fractures, the range of motion in their jaws compared to other felines, and their relatively weak biting strength based on FEA models.

    This is much more interesting to me.

    -Q

  19. 19
    JGuy says:

    Proverbs 26:5
    Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

  20. 20
    anthropic says:

    Speaking as a one time lurker, I find the challenges by AB, Mark Frank, and others to be very helpful in understanding objections to ID. I also find the answers by folks like BA77 very helpful.

    I discuss ID on a tech site that is very materialist & atheist in orientation. Given that reality, the discussions here are very important to prepare me, especially the references to scientific research. It is also good practice for keeping polite even when when my interlocutors do not.

  21. 21
    JGuy says:

    Lateral topic: 😀 (gentle way of saying OT)
    I was reviewing the debate between Craig and Klauss in Sydney. Klauss definitely undermines himself with for all I can determine is utter resentment for his opponent. It bleeds into his dialogue. Anyway, tangent there, I was thinking about their debate question: “Why is there something rather than nothing?”

    Are there arguments that argue that it is impossible for God to not exist? I’m pretty sure I recall one… but I was wondering what others there might be. I feel intuitively as if there is something more to this… but I’m not sure how if we can flesh it out.

    Thoughts or comments on that?

  22. 22
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    “Are there arguments that argue that it is impossible for God to not exist? I’m pretty sure I recall one”

    The materialistic conjecture of an infinity of universes to ‘explain away’ the fine tuning of this universe also insures, through the ontological argument, the 100% probability of the existence of God:

    God Is Not Dead Yet – William Lane Craig – Page 4
    The ontological argument. Anselm’s famous argument has been reformulated and defended by Alvin Plantinga, Robert Maydole, Brian Leftow, and others. God, Anselm observes, is by definition the greatest being conceivable. If you could conceive of anything greater than God, then that would be God. Thus, God is the greatest conceivable being, a maximally great being. So what would such a being be like? He would be all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good, and he would exist in every logically possible world. But then we can argue:

    1. It is possible that a maximally great being (God) exists.
    2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.
    3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
    4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
    5. Therefore, a maximally great being exists in the actual world.
    6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.
    7. Therefore, God exists.

    Now it might be a surprise to learn that steps 2–7 of this argument are relatively uncontroversial. Most philosophers would agree that if God’s existence is even possible, then he must exist. So the whole question is: Is God’s existence possible? The atheist has to maintain that it’s impossible that God exists. He has to say that the concept of God is incoherent, like the concept of a married bachelor or a round square. But the problem is that the concept of God just doesn’t appear to be incoherent in that way. The idea of a being which is all-powerful, all knowing, and all-good in every possible world seems perfectly coherent. And so long as God’s existence is even possible, it follows that God must exist.
    http://www.christianitytoday.c.....ml?start=4

    Where this argument has gained purchase is in the materialist/atheist appeal to the multiverse (an infinity of possible worlds) to try to ‘explain away’ the extreme fine tuning we find for this universe. The materialist/atheist, without realizing it, ends up conceding the necessary premise, (i.e. it is ‘possible’ that God exists in some possible world), to the ontological argument and thus guarantees the success of the argument and therefore insures the 100% probability of God’s existence!

    I like the concluding comment from the narrator about the ontological argument:

    “God then is the Being that couldn’t possibly not exit.”
    Ontological Argument – Dr. Plantinga (3:50 minute mark)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCXvVcWFrGQ

  23. 23
    bornagain77 says:

    a few more notes:

    This following video deals with many of the technical objections that atheists/materialists have tried to raise to the ontological argument:

    The Ontological Argument (The Introduction) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQPRqHZRP68

    And as weird as it may sound, this following video refines the Ontological argument into a proof that, because of the characteristic of ‘maximally great love’, God must exist in more than one person:

    The Ontological Argument for the Triune God – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGVYXog8NUg

    i.e. without this distinction we are stuck with the logical contradiction of maximally great love being grounded in ones own self which is the very antithesis of maximally great love.

    “The light is the sum of all love… give love and your reward will be the love you gave and the love you received… If you do not give love then all you will have is the love you were given,,, and that is still wonderful but why not add to the sum of all love,, It is like ruby’s and sapphires in heaven when we give love… Love is the currency of the next life… so give love…”
    Rudi – Near Death Experiencer

    Of related note: Computer scientists proven Godel’s ontological proof for the existence of God:

    Formalization, Mechanization and Automation of Godel’s Proof of God’s Existence – 10 Sep 2013
    Christoph Benzmullerand Bruno Woltzenlogel Paleo
    http://arxiv.org/pdf/1308.4526.pdf

    Computer Scientists ‘Prove’ God Exists – Oct. 23, 2013
    Excerpt: Two scientists have formalized a theorem regarding the existence of God penned by mathematician Kurt Gödel.,,,
    researchers,, say they have actually proven is a theorem put forward by renowned Austrian mathematician Kurt Gödel,,,
    Using an ordinary MacBook computer, they have shown that Gödel’s proof was correct,,,
    http://www.spiegel.de/internat.....28668.html

    Of note, although most people, as well as theologians, philosophers and logicians, would certainly think that proving Godel’s ontological argument for the existence of God logically true, and consistent, was a pretty big deal, it seems the author of the article (and researchers?) were more impressed with the advance in computer programming that it represented than they were impressed with the fact that they proved Godel’s proof was actually true. This is how the author of the article put it:

    “and the real news isn’t about a Supreme Being, but rather what can now be achieved in scientific fields using superior technology.”

    I think someone may have their priorities a bit confused in that article.

    Of related interest:

    A Mono-Theism Theorem: Gödelian Consistency in the Hierarchy of Inference – Winston Ewert and Robert J. Marks II – June 2014
    Abstract: Logic is foundational in the assessment of philosophy and the validation of theology. In 1931 Kurt Gödel derailed Russell and Whitehead’s Principia Mathematica by showing logically that any set of consistent axioms will eventually yield unknowable propositions. Gödel did so by showing that, otherwise, the formal system would be inconsistent. Turing, in the first celebrated application of Gödelian ideas, demonstrated the impossibility of writing a computer program capable of examining another arbitrary program and announcing whether or not that program would halt or run forever. He did so by showing that the existence of a halting program can lead to self-refuting propositions. We propose that, through application of Gödelian reasoning, there can be, at most, one being in the universe omniscient over all other beings. This Supreme Being must by necessity exist or have existed outside of time and space. The conclusion results simply from the requirement of a logical consistency of one being having the ability to answer questions about another. The existence of any question that generates a self refuting response is assumed to invalidate the ability of a being to be all-knowing about the being who was the subject of the question.
    http://robertmarks.org/REPRINT.....heorem.pdf

  24. 24
    GMD says:

    Well, as long as others are offering their support of this forum then I will also. I’ve posted a few times before but I don’t think my input carries much weight in light of the scientific background and experience of the regular posters. I have however found the exchanges between folks to be intellectually refreshing. This is, in part, due to the extreme lack of interest in this forum’s subject matter among my peers. When I discuss issues of design, a first cause, materialist ideologies, and a priori assumptions their eyes begin to glaze over and they look at me as if I’m from another planet. I’m also fond of this forum because it challenges my a priori assumptions. Any belief that cannot withstand scrutiny must not be very dependable and I’ve become quite fond of knowing where my mind and heart are leading me. So I hope this forum continues for a very long time to come. I hope it continues to inspire myself and others to approach matters metaphysical, scientific, and even theistic with a critical eye to understanding the truth, as much as is humanly possible.

  25. 25
    Moose Dr says:

    News (10) and A_B (14), I am a bit baffled that my name is associated with a quote about A_B and late life care. Did I make this quote in another thread? I certainly didn’t in this thread. Just want to be quoted accurately.

  26. 26
    Querius says:

    JGuy@21 wrote:

    Are there arguments that argue that it is impossible for God to not exist? I’m pretty sure I recall one… but I was wondering what others there might be. I feel intuitively as if there is something more to this… but I’m not sure how if we can flesh it out.

    Yes. Here’s my version of what’s called the Kalam. I ran it by a well-known PhD physicist, cosmologist, and author. He liked it and he confirmed that it was scientifically solid.

    The Kalam Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God

    1. Do you believe that the universe, including time, space, and mass-energy, had a beginning, or do you believe that it always existed?

    Most scientists believe the universe had a beginning. Otherwise, the universe would have had to traverse an infinite amount of time to arrive at the present, and the universe would now have the maximum amount of entropy (disorder) possible, which it doesn’t.

    2. Do you believe that the beginning of the universe had a cause, or was it uncaused?

    Scientists believe that everything that exists or that occurs has a cause, and that without causality, nothing in science can be known (a). To put it another way, a major component of science is the rigorous, methodical study of causes and effects.

    3. Do you believe that the cause of the universe was natural in accordance to the laws of physics, or was its cause something outside of nature?

    It’s difficult to argue that the cause of the universe was due to a natural agent within the universe, before the universe even came into existence. The non-existent universe would have had to cause itself (b).

    4. Do you believe that the agent of the cause of the universe, itself had a cause, or was it uncaused?

    If the agent that caused the universe had a cause, what was its cause, and what was the cause of that cause, and so on. Thus, to avoid an infinite regression, there must originally have been an uncaused agent. The agent that ultimately caused time, and space, and mass-energy to come into existence cannot be within or bound to time, or space, or mass-energy.

    5. What agent can bring the entire universe into existence, exists outside of nature, is not bound to the laws of physics, is timeless, and that has no cause for its own existence?

    This agent sounds a lot like what people think of as God. It should be clear that we can only learn anything about God indirectly by observing the design in nature, speculatively by applying reason, or directly through the self-revelation of God ( c).

    NOTES
    (a) Some people think of radioactive decay events as not having a cause, but they do. The cause is an unstable nucleus. However, a decay event is a statistical probability; it is not a predictable event. Non-predictable events are frequently observed in nature. Also, physicists believe that nothing can be observed earlier than roughly 10-43 seconds (Planck time) after the start of the universe. However, causality in some form must have transcended this period, or the universe would never have started to inflate (the “big bang”).

    (b) A mistake that many people make is that “empty” space is not the same as Nothing. The fabric of space itself is thought to have started expanding with the big bang, and is permeated with quantum foam as a result of the virtual matter that spontaneously forms and annihilates itself. The Casimir Effect is measurable evidence of the existence of virtual matter. Space also includes dark energy, dark matter, plasma, gravitational distortion, relativistic effects, and likely other things that we do not know about. Thus, the fabric of space is something that exists, and is not empty. In contrast, if there is Nothing, even time does not exist. There are no billions of years, no events, and there is no probability for anything to ever happen.

    ( c) Is it reasonable and likely that God would interact with the universe? When do you think God would have begun to interact with the human race? How would you expect God to interact with you, and for what purpose? Most religions are based on claims of events, revelations, or enlightenment, resulting in beliefs, observances, texts, teachers, and traditions. They can’t all be true. If one of them was true, what things would you expect might be different from all the others?

    -Q

  27. 27
    JGuy says:

    Thank you BA77 and Querius.
    I’m familiar with both of these arguments – especially the kalam one as popularized by Craig. In regards to my prior comment, I think BA77’s post on the ontological seems to get more at the crux of what I’m asking. In this way: The kalam cosmological argument argues for the existence of God by referring to the universe itself. However, the ontological argument doesn’t seem to require any pre-existing thing to be the argument that it is…. if that makes sense. Think of my question again in that context. Without referring to things that exist and saying therefore God must be. My question is more like, apart from what we observe, can we reason whether it is even possible that God could not exist? Perhaps, what I’m asking for IS the ontological argument..but I’m not sure. I still think there might be more to flesh out in this regard. I’ll have a looksie at one of BA’s videos now. 😛

    Thanks again.

  28. 28
    HeKS says:

    Hi JGuy,

    I’d like to address your question but I have to get to bed (It’s 5am here). I’ll try to find time to address it tomorrow.

    Take care,
    HeKS

  29. 29
    Acartia_bogart says:

    MooseDr: “News (10) and A_B (14), I am a bit baffled that my name is associated with a quote about A_B and late life care. Did I make this quote in another thread? I certainly didn’t in this thread. Just want to be quoted accurately.”

    Sorry MD, I just cut and pasted from News’ comment. I didn’t search for the original source of the words. But I am sure that Querius will find a nefarious reason for my words.

    Querius: ” So tell me why should I waste my time with a person who’s convinced that their disagreement with any position by itself constitutes irrefutable evidence?”

    For someone who claims to take no interest in what I say, you certainly go out of your way to repeatedly state this.

  30. 30
    Andre says:

    There are days when I often feel like giving up. But then I remember why my head was in the sand for so long. I just could not be bothered to believe the truth because I was scared of what I might find.

    The truth will set you free.

  31. 31
    Axel says:

    ‘Proverbs 26:5
    Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.’

    Trouble is, JGuy, their grip on folly tends to be adamantine – at least the ones we’re mostly talking about; so, the other proverb effectively warning against making two fools, where there had only been one, by arguing with them, is the proverb that seems applicable.

    Although I understand the various reasons, such as proffering it for the benefit of the happily teachable, the pleasure of mentally ‘working out’ (however humble the exercises!), seeing one’s own arguments synthesized etc, given by some of the top brain-boxes on here who indulge the atheist nut-jobs by trying to set them straight.

    One of the most bizarre features of these exchanges between the most enlightened and the most benighted is the dismissal by the latter of IDers such as KF and BA as spammers, and impossibly obscure posters!

    Well, I can sympathize to a certain extent, but then I don’t ‘dismiss’ the posts of the enlightened on the grounds that I find their posts impossibly esoteric and/or closely reasoned, simply because I, me, myself, don’t understand them, but rather on the grounds of my own inadequacy.

    It’s really infotainment as far as they are concerned. They look at BA’s posts that they deem ‘spam’, and effectively call out, ‘Been there! Done that! Rather like the pupil, a brother-in-law of mine was tutoring, who once objected to the notion that they look at a Shakespeare play, saying, ‘Read Shakespeare once. Didn’t like him!’

  32. 32
    Axel says:

    #29 A_b

    ‘For someone who claims to take no interest in what I say, you certainly go out of your way to repeatedly state this.’

    Oh, foolishness, thy sobriquet is, Humph! It’s precisely because you seem to disbelieve him when he states that.

    You just will nae listen to him, so he has to keep repeating it.

  33. 33
    Querius says:

    Axel,

    Exactly! Why should I or anyone move on? And of course, your point is broadly applicable.

    If someone doesn’t understand how basic probability works, and they have a fault–finding attitude, why even bother trying to explain it to them, much less introduce new information that they’re in no mood to understand, much less accept?

    I’m sure many of us have had professors who were doctrinaire in their beliefs—the term intellectual ossification comes to mind—while others who were far more qualified would carefully consider an honest question or challenge thoughtfully and provide a considered response without being judgemental or arrogant.

    The latter are a delight to be with! They have successfully defeated the temptation to allow their knowledge to puff them up. They are always ready to learn something new.

    -Q

  34. 34
    Axel says:

    The mark of a top-liner is docility, teachableness, imho, Q. I remember being awe-struck by the words of an old and very successful professional punter (‘horse-player’, in US parlance, I believe) in a little booklet he wrote.

    In a very matter of fact manner, almost in passing, he more or less said to pay attention to what anyone says, because it could be very important. Something like that. I mean it is, or should be, a truism in the spiritual life of the Christian and perhaps other mainstream religions, but clearly we too easily compartmentalize. The world has many wise souls, just as the churches have foolish ones.

    An old cafe proprietor once told me that when he was flying fighters from Britain during WWII, he used to keep his ears peeled for any mention, even in overheard conversation of any quirks the different types of plane possessed. And it saved his life on more than one occasion.

    I don’t mean, the church doesn’t have wise ones too, of course. In fact, the more I read the words of Catholic cardinals and bishops, or hear them on TV or video, the more I’m inclined to think that mutatis mutandis, given the Fall and the inevitability of abuse of power in a human power structure, also long under siege, they must, generally speaking, be contenders for the wisest group of people in mankind.

    In school the top science lads (also among the top language students), tended to speak quietly, when they spoke at all. Truman’s dictum concerning the synergy of being softly spoken and carrying a big stick, as far as academic clout was concerned, would have been entirely redundant!

  35. 35
    Axel says:

    ‘I cannot remember a time when A_B has scored a major point, so to me he stands in the middle of the court pretending to be the superior tennis player, but loosing every game.’

    That last line is a killer, Moose Dr! I strongly suspect you are the personification of the synergetic symbiosis of a softly-spoken voice and a big stick.

  36. 36
    Axel says:

    Or ‘symbiotic synergy’, as the case may be…

  37. 37
    Querius says:

    JGuy,

    I’ve never been a fan of ontological arguments for a several reasons:

    – They’re based on our cognition, which is most likely to be fundamentally inadequate to the challenge.

    – They assume the conclusion. If God did not exist, could I still conceive of anything greater than myself?

    – They, and many other philosophical arguments are an intellectual extrapolation so distant from experiential reality, it is a certainty that they fail at some point.

    – And maybe God simply doesn’t want it to work that way. Would it make sense that God would only want to relate to intelligent, educated, and wealthy people? Jesus, the Son of God, consorted with ordinary people, including tax collectors, prostitutes, and fisherman.

    For similar reasons, I tend to avoid conjecture about free will, the nature of God, the nature of information, the nature of consciousness. Or at least, I clearly treat it as unsupported conjecture.

    A story is told that Jesus met two people at the pearly gates to heaven. The Apostle Peter and the theologian Paul Tillich.

    He asked Peter, “Who do you say I am?” and Peter replied, “You’re my Lord and savior, Yeshua Ha Machaich (Jesus, the Messiah), and you paid for my sins with your bloody sacrifice on the cross.”

    Jesus replied, “Welcome to heaven, Peter my brother, and to eternal life, and to the fellowship of God and the saints.”

    Jesus then asked Paul Tillich, “Who do you say I am?” And Paul Tillich answered, “Well, existentially, you’re the ground of all being, escatalogically, you’re the ground for all hope, and theologically, you’re the ground for the divine-human encounter.”

    Jesus replied, “Come again?”

    -Q

  38. 38
    Querius says:

    Axel@34,

    Wise words from experience nicely put!

    Incidentally, the complete quote from Theodore Roosevelt was from a letter he wrote in 1900:

    I have always been fond of the West African proverb: “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”

    -Q

  39. 39
    Axel says:

    Wonderful joke, Q! Reminds me of a superficially similar kind of exchange between Sherlock Holmes and Watson, but it seems that the more profound and mysterious the subject matter, most notably, religion, the more side-splittingly hilarious the humour can be.

    In a discussion on a Catholic blog, where ‘traditionalist’ bitter-enders were venting about the down-grading of the Latin Mass in favour of the vernacular, I said I liked to think that if Mary and Joseph were alive and went to a Mass, presumably in Israel, they’d be able to understand what was being said.

  40. 40
    Axel says:

    #38

    Ha! Ha! Better still! I don’t know why, but that just tops it off!

  41. 41
    Axel says:

    I think it might be the ever so slightly sinister overtone, so peaceably expressed.

  42. 42
    Querius says:

    Even more impressive from a man who refused treatment and insisted on finishing his speech after stopping a would-be assassin’s bullet in his pectoral muscle! 😮

    Some of his other quotes are also memorable.

    -Q

  43. 43
    Axel says:

    ‘Even more impressive from a man who refused treatment and insisted on finishing his speech after stopping a would-be assassin’s bullet in his pectoral muscle!’

    Q,
    Hilarious. He was some character, wasn’t he? I hadn’t realised. I expect the ‘would be’ assassin had a mental breakdown after that.

    Was the attempt on Roosevelt’s life after the fascist coup conspiracy involving J P Morgan, Dupont, etc was exposed by the former marine general, Smedley Butler, or before it? They got off, scot free, but it is said that as a result, he as able to get through a lot more legislation than he might have, otherwise.

    One thing I read that creased me up, and which makes perfect sense, is that the greatest danger to ‘hit men’ are their employers!

  44. 44
    HeKS says:

    Hi JGuy,

    Let me try to address your question. You said:

    Think of my question again in that context. Without referring to things that exist and saying therefore God must be. My question is more like, apart from what we observe, can we reason whether it is even possible that God could not exist?

    To be honest, I’m not sure that such an argument exists, where one can prove that God’s existence is necessary without ever intersecting with what actually exists.

    It seems to me like you might be thinking of the form of the cosmological argument that basically asks, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” Now, it could be that by “something” we mean the physical universe, in which case we’ve already failed to meet your requirements because the physical universe is something other than God that exists. However, it seems possible to mean by “something” the mere existence of anything, material or otherwise. If this is the case, we would then need to ask whether its even possible for literally nothing to exist. It’s hard to imagine how to even refer to such a state of affairs, being that it’s not even proper to refer to it as “a state of affairs” at all, but simply utter nonexistence.

    I’m not sure whether there’s any knock-down argument against the possibility of total nothingness and non-existence but if one were to conclude that it is not possible for absolutely nothing to exist then they are, by definition, concluding that something must exist necessarily. The question then becomes, What is it that exists necessarily?

    From this point it seems hard to long delay some intersection with observable reality. Based on philosophical argument alone it seems we can conclude that this necessarily existent thing must be timeless due to the impossibility of an eternal past made up of an infinite number of distinct moments in time. We might further argue, on that same basis, that this necessarily existent thing must be immaterial, but it seems like in order to make that conclusion we would need to have knowledge not only of the self evident fact that a material object requires space, but that space and time go hand-in-hand, which requires knowledge that comes from discoveries related to things other than God that actually exist. It seems to me we might be stuck here, without the ability to further demonstrate that the necessarily existent thing has the characteristics commonly associated with God unless we start drawing in the existence of things other than God that we know to exist.

    That said, I’m not sure if there’s really any need to make an argument for God’s existence without reference to other things that exist. For example, once we remove that requirement we can return to the point in the argument above where we ask what is it that exists necessarily and begin by presenting the material universe, which we know to exist, as a possible candidate for that necessarily existent thing. We can then quickly rule it out as a candidate based on the scientific evidence pointing to its beginning to exist a finite time ago as well as the philosophical objections to the possibility of traversing an infinite number of past events. Having ruled out the material universe as a candidate for the necessarily existent thing but submitting its actual existence into evidence we can then use the arguments commonly associated with the Kalam Cosmological argument to point to the fact that the material universe, having begun to exist, requires a cause that is timeless, immaterial, incredibly powerful, and personal.

    Regarding that last quality of being personal, as Physicist and Mathematician, Edward Whittaker, put it:

    There is no ground for supposing that matter and energy existed before and was suddenly galvanized into action. For what could distinguish that moment from all other moments in eternity? It is simpler to postulate creation ex nihilo — Divine will constituting Nature from nothingness.

    Furthermore, the first quality determined for the cause of the universe, timelessness, is one that we can arrive at through philosophical argument alone as a necessary quality for the necessarily existent thing we have previously concluded must exist. And the second quality of being immaterial is one we can conclude is necessary for that necessarily existent thing as an unavoidable implication of the first quality in light of our awareness of the relation between space and time.

    On this basis, it seems fair to me to say that Occam’s Razor would lead us to conclude that the necessarily existent thing and the cause of the universe are one and the same.

    That seems to me to be about as close as I can get to the type of argument you’re looking for where we argue for God’s existence through only minimal intersection with observable reality. Perhaps one of the benefits of this form of argumentation is that through philosophical argument alone we provide the groundwork for God’s existence before inferring anything on the basis of the existence of the material universe, arguing that something with some of God’s qualities must exist even before considering anything from observable reality. We then offer material reality itself as an inadequate candidate for that thing with some of the qualities of God that must exist but use its mere existence to elucidate other necessary qualities of God.

    Of course, all this depends on concluding that it is not possible for absolutely nothing to exist (not sure if anyone else has anything to offer on this point). On the plus side, I seem to recall Lawrence Krauss basically making exactly that claim in his debates with Craig. So I guess you could decide whether or not this is a good approach based on how your interlocutor responds to the question of whether it would be possible for absolutely nothing to exist.

    In my next post I think I’ll offer some thoughts on the Ontological Argument, because I don’t think it fits the bill for the type of argument you described. I think the Ontological Argument is ultimately a good one, but I think that it requires some good argumentation for its first premise and that the strength of it comes from observations and judgments about observable reality, which seems to be pretty much the opposite of what you were looking for.

    Take care,
    HeKS

  45. 45
    JGuy says:

    HeK5,

    Thanks for the time to write your response. I read it. It reminds me of some things to keep in mind. Such as, even the physical reality can almost be argued to be made of immaterial stuff. But then that makes one ask, what is the immaterial stuff… is it then the new material stuff we should consider? Haven’t we gone full circle at that point? Perhaps, the supernatural should be considered the ultimate reality of what is… Anyway, perhaps, we can start with the notion that there IS an ultimate reality that is not nothing. And take that to mean that this ultimate reality must necessarily exist. But that doesn’t really give a clean explanation, it’s just a short cut to an answer of whether necessary existence of ultimate reality is the case. I guess the next question, from just that could one reason that it must be God in it’s attributes. Or do we need the creation to get the short cut answer to that? …as in Romans 1:20

    20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

  46. 46
    JGuy says:

    p.s. HeK5. As you might guess, I already concede that the creation is enough. I’m just curious if apart from the creation whether there are any developed arguments. I’m not sure if the ontological argument is developed enough to satisfy that… idk… I haven’t really evaluated it that closely.

  47. 47
    Mung says:

    We should perhaps separate theistic arguments for the existence of God (e.g., the Ontological Argument) from an argument which concludes that there must be something that exists, necessarily.

    JGuy, which are you asking for?

  48. 48
  49. 49
    Mung says:

    Whatever belongs to something is either caused by the principles of its nature, like risibility in man, or accrues to it from some extrinsic principle, like the light in the air which is caused by the sun. It is impossible that the act of existing itself be caused by the form or quiddity — and by “caused” I mean as by an efficient cause — for then something would be the cause of itself and produce itself in existence which is impossible. It is therefore necessary that everything whose act of existing is other than its nature have its act of existing from another. And because everything which exists through another is reduced to that which exists through itself, as to a first cause, there must be something which causes all things to exist, inasmuch as it is subsistent existence alone. Otherwise we would proceed to infinity in causes, since everything which is not a subsistent act of existing has a cause for its act of existing, as we have just said. It is evident, therefore, that an intelligence is form and an act of existing, and that it has its act of existing from the First Being which is (simply) existence only; and this it the First Cause, God.

    On Being and Essence, Ch. 4 (excerpt)

    Essence and Existence

    Medieval Sourcebook: Thomas Aquinas: On Being and Essence

    Aquinas on Being and Essence:
    a translation and interpretation

  50. 50
    Querius says:

    Axel@43,

    Teddy Roosevelt was an interesting man, a committed Christian, a conservationist, a social reformer to the point of being called a socialist (he criticized Marxism as impractical), and a person who valued personal qualities in people above their race—a strange concept in his time.

    I just ran across a quote from him that pleasantly surprised me, an idea that’s appealed to me for a long time:

    “I believe that the officers, and, especially, the directors, of corporations should be held personally liable when any corporation breaks the law.”

    -Q

  51. 51
    BM40 says:

    IMO the game has changed dramatically. It was much more entertaining when the argument regarding design was new.Today UD is playing tennis against a wall. It’s easy to declare victory but one should be aware that UD has not been mentioned at PT for ages and that the uncommonlydense thread at AtBC is drying out.

  52. 52
    anthropic says:

    There’s much to admire about Teddy Roosevelt. However, there is much to deplore in his embrace of Progressivism, which led to an enormous increase in the power of the federal government. In particular, I’d argue that both the 16th and 17th Amendments were very detrimental in the long run.

  53. 53
    JGuy says:

    Mung.

    Thanks for the links. That seems in the ballpark of what I’m asking. Though it seems to require an observation of the creation… or at least an understanding and/or acceptance that some contingent things exists. Interesting.. if we didn’t think contingent things existed, then we would conclude that they must exist (i wonder where that leads to). But by thinking contingent things exist, we conclude that a necessary being exist.

    I took the survey, and it concludes:

    “1. Define ‘C’ as the sum total of all contingent things.
    2. C is itself contingent. (by your report)
    3. There cannot be a contingent thing that has no cause. (by your report)
    4. Therefore, C has a cause. (by 2 & 3)
    5. Nothing can cause itself to exist or be caused to exist solely by its parts. (by your report)
    6. Therefore, something other than C and its parts is a cause (or partial cause) of C. (by 4 & 5)
    7. Nothing other than C and its parts is contingent, since C is the sum total of all contingent things. (by 1)
    8. Therefore, something that is not contingent is capable of being a cause (or partial cause) of C. (by 6 & 7)
    9. Therefore, there is a Necessary Being. (by definition of ‘Necessary Being’ & 8)”

    But it defines necessary being as: “something that (i) can cause something, and that (ii) must, by nature, exist”

    I guess there is more to it. I’ll have to look at the enhanced version in PDF.

    “We should perhaps separate theistic arguments for the existence of God (e.g., the Ontological Argument) from an argument which concludes that there must be something that exists, necessarily.

    JGuy, which are you asking for?

    The more interesting one, of course, regards God. And I think I’m looking for more of a package. An argument that concludes: (i) something rather than nothing should necessarily exist, and (ii) it MUST be God. So, you might be right that it needs to be separated. But it might be the case that it can’t be separated. idk

    I know that is asking a lot. I suppose I’m just interested in if there are any strong arguments apart from teleological one’s (btw: which I find solely sufficient).

    In the first video you linked, I found it interesting that the guy stated some people did not believe in a necessary being, yet their choices to answer questions lead to the conclusion by the so far as I can see simple logic. But I’m still curious how they might elaborate on any nature of the necessary being.

    Thanks again. Sorry if my above seems like rambling.

  54. 54
    Axel says:

    Sure, Q. Why shouldn’t the CEO be held liable? In the UK directors can’t be held liable. Unfortunately, power gets power, gets power, ad finitum, until they upset the apple-cart, when Socialists or at least ‘socialists’ qua ‘non antisocialists’ (which is what the right essentially are) are returned to government, to begin redressing the disaster.

    Unfortunately, of course, without the spiritual underpinning of Christianity, both Socialism and socialism rapidly degenerate, as we’ve seen very very clearly in the UK, notably, since Thatcher’s instalment, as the puppet of the one percenter ‘backwoodsmen’, who, with their parliamentary minions had always been beavering away in the background, biding their time – aided and abetted by the media, of course.

    Thatcher was a particularly brutish demagogue, and they must have found it hard to believe their luck – at the very time, moreover, when a measure of public affluence, unprotected by Christian belief, made the public vulnerable to the sweet-talk/propaganda of the vandal hordes. Not that she ever had a majority of the votes of the public.
    Unfortunately, it wasn’t necessary.

  55. 55
    Silver Asiatic says:

    It’s easy to declare victory but one should be aware that UD has not been mentioned at PT for ages and that the uncommonlydense thread at AtBC is drying out.

    It’s essential to try to recruit the best opposition we can find and engage in some debate. Right now we have to declare victory because we can see how ill-informed most anti-ID arguments are. It’s all just attempts at quick dismissal and ridicule in the hope that we can be ignored.
    The evolutionary mainstream learned to ignore ID because engaging us is a lose-lose situation for them. They either lose arguments and reveal how weak their position, or they give ID credibility merely by engaging our arguments seriously.

  56. 56
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BM40 #51

    It was much more entertaining when the argument regarding design was new.Today UD is playing tennis against a wall.

    Agreed and good analogy. Some of the fun has gone away because the other side is more careful about covering-up their agenda. In the early days, ID exposed all of the attitudes that had firmly in place for a long time.

  57. 57
    Querius says:

    Silver Asiatic wrote:

    It’s essential to try to recruit the best opposition we can find and engage in some debate.

    By “best,” I hope it would mean the best informed, intelligent, and ethical. Simply “winning” a debate through various artifices, some of which we see here, simply obscures the truth and is useless to science.

    I can easily imagine a skilled debater handily winning a debate on, let’s say, mandatory euthenasia at age 70.

    “Think of all the money that’s wasted on the aged who have lived a good life, but who are now a burden on society, and whose resources could be better used to eliminate all poverty and starvation across the world!”

    “Well, you would be against the Dignified Exit legislation, wouldn’t you? After all, you’re nearly 50 and dumb as a rock. How can you justify your pitiless selfishness when so many people in the world are suffering? Haven’t you yourself claimed that Christ died for the world? How old was he?”

    It could happen.

    -Q

  58. 58
    Dionisio says:

    fossil @ 13

    Thank you for sharing your opinion.

    My ignorance should be noticeable every time I comment on anything here, but perhaps sometimes I’ve managed to disguise it pretty well. ????

    Have a good week!

  59. 59
    bb says:

    I’m with fossil. I haven’t completed enough college credit for even an aa degree so mostly lurk and read….and have for years. Thank you for such a great site. One of the few where the comment section of each post is frequently more interesting than the article.

  60. 60
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Querius #57

    True – I can imagine a slick debater saying that. Right – I meant the most informed and ethical opponents who will offer some real challenges.

  61. 61
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Reciprocating Bill #6

    You make a good point. I do it for the love of the game and most importantly, to learn and sharpen (or change if needed) my arguments.
    I want to learn more about why people defend evolutionism also — and see how they respond to ID.
    I don’t think about lurkers at all, really.

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