Intelligent Design

HeKS is on a Roll

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In comments to my last post HeKS absolutely lays waste to two materialists who are trying to punch way above their weight.  First, Pindi spews out the million-times-rebutted claim that there is “no evidence” for the existence of God.

Pindi: And its not that I don’t want to believe in something that is god-like and personal. I just don’t see any evidence for it.

HeKS responds (not placed in quote box; all that follows is his unless noted otherwise):

Oh God, it’s the “there just isn’t any evidence” canard again.

I don’t know how atheists can even make this claim with a straight face anymore.

Here is a sampling of a few lines of evidence strongly pointing to God’s existence:

– The origin of the universe (including its matter, energy, space and physical laws) in the finite past

– The fine-tuning of the physical laws and initial conditions of the universe in a way that allows for the existence of intelligent life

– The fine-tuning of the universe for discoverability

– The fine-tuning of our solar system and planet for both life and discoverability

– The origin of life, which is roughly the equivalent of the origin of biological information

– Various events in the history of life that seem to show a large-scale influx of biological information that cannot be accounted for by any proposed mechanism of biological evolution that we are aware of. (Best explained by reference to God when taken in light of preceding items)

– Various other events in history that seem best explained by divine intervention and that would not be expected on naturalism or materialism (such as evidence supporting the resurrection of Christ).

– The apparent existence of objective moral values and duties, which people can’t seem to avoid invoking even while denying their existence (i.e. sneaking it in the back door after booting it out the front door)

– Various aspects of the mind, including the apparent existence of free will, the apparent existence of a rational consciousness capable of accurately perceiving external events and reasoning on them in a reliable way, the ability to have subjective experiences, and the ability to have thoughts that are about things.

These facts, conditions and states of affairs make God’s existence more likely than it would otherwise be in their absence or if they were different than they are, thus they constitute evidence for God’s existence.

If you want to say you’re not personally convinced and wouldn’t be unless God performed some miracle in front of your eyes for the sake of personally convincing you, fine. You’re entitled to your selective hyperskepticism. But stop claiming that there just isn’t any evidence for God’s existence. If you don’t want to accept God’s existence then it’s time to put on your bib and gobble up the multiverse. Bon appetit.

[Barry:  Then rvb8 weighs in:]

 all of the things HeKS listed, except for the starting point of the universe have competing, and better theorised natural answers.

HeKS responds:

My claim was that there is evidence for God’s existence. My claim was not that there is absolute proof for God’s existence or that God is the only conceivable explanation for the things listed. As such, this comment from you would be completely irrelevant to my point even if it were true. But then, it’s not true. And, in fact, it’s untrue on both counts, in that not all of the items in my list have competing “theorized natural answers”, and where they do, those competing natural answers are typically worse, not better.

Consider the list again…

– The origin of the universe (including its matter, energy, space and physical laws) in the finite past

You didn’t try to assert that there was a better competing naturalistic theory for this, so I won’t spend time on it. Suffice it to say that Krauss’ idea of a universe from “nothing”, in which “nothing” is the quantum vacuum, assumes the prior existence of all the things to be explained and doesn’t answer the philosophical issues involved.

– The fine-tuning of the physical laws and initial conditions of the universe in a way that allows for the existence of intelligent life

– The fine-tuning of the universe for discoverability

– The fine-tuning of our solar system and planet for both life and discoverability

In response to these you said:

HeKS uses ‘fine tuning’ three times and roles his eyes at the ‘lack of evidence for God’argument.

Actually, these three list items mention fine-tuning four times, because they are referring to four different categories of fine-tuning.

The fine-tuning of the laws of physics and initial conditions of the universe are a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for life to be even possible anywhere in the universe.

The fine-tuning of our solar system and planet for the existence of intelligent life, which includes a few hundred factors, is also necessary, but would be useless and in many cases impossible without the fine-tuning of the universe itself.

The fine-tuning of the universe for discoverability refers to the fact that the values of the laws of physics fall into an even more narrow range than the already inconceivably narrow range necessary for life, but instead fit within the subset of that life-permitting range that also allows the universe to be scientifically discoverable to intelligent beings.

This, however, would be useless if our own planet and solar system were not also fine-tuned in terms of their position and composition so as to also be conducive to scientific discovery

Now, in order to account for the fine tuning of the laws of physics and initial conditions of the universe, some appeal to a staggeringly expansive multiverse birthing off child universes in which the values are randomly determined, which they try to derive from some undetermined hypothetical connection between the purely theoretical concept of chaotic inflation and the much-maligned string theory, which is also purely theoretical.

It would take an unimaginable number of universes with randomly determined values to have a 51% chance of getting a universe that falls into the life-permitting range of our universe. But that would just be the beginning, because then you have all the other factors needed to make intelligent life possible at the level of the planet and solar system, all of which the atheist requires to have occurred by chance. The number of additional universes required to also get all these factors at the right values would dwarf the already unimaginably large collection of universes that have to be postulated just to explain the fine-tuning of the universe itself. And what reason do we have to postulate such a massive collective? Only that we need the probabilistic resources to explain the seemingly designed qualities of the cosmos by reference to chance alone.

But in addition to all of the problems that could be raised with the multiverse idea, we have another problem that is presented by the fine-tuning of both the universe and our planet and solar system for discoverability, which is that the characteristic of discoverability is not necessary for life and so it cannot be accounted for by reference to an observer selection effect at either the cosmic or the planetary scale. Were we just a random member of a multiverse, we would have no reason to expect that in addition to being in an incredibly unlikely universe that is capable of sustaining intelligent life, we would also be in an even more unlikely universe that is conducive to scientific discovery. So the multiverse doesn’t offer an alternative naturalistic explanation for this fine-tuning, unless we just want to throw our hands up and say that the multiverse explains literally every conceivable state of affairs as being the product of chance alone, destroying the foundation of science in the process.

Furthermore, as an explanation for the fine-tuning of the universe, the multiverse is highly ad hoc. Even Andrei Linde, who is responsible for the Chaotic Inflation theory that is sometimes appealed to as a possible means of getting many universes with different physics readily admits that any aspect of the theory leading to universes that have laws and constants with different values is purely speculative and that it’s the fine-tuning itself that gives us any reason to accept the speculation as possibly true.

So the competing naturalistic explanation for fine-tuning is ad hoc and explains either too little to match the explanatory scope of the God Hypothesis, or else it explains too much and undercuts science and rationality. And this in addition to the various other problems with it that have been raised (e.g. Boltzmann Brains, need for the multiverse itself to be fine-tuned, etc.)

– The origin of life, which is roughly the equivalent of the origin of biological information

There’s a better, viable, naturalistic theory in existence? Nope. Uh-uh. I don’t think so. No naturalistic OOL theory seems viable so far. If they’ve made any progress on OOL it is in finding out how much more unlikely it is on naturalism that was initially thought. Might they come up with something viable in the distant future? Perhaps, but as an argument, that’s a cheque that nobody has to cash, and this is a discussion about the actual current state of the evidence and our knowledge, not about undated naturalistic promissory notes.

– Various events in the history of life that seem to show a large-scale influx of biological information that cannot be accounted for by any proposed mechanism of biological evolution that we are aware of. (Best explained by reference to God when taken in light of preceding items)

I’m not even going to bother discussing this one since it gets talked about here all the time.

– Various other events in history that seem best explained by divine intervention and that would not be expected on naturalism or materialism (such as evidence supporting the resurrection of Christ).

The primary competing naturalistic theory is that hundreds of people had shared group visual and auditory hallucinations. That can only be considered a better explanation to someone who has an a priori and unwavering commitment to the non-existence of God and the impossibility of what, to us, appears miraculous.

– The apparent existence of objective moral values and duties, which people can’t seem to avoid invoking even while denying their existence (i.e. sneaking it in the back door after booting it out the front door)

The competing naturalistic theory is that objective moral values and duties do not exist. Verbally denying the existence of something while being unable to personally live as though that thing didn’t exist does not count as offering an alternative explanation for its existence. No viable alternative to God has been found for grounding objective moral values and duties, and yet countless atheists believe and live as though they exist.

– Various aspects of the mind, including the apparent existence of free will, the apparent existence of a rational consciousness capable of accurately perceiving external events and reasoning on them in a reliable way, the ability to have subjective experiences, and the ability to have thoughts that are about things.

And again, the competing naturalistic theory is that these things do not exist. Claiming that we don’t have free will, that there is no subjective observer, and that we cannot have thoughts that are about things and so can’t have rational consciousness capable or accurately perceiving reality or rationally deliberating on evidence is not an alternate naturalistic explanation for any of these things at all, much less a better explanation for their existence than God.

The God creation belief, equally raises the problem of ultimate origins, as does the Big Bang. Your ultimate cause, very sorry, needs a cause. Your ’causeless cause’ tedium is just that unsupported faith.

And yet, prior to the realization that the universe had an absolute beginning in the finite past, atheists were perfectly fine accepting, as a brute fact, the existence of the universe as an uncaused entity that had existedtemporally into an infinite past … and they are constantly trying to return to that view. This is not just the atheistic equivalent of the theist’s uncaused God. It is actually much worse, because even the theist doesn’t posit God as existing temporally through an infinite past.

Fine tuning, is a poor way to describe the natural constants that govern our universe, and if they are so fine tuned why didn’t God make the constants nice round numbers? Was He constrained by something? His own creation perhaps?

What a bizarre argument. The values aren’t fine-tuned because they are astronomically more precise than simple whole numbers? You know, do you, that a super-intellect would only use “nice round numbers”? It’s strange that you think the universe ought to be mathematically describable at all on naturalism.

Also, of course God was constrained by his own creation. It is a simple fact of physical instantiation that starting points constrain end points, that pathways constrain outputs, that present choices constrain downstream options, that functional coherence constrains the relationship between parts. I’m not sure why you would find any of this surprising.

Barry again:  Well done HeKS.

126 Replies to “HeKS is on a Roll

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Very articulate. Very clearly put. Thanks HeKS. Saved for future reference.

    I especially liked this part:

    – “Various aspects of the mind, including the apparent existence of free will, the apparent existence of a rational consciousness capable of accurately perceiving external events and reasoning on them in a reliable way, the ability to have subjective experiences, and the ability to have thoughts that are about things.
    And again, the competing naturalistic theory is that these things do not exist. Claiming that we don’t have free will, that there is no subjective observer, and that we cannot have thoughts that are about things and so can’t have rational consciousness capable or accurately perceiving reality or rationally deliberating on evidence is not an alternate naturalistic explanation for any of these things at all, much less a better explanation for their existence than God.”
    – HeKS
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....on-a-roll/

  2. 2
    News says:

    It is usually useful to ask, What would a given person count as definitive evidence? Usually, when people are not engaging in an honest discussion, it turns out that mathematical proof or personal eyewitness evidence can somehow be pettifogged around.

  3. 3
    harry says:

    One only needs to have some small capacity for objectivity to see that contemporary atheism, in the light of the discoveries of modern science, is irrational.

    We now know there was only 1 chance in 10^10^123 that the Big Bang would produce a universe where life was a possibility. (See Roger Penrose’s The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe) It was virtually impossible for that to have happened mindlessly and accidentally. The number of elementary particles in the observable Universe (10^80) is infinitesimally small relative to 10^10^123. One can have far more certainty that the universe being fine-tuned for life was not a mindless accident than one can have that the laws of physics will continue to apply consistently to nature. So except, I suppose, for those who have all their possessions tied down just in case gravity stops working, this alone should make it apparent that it is simply irrational to conclude that the Universe being fine-tuned for life is a mindless accident.

    Multiverse theory is the frantic, desperate atheistic response to this, and is based upon no evidence whatsoever. One has to take on irrational, blind faith that there are bajillions of other universes out there, and one of them had to win the universe-fine-tuned-for-life lottery, and it was us. And there just might be invisible, flying spaghetti monsters among us. There is just as much evidence for that as there is for all those other universes.

    We now know that the physical dimension of life is ultra-sophisticated, self-replicating, digital information-based nanotechnology the functional complexity of which is light years beyond anything modern science knows how to build from scratch. We would all assume upon discovering self-replicating robotic equipment that it was intelligently designed. But the far more complex nanotechnology of life isn’t? Upon what evidence does one base that assumption? We know of no instances whatsoever of digital information-based functional complexity coming about mindlessly and accidentally, nor do we have any plausible explanation of how that might happen.

    So how could any rational person assume that life — the most functionally complex phenomenon known to us, being digital-information based as well — was a mindless accident? One can’t and remain rational. One has to have the huge, irrational, blind faith of an atheist to make such an assumption.

  4. 4
    ScuzzaMan says:

    The competing naturalistic theory is that objective moral values and duties do not exist. Verbally denying the existence of something while being unable to personally live as though that thing didn’t exist does not count as offering an alternative explanation for its existence.

    Not to quibble, but you missed a trick here.

    Having not even offered an alternative, one cannot ever be said to have offered a better alternative, which was also claimed. One has not even made an attempt.

    I know, it is a trivial quibble in a masterful fisking, but it’s simply bad form to leave a trick on the table.

  5. 5
    HeKS says:

    ScuzzaMan,

    Yeah, I included that point in the next one 🙂

    And again, the competing naturalistic theory is that these things do not exist. Claiming that we don’t have free will, that there is no subjective observer, and that we cannot have thoughts that are about things and so can’t have rational consciousness capable or accurately perceiving reality or rationally deliberating on evidence is not an alternate naturalistic explanation for any of these things at all, much less a better explanation for their existence than God.

  6. 6
    Seversky says:

    Oh God, it’s the “there just isn’t any evidence” canard again.

    I don’t know how atheists can even make this claim with a straight face anymore.

    It’s very simple. It’s no canard. If you want to nitpick, there is evidence that people believe a God exists. That is evidence of belief only. It’s not evidence for the existence of God. Why not? Well, for a start, people have believed in a great number of gods over the millennia. Unless you are arguing for polytheism, there can only be one god at most. That means that the vast majority, if not all, of those beliefs were wrong. So even if we allow, for the sake of argument, that belief in a god is evidence for a god, at best that’s a pretty unreliable source of evidence.

    Here is a sampling of a few lines of evidence strongly pointing to God’s existence:

    – The origin of the universe (including its matter, energy, space and physical laws) in the finite past

    Evidence points to the universe expanding from a singularity – for want of a better word – about 13.85bn years ago. What caused it, whether anything preceded it are unknowns and unknowns can’t be evidence of anything.

    – The fine-tuning of the physical laws and initial conditions of the universe in a way that allows for the existence of intelligent life

    – The fine-tuning of the universe for discoverability

    – The fine-tuning of our solar system and planet for both life and discoverability

    We observe that the values of certain fundamental physical constants cannot vary much otherwise our universe could not exist. Why should that be so? Simple answer, we don’t know. Does that make it evidence for God? Not even close.

    – The origin of life, which is roughly the equivalent of the origin of biological information

    We don’t know how life originated. Again, an unknown cannot be evidence of anything.

    – Various events in the history of life that seem to show a large-scale influx of biological information that cannot be accounted for by any proposed mechanism of biological evolution that we are aware of. (Best explained by reference to God when taken in light of preceding items

    Which version of information are you referring to? I certainly isn’t the sort of information we are exchanging here. Until that is clarified, any claims about large-scale influxes of biological information are fanciful and nowhere near evidence for a god.

    – Various other events in history that seem best explained by divine intervention and that would not be expected on naturalism or materialism (such as evidence supporting the resurrection of Christ).

    Such as?

    – The apparent existence of objective moral values and duties, which people can’t seem to avoid invoking even while denying their existence (i.e. sneaking it in the back door after booting it out the front door)

    “Apparent existence” is evidence? Objective morality is a nonsense. Morals are social or cultural constructs that exist nowhere but in the minds of those who recognize their value to a well-ordered society and consent to abide by them.

    – Various aspects of the mind, including the apparent existence of free will, the apparent existence of a rational consciousness capable of accurately perceiving external events and reasoning on them in a reliable way, the ability to have subjective experiences, and the ability to have thoughts that are about things.

    Again, the origins and nature of consciousness are still largely unknowns and unknowns are not evidence of anything.

    If you want to say you’re not personally convinced and wouldn’t be unless God performed some miracle in front of your eyes for the sake of personally convincing you, fine. You’re entitled to your selective hyperskepticism. But stop claiming that there just isn’t any evidence for God’s existence. If you don’t want to accept God’s existence then it’s time to put on your bib and gobble up the multiverse. Bon appetit.

    So, you have a bunch of observations for which, if we were asked the cause, we would have to check the Don’t Know box, if we are honest. That may be good enough for those who practice unquestioning credulity but enquiring minds want something better.

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    “but enquiring minds want something better.”

    Says the neuronal illusion by no will of its own.

  8. 8
    Tim says:

    Match the cinnamon buns astride the head that was Leia’s,
    With the burp in aught-six — Alas, San Andreas;
    Symmetry in motion,
    Truth razed each notion
    Put forth by the skeptic. Thank you, HeKS.

  9. 9
    groovamos says:

    Seversky: a singularity – for want of a better word – (occurred) about 13.85bn years ago. What caused it, whether anything preceded it are unknowns and unknowns can’t be evidence of anything.

    I find it entertaining when materialists lazily assume some event(s) possibly precede the point at which time began. This seems to be a common symptom of fundamentalist naturalism infecting the thinking process. It’s very much like when fundamentalist Dawkins gets laughed at for his own naturalistic confusion shown here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AQvWrX-mKg

  10. 10
    Origenes says:

    Seversky: Evidence points to the universe expanding from a singularity – for want of a better word – about 13.85bn years ago. What caused it, whether anything preceded it are unknowns and unknowns can’t be evidence of anything.

    I agree with the statement “unknowns can’t be evidence of anything”, however, no unknowns are offered as evidence of anything. You are arguing against a strawman.
    We have this (known) fine-tuned universe, which is (known) to have come into existence. Those (known) facts are offered as evidence for the God hypothesis.

    Not the other way around as you seem to suggest.

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    In regards to:

    Oh God, it’s the “there just isn’t any evidence” canard again.
    I don’t know how atheists can even make this claim with a straight face anymore.

    Seversky states:

    It’s very simple. It’s no canard. If you want to nitpick, there is evidence that people believe a God exists. That is evidence of belief only. It’s not evidence for the existence of God.

    Actually, there is scientific evidence that belief in God is found to be a ‘natural’ non-delusional belief and that unbelief in God is found to be ‘un-natural’, delusional, belief. In fact, atheists are found to have to actively, angrily, suppress their ‘natural belief’ in God.

    Is Atheism a Delusion?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ii-bsrHB0o
    Short answer to the question “Is Atheism a Delusion?” Yes it is, and there are many studies backing up the claim that atheists, whether consciously or not, are actively suppressing their ‘natural’, non-delusional, belief in God.

    When Atheists Are Angry at God – 2011
    Excerpt: I’ve never been angry at unicorns. It’s unlikely you’ve ever been angry at unicorns either.,, The one social group that takes exception to this rule is atheists. They claim to believe that God does not exist and yet, according to empirical studies, tend to be the people most angry at him.
    http://www.firstthings.com/ont.....gry-at-god

    Study explores whether atheism is rooted in reason or emotion – Jan. 2015
    Excerpt: “A new set of studies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology finds that atheists and agnostics report anger toward God either in the past or anger focused on a hypothetical image of what they imagine God must be like. Julie Exline, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University and the lead author of this recent study, has examined other data on this subject with identical results. Exline explains that her interest was first piqued when an early study of anger toward God revealed a counterintuitive finding: Those who reported no belief in God reported more grudges toward him than believers.”
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....r-emotion/

    Moreover, HeKS specifically said “with a straight face anymore”. Which is clearly a reference to the avalanche of scientific evidence that modern science has revealed for God:

    Theism compared to Materialism/Naturalism – a comparative overview of the major predictions of each philosophy – video
    https://youtu.be/QQ9iyCmPmz8

    1. Naturalism/Materialism predicted space-time energy-matter always existed. Theism predicted space-time energy-matter were created. Big Bang cosmology now strongly indicates that time-space energy-matter had a sudden creation event approximately 14 billion years ago.

    2. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that the universe is a self sustaining system that is not dependent on anything else for its continued existence. Theism predicted that God upholds this universe in its continued existence. Breakthroughs in quantum mechanics reveal that this universe is dependent on a ‘non-local’, beyond space and time, cause for its continued existence.

    3. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that consciousness is an ‘emergent property’ of material reality and thus should have no particularly special position within material reality. Theism predicts consciousness precedes material reality and therefore, on that presupposition, consciousness should have a ‘special’ position within material reality. Quantum Mechanics reveals that consciousness has a special, even a central, position within material reality. –

    4. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the rate at which time passed was constant everywhere in the universe. Theism predicted God is eternal and is outside of time. – Special Relativity has shown that time, as we understand it, is relative and comes to a complete stop at the speed of light. (Psalm 90:4 – 2 Timothy 1:9) –

    5. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the universe did not have life in mind and that life was ultimately an accident of time and chance. Theism predicted this universe was purposely created by God with man in mind. Scientists find the universe is exquisitely fine-tuned for carbon-based life to exist in this universe. Moreover it is found, when scrutinizing the details of physics and chemistry, that not only is the universe fine-tuned for carbon based life, but is specifically fine-tuned for life like human life (R. Collins, M. Denton).-

    6. Naturalism/Materialism predicted complex life in this universe should be fairly common. Theism predicted the earth is extremely unique in this universe. Statistical analysis of the hundreds of required parameters which enable complex organic life to be possible on earth gives strong indication the earth is extremely unique in this universe (G. Gonzalez; Hugh Ross). –

    7. Naturalism/Materialism predicted it took a very long time for life to develop on earth. Theism predicted life to appear abruptly on earth after water appeared on earth (Genesis 1:10-11). Geochemical evidence from the oldest sedimentary rocks ever found on earth indicates that complex photosynthetic life has existed on earth as long as water has been on the face of earth. –

    8. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the first life to be relatively simple. Theism predicted that God is the source for all life on earth. The simplest life ever found on Earth is far more complex than any machine man has made through concerted effort. (Michael Denton PhD) –

    9. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the gradual unfolding of life would (someday) be self-evident in the fossil record. Theism predicted complex and diverse animal life to appear abruptly in the seas in God’s fifth day of creation. The Cambrian Explosion shows a sudden appearance of many different and completely unique fossils within a very short “geologic resolution time” in the Cambrian seas. –

    10. Naturalism/Materialism predicted there should be numerous transitional fossils found in the fossil record, Theism predicted sudden appearance and rapid diversity within different kinds found in the fossil record. Fossils are consistently characterized by sudden appearance of a group/kind in the fossil record(disparity), then rapid diversity within that group/kind, and then long term stability and even deterioration of variety within the overall group/kind, and within the specific species of the kind, over long periods of time. Of the few dozen or so fossils claimed as transitional, not one is uncontested as a true example of transition between major animal forms out of millions of collected fossils. –

    11. Naturalism/Materialism predicted animal speciation should happen on a somewhat constant basis on earth. Theism predicted man was the last species created on earth – Man (our genus ‘modern homo’ as distinct from the highly controversial ‘early homo’) is the last generally accepted major fossil form to have suddenly appeared in the fossil record. (Tattersall; Luskin)–

    12. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that the separation of human intelligence from animal intelligence ‘is one of degree and not of kind’(C. Darwin). Theism predicted that we are made in the ‘image of God’- Despite an ‘explosion of research’ in this area over the last four decades, human beings alone are found to ‘mentally dissect the world into a multitude of discrete symbols, and combine and recombine those symbols in their minds to produce hypotheses of alternative possibilities.’ (Tattersall; Schwartz). Moreover, both biological life and the universe itself are found to be ‘information theoretic’ in their foundational basis.

    13. Naturalism/Materialism predicted much of the DNA code was junk. Theism predicted we are fearfully and wonderfully made – ENCODE research into the DNA has revealed a “biological jungle deeper, denser, and more difficult to penetrate than anyone imagined.”. –

    14. Naturalism/Materialism predicted a extremely beneficial and flexible mutation rate for DNA which was ultimately responsible for all the diversity and complexity of life we see on earth. Theism predicted only God created life on earth – The mutation rate to DNA is overwhelmingly detrimental. Detrimental to such a point that it is seriously questioned whether there are any truly beneficial, information building, mutations whatsoever. (M. Behe; JC Sanford) –

    15. Naturalism/Materialism predicted morality is subjective and illusory. Theism predicted morality is objective and real. Morality is found to be deeply embedded in the genetic responses of humans. As well, morality is found to be deeply embedded in the structure of the universe. Embedded to the point of eliciting physiological responses in humans before humans become aware of the morally troubling situation and even prior to the event even happening.

    16. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that we are merely our material bodies with no transcendent component to our being, and that we die when our material bodies die. Theism predicted that we have minds/souls that are transcendent of our bodies that live past the death of our material bodies. Transcendent, and ‘conserved’, (cannot be created or destroyed), ‘non-local’, (beyond space-time matter-energy), quantum entanglement/information, which is not reducible to matter-energy space-time, is now found in our material bodies on a massive scale (in every DNA and protein molecule).

     As you can see when we remove the artificial imposition of the materialistic philosophy (methodological naturalism), from the scientific method, and look carefully at the predictions of both the materialistic philosophy and the Theistic philosophy, side by side, we find the scientific method is very good at pointing us in the direction of Theism as the true explanation. – In fact science is even very good at pointing us to Christianity as the solution to the much sought after ‘theory of everything’

    The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from Death as the “Theory of Everything” – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uHST2uFPQY&list=PLtAP1KN7ahia8hmDlCYEKifQ8n65oNpQ5&index=4

    Sev goes on to state:

    Well, for a start, people have believed in a great number of gods over the millennia. Unless you are arguing for polytheism, there can only be one god at most. That means that the vast majority, if not all, of those beliefs were wrong. So even if we allow, for the sake of argument, that belief in a god is evidence for a god, at best that’s a pretty unreliable source of evidence.

    If Sev is truly worried about people confusing what is imaginary with what is real then he should be first and foremost to drop his atheistic materialism since everything, (sense of self, free will, observation of reality, even reality itself), becomes illusory within atheistic materialism.

    Atheistic Materialism is built entirely upon a framework of illusions
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=At6YNLBa2p0

    Darwinian evolution, and atheism/naturalism in general, are built entirely upon a foundation of illusions and fantasy
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Q94y-QgZZGF0Q7HdcE-qdFcVGErhWxsVKP7GOmpKD6o/edit

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    Moreover, if Seversky is truly worried about finding which belief in God is ‘scientifically’ right, he might start with the belief that gave us modern science in the first place:

    Science and Theism: Concord, not Conflict* – Robert C. Koons
    IV. The Dependency of Science Upon Theism (Page 21)
    Excerpt: Far from undermining the credibility of theism, the remarkable success of science in modern times is a remarkable confirmation of the truth of theism. It was from the perspective of Judeo-Christian theism—and from the perspective alone—that it was predictable that science would have succeeded as it has. Without the faith in the rational intelligibility of the world and the divine vocation of human beings to master it, modern science would never have been possible, and, even today, the continued rationality of the enterprise of science depends on convictions that can be reasonably grounded only in theistic metaphysics.
    http://www.robkoons.net/media/.....ffd524.pdf

    Bruce Charlton’s Miscellany – October 2011
    Excerpt: I had discovered that over the same period of the twentieth century that the US had risen to scientific eminence it had undergone a significant Christian revival. ,,,The point I put to (Richard) Dawkins was that the USA was simultaneously by-far the most dominant scientific nation in the world (I knew this from various scientometic studies I was doing at the time) and by-far the most religious (Christian) nation in the world. How, I asked, could this be – if Christianity was culturally inimical to science?
    http://charltonteaching.blogsp.....-wife.html

    Of related note, unlike Christianity which is conducive to scientific progress, Darwinian evolution has not advanced science at all, and in fact it can be forcefully argued that Darwinian evolution has hampered the progress of modern science, (junk DNA and vestigial organs among other things):

    “In fact, over the last 100 years, almost all of biology has proceeded independent of evolution, except evolutionary biology itself. Molecular biology, biochemistry, and physiology, have not taken evolution into account at all.”
    Marc Kirschner, Boston Globe, Oct. 23, 2005

    “While the great majority of biologists would probably agree with Theodosius Dobzhansky’s dictum that “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”, most can conduct their work quite happily without particular reference to evolutionary ideas. Evolution would appear to be the indispensable unifying idea and, at the same time, a highly superflous one.”
    A.S. Wilkins, editor of the journal BioEssays, Introduction to “Evolutionary Processes” – (2000).

    Sev goes on to state:

    Evidence points to the universe expanding from a singularity – for want of a better word – about 13.85bn years ago. What caused it, whether anything preceded it are unknowns and unknowns can’t be evidence of anything.

    Actually, Theism uniquely predicted a beginning for the universe and there is strong evidence to suggest that the Mind that precedes material reality possesses infinite intelligence:

    “Certainly there was something that set it all off,,, I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match Genesis”
    Robert Wilson – Nobel laureate – co-discover Cosmic Background Radiation

    “There is no doubt that a parallel exists between the big bang as an event and the Christian notion of creation from nothing.”
    George Smoot – Nobel laureate in 2006 for his work on COBE

    “Now we see how the astronomical evidence supports the biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.”
    Robert Jastrow – Founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute – Pg.15 ‘God and the Astronomers’

    It is also very interesting to note that among all the ‘holy’ books, of all the major religions in the world, only the Holy Bible was correct in its claim for a transcendent origin of the universe. Some later ‘holy’ books, such as the Mormon text “Pearl of Great Price” and the Qur’an, copy the concept of a transcendent origin from the Bible but also include teachings that are inconsistent with that now established fact. (Hugh Ross; Why The Universe Is The Way It Is; Pg. 228; Chpt.9; note 5)

    (Genesis 1 – Transcendent Origin) Scientific Evidence For God’s Existence (Hugh Ross) – 17:00 minute mark – video
    https://youtu.be/4mEKZRm1xXg?t=1032

    Sev goes on to claim that fine tuning is ‘not even close’ to being evidence for God. A more blatant example of denialism would be hard to find:

    ‘Amazing fine-tuning occurs in the laws that make this [complexity] possible. Realization of the complexity of what is accomplished makes it very difficult not to use the word “miraculous” without taking a stand as to the ontological status of that word.’
    – George Ellis – He co-authored The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time with University of Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking, published in 1973, and is considered one of the world’s leading theorists in cosmology.

    Hugh Ross PhD. – Scientific Evidence For Cosmological Constant (1 in 10^120 Expansion Of The Universe) video 23:12 minute mark
    https://youtu.be/fTP01yi-SSU?t=1392

    Here is the paper from atheistic astrophysicists, which Dr. Ross referenced, that speaks of the ‘disturbing implications’ of the finely tuned expanding universe (1 in 10^120 cosmological constant):

    Disturbing Implications of a Cosmological Constant – Dyson, Kleban, Susskind (each are self proclaimed atheists) – 2002
    Excerpt: “Arranging the universe as we think it is arranged would have required a miracle.,,,”
    “The question then is whether the origin of the universe can be a naturally occurring fluctuation, or must it be due to an external agent which starts the system out in a specific low entropy state?”
    page 19: “A unknown agent [external to time and space] intervened [in cosmic history] for reasons of its own.,,,”
    http://arxiv.org/pdf/hep-th/0208013.pdf

    Sev goes on to claim that biological information is not the same as ‘the information we are exchanging here’. Yet, as Craig Venter and Leroy Hood have both independently pointed out, digital computer information is virtually the same as the information on DNA. Also the Wyss institute has now encoded a staggering amount of digital information on DNA

    The Digital Code of DNA – 2003 – Leroy Hood & David Galas
    Excerpt: The discovery of the structure of DNA transformed biology profoundly, catalysing the sequencing of the human genome and engendering a new view of biology as an information science.
    http://www.nature.com/nature/j.....01410.html

    Venter: Life Is Robotic Software – July 15, 2012
    Excerpt: “All living cells that we know of on this planet are ‘DNA software’-driven biological machines comprised of hundreds of thousands of protein robots, coded for by the DNA, that carry out precise functions,” said (Craig) Venter.
    per crev info

    Information Storage in DNA by Wyss Institute – video
    https://vimeo.com/47615970
    Quote from preceding video:
    “The theoretical (information) density of DNA is you could store the total world information, which is 1.8 zetabytes, at least in 2011, in about 4 grams of DNA.”
    Sriram Kosuri PhD. – Wyss Institute

    Sev goes on to make the outlandish claim that there no evidence for the resurrection of Christ. I suggest he look up Habemas’s ‘minimal facts’, Wallace’s book ‘Cold case Christianity’ and Strobel’s book ‘The Case for Christ” as well as my personal favorite, The Shroud of Turin

    Shroud of Turin: From discovery of Photographic Negative, to 3D Information, to Quantum Hologram
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-TL4QOCiis

    Sev goes on to deny that consciousness is a problem for materialism by saying it is an ‘unknown’. That is just a dodge of the main issue at hand which is the fact that Mind must be primary and thus consciousness will forever be ‘unknown’ to any postulated materialistic explanation. (see Chalmers ‘The Hard Problem’)

  13. 13
    harry says:

    BA77, you kick butt!

  14. 14
    HeKS says:

    Seversky @6,

    Just like I originally said, “I don’t know how atheists can even make this claim with a straight face anymore”, you’re attempted rebuttal is entirely unserious.

    Your only unique contribution here is to set up a bizarre strawman in which you seem to try to argue that belief in God is not evidence for God’s existence as though that were one of the lines of evidence I had cited for God. In the rest of your comments you either show that you simply don’t understand how the cited evidence connects to the existence of God or else you just repeat the very things I already identified as the typical and inadequate atheist responses to these lines of evidence in my reply to rvb8 in the other thread.

    With respect to the physical scientific evidence that we have, you seem to be under the impression that simply restating the observational facts and throwing up your hands in a claim to ignorance somehow undermines the theistic implications. You cannot undermine the conclusion of an argument by simply restating the facts that support the premises of the argument.

    “Yes, your honor, the man was stabbed in the back 10 times with surgical precision to hit various organs and the knife found in his back is one-of-a-kind, custom made for the defendant who happens to be a surgeon. What do these facts tell us? Simple. The man is dead. But what does that have to do with the defendant?”

  15. 15
    StephenB says:

    HeKS,

    Every once in a while, someone on this site will write something so edifying that I must stop, sit back, and luxuriate in it for a while. Your comments to Pindi and rvb8 meet that standard. Thanks.

  16. 16
  17. 17
    Seversky says:

    groovamos @ 9

    I find it entertaining when materialists lazily assume some event(s) possibly precede the point at which time began. This seems to be a common symptom of fundamentalist naturalism infecting the thinking process. It’s very much like when fundamentalist Dawkins gets laughed at for his own naturalistic confusion shown here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AQvWrX-mKg

    We all agree that you cannot get something from nothing. If there had ever been truly nothing, there would still be nothing. The corollary of that is that there must always have been something since there could never have been a point at which the something we now see emerged from nothing. That means that, although observational data and cosmological theory points to our spacetime universe having a beginning, something preceded it, something existed before our universe.

    If there is lazy thinking it is by those believers for whom God is an adequate filler for all the gaps in our current knowledge. They seem to have no curiosity about the nature of their God or the means by which such a being might have accomplished the Creation. Yet while they reject the need for them to go into such a “pathetic level of detail”, they demand it of science. Fortunately for their faith and for us there are Christian scientists who do not allow their beliefs to stifle their curiosity.

  18. 18
    Seversky says:

    HeKS @ 14

    Just like I originally said, “I don’t know how atheists can even make this claim with a straight face anymore”, you’re attempted rebuttal is entirely unserious.

    Believe what you want. My rebuttal is perfectly serious

    Your only unique contribution here is to set up a bizarre strawman in which you seem to try to argue that belief in God is not evidence for God’s existence as though that were one of the lines of evidence I had cited for God. In the rest of your comments you either show that you simply don’t understand how the cited evidence connects to the existence of God or else you just repeat the very things I already identified as the typical and inadequate atheist responses to these lines of evidence in my reply to rvb8 in the other thread.

    What “lines of evidence”?

    Acknowledged scientific mysteries for which God is proposed as a possible explanation, yet there is no description of His nature or powers, no account of how He used His powers to accomplish His unknown purposes, no causal chain between Him and us? Your “evidence” is basically to claim that God “poofed” stuff into existence for reasons best know to Himself but which are not consonant with a necessary being.

    Fine tuning? Yes, if the values of certain fundamental physical constants were to vary even slightly our universe would not exist as it is. Does that mean God created it for us? Not if you actually look at the nature of our universe. We live in a thin film of atmosphere around a rocky planet orbiting an unremarkable star. Even in that relatively benign environment we are at risk from all sorts of natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, famines, epidemics of many diseases and so on. Outside it gets a lot worse. Asteroid impacts that could wipe out all life on the planet, searing radiation powerful enough to kill us in an instant, supernovae that could vaporize us and black holes that could swallow us whole. If that points to a God, it’s one with a very strange notion of benevolence. Claiming that shows the universe was created just for us is a leap of faith not reason.

    With respect to the physical scientific evidence that we have, you seem to be under the impression that simply restating the observational facts and throwing up your hands in a claim to ignorance somehow undermines the theistic implications. You cannot undermine the conclusion of an argument by simply restating the facts that support the premises of the argument.

    All you’ve done is cited various scientific phenomena and observations and claimed they point to God. There is no argument there. There is no reasoning to show why we should accept such a claim rather than simply accept that there are still lots of things we don’t know and certainly no reasoning to show why that claim is preferable to other explanations. That may be good enough for you but it certainly isn’t for me.

  19. 19
    harry says:

    Seversky @17

    That means that, although observational data and cosmological theory points to our spacetime universe having a beginning, something preceded it, something existed before our universe.

    So space and time had a beginning — you understand that. Just how much matter fits into the absence of space? None. How much can happen in the absence of time for which it to happen in? Nothing at all. Yes, something existed before our universe that didn’t consist of matter and necessarily exists outside of time. That “something” is obviously not a natural reality. Natural realities exist in space and time. Let’s see. Hmmmm …. It must be a supernatural reality, one that transcends the natural. If we don’t call that supernatural reality “God,” are you with me so far?

  20. 20
    J-Mac says:

    Pindi: And its not that I don’t want to believe in something that is god-like and personal. I just don’t see any evidence for it.

    So, since Pindi could not find any evidence for God, decided to turn to the alternatives with tons of evidence for the origins of life and macroevolution.

    Pinidi,tell us all what evidence for the origins of life convinced you the most…
    How about macroevolution? There must be something that made you believe that….

  21. 21
    Pindi says:

    Harry, have you heard of the big bounce? You know there are a number of theories that entail the big bang not being the only occurrence of such an event?

    Why would something that existed before our universe have to be not natural?

  22. 22
    Pindi says:

    Hi J-Mac, evidence for the origin of life? That’s an odd question. Life exists, why do we need evidence for it?

    If you are asking about evidence for evolution, the nested hierarchy is one of the most compelling items for me. But many of your friends on this board accept common descent. Talk to gpuccio for example.

  23. 23
    Pindi says:

    HeKS, I’ve been thinking about your collection of evidence for God. Take the big bang. The big bang is a theory that was developed to explain certain observations. The primary evidence for the big bang (as I understand it) is the observation that the universe is expanding and the objects in it are accelerating away from each other. You then take this theory, and say that it, in itself, is evidence of something else. That just doesn’t seem quite right to me as an exercise. Can a theory be evidence? I guess you can say the underling observations and measurements are the evidence. But is the observation that all bodies in space are accelerating away from each other evidence for God? I wouldn’t have thought so.

    Anyway, I am still thinking about this, but just thought I would say that is what is worrying me. The idea of a theory itself being seen as evidence for something other than itself.

  24. 24
    J-Mac says:

    Pindi
    Hi J-Mac, evidence for the origin of life? That’s an odd question
    It is not an odd question Pindi. It is a fundamental question. If you ignore it, you can’t make any claims materialist have made you to believe to be true…

  25. 25
    Pindi says:

    J-Mac, probably just semantics but I would say that you look for evidence for a particular theory of how life originated, rather than evidence for the fact that life originated (which it clearly did). So you would have a certain hypothesis for how that occurred, figure out the entailments of that hypothesis, and then see if you could find evidence of those entailments.

    (Although I am the first to admit I am not a scientist).

  26. 26
    Dionisio says:

    J-Mac, HeKS, harry, Barry Arrington,
    Off topic:
    FYI – one of your politely-dissenting interlocutors failed to answer the simple questions posted @1949-1953 in the thread pointed to by this link:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-616309
    This may give you a hint about who you’re dialing with.

  27. 27
    Origenes says:

    1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
    2. The universe began to exist.
    3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.

    What properties must this cause of the universe possess? This cause must be itself uncaused because we’ve seen that an infinite series of causes is impossible. It is therefore the Uncaused First Cause. It must transcend space and time, since it created space and time. Therefore, it must be immaterial and non-physical. It must be unimaginably powerful, since it created all matter and energy.

    Finally, Ghazali argued that this Uncaused First Cause must also be a personal being. It’s the only way to explain how an eternal cause can produce an effect with a beginning like the universe.

    Here’s the problem: If a cause is sufficient to produce its effect, then if the cause is there, the effect must be there, too. For example, the cause of water’s freezing is the temperature’s being below 0 degrees Celsius. If the temperature has been below 0 degrees from eternity, then any water around would be frozen from eternity. It would be impossible for the water to begin to freeze just a finite time ago. Now the cause of the universe is permanently there, since it is timeless. So why isn’t the universe permanently there as well? Why did the universe come into being only 14 billion years ago? Why isn’t it as permanent as its cause?

    Ghazali maintained that the answer to this problem is that the First Cause must be a personal being endowed with freedom of the will. His creating the universe is a free act which is independent of any prior determining conditions. So his act of creating can be something spontaneous and new. Freedom of the will enables one to get an effect with a beginning from a permanent, timeless cause. Thus, we are brought not merely to a transcendent cause of the universe but to its Personal Creator.

    This is admittedly hard for us to imagine. But one way to think about it is to envision God existing alone without the universe as changeless and timeless. His free act of creation is a temporal event simultaneous with the universe’s coming into being. Therefore, God enters into time when He creates the universe. God is thus timeless without the universe and in time with the universe.

    Ghazali’s cosmological argument thus gives us powerful grounds for believing in the existence of a beginningless, uncaused, timeless, spaceless, changeless, immaterial, enormously powerful, Personal Creator of the universe.

    William Lane Craig

  28. 28
    HeKS says:

    Pindi @23,

    HeKS, I’ve been thinking about your collection of evidence for God. Take the big bang. The big bang is a theory that was developed to explain certain observations. The primary evidence for the big bang (as I understand it) is the observation that the universe is expanding and the objects in it are accelerating away from each other. You then take this theory, and say that it, in itself, is evidence of something else. That just doesn’t seem quite right to me as an exercise. Can a theory be evidence? I guess you can say the underling observations and measurements are the evidence. But is the observation that all bodies in space are accelerating away from each other evidence for God? I wouldn’t have thought so.

    Anyway, I am still thinking about this, but just thought I would say that is what is worrying me. The idea of a theory itself being seen as evidence for something other than itself.

    I have to say, this is your first comment in our recent exchanges that comes across to me as though you are actually trying to think honestly about these issues rather than simply falling back on a tired atheism-affirming narrative. That is intended as a complement even if it sounds somewhat back-handed, as I’ve been up-front about my criticisms on this point. In order to save myself a lot of retyping (or a lot of copying and pasting), I would like to suggest that you read through my comments on this same issue over in this thread, particularly my comments #12, #73 and #124 (and obviously WJM’s OP is very good as well).

    With regard to the Big Bang Theory and the fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life, it’s not that particular theories, in and of themselves, are evidence for something else (i.e. God). Rather, it is the underlying facts that are seen to be consistent with theism basically going in both directions, in that they are consistent with prior theistic predictions and expectations on the one hand, and they themselves suggest a particular kind of cause that happens to match preexisting descriptions of God on the other hand.

    In the case of the Big Bang, the theory is consistent with and supportive of a premise in a cosmological argument for God’s existence, namely, the premise that the universe began to exist. Logical and philosophical support for this premise existed long before the expansion of the universe was discovered, but that scientific discovery added a scientific layer of observational evidence in support that premise in addition to the logical/philosophical evidence/arguments. The present understanding of the Big Bang is that the physical spacetime universe in which we live came suddenly and explosively into being at a specific point in the finite past. It was at that specific point that time, space, matter and the physical laws came into being, which means that the event cannot be explained with reference to time, space, matter or any physical laws. In other words, those things that define a “natural” or “scientific” explanation of some effect (i.e. physical objects, physical laws, initial conditions) were not present at the point when the effect occurred. As Fred Hoyle acknowledged, it “can’t be described in scientific terms”. And so, because the universe began to exist, it needed to have a cause for its existence that transcended the physical spacetime in which we find ourselves, and that cause could not consist of any of those things that only came into existence with our physical universe. Thus, the origin of our physical spacetime universe points to a cause for its existence that can be described as transcendent, non-physical/immaterial, spaceless, timeless and powerful enough to bring the universe into being as a brand new effect with no prior material cause and with sufficient energy to generate the incredible heat necessary to produce the universe’s initial light elements and then to fuel its ceaseless expansion.

    Now, one could attempt to say that prior to the physical universe coming into being, and space, time, matter and the physical laws along with it, there was simply more space, time, matter and physical laws. This is problematic, however, because it essentially amounts to a version of “it’s turtles all the way down”, and while the nature of scientific inquiry makes it impossible for us to disprove such a claim scientifically, it fails to stand up to the logical/philosophical arguments that indicated a necessary beginning to our universe long before it was indicated by any scientific evidence. It also has the effect of simply waving off as relatively unimportant a most shocking scientific finding that was utterly unexpected by a large segment of the scientific community, namely, the atheist materialists. In response to this notion, a British Mathematician and Physicist, named Edward Whittaker, said this:

    “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.”

    Upon its introduction, the Big Bang Theory was severely opposed on the grounds that it was an attempt to sneak religion into science and certain scientists expressed an extreme distaste for it specifically due to its seeming theological and even specifically Biblical implications. It took several decades to be accepted in spite of the fact that it was supported by very strong evidence from quite early on, and those who disliked it offered all kinds of theories with very little merit simply for the purpose of avoiding the conclusion that the universe had a beginning because the implication of that were too unpalatable.

    Consider these comments from the agnostic Astrophysicist, Robert Jastrow:

    “Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth. And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover. That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.”

    Jastrow also made these other interesting comments on the mentality and philosophical commitments common within the scientific community.

    “There is a strange ring of feeling and emotion in these reactions [of scientists to evidence that the universe had a sudden beginning]. They come from the heart whereas you would expect the judgments to come from the brain. Why? I think part of the answer is that scientists cannot bear the thought of a natural phenomenon which cannot be explained, even with unlimited time and money. There is a kind of religion in science; it is the religion of a person who believes there is order and harmony in the Universe. Every event can be explained in a rational way as the product of some previous event; every effect must have its cause, there is no First Cause. … This religious faith of the scientist is violated by the discovery that the world had a beginning under conditions in which the known laws of physics are not valid, and as a product of forces or circumstances we cannot discover. When that happens, the scientist has lost control. If he really examined the implications, he would be traumatized.”

    Since the discovery that the universe had a beginning, astronomers, physicists, cosmologists and many others have been trying to get themselves out of the corner that Jastrow says they painted themselves into.

    Arthur Eddington, an astronomer, said this:

    “Philosophically the notion of a beginning of the present order is repugnant to me. I should like to find a genuine loophole. I simply do not believe the present order of things started off with a bang … the expanding Universe is preposterous … it leaves me cold.”

    The general state of affairs was summed up pretty well by an Astrophysicist named C.J. Isham. Here’s what he said:

    “Perhaps the best argument in favour of the thesis that the Big Bang supports theism is the obvious unease with which it is greeted by some atheist physicists. At times this has led to scientific ideas, such as continuous creation or an oscillating universe, being advanced with a tenacity which so exceeds their intrinsic worth that one can only suspect the operation of psychological forces lying very much deeper than the usual academic desire of a theorist to support his or her theory.”

    So, contrary to Seversky’s silly claim that the origin of the universe (along with space, time, matter, energy and the physical laws) only suggests God’s existence to foolish theists, people of all stripes (theist, atheist and agnostic) have recognized the strong theistic implications right from day one and it is for that very reason that it was so strongly opposed for so long and so slowly and grudgingly accepted in spite of the strong confirming evidence (which included but was not limited to the observed expansion).

    So the very condensed version of all that (which itself is a somewhat condensed version of the whole story) is that the origin of our universe points to a very specific kind of cause that has the very same characteristics that theists have been using to describe God for thousands of years, and that this is the case has been recognized by believers and non-believers right from the very beginning.

    Furthermore, there’s the other side to this coin, which is that Genesis 1:1 uniquely asserted that the physical universe [1] was brought into existence and that this happened at a point that coincided with the beginning of time. Jews and Christians believed this based on the Bible while their contemporaries did not. The eventual philosophical arguments that came along thousands of years later were viewed as supporting what Genesis 1:1 had already said. So when the expansion of the universe was discovered and more evidence kept mounting for a beginning to the universe and a finite past, those who believed the Bible were not surprised. The same could not be said for the atheist materialists who had banked on the universe existing temporally into an infinite past.

    Attempts by people like Seversky to wave off this scientific finding as irrelevant to the question of God’s existence are silly, transparent and utterly ahistorical. Someone may choose to search for some non-theistic escape hatch or to simply commit to an eternal self-imposed ignorance on the possible cause of the universe’s origin while refusing to consider the implications of our current data and knowledge, but to doggedly assert in the face of the facts and history that it does not count as legitimate evidence that is strongly suggestive of God’s existence is foolhardy and merely serves as an indicator that the person speaking is violently committed to a self-serving atheism-affirming narrative that wants to see religious people as bumbling and gullible faithheads who believe silly things for no reason.

    I could go on to say more about how the fine-tuning is suggestive of God’s existence and consistent with long-standing theistic expectations if it’s not yet clear to you, but it’s 3:30am here and I’m going to bed 🙂

    Take care,
    HeKS

    [1] The Hebrew term, “the heavens and the earth”, was an idiom used to encapsulate the entirety of the physical universe, for which they did not have a single word

  29. 29
    HeKS says:

    Pindi,

    For good measure, you might want to also check out my comments about the “no evidence” issue in this thread in posts 100, 141 and perhaps 170

  30. 30
    Andre says:

    Pindi…

    Have a read, very good stuff

    http://www.leaderu.com/science/ross-justright.html

  31. 31
    Dionisio says:

    HeKS @28

    I have to say, this is your first comment in our recent exchanges that comes across to me as though you are actually trying to think honestly about these issues rather than simply falling back on a tired atheism-affirming narrative. That is intended as a complement even if it sounds somewhat back-handed, as I’ve been up-front about my criticisms on this point.

    I think I see your point, but still your interlocutor hasn’t explained the situation described @26, which makes the above bold text seem improbable.
    Emphasis mine.

  32. 32
    harry says:

    Seversky,

    Since Pindi has cluttered up this thread with inane comments, you might not have noticed my reply @19 to your post @17.

    Do you agree that some supernatural reality must have existed before spacetime and the natural realities within it existed?

  33. 33
    Dionisio says:

    harry @32

    Sorry if this may disappoint you, but don’t expect your interlocutor to understand what you wrote @32, much less to agree with you.

    Understanding seems like a mysterious thing, because it requires willing attitude, not IQ. My IQ is about the same as my age, though it changes in the opposite direction. My reading comprehension level is rather low. My communication skills are poor, almost nonexistent. My mind is slow: when I hear a joke on the weekend, I get it by Tuesday, after my wife explains it to me. However, I think I understood your comment and agree with it. This fact has no natural explanation. It’s kind of supernaturally explained in Paul’s first letter to the Christians in Corinth (second part of first chapter).
    Something supernatural must happen before we can understand certain things.

  34. 34
    HeKS says:

    StephenB @15,

    That is exceedingly kind of you to say.

    HeKS

  35. 35
    Pindi says:

    Harry, Dionisio, you might learn a lesson from HeKS in how to debate the issues not the personalities.

    Harry, you never answered my question. Why would the space/time that preceded this space/time not be a natural thing? Or if it wasn’t a form of space/time that preceded the big bang, why would it necessarily be supernatural?

  36. 36
    Pindi says:

    Hi HeKS,

    Thanks, I will put some time into reading your material and come back to you when I get time. Probably won’t be today.

    cheers

  37. 37
    J-Mac says:

    Pindi,

    You are wasting my time! Why didn’t you say you had no idea how life originated and you chose one of the ideas? I know for a fact that life could not have originated on its own; by accident and I don’t need to waste time with you telling me what I already know.

  38. 38
    harry says:

    Pindi @21, 35,

    Why would something that existed before our universe have to be not natural?

    Natural realities exist in space and time, which had a beginning. Before there was space and time there were no natural realities. Space, time, matter and energy — natural realities — didn’t pop into existence from nothingness. They must have been brought into being by a supernatural reality,

  39. 39
    Pindi says:

    Harry @38,that is simply your assertion. If you read some cosmology books, you would find there are many theories about what may have preceded the big bang.

  40. 40
    Pindi says:

    J-Mac, same for you. What you are saying is a fact is merely your assertion. I imagine you believe you know how life originated and are not interested in discussing other views on the subject.

  41. 41
    groovamos says:

    Seversky: We all agree that you cannot get something from nothing. If there had ever been truly nothing, there would still be nothing.

    Yes, thank you for making the point. You cannot get a universe from nothing, the universe requires a universe generator.

    Your problem in supporting naturalism is to prove the universe generator to have a peer relationship with the universe, in that it cannot have a superior status to the universe. Or alternatively, if it happens to be the ‘multiverse’, it can be superior but it cannot be smart, it must be dumb. And of course in this case, the inferior, the universe, must be also be dumb, but just happens to harbor “bright” beings that consider it such.

    So really, this is the core of your life philosophy: There may be a universe generator in your life, but you must not allow it to be smart, or even conscious. This is your philosophy, but you cannot even explain why you think it has to be true. So the rest of us on here will step up to the plate for you and maybe discuss the real reason you think your philosophy true, and it would have to be your personal psychology requires it true in your mind. You cannot EVEN entertain the possiblity that the universe generator is conscious. And you think yourself highly rational because of this belief, so the rest of us can laugh at the irrationality and basis-free thinking on display. And get this: if the universe generator is dumb, materialists would seem to not have a problem with its origins. Only if it were smart do materialists raise the question “where did it come from”. Wow what mind boggling logic, like we’re really afraid of being smoked in the debates by you guys.

  42. 42
    Origenes says:

    Pindi: If you read some cosmology books, you would find there are many theories about what may have preceded the big bang.

    For me the core argument is the First Cause argument. Arguendo, I’m willing to accept that there is a natural cause X for the Big Bang. But what natural cause is there for X? And what caused that … and so forth.

    If we agree that an actual infinite cannot exist, then we can skip your evasionary tactics and discuss the properties of the First Cause. What are your thoughts on this matter?

    Seversky: We all agree that you cannot get something from nothing. If there had ever been truly nothing, there would still be nothing.

    Same question for Seversky, what are your thoughts on the First Cause?

  43. 43
    harry says:

    pindi @39

    If you read some cosmology books, you would find there are many theories about what may have preceded the big bang.

    Right, but before spacetime exists there really isn’t room for any matter in the absence of space, and if somehow the impossible happened and some matter existed without any space in which to exist, nothing could have happened — ever — because change takes time and there wasn’t any yet. So, sure, people can theorize about what was happening pre-spacetime, and they can theorize about bajillions of other universes and flying spaghetti monsters and all kinds of things. When you are done reading about all that, you might enjoy Grimm’s Fairy Tales, or a new book I heard was coming out, Impossibilities for Atheists to Pretend Actually Happened, to Make Them Feel Better.

  44. 44
    Seversky says:

    harry @ 32

    Since Pindi has cluttered up this thread with inane comments, you might not have noticed my reply @19 to your post @17.

    Do you agree that some supernatural reality must have existed before spacetime and the natural realities within it existed?

    I agree that something must have existed before this universe. I wouldn’t call it “supernatural” because that word carries a lot of baggage that I don’t accept. I can expand on that a little by quoting from another comment I posted in a different thread:

    The problem for all such arguments lies in the lack of an accepted operational definition of “naturalism” and, by extension, “methodological naturalism. I think many of us are familiar with the opening paragraphs of the entry on “naturalism” in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

    The term “naturalism” has no very precise meaning in contemporary philosophy. Its current usage derives from debates in America in the first half of the last century. The self-proclaimed “naturalists” from that period included John Dewey, Ernest Nagel, Sidney Hook and Roy Wood Sellars. These philosophers aimed to ally philosophy more closely with science. They urged that reality is exhausted by nature, containing nothing “supernatural”, and that the scientific method should be used to investigate all areas of reality, including the “human spirit” (Krikorian 1944; Kim 2003).

    So understood, “naturalism” is not a particularly informative term as applied to contemporary philosophers. The great majority of contemporary philosophers would happily accept naturalism as just characterized—that is, they would both reject “supernatural” entities, and allow that science is a possible route (if not necessarily the only one) to important truths about the “human spirit”

    If you say that science is limited to the investigation of those phenomena that can be observed, however indirectly, or which can be inferred from such observation then I would agree. I would then ask, in what way is that a limitation? What else is there? Isn’t the “supernatural” an empty set?

    Ghosts, for example, are popularly thought to be a supernatural phenomenon. But if such entities exist in objective reality, if they have a nature which can be observed and described, however elusive they might be, then how are they not a natural phenomenon? The same would also be true of any putative deity.

    On the other hand, if you assume that the set of supernatural phenomena includes those that are forever inaccessible to scientific investigation, such that we cannot know if they even exist, then how does that provide any explanatory purchase in the natural world? Take, for example, the case of epileptic seizures. Two explanations are proposed. The first argues that they are the effect of misfiring brain cells, the second claims that they are a sign of demonic possession. In the first case, we can observe the physical brain and the neurons of which it is partially composed and look for any abnormal activity that might be associated with the seizures. In the second case, if we cannot have any knowledge of the existence of demons, of their nature, of how they might “possess” a human being and influence their behavior then of what possible use is it as an explanation, let alone a scientific explanation?

    If something existed before our universe or outside it now then it will have a “nature” which makes it a natural phenomenon even if we have no access to it. Calling it “supernatural”, in my view, is misleading.

  45. 45
    Pindi says:

    Harry, I see you find it hard to debate without childish taunts.

    What do you believe “preceded” the current space/time we live in?

  46. 46
    Pindi says:

    Origenes, I agree that is a conundrum. I assume you believe the first cause was God. On what basis do you excuse God from the requirement of being caused? And if God was not caused, does that not mean he/she/it has always existed, thereby offending your prohibition against infinities?

  47. 47
    Dionisio says:

    Pindi @35,

    Remember you’ve failed to answer the simple questions posted @1949-1954 in the thread pointed to by this link:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-616302
    Why is it taking you so long to answer those simple questions?
    Are you ok? Need help?
    What are you waiting for?
    Why did you quit the conversation you started?
    Did you realize that your initial comment was wrong, but didn’t want to admit it publicly?
    Or was it another reason?
    Just trying to guess it.
    Can you clarify that here?
    Thank you.

  48. 48
    groovamos says:

    Seversky: I agree that something must have existed before this universe. I wouldn’t call it “supernatural”

    Well then in your mind you have placed the universe generator in a peer relationship with the universe as I have indicated you might, in the post @ 41. You have also refuted the multiverse, because a multiverse would be logically be superior to the universe (which itself contains all of nature). As a materialist you then assume the generator and the universe are both unconscious, though your own conscious existence refutes it even from a materialist perspective in the case of the latter (from a dualist perspective also for the previous).

    because that word carries a lot of baggage that I don’t accept.

    There is no scientific or formal definition of “baggage” as you use it, so I can presume you mean ‘baggage’ in the common pop psychology or slang psychology definition, as reference to your own psychology as I was intimating @ 41.

    So with that we can establish that your materialist philosophy has an etiology based in your own psychology.

  49. 49
    Dionisio says:

    Pindi @35,

    Many folks here (including myself) can learn from reading HeKS’ insightful comments. He’s a very good writer. I lack his writing skills. Well, really I don’t have any writing skills.

    Can you learn from HeKS OPs and comments too?

    Please, don’t forget to read the comment @47 and do something about it. It will be very appreciated.

  50. 50
    Dionisio says:

    Pindi @35:

    Considering what HeKS wrote @28, it seems like you’re (finally!) starting to learn a lesson or two from HeKS. Well, it was about time, wasn’t it? 🙂

    Here’s a copy of part of what HeKS wrote @28 (addressed to Pindi):

    I have to say, this is your first comment in our recent exchanges that comes across to me as though you are actually trying to think honestly about these issues rather than simply falling back on a tired atheism-affirming narrative. That is intended as a complement even if it sounds somewhat back-handed, as I’ve been up-front about my criticisms on this point.

    Why did your comments prior to the one HeKS referred to @28 came across as though you were NOT trying to think honestly?
    Did other folks in this blog get similar impressions from your comments?

    PS. Please, don’t forget to read the comment @47 and do something about it. It will be very appreciated.

    [emphasis mine]

  51. 51
    Origenes says:

    Pindi @46,

    I assume you believe the first cause was God.

    Not so fast. Logic informs us about several properties of the First Cause. But I want you to list them. In another thread you said:

    And yes I really do think about a lot of these things. Deeply.

    So, let’s hear it.

    On what basis do you excuse God the First Cause from the requirement of being caused?
    [my insert]

    The First Cause has by definition no external cause.

    And if God was not caused, does that not mean he/she/it has always existed, thereby offending your prohibition against infinities?

    No, the First Cause has no external context — like space and time —, which means that it is “not in time and space”. The First Cause can neither be understood in a causal context nor in a space time context. Saying that the First Cause is “infinite” or “always existed”, are incoherent attempts to understand the First Cause in the context of space time.
    I hold it to be much more precise to state that the First Cause is ‘not in time and space.’

  52. 52

    Pindi,

    The nature of the first cause or sufficient cause arguments is that they logically lead a rational person to the conclusion that there must be an acausal first cause (or an acausal sufficient cause) to serve (logically) as the ground or foundation of our cause-and-effect system. Without it you end up with an absurd scenario of infinite causal regression.

    So, it is logic that demands an acausal first cause. Something that causes other things to happen but is not itself caused to exist or occur. It puts an end point to causal regression. It would be the origin of all cause-and-effect existence. We can call this ground of existence anything. Let’s call it the Causal Prime.

    Since the Causal Prime generates time, space and cause-and-effect, it would be difficult if not impossible to imagine the nature of what the Causal Prime is, because we generally consider the nature of things by a coordinate system involving time, space, and cause-and-effect relationships.

    Whatever Causal Prime is, it generates what we call “nature”, or the way things behave in the universe, which we refer to as natural laws and forces. There is no known reason why there should be natural laws or forces at all, nor any known reason why natural laws and forces should behave consistently and predictably. Further, there is no known reason why the particular formulation of space, time, and cause-and-effect via consistent, predictable natural laws and forces should be “tuned” in a fashion where a long-lasting, stable universe capable of generating and sustaining life, let alone intelligent life, would be remotely possible.

    In fact, we don’t know what it is that makes things act the way they do. We call the behavior “gravity” or “entropy” or “inertia”, but there is still no reason why things should behave in that way at all, much less according to mathematical, predictable precision. You might compare such things to CGI movies where things appear to behave because of cause-and-effect physical forces and laws, but really only act that way because on-screen behaviors are generated according to programmed rules.

    So, Causal Prime not only generates space, time and causal sequences, but necessarily also generates the rules of causal sequences and how they occur in space-time, what we call natural laws and forces. Whatever Causal Prime is, it has produced an extremely unlikely universe with extremely fine-tuned behaviors capable of supporting inhabitants so preposterously unlikely (conscious, self-aware intelligent life) that their existence can only be considered a miraculous anomaly sitting on a stack of prior miraculous anomalies.

    This, along with other arguments about the nature and logical ground of morality and free will, can draw one to rationally reach a conclusion about the Prime Cause; that whatever it is, it purposefully generated this particular universe with its highly particular characteristics in order to support the existence of some highly improbable inhabitants for some reason or purpose.

    Which would lead to a more proper designation of the Prime Cause as “God”.

  53. 53
    harry says:

    William J Murray @52,

    That was excellent.

  54. 54
    harry says:

    Seversky @44

    If something existed before our universe or outside it now then it will have a “nature” which makes it a natural phenomenon even if we have no access to it. Calling it “supernatural”, in my view, is misleading.

    So, everything that we can determine exists is natural. Fine. We have determined that some “natural” reality existed prior to space, time, matter and energy, and must have brought them into being. That “natural” reality appears to have intentionally done this in a way that the more we studied that which was brought into being, the more evident it would be that this preexisting “natural” reality existed, and did what it did for a purpose.

    Consider WJM’s excellent remarks @52.

  55. 55
    drc466 says:

    Seversky,

    Your main point seems to be that unexplainable events do not qualify as “evidence for God”. Let me ask you a question by analogy, then, and then construct a logical argument against you from there.

    Surely you have heard of “cargo cults”. Imagine you are a native on a remote island who discovers, one day, an empty Coke bottle. You know that creation of this object exceeds any capability possessed by you or your tribe, or explanation by any natural process you have knowledge of. You have, essentially, no knowledge whatsoever of this object.

    Question: Does this Coke bottle provide “evidence” of anything? Can you, as a native, deduce anything at all from the existence of this Coke bottle?

    If you answer “Yes”, then the unexplainable CAN function as evidence. If you answer “No”, I would question your understanding of science and the scientific method.

    So, taking the next step. Having established that the unexplainable CAN qualify as evidence, can that evidence qualify as evidence for “God”, or generically, the supernatural? Given that you can mathematically calculate probabilities for natural events, and that you can scientifically delimit what natural laws can produce, the answer would certainly again seem to be “Yes”.

    Ergo, there CAN be evidence for the existence of God:

    Any observable object or event that is mathematically calculable as “impossible” to be natural, or exceeds scientific limits of what natural laws are capable of producing, must be considered evidence for the existence of God.

    For which HeKS provides a handy list.

    Edit for clarification: In this context, “unexplainable” simply means something that is not clearly describable in terms of current known human capability.

  56. 56
    HeKS says:

    drc466,

    I think part of the problem here is that Seversky (and likely others) are attempting to recast positive, evidence-based arguments for God’s existence as being merely God-of-the-gaps arguments that claim we don’t currently have a natural explanation for certain phenomena, ergo, God-did-it.

    Of course, this is simply not the case. Based on all the data we currently have available to us and our current understanding of the world and its causal structure, the evidence we’ve been citing strongly and positively suggests a cause for its existence that matches many of the attributes theists have ascribed to God for thousands of years. This is why an atheist like Fred Hoyle was moved to honestly admit:

    “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”

    It also caused Hoyle to admit that his atheism was “greatly shaken” by these kinds of scientific findings.

    Compare Hoyle’s admissions to the kind of fatuous claims made by Seversky in this thread that these kinds of scientific findings and the lines of evidence mentioned have no connection whatsoever to the question of God’s existence and cannot be legitimately counted as evidence in its favor, except perhaps by “those who practice unquestioning credulity”. Seversky’s objections are transparently trivial.

    Now, one might ask whether the fine-tuning of the universe, if it counts as evidence for God’s existence, might also count as evidence for the multiverse, since both proposed explanatory entities are or were external to our universe and lack independent observational confirmation of their existence. The answer to this question is, yes, it does count as evidence for the multiverse, but only very weakly.

    Why only weakly? Well, there are several reasons.

    First, whereas our understanding of the details of the Big Bang and the fine-tuning directly suggest a pretty comprehensive description of a cause that matches the classic descriptions of God, they do not in any sense directly suggest a description of the multiverse. On the contrary, and as I’ve already mentioned, when it comes to the origin of the universe, the attempt to posit a physical multiverse is to essentially ignore the amazing fact that the entire physical reality of our universe seems to have exploded into being in an absolute beginning and to assert that this event was just more of the same, and preceded by more of the same in the tradition of “It’s turtles all the way down”. Further, with respect to the fine-tuning, the multiverse is a complex mechanistic explanatory entity based on tenuous attempts to join together multiple layers of purely speculative, theoretical and untested physics all for the purpose of imaginatively constructing an entity that is tailor made to explain just the specific finding of the fine-tuning through a mechanistic process, the details of which are derived from the combination of speculative theories rather than directly from the facts of the fine-tuning.

    Second, with respect to the origin of the universe, a physical superspace from which our universe was birthed would be a temporal entity and so, unlike God, would not provide a terminator to infinite temporal regression, which means it does not eliminate the need for an entity like God.

    Third, a multiverse is intended to avoid the common sense conclusion of design and teleology that is most obviously suggested by the fine-tuning and it is motivated primarily by an a priori philosophical commitment to “natural” or material causal explanations. An intelligent entity like God, on the other hand, is consistent with the common sense interpretation of the evidence, which makes God a prima facie better explanation in the absence of some defeater.

    Fourth, as I’ve mentioned before, the multiverse is an inferior explanation of the fine tuning compared to God in terms of explanatory scope. The multiverse in combination with an observer selection effect might account for the fine-tuning of the universe for life, but this would not explain the even more strict fine-tuning of the universe for discoverability unless we claim that the multiverse accounts for any conceivable state of affairs, in which case we undermine the foundation of science. The multiverse therefore explains either too little or too much. But the various kinds of fine-tuning are all consistent with teleology and with a common sense interpretation of purposeful design by a superintellect, and so they can be explained by God without having to destroy the foundation of science. God also serves as a viable ground for other aspects of reality that the multiverse cannot account for even in principle.

    Fifth, even if a multiverse existed, there is no guarantee that enough universes would have been produced by now to make a universe like ours more likely than not to have been produced.

    Sixth, even if we were to allow the possibility of an infinite multiverse, there’s actually no guarantee that a life-permitting universe would have been produced unless the mechanism for producing universes were itself fine-tuned to ensure it covered the full spectrum of possible values so as to make a life permitting universe inevitable rather than simply producing the same lifeless universe or some particular set of lifeless universes over and over. The fine-tuning problem is thus simply moved up a level rather than solved. Furthermore, even a finely-tuned universe generating mechanism may not guarantee that even one life-permitting universe will have even a single fine-tuned solar system and planet capable of sustaining life.

    Seventh, the multiverse is plagued by the Boltzmann Brain problem.

    Eighth, the multiverse is ad hoc. Theories about the kind of multiverse that could even possibly account for the fine-tuning exist primarily for the purpose of explaining the fine-tuning itself. The same is true for constituent theories like Chaotic Inflation, which were themselves developed in an attempt to account for other forms of cosmic fine-tuning, and as I mentioned earlier, even Andre Linde has admitted that the only reason the multiverse would get any traction as a legitimate theory is out of a need to explain the fine-tuning without reference to theism. On the other hand, the concept of an immaterial and superintelligent creator God who brought the physical universe into being at the beginning of time and made it to be suitable for sustaining intelligent life has been around for thousands of years, and those who believed it were astonished at the precision but not the fact of the fine-tuning of the universe, our solar-system and our planet.

    And on and on and on it goes.

    For all these reasons and more, the origin of our physical universe in the finite past and the fine-tuning of our universe and solar system for intelligent life and discoverability serve as very strong evidence for
    the existence of God, while the fine-tuning for life serves as only very weak evidence for a multiverse.

  57. 57
    Barry Arrington says:

    Ninth, what is more parsimonious, one God or infinite universes? The whirling sound you hear is William of Ockham spinning in his grave every time the multiverse is invoked. The multiverse is, without the slightest doubt, the ultimate example of violating the heuristic, “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity.”

  58. 58
    Pindi says:

    I’m sorry, I don’t have time for in depth responses this week.

    Dionisio, I choose what I want to respond to, based on time available and how interesting the subject is to me. I don’t accept any obligation to continue any conversation I become part of. I do this out of interest and enjoyment, not as a job or obligation. Most of the time I don’t find you very interesting. If that doesn’t work for you, that’s fine, let’s not interact.

    HeKS and others. Maybe the universe has never not existed. It could be eternal. There might be a beginningless and endless series of big bangs. Who knows? If that offends logic, well, the universe has no obligations to meet our requirements of it.

    I actually find the idea of an uncaused first cause incoherent. Origines, my argument remains the same whether you call it God or not. If you believe everything must have a cause, on what basis do you exempt the first cause? You just define it to suit your own needs.

  59. 59
    StephenB says:

    Pindi

    I actually find the idea of an uncaused first cause incoherent. Origines, my argument remains the same whether you call it God or not. If you believe everything must have a cause, on what basis do you exempt the first cause? You just define it to suit your own needs.

    The caboose, which cannot cause its own movement, is pulled by the cattle car, which is pulled by the box car, which is pulled by the freight car, which is pulled by the passenger car, which is pulled by the engine–which is not pulled by anything. It is the first puller; it pulls everything else. It is the un-pulled puller. In like fashion, the first cause must be uncaused. If you find that idea incoherent, then the problem is not with the idea–it is with you.

  60. 60
    Seversky says:

    groovamos @ 48

    Seversky: I agree that something must have existed before this universe. I wouldn’t call it “supernatural”

    Well then in your mind you have placed the universe generator in a peer relationship with the universe as I have indicated you might, in the post @ 41. You have also refuted the multiverse, because a multiverse would be logically be superior to the universe (which itself contains all of nature). As a materialist you then assume the generator and the universe are both unconscious, though your own conscious existence refutes it even from a materialist perspective in the case of the latter (from a dualist perspective also for the previous)

    I don’t know what preceded this universe and neither does anyone else. That’s the honest answer. Science has conjectures or speculations but that’s all. Christians want it to be their God, they believe it to be their God. Maybe it is their God but that desire and belief doesn’t make it so.

    As I understand it – which isn’t very well – the multiverse is one tentative solution to certain problems in physics and cosmology. I don’t know what you mean by it being logically superior to the universe. Yes, our universe contains all of its nature. Presumably, if there are other universes they will contain all of their natures. Those natures may be different from ours but would they be any the less natural?

    because that word carries a lot of baggage that I don’t accept.

    There is no scientific or formal definition of “baggage” as you use it, so I can presume you mean ‘baggage’ in the common pop psychology or slang psychology definition, as reference to your own psychology as I was intimating @ 41.

    I mean by “baggage” that the word “supernatural” carries connotations of being above and beyond nature and therefore not nature. In my view, that’s a meaningless concept as everything that exists has nature or, as the entry from the Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy puts it “reality is exhausted by nature, containing nothing “supernatural”, and that the scientific method should be used to investigate all areas of reality, including the “human spirit”

  61. 61
    Seversky says:

    harry @ 54

    So, everything that we can determine exists is natural. Fine. We have determined that some “natural” reality existed prior to space, time, matter and energy, and must have brought them into being. That “natural” reality appears to have intentionally done this in a way that the more we studied that which was brought into being, the more evident it would be that this preexisting “natural” reality existed, and did what it did for a purpose.

    What brought our universe into existence might have been some sort of intelligent agency. We can’t rule it out but neither can we rule it in. There is nothing in the mystery to suggest intentionality in spite of Hoyle’s – and others – sense that the whole thing looks “rigged”

  62. 62
    harry says:

    Seversky @ 61,

    What brought our universe into existence might have been some sort of intelligent agency.

    See my post @3. If there is one chance in 10^10^123 that something might have happened mindlessly and accidentally, then rationality demands that we assume it happened via intelligent agency.

  63. 63
    StephenB says:

    seversky

    What brought our universe into existence might have been some sort of intelligent agency. We can’t rule it out but neither can we rule it in. There is nothing in the mystery to suggest intentionality in spite of Hoyle’s – and others – sense that the whole thing looks “rigged”

    Intentionality is the only possibility. The universe is contingent; it did not have to exist. Whatever brought it into existence had to have the volitional power to make the decision—-create or not create. Only an intelligent agent can make decisions.

  64. 64
    Dionisio says:

    Pindi @58:

    I’m sorry, I don’t have time for in depth responses this week.

    Of course! You respond if you want to and whenever you want to. It’s completely up to you.

  65. 65
    Seversky says:

    drc466 @ 55

    Seversky,

    Your main point seems to be that unexplainable events do not qualify as “evidence for God”. Let me ask you a question by analogy, then, and then construct a logical argument against you from there.

    Surely you have heard of “cargo cults”. Imagine you are a native on a remote island who discovers, one day, an empty Coke bottle. You know that creation of this object exceeds any capability possessed by you or your tribe, or explanation by any natural process you have knowledge of. You have, essentially, no knowledge whatsoever of this object.

    Question: Does this Coke bottle provide “evidence” of anything? Can you, as a native, deduce anything at all from the existence of this Coke bottle?

    If you answer “Yes”, then the unexplainable CAN function as evidence. If you answer “No”, I would question your understanding of science and the scientific method.

    This is just another variant of Paley’s Watch. If I had never seen a Coke bottle before, I would most probably judge it to be artificial because such a thing had never been observed to occur naturally and was made of something I had never seen before and did not occur naturally to my knowledge. The bottle itself would be an item of data but, if I inferred that somewhere out there was a more scientifically and technologically advanced culture capable of creating such things then the bottle would become evidence for that hypothesis. I could also infer that the bottle was the product of some natural process which none of the tribe had ever seen before. There would be no way to decide between them on the basis of the bottle alone. Evidence is not proof.

    Ergo, there CAN be evidence for the existence of God:

    Any observable object or event that is mathematically calculable as “impossible” to be natural, or exceeds scientific limits of what natural laws are capable of producing, must be considered evidence for the existence of God.

    I don’t deny there can be evidence for a hypothesis of God but there are those of us who find the evidence adduced for that hypothesis by believers as less than compelling. There might be some sort of intelligent agency behind everything but have you considered that, if there is, it need not be the Christian God nor any of the other gods that human beings have worshipped at one time or another?

  66. 66
    Dionisio says:

    Pindi @58:

    Dionisio, I choose what I want to respond to, based on time available and how interesting the subject is to me. I don’t accept any obligation to continue any conversation I become part of. I do this out of interest and enjoyment, not as a job or obligation.

    That’s fine.

    We all here choose what we want to respond to, what we want to ask, how many times we want to respond, how many times we want to repeat the questions.

    That’s why I can say -as many times as I want- this:

    Remember you’ve failed to answer the simple questions posted @1949-1954 in the thread pointed to by this link:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-616302

  67. 67
    Pindi says:

    Dionisio, of course you can repeat the same thing as many times as you want. Seems a little pointless to me, but hey, whatever rocks your boat.

  68. 68
    Dionisio says:

    Pindi @67,
    Please, do yourself a big favor and refrain from imagining you’re the only person reading the comments posted in this blog. Have you ever seen the terms ‘onlookers’ or ‘lurkers’ or ‘anonymous visitors’ mentioned in this blog?

    You have revealed your own real motives in this blog and that’s what my simple questions were precisely intended for: to let you reveal publicly your real motives. The way someone reacts to simple questions is very revealing.

    As your comrade rvb8 declared in one of his comments*, he wants to “level the playing field”, whatever that means. Your comments show little interest in serious discussions, where understanding each other’s point of view, without having to agree, is very important for a productive debate.

    BTW, before I conclude this comment, let me tell everyone reading this that you’ve failed to answer the simple questions posted @1949-1954 in the thread pointed to by this link:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-616302

    (*) rvb8 @34 here:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-616454

  69. 69

    Seversky said @6:

    It’s very simple. It’s no canard. If you want to nitpick, there is evidence that people believe a God exists. That is evidence of belief only. It’s not evidence for the existence of God.

    Seversky said @65:

    I don’t deny there can be evidence for a hypothesis of God but there are those of us who find the evidence adduced for that hypothesis by believers as less than compelling.

    I can’t quite reconcile these two statements. Is there no evidence for the existence of god, or is the evidence that some people point to something you personally find “less than compelling”?

    There is nothing in the mystery to suggest intentionality in spite of Hoyle’s – and others – sense that the whole thing looks “rigged”

    If there is nothing to suggest it, why then did Hoyle and others see the evidence exactly that way? Why did that evidence convince atheist Anthony Flew that atheism was wrong? Don’t you think that it is just slightly hyperbolic and ideologically obstinant to assert that there is nothing in the fine-tuning evidence that would suggest that the constants and forces of the universe had be purposefully set by a superintellect?

    I mean, if there is nothign to suggest it, why invoke a multiverse to account for that fine-tuning? Why did Hawking essentially write a book expressly to hypothesize a means of getting that fine-tuning without an intentional agency if there was nothing in the evidence that even suggested an intentional agency in the first place?

    Stephen Hawking said:

    The discovery recently of the extreme fine-tuning of so many laws of nature could lead some to the idea that this grand design has a Grand Designer…True, the laws of the universe seem tailor made for humans.”

    Many improbable occurrences conspire to create Earth’s human friendly design… We need liquid water to exist, and if the earth were too close (to the sun) it would all but boil off; if it is too far it would freeze…(or) even a small disturbance in gravity…would send the planet off it’s orbit and cause it to spiral into or away from the sun.”

    It is not only the peculiar characteristics of our solar system that seems oddly conducive to the development of human life, but also the characteristics of our entire universe-and its laws. They appear to have a design that is both tailor made to support us and if we are to exist, leaves little room for alteration…The forces of nature had to be such that heavier elements- especially carbon could be produced and remain stable…Even that is not enough: The dynamics of the stars had to be such that some would eventually explode, precisely in a way that could disperse the heavier elements through space.”

    (At the atomic level) if protons were just 0.2% heavier, they would decay into neutrons, destabilizing atoms, again of course making all life impossible…(So) most of the…laws of nature appear fine tuned in the sense that if they were altered by only modest amount, the universe would be…unsuitable for the development of life…The laws of nature form a system that is extremely fine tuned.”

    And it is your contention that Hawking is what, seeing indications where none exist to suggest deliberate fine-tuning to a reasonable person, and so his book was a waste of time because there was nothing there in the first place that warranted some kind of explanation?

    In the words of the ESPN football analysts: “C’mon, man!”

  70. 70

    Pindi said:

    I actually find the idea of an uncaused first cause incoherent.

    Really? You operate every second of your conscious existence as if your choices and behavioral will is uncaused by physical forces (meaning, as if you are not a biological automaton), yet you find the idea of an uncaused cause incoherent?

    Do you hold people responsible for their actions? If so, why – their behavior is just the inevitable result of billions of years of accumulated physical forces acting on matter. They can no more help what they do than a rock can stop itself from rolling down a hill. If you found the idea of an uncaused cause incoherent, you wouldn’t be able to hold people responsible for actions simply caused by the natural progression of physical forces acting on matter.

    Origines, my argument remains the same whether you call it God or not. If you believe everything must have a cause, on what basis do you exempt the first cause? You just define it to suit your own needs.

    Try and pay attention, Pindi. You seem to be immune to understanding something very easy to understand; no one here believes that “everything must have a cause”, so please stop using that straw man to make an irrelevant point. What people here are saying is that for the system of cause and effect to make any sense, every effect must have a cause. That is not the same as saying that “everything must have a cause”.

    Also, if every effect must have a cause, then to avoid the logical absurdity of infinite causal regress or having effects with no cause, we must logically postulate at least one uncaused cause, or a cause that is not also an effect of something else.

    This is not rocket science or advanced logic – it’s common sense. To start a chain of cause and effect events, something uncaused must logically stand at the beginning of that chain that causes the first effect. That’s not a special case pleading or convenient definition, that’s pointing out the logically, common-sense obvious.

    What is actually incomprehensible to the point of absurdity is postulating a chain of cause and effect events with no beginning. I mean, whaaaaat? You find that coherent, and a beginning to a cause and effect sequence incoherent?

    C’mon, man!

  71. 71

    Pindi and Seversky,

    Are the two of you actually claiming that a chain of cause and effect events can exist without having a beginning, and that is is a logically coherent position to hold?

  72. 72
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM, sadly, that is exactly what many now try to argue [complete with pretty abstruse math that in my considered view fails to address adequately the implications of endlessness of succession], as the notion of non-being generating a cosmos out of a non existent hat blew up hilariously. I repeat, you cannot successfully traverse endlessness in successive finite stage causally connected steps, as ate every point you will have onward endlessness still un-traversed. Taking the endless succession 0, 1, 2 etc, and punching it on aligned pink and a blue tapes, advance the pink one — sh-right k x (+1)-steps — so it starts at some large finite k on the blue. k, k+1, k+2 etc 1:1 corresponds with 0,1,2 etc, thus endlessness is still yet ahead. This applies ascending and descending. Imagine a ladder of infinite extension from the ground up into the sky. You cannot ascend to end the endlessness in successive steps up the rungs, and you cannot descend to the ground in similarly successive finite steps from the transfinitely far zone. A potentially infinite and divergent process will not complete in finite stage steps at any point in achieved succession from 0, we can always count on from any k to k+1 etc. But doubtlessly, on track record, there will be all sorts of debates on technicalities that will try to duck around this fundamentally simple point. KF

  73. 73

    IMO, it falls under the “say anything” mode where one will just put words together to deny something. Perhaps we can call it something like a Clinton Word Shield.

    If we say “the fact that there cannot be any 4-sided triangles is evidence of God”, then the auto-response from atheists would be “4-sided triangles might exist. There’s no reason to think they do not,” or “the idea that triangles can only have 3 sides is incoherent to me”.

    Or: “I don’t know what that “c” stood for.”

    Or: “I gave you all the work-related emails.”

    Or: “Depends on what your definition of “is” is.”

    Or: “There’s nothing to suggest an intellect fine-tuned the parameters of the universe.”

    You know – just say oppositional stuff, even if it makes no sense and contradicts all available evidence and experience.

  74. 74
    harry says:

    WJM @ 73,

    Right. And the ones that “just say oppositional stuff” with enough “chutzpah” earn the title “New Atheist” and make lots of money selling books. Or even become the President of the United States, assuring voters they are Christians while being blatantly hostile to Christianity in all their policies — which doesn’t say much for the critical thinking skills of a lot of Americans.

  75. 75
    kairosfocus says:

    Harry and WJM, first steps in straight thinking 101: a — basic logical “straight” thinking, b — dealing with juggernaut spin/ dominant narrative message tactics. KF

    PS: Some need to realise that to lie is to speak in disregard to duties of care to truth, in hope of profiting from what is said or suggested being taken as true. By contrast — following Ari in Metaphysics 1011b, truth says of what is, that it is; and of what is not, that it is not.

  76. 76
    Dionisio says:

    KF, WJM, harry,

    Yours are all very insightful comments with many good points -in addition to a rich English vocabulary (specially KF’s posts) that provide free benefits for anyone like me whose first language is not English but try to learn it better. Thank you.

    All that said, let me confess publicly that the interlocutors who don’t seem interested in understanding what is being discussed, but nevertheless are so stubbornly opinionated, make me sad, because they seem to be in a hopeless situation which has no known natural remedy, but they’re not aware of it. Just look at the way they react to even simple questions posted @1949-1954 in the thread pointed to by this link:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-616302

    Different interlocutors have behaved similarly in previous threads. It seems like a pattern, unrelated to the educational level. Professor L.M. of the U. Of T. in Canada, reacted to simple questions in a very immature way, saying that I don’t ask honest questions (whatever that means).
    Really sad.
    What do you think about this?

  77. 77
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM, From current discussions I think they do not want to swallow the concept of a necessary being, which cuts cross-grain to their preferred picture of the world. But try to imagine a world in which two-ness does not exist and its concomitant A vs NOT-A, or in which such has a beginning or such comes to an end. Two-ness is embedded in the frame for anything to exist, i.e. for any possible world. And from non-being nothing can come so if there ever were utter non-being, such would forever obtain. If a world now is, SOMETHING always was, the issue is of what nature. Infinite successive regress is absurd, something from nothing is absurd. We live in a world with a sufficient first cause, and we do so as responsibly free and rationally free, morally governed beings. Or else, even discussion as we are having would be impossible and pointless, just meaningless noise. The conscience within urging us to the truth and the right and to duty, is indeed the Lord’s candle within, enlightening our whole inner life and our understanding of the world. If, we will but listen. If. KF

  78. 78
    kairosfocus says:

    D, in my view, the “Are You okay?” in 1946 from Pindi is loaded with insinuations. Your counter-questions were appropriate and seemingly lie unanswered. I suggest that you have taken time to provide a trove of documentation on many ID-linked phenomena, and that provides a base of reference that is important. These days, for a time, I am having to go back of the basics of the rather simple and patently robust but often hotly disputed inductive inference that grounds design as a conclusion on relevant signs, to background, worldview roots issues. I would be doing more but I am busy locally and regionally, e.g. cf here: http://kairosfocus.blogspot.co.....onics.html . KF

  79. 79
    bb says:

    “From current discussions I think they do not want to swallow the concept of a necessary being, which cuts cross-grain to their preferred picture of the world.”

    On the nose KF.

    I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.

    -Thomas Nagel, Evolutionary Naturalism and the Fear of Religion.

    (emphasis mine)

  80. 80
    Dionisio says:

    KF @78:

    Thank you for your comment.

    I see you’re quite busy working on interesting projects.

    I like the article “Sci-Tech watch, 31: Mechatronics, the Raspberry Pi (Java, too) and education for development”
    Really interesting.

    Still have a trip to Monserrat (via Antigua) in my “wish list” but other less desirable activities keep getting in the way and pushing back the more pleasant Caribbean traveling.

    BTW, would my relatives and I need a special permit to visit the southern part of the island?

    Again, thank you for all your writing here. Ignore the barking you may hear coming from the sidelines. That could be an indirect (implicit) compliment.

    Apocalypse 22:21

  81. 81
    Origenes says:

    Pindi: I actually find the idea of an uncaused first cause incoherent.

    Your argument seems to be: everything has a cause, including the First Cause.
    The problem with your argument is the logical order of this philosophical inquiry. At step one we notice that the concept “everything has a cause” implies an actual infinite, which is found to be incoherent. This finding, subsequently, leads us to the idea of the First Cause in order to solve this incoherency. That is the logical order of this philosophical inquiry.

    First we discover that “everything has a cause” is incoherent and therefore false.
    Second we propose the existence of the First Cause to untangle the incoherency.

    In response it doesn’t make sense, as you do, to object to the concept of a First Cause on the basis of “everything has a cause”, which has shown to be false at step one.

  82. 82
    kairosfocus says:

    D, to go into restricted areas, different degrees of permit are required. Some areas, only research scientists through the MVO. Others, are actually a tourism product under development — a modern Pompeii. You need drivers and vehicles able to handle the terrain, which has been devastated by volcanic activities and by weather in contexts where there is no longer steady maintenance. There are capable tour guides, and Salem Police Station keeps the control on access. One of the hazards is that rain in the mountains can lead to sudden torrents of water and mud in the Belham Valley, and some years ago there was a case of a vehicle caught in a flood. KF

    PS: I am trying to provoke thought on moving ahead with a new wave of technology driven transformation. Jakubowski’s work impresses me as does the mechatronics paradigm.

  83. 83
    Dionisio says:

    KF @82

    Thank you for the information.

  84. 84
    roding says:

    This is an interesting discussion. I am curious though as to how effective the cosmological argument is in actually persuading and changing minds?

    I wonder how many theists have become so because they have found the cosmological argument compelling? My own (very limited and anecdotal experience) with theists I personally know, is that for most of them at least, they are believers not because of arguments like this, but through other avenues – often related to personal, emotional, or spiritual crises in their own lives.

    So is it possible then that, although the cosmological argument may be useful to bolster the faith of existing theists, it has little value in trying to win other non-theists? Or is there evidence that people have become theists because of the merits of this argument? Curious to know of any experiences of the theists here who have come to faith through this means.

  85. 85
    Dionisio says:

    roding @84

    Yours is an interesting comment, thank you.

    You mention the word ‘theist’ so many times that I looked it up online and it seems like it means much and nothing at the same time. 🙂

    Aren’t the words ‘theist’ and ‘believer’ kind of vague?
    Don’t most people (should I say all?) believe in something?

    My faith in Christ did not come from reading about any cosmological argument or from having any personal, emotional, spiritual crisis.
    I believe Christ Himself graciously gave it to me.
    I was lost but now I’m found.
    I was blind, but now I see.
    I didn’t do anything to deserve any credits for having my faith. It’s a mystery. It’s called “Grace”. Amazing Grace.
    I just say: hallelujah! And rejoice.
    However, since He is transforming me from a self-centered sinner into one who wants to love Him with all my strength and love my neighbors as myself, now I suffer for the spiritually lost people and pray that God will touch them too, if it is according to His will and for His glory.
    That transformation is far from over. The old ‘me’ still pops up every now and then, but the Holy Spirit takes the ‘fun’ out of sinning.

    🙂

  86. 86

    Dionosio @76,

    Those who debate here are never really interested in the kind of introspective analysis that such arguments require. More or less, IMO, they are largely just interested in reassuring themselves about their views by engaging in certain common anti-theistic narratives. The people you’re really serving is tha vast majority that simply come here and read.

    Roding @84:

    In a recent post I described just such a case. Many people want to believe in god, but lack an intellectually satisfying way of approaching such a belief rationally. While I became a theist because I realized that I wanted to believe in god, I had no idea theism could be so intellectually satisfying.

    I mean, we hold all the actual cards – free will, objective morality, design, intention, consciousness. All they have is blind chance operating through patterns of behavior they cannot begin to account for.

    Our arguments, conscience and actions are those of intentional, supernatural beings with will and mind that supercedes the random fluctuations of chemistry; their words and actions might as well be the happenstance rustling of leaves, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. One wonders why such pitiful biological automatons bother making noises with their mouths at all when none of it can be counted on to have any valid meaning whatsoever.

  87. 87
    Dionisio says:

    WJM @ 86,

    One wonders why such pitiful biological automatons bother making noises with their mouths at all when none of it can be counted on to have any valid meaning whatsoever.

    Yes, that’s a good point. Thank you.

  88. 88
    Autodidaktos says:

    “I wonder how many theists have become so because they have found the cosmological argument compelling?”
    Dr. Edward Feser, philosopher and Catholic writer, for one. Also, several of my Catholic friends, some of whom have gone on to study Philosophy in university. One of them graduated with honours from Oxford last year.

  89. 89
    Eugen says:

    I’m one such visitor who learned a lot from discussions on this forum. I mostly read in the background but also write occasional comment. Atheists who comment here didn’t provide serious arguments for their case since I started visiting UD. I encourage them to try harder. Maybe one such atheist appears some day but I doubt that. I think atheists were offered post privileges if they are willing to come up with something interesting.

  90. 90
    Dionisio says:

    WJM @ 86,

    Those who debate here [1]are never really interested in the kind of introspective analysis that such arguments require. More or less, IMO, [2]they are largely just interested in reassuring themselves about their views by engaging in certain common anti-theistic narratives.

    Interesting observation.
    Please, tell me briefly:
    Do you know why [1] and [2]?

    Thank you.

    [Emphasis mine]

  91. 91
    Dionisio says:

    WJM @ 86,

    I realized that I wanted to believe in god

    Please, tell me briefly:
    How did you realize it?
    Did you always want it?
    Why did you want it?

    Thank you.

  92. 92
    Dionisio says:

    WJM @ 86,

    I realized that I wanted to believe in god

    Please, tell me briefly:

    believe in god?

    What’s that?
    What do you mean by ‘god’?
    What do you mean by ‘believe’ within this given context?

    Thank you.

  93. 93
    Dionisio says:

    Autodidaktos @88:

    Interesting comment. Thank you.

    Please, tell me:

    How did that happen?
    Why?

    Thank you.

  94. 94
    Dionisio says:

    Eugen @89

    Atheists who comment here didn’t provide serious arguments for their case since I started visiting UD.

    Interesting comment. Thank you.

    What do you think would qualify as a serious argument in the given context?
    What do you mean by ‘their case’?

    Thank you.

    PS. Do they call you ‘Zhenya’?
    Is your original name Yevgeny?
    I’m just curious. Thank you.

  95. 95
    kairosfocus says:

    D, this is not the Russian Physicist. KF

  96. 96
    harry says:

    Dionisio @76

    What do I think about it? It is blindness only grace can heal

  97. 97

    Dionisio asks @90:

    Do you know why [1] and [2]?

    I don’t know, I can only offer an opinion based on personal experience as an atheist and based on observation. It has been my experience that a certain kind of person is attracted to interaction in venues like this or other such arenas where they can conflict with theists. They are short on logical argument and often long on hyperbole, invective and ridicule. it often appears their real intent is just to snipe or to appear to be “the calm, cool collected one” that scores gotcha points in a passive-aggressive manner. They are demonstrably not committing themselves to any introspective analysis whatsoever as evidenced by their “never make a concession” demeanor.

    IMO, they do this because they think theists are an easy road upon which they can drive a narrative that strokes a need in them to feel more intelligent than “the masses” whom they probably look down upon with disdain in order to prop up a poor sense of self worth or sense of inferiority.

    To be fair, I think this psychology drives a majority of people in all walks of life, including many theists, pertaining to all subjects. People find ways to feed narratives to feel good about themselves. They aren’t interested in critiquing the beliefs and assumptions that drive the narrative; they’re here to defend and support that narrative. Otherwise, they’d be engaging in discussion in a very different way and wouldn’t engage in the drive-by snide commentary which you have linked to several times and then refuse to simply admit to it.

  98. 98

    Dionisio asks @91:

    How did you realize it?
    Did you always want it?
    Why did you want it? [1] and [2]?

    Well, I’m an extremely self-critical person when it comes to examining my own beliefs and assumptions. After spending years as an atheist and following the logic down to sociopathic nihilism (and, unfortunately, spending time actually acting as if atheistic materialism was true), I understood that, even if true, there was simply no reason to be an atheist. If atheism was true, I could believe whatever I wanted to believe and it didn’t make any difference at all as long as what I believed was useful.

    Atheistic beliefs did not make me happy, did not motivate me, and like other atheist philosophers brought me to the point where suicide seemed a good option. For weeks I contemplated my situation philosophically and asked myself, “Would I rather be right about what I believed, or would I rather my beliefs make me happy?

    I realized I was operating under an assumption that I didn’t even know I was operating under; that knowing the truth and being right about what life and existence was about would somehow make me happy or satisfied. However, the supposed “truth” of my atheistic materialism at the time didn’t make me happy or satisfied at all; in fact, it made me miserable and empty.

    So I asked myself, what existential assumptions, if true, would make me happy just to consider them true arguendo? The thought that there is a god worth believing in that created all of this, a meaningful purpose to my existence, a plan our world and our lives serve and that these things are rooted in love and goodness – that idea at that time (and still to this day) overwhelmed me with joy, hope and love.

    It was at that point I made the decision to believe in god and set upon a path to develop that belief. The apparent effect of that decision on my life ever since is indescribable. I am a completely transformed person living a completely transformed life.

    So I suppose the reason I wanted it was because I just wanted to be happy and satisfied, and my best prediction at the time (after finding out atheism/materialism wasn’t going to provide it) was that a rationally, spiritually and emotionally fulfilling theism was what it was going take to achieve satisfaction and happiness. I had no idea how profound or deep such things could be, though. I chose well.

  99. 99

    Dionisio @92 asks:

    believe in god?

    What’s that?
    What do you mean by ‘god’?
    What do you mean by ‘believe’ within this given context?

    For me, God = foundation of existence, creator of the universe, source of good/morality/ultimate purpose, source of logic & math, source of free will and consciousness/intelligence, source of love.

    For me, “believe” means “to think and act as if true”.

  100. 100
    bb says:

    Thank you WJM.

  101. 101
    Dionisio says:

    WJM,

    Thank you for the insightful comments.
    I appreciate it.

  102. 102
    Dionisio says:

    KF @95

    Ok. Thank you.

    I think one of the main proponents of the third way of evolution along with Dr. Shapiro is a Russian scientist with that name Evgeny, though I’m not 100% sure about this.

  103. 103
    Dionisio says:

    harry @96

    Yes. That’s it.

  104. 104
    Seversky says:

    HeKS @ 28

    So, contrary to Seversky’s silly claim that the origin of the universe (along with space, time, matter, energy and the physical laws) only suggests God’s existence to foolish theists, people of all stripes (theist, atheist and agnostic) have recognized the strong theistic implications right from day one and it is for that very reason that it was so strongly opposed for so long and so slowly and grudgingly accepted in spite of the strong confirming evidence (which included but was not limited to the observed expansion).

    I’m not denying that scientists and others have been so impressed by these findings that they’re prepared to at least consider the possibility that some sort of intelligent agency is behind it all. That’s a far cry from believing that the Christian God is that intelligent agent. And there are a lot of scientists and others who don’t find that claim persuasive at all.

    Attempts by people like Seversky to wave off this scientific finding as irrelevant to the question of God’s existence are silly, transparent and utterly ahistorical. Someone may choose to search for some non-theistic escape hatch or to simply commit to an eternal self-imposed ignorance on the possible cause of the universe’s origin while refusing to consider the implications of our current data and knowledge, but to doggedly assert in the face of the facts and history that it does not count as legitimate evidence that is strongly suggestive of God’s existence is foolhardy and merely serves as an indicator that the person speaking is violently committed to a self-serving atheism-affirming narrative that wants to see religious people as bumbling and gullible faithheads who believe silly things for no reason

    Why should anyone who is secure in their faith care in the slightest what science can or cannot prove or that there are those who do not share their beliefs?

  105. 105

    William J. Murray and Kairosfocus: Excellent points throughout this thread. Thank you.

  106. 106
    es58 says:

    Simplistic? Admittedly, but…

    We bought my 3 year old granddaughter (GD) a battery powered standing Elmo toy that blows bubbles, but didn’t have the right tool to install the battery, so, my daughter, her mother, put it on a high shelf so it would last at least until we could try it once.

    My GD saw the toy up high, and said: “Mommy put the toy on the shelf.”

    My son countered: “Maybe it climbed up there itself?”, and GD laughed.

    I pushed the point and asked her how she knew it didn’t climb there itself, and she responded something like: “It’s not reaaaallll!”

    So it’s obvious to a 3 yr old that things don’t “just happen” w/o a cause.

    Imagine this had been caught on video,

    I imagine someday, after a “transition” from this world, someone who didn’t think there was a creator might be asked why they didn’t think so.

    Prior to their launching into all their sophisticated “logical arguments”, they would be shown the video, which would be followed by intense embarrassment and then utter silence.

    In reality, however, I sense that the embarrassment would be instantaneous upon “transition”, and no video required.

  107. 107
    Seversky says:

    William J Murray @ 69

    Seversky said @6:

    It’s very simple. It’s no canard. If you want to nitpick, there is evidence that people believe a God exists. That is evidence of belief only. It’s not evidence for the existence of God.

    Seversky said @65:

    I don’t deny there can be evidence for a hypothesis of God but there are those of us who find the evidence adduced for that hypothesis by believers as less than compelling.

    I can’t quite reconcile these two statements. Is there no evidence for the existence of god, or is the evidence that some people point to something you personally find “less than compelling”?

    What some people point to as evidence for the existence of the Christian God or any other god I find less than compelling.

    In the case of belief in a god being evidence for the truth of that belief, people have believed in many gods over the millennia. I assume that you believe that all but one of those faiths was false. I would ask what reason there is for believing your faith is true when all those others were false.

    There is nothing in the mystery to suggest intentionality in spite of Hoyle’s – and others – sense that the whole thing looks “rigged”

    If there is nothing to suggest it, why then did Hoyle and others see the evidence exactly that way? Why did that evidence convince atheist Anthony Flew that atheism was wrong? Don’t you think that it is just slightly hyperbolic and ideologically obstinant to assert that there is nothing in the fine-tuning evidence that would suggest that the constants and forces of the universe had be purposefully set by a superintellect?

    We don’t know how or why this universe began. We don’t know what, if anything, came before or even if it means anything to talk about what came before the beginning of time. We have an estimate of the improbability of this universe coming into existence as a random event, which can also be viewed as a measure of our ignorance, some people’s intuition that such a highly improbable event could only be the result of intelligent agency and what I would call a longing in many people for this to be evidence for the God they need to exist. Is that evidence for the existence of the Christian God? Not for me.

    If there is nothing to suggest it, why then did Hoyle and others see the evidence exactly that way? Why did that evidence convince atheist Anthony Flew that atheism was wrong? Don’t you think that it is just slightly hyperbolic and ideologically obstinant to assert that there is nothing in the fine-tuning evidence that would suggest that the constants and forces of the universe had be purposefully set by a superintellect?

    I mean, if there is nothign to suggest it, why invoke a multiverse to account for that fine-tuning? Why did Hawking essentially write a book expressly to hypothesize a means of getting that fine-tuning without an intentional agency if there was nothing in the evidence that even suggested an intentional agency in the first place?

    And it is your contention that Hawking is what, seeing indications where none exist to suggest deliberate fine-tuning to a reasonable person, and so his book was a waste of time because there was nothing there in the first place that warranted some kind of explanation?

    No one is denying that there is a profound mystery about how and why the universe began and the origin of the laws by which it is governed, a mystery which demands an explanation. But acknowledging the mystery and trying to conjecture possible explanations is not the same as saying that the Christian God is the one and only true explanation.

  108. 108
    Eugen says:

    Seversky and other atheists

    why don’t you read @52 by William. Notice how following logic we can come to powerful conclusion. Use that as a guidance to build an argument for atheism. Maybe that would turn every theist here into atheist. It’s worth a try.

  109. 109
    Dionisio says:

    WJM,

    Here’s something for you to laugh about, if you want to. 🙂

    I want to understand your interesting comments well.

    Sometimes typographical errors or even missing words go undetected by publishing editors and their proofreading personnel. Then the final reader may encounter problems understanding the text accurately. Fortunately, in most cases the meaning of the affected text remains unchanged.

    Many times I read text -written by serious thinkers like you, KF and other prolific authors in this blog- very carefully in order to understand the meaning as accurately as I can, but also to enrich my knowledge of the given language (English in this case, but the same approach applies to other languages). Thus I may look for new vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, interesting grammar or semantic structures, etc. in order to improve my poor writing skills.

    On top of all that, my reading comprehension level is rather low (to say it nicely). It takes me much longer than it would take the average readers to read any text in any language. It’s an issue I’ve had since I’ve been a student. Definitely it makes the learning process much more difficult and slower.

    The situation gets even worse in verbal communication, where I don’t have the time to process the information at my own pace, but have to respond right away. That’s one reason why I prefer the written communication and the videos where I can repeat any segment of the recorded presentations or classes as many times as I may require it.

    Recently I watched two interesting courses on Systems Biology recorded in video format. One by professor Uri Alon from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. Another by professor Jeff Gore from MIT in Massachusetts (USA). Had I been physically present in the classrooms when those courses were imparted, I would have missed most of what the professors explained, even assuming the same prior knowledge I had when I watched the recorded classes.

    However, since I had the videos, I repeated different segments over and over again, so many times, that you would laugh just trying to imagine the scene I’m describing. But that approach allowed me to write down notes and to search for terms before continuing to following segments of the class. Basically I had the professors under my control, repeating anything they said or wrote on the boards as many times as I wanted. Otherwise I could not have done it.

    All the above said, I should remember that discussion threads, text messages (SMS), online chats, are more tolerant environments for communication, in the sense that many written inaccuracies are acceptable. Hence most of my observations here may not be relevant to most readers.

    Now, after the above introductory digression, let’s go back to your comments.

    For example, you wrote @98:

    “Would I rather be right about what I believed, or would I rather my beliefs make me happy?

    Would it be correct to rewrite it this other way too?

    “Would I rather be right about what I believed, or would I rather have my beliefs make me happy?

    Or this way?

    “Would I rather be right about what I believed, or would I rather let my beliefs make me happy?

    Note the inserted words ‘have’ or ‘let’ and the double quote character (“) appended after the question mark.

    Thank you.

  110. 110

    Seversky said:

    In the case of belief in a god being evidence for the truth of that belief, people have believed in many gods over the millennia. I assume that you believe that all but one of those faiths was false. I would ask what reason there is for believing your faith is true when all those others were false.

    This is kind of statement that lends support to the view that atheists who argue here are more interested in reiterating a narrative than in engaging in true introspective, rational examination of their ideas. I’ve seen many variations of this same rhetorical, irrational “argument” many times, as if it hasn’t been rebutted many, many times.

    First, just because people disagree on the nature of a thing doesn’t mean that thing doesn’t exist. Second, Seversky attampts to collect every concept of god together as if they are equivalent concepts; just because various group apply the same general term to many diverse concepts doesn’t mean all those diverse concepts are conceptually equivalent. A being lives in Mount Olympus throwing lightning bolts from the sky is an entirely different concept than a ground of existence, necessary first cause posited to also account for what science agrees is actual actual evidence – the fine tuning evidence.

    Anyone that tries to draw an equivalence between Zeus-category “gods” and the category of first cause, fine-tuning evidence god is either being intellectually dishonest or are just engaged in parroting rhetoric to support their ideological narrative.

    Third, seversky should realize that when maknig a case for X, it is not my job to simultaneously make a case against any other or any previous view of X. That’s absurd. The argument about god here is not about the existence of Zeus or Ra or Shiva.

    Seversky said:

    We don’t know how or why this universe began. We don’t know what, if anything, came before or even if it means anything to talk about what came before the beginning of time. We have an estimate of the improbability of this universe coming into existence as a random event, which can also be viewed as a measure of our ignorance, some people’s intuition that such a highly improbable event could only be the result of intelligent agency and what I would call a longing in many people for this to be evidence for the God they need to exist. Is that evidence for the existence of the Christian God? Not for me.

    Again, we see her how Seversky is so committed to his narrative that he utterly fails to rationally examine and respond to the point being made. He is intent on reiterating that there are other ways of looking at the fine-tuning evidence and then attempts to characterize the motivation of those who interpret that evidence favorably towards a god as being the result of some “longing”. He seems to have already forgotten that many, many atheists and notable scientists have admitted that the fine-tuning evidence appears to indicate intelligence. The anti-theistic narrative shared by so many atheists that come here disallow admitting that there is evidence of god, and so it is covered up with terms like “mystery”, “ignorance”, “improbability”, and “manufactured by a religious longing”.

    Seversky’s narrative is also so deeply involved with responding against Christians that he appears to have forgotten that the person he is responding to is not Christian.

    Seversky said:

    No one is denying that there is a profound mystery about how and why the universe began and the origin of the laws by which it is governed, a mystery which demands an explanation. But acknowledging the mystery and trying to conjecture possible explanations is not the same as saying that the Christian God is the one and only true explanation.

    I’m not a Christian, Seversky. I’m not making an argument for a Christian god. Whether or not the evidence indicates the Christian god or not is irrelevant. You keep using the term “mystery” instead of simply admitting that many notable atheist scientists have flatly admitted that the fine-tuning evidence appears to indicate that some kind of intelligence set the universal constants up in a very particular manner. That is what the “mystery” is, Seversky, and why it requires an explanation in the first place – because they appear to have been set by some super-intellect that created the universe.

    Contrary to your Christianity-entwined narrative, of course the fine-tuning evidence suggests that the constants of the universe were purposesly set by some kind of superintellect or else there would be no mystery that required explanation by atheist scientists. No, it doesn’t prove anything, but to claim it doesn’t even suggest it is an absurd obeyance to an ideological narrative.

  111. 111

    Dionisio,

    I appreciate the manner and lengths you go to in order to understood what is being said. My beliefs are quite idiosyncratic and I imagine quite open to misinterpretation.

    This would be the better way of saying what I meant: “Would I rather choose my beliefs according to their apparent proximity to truth, or would I rather choose my beliefs according to their apparent capacity to promote my happiness and satisfaction?“

    Up until that point I had thought them to be the same thing. (Also, up until that point I didn’t realize I could choose my beliefs.) When I realized my search for “truth” was not gaining me any happiness and satisfaction, but indeed leading me away from it, I realized they were two different questions. At that point I didn’t care what was true anymore, I just wanted relief from my existential misery. I realized there was only one kind of belief that could possibly save me from the despair of atheistic nihilism and only one kind of belief that could possibly lay the groundwork for “goodness” being a meaningful value and where a life could have real value which could translate into satisfaction.

    As Hub (Robert Duvall) said in the movie Secondhand Lions:

    Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love… true love never dies. You remember that, boy. You remember that. Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in.

    I argue that god, free will and objective morality are also things worth believing in, or else none of the rest really matters.

  112. 112
    steveO says:

    WJM

    Thank you for providing so many great posts in this and other threads.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong but I think you wrote elsewhere that you are not a Christian.

    Is it possible for you share some of the reasons why, in your thinking, you cannot accept the New Testament as truth?

  113. 113

    steveO @112:

    I’ve never read the New Testament (or the Old, for that matter) nor have I spent much time examining the Christian views that differentiate it from classical theism, so I’m not in a position to offer any opinions about the New Testament one way or another. I find most of the arguments made here by several Christian authors to be very sound arguments, logically speaking, and on many subjects they are pretty much identical to my own.

    However, as I have said above, I don’t hold beliefs based on whether or not I consider them logically sound or whether or not I consider what they refer to to be true. That most of my beliefs can be so argued (logically) is really more or less just a coincidence. I believe what I believe because of the practical value such beliefs have in generating the kind of life I want to live and being the kind of person I want to be.

    It may be that Christian beliefs would also generate this outcome, but right now I don’t have much reason to look into it. Looking over Christians I know, it seems to me that Christianity does a good job of providing a good, satisfying life to its followers, albeit that may not be particularly what they are hoping to accomplish through their beliefs.

    If one carefully examines the nature of my arguments, they could see this logical pragmatism guiding how I present an argument and what cases I try to make. I don’t argue that a proposition is true, but rather that it is logical and practical to believe that it is (act and think as if it is). I don’t argue that atheism and subjective morality are factually false, but rather that there are good logical and practical reasons to believe otherwise.

    That I know of, there is no practical reason nor logical justification for atheism.

  114. 114
    steveO says:

    WJM @113

    Thanks for your response.

    I would very much like to read one day a gifted thinker such as yourself articulate the practical, logical and life-changing implications of a topic such as the resurrection of Jesus.

    I guess there’s no harm in hoping!

  115. 115
    harry says:

    WJM @113

    I believe what I believe because of the practical value such beliefs have in generating the kind of life I want to live and being the kind of person I want to be.

    To the extent that the person you wanted to be and the actions you took in pursuit of that coincided with objective truth things have worked out well for you. It gets much better when you pursue that which the personification of Truth wants you to be.

  116. 116

    Well, Harry, if it helps any, I pray every waking hour, every day in deep gratitude for the life I have now for god to do with me as it wishes and imbue in my mind and thoughts with whatever it deems best.

    Practically speaking, I’ve developed this mental habit over the course of years of personal experimentation and this heartfelt, grateful invitation seems to produce the best results.

  117. 117
    bornagain77 says:

    William J Murray, needless to say, since I quote you quite often, I greatly admire your logic. I also admire the way you follow the logic, and evidence, to the conclusion for God. That you live your life as a Theist because of the practical benefits is, IMHO, also to be admired.

    I also like the fact that you, a non-Christian, give atheists fits by making them face up to the internal contradictions of their arguments.

    Yet, despite the benefits of having a non-Christian so ably deconstruct the arguments of atheists on UD, I am with Harry and steveO in stressing the importance of, and hoping that you would turn your talents to, closely examining the claims of Christianity (i.e. G. Habermas – Minimal Facts, L. Strobel – Case for Christ, J. W. Wallace – Cold Case Christianity)

    John 14: 1-2
    Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
    In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

    Moreover, since you are apt with logic WJM, and as Godel himself pointed out, there is nothing logically inconsistent with God ‘playing the role of a person’:

    The God of the Mathematicians – Goldman
    Excerpt: As Gödel told Hao Wang, “Einstein’s religion [was] more abstract, like Spinoza and Indian philosophy. Spinoza’s god is less than a person; mine is more than a person; because God can play the role of a person.”
    – Kurt Gödel – (Gödel, a contemporary and close friend to Einstein, is considered one of the greatest mathematicians/logicians who ever existed)
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ematicians

    And when one allows God to ‘play the role of a person’ then an empirically backed reconciliation between Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity into the quote unquote ‘Theory of Everything’ readily pops out for us in the resurrection of Christ from death:

    (Centrality Concerns) The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from Death as the “Theory of Everything” – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uHST2uFPQY&list=PLtAP1KN7ahia8hmDlCYEKifQ8n65oNpQ5&index=4

    Shroud of Turin: From discovery of Photographic Negative, to 3D Information, to Quantum Hologram
    https://youtu.be/F-TL4QOCiis

    Special Relativity and General Relativity compared to Heavenly and Hellish Near Death Experiences – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbKELVHcvSI&list=PLtAP1KN7ahia8hmDlCYEKifQ8n65oNpQ5&index=1

    Verse:

    Colossians 1:15-20
    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

  118. 118
    J-Mac says:

    Pindi,

    Here is why I know for a fact that life didn’t originate on its own. If you continue to believe that it did or could, here is the fist major issue you would have to tackle, IF, AND ONLY IF, YOUR WERE HONEST TO YOURSELF.

    You may or may not know that enzymes are needed to produce energy (ATP).

    However, the energy from ATP is ESSENTIAL to make the enzymes.

    But here is the kicker; DNA is absolutely essential to make enzymes, but enzymes absolutely can’t be made without DNA.

    It gets worst;

    Proteins can be made only by a full functioning cell, but a cell can’t be made without proteins… No way…

    So, please tell me how you got your mind around this issue because I’ve asked this very question and never received ANY RESPONSE from the so-called the most vocal Darwinists in the world, such as R. Dawkins, PZ. Myers, J. Coyne and many, many more… I even asked L. Moran just to close my list of possible suspects and the so called rising star of Darwinism Nick Mitzke but Mitzke has disappointed me more than others but that was expected…

    Unfortunately, I have never received any, none, responses.
    I would like to see your DIRECT OPINION on this issue since you obviously don’t have any evidence just like the rest…

  119. 119
    Seversky says:

    William J Murray @ 110

    Seversky said:

    In the case of belief in a god being evidence for the truth of that belief, people have believed in many gods over the millennia. I assume that you believe that all but one of those faiths was false. I would ask what reason there is for believing your faith is true when all those others were false.

    This is kind of statement that lends support to the view that atheists who argue here are more interested in reiterating a narrative than in engaging in true introspective, rational examination of their ideas. I’ve seen many variations of this same rhetorical, irrational “argument” many times, as if it hasn’t been rebutted many, many times.

    The argument is restated frequently because, in my view at least, it is a perfectly rational default position. All faiths are making the positive claim that theirs is the one true version. The proper response – the atheist response – is to ask for reasons and evidence why anyone should accept such a claim. In other words, it’s a simple burden of proof request. If a faith is unable to meet that burden then there is no reason to accept it. That’s the basic idea of atheism.

    Quite obviously, atheism can never have the emotional appeal of a religious belief. It cannot offer comfort and support in times of personal crisis or tragedy, it cannot offer hope of life everlasting after this one. That’s why I don’t expect religion to disappear, regardless of what some other atheists hope, for as long human beings are as they are. But then, I never had any expectation that atheism would make me happy, just that it was a more rational position than the faiths of which I was aware.

    First, just because people disagree on the nature of a thing doesn’t mean that thing doesn’t exist. Second, Seversky attampts to collect every concept of god together as if they are equivalent concepts; just because various group apply the same general term to many diverse concepts doesn’t mean all those diverse concepts are conceptually equivalent. A being lives in Mount Olympus throwing lightning bolts from the sky is an entirely different concept than a ground of existence, necessary first cause posited to also account for what science agrees is actual actual evidence – the fine tuning evidence.

    Anyone that tries to draw an equivalence between Zeus-category “gods” and the category of first cause, fine-tuning evidence god is either being intellectually dishonest or are just engaged in parroting rhetoric to support their ideological narrative.

    I do not dispute that people have believed in a range of gods over the millennia and that there are significant differences between, say, the gods of the Greek or Roman pantheons and those of the monotheistic faiths that superseded them. But that does not affect the argument that adherents have believed wholeheartedly in a great number of religions that you and I now believe to be wrong so why should yours be any different?

    Third, seversky should realize that when maknig a case for X, it is not my job to simultaneously make a case against any other or any previous view of X. That’s absurd. The argument about god here is not about the existence of Zeus or Ra or Shiva.

    True, but there are problems with the concept of the Christian God just as there are with the others you mention.

    Seversky said:

    We don’t know how or why this universe began. We don’t know what, if anything, came before or even if it means anything to talk about what came before the beginning of time. We have an estimate of the improbability of this universe coming into existence as a random event, which can also be viewed as a measure of our ignorance, some people’s intuition that such a highly improbable event could only be the result of intelligent agency and what I would call a longing in many people for this to be evidence for the God they need to exist. Is that evidence for the existence of the Christian God? Not for me.

    Again, we see her how Seversky is so committed to his narrative that he utterly fails to rationally examine and respond to the point being made. He is intent on reiterating that there are other ways of looking at the fine-tuning evidence and then attempts to characterize the motivation of those who interpret that evidence favorably towards a god as being the result of some “longing”. He seems to have already forgotten that many, many atheists and notable scientists have admitted that the fine-tuning evidence appears to indicate intelligence. The anti-theistic narrative shared by so many atheists that come here disallow admitting that there is evidence of god, and so it is covered up with terms like “mystery”, “ignorance”, “improbability”, and “manufactured by a religious longing”.

    I don’t deny that one possible explanation for the fine-tuning observation is that some sort of intelligent agent – a superintellect, if you like – was responsible. But, regardless of what we might hope, there is no good reason to assume this superintellect is the Christian or any other monotheistic deity. It might be something very different, something we cannot even imagine yet. And although science is having a hard time finding naturalistic accounts for the Big Bang and what, if anything, came before that may only speak to the paucity of human imagination not that such an account doesn’t exist.

    There is also no denying that faiths have a strong emotional appeal. They are able to meet fundamental human emotional needs in a way that atheism simply can’t. It doesn’t make them necessarily wrong any more than it makes them right. Just because you have found a system of belief that makes you happy doesn’t mean that it is necessarily true.

    Seversky’s narrative is also so deeply involved with responding against Christians that he appears to have forgotten that the person he is responding to is not Christian.

    Okay, if you say you are not Christian then I accept that. But your beliefs, insofar as you have described them, sound close enough to Christianity that I would be curious to know in what ways your system – shall we call it Murrayism – differs from orthodox Christianity?

  120. 120
    HeKS says:

    Seversky,

    WJM seems to adhere to a generic form of Ethical Monotheism.

    Judaism, Chritianity and Islam are more specified forms of Ethical Monotheism.

    I do not dispute that people have believed in a range of gods over the millennia and that there are significant differences between, say, the gods of the Greek or Roman pantheons and those of the monotheistic faiths that superseded them. But that does not affect the argument that adherents have believed wholeheartedly in a great number of religions that you and I now believe to be wrong so why should yours be any different?

    This is where a big part of your reasoning goes wrong. You seem to have this idea that if a god exists, we are left with thousands of essentially equivalent belief systems to choose from and no way to say which of these thousands, if any, might be true. This is not the case. There is very little similarity between Ethical Monotheism and the many various polytheistic belief systems.

    Theists are of the opinion that logical and philosophical arguments point necessarily to the existence of the God of Ethical Monotheism and that there is now considerable and powerful empirical evidence that is supportive of the premises of these arguments. The empirical evidence has also been acknowledged to be at least highly suggestive of the conclusions of the arguments even by many prominent life-long atheists and agnostics, some of whom have even felt forced by a commitment to intellectual honesty to abandon their atheism on the basis of this evidence, with Antony Flew being a high-profile example.

    A rational theism based on logic and evidence limits the range of options to only those that fall under the banner of Ethical Monotheism, and so once one decides that the God of Ethical Monotheism exists, there are really not very many options to choose from. Furthermore, even among these options, it’s not really a matter of having to choose between complete opposites. Judaism and Christianity are closely related, and the Christian view of Judaism is not so much that it’s wrong, per se, but that it is incomplete, missing a central piece of the picture, namely, Jesus. Christians find the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus compelling, and this serves for them as a confirmation of Christianity over Judaism. Islam, on the other hand, elevates another above Jesus, and this is a man who can hardly been seen as Jesus’ moral equal, much less his better, nor is there the compelling evidence that serves to verify his claims about himself and his relationship with God.

    However, even setting aside this last bit about some specific differences between the options, the point is that a rational theism really has only very few options to choose from, and it is not a choice between complete opposites, but between some close similarities that vary on some key issues that are open to historical and moral investigation.

  121. 121
    HeKS says:

    Seversky,

    I do not dispute that people have believed in a range of gods over the millennia and that there are significant differences between, say, the gods of the Greek or Roman pantheons and those of the monotheistic faiths that superseded them. But that does not affect the argument that adherents have believed wholeheartedly in a great number of religions that you and I now believe to be wrong so why should yours be any different?

    I think I should briefly clarify my comments with respect to the above statement from you, since I think my original comment could be read as failing to acknowledge something you said. I do acknowledge that you say you recognize there are significant differences between the polytheistic gods and the monotheistic God. However, what you seem to fail to accept, in spite of your words, is that these differences really are significant in a meaningful sense and are not just trivia, but are connected to the potential truth value of these wildly and qualitatively different theistic systems.

  122. 122
    Pindi says:

    I would add to Seversky’s comment that a look at the wikipedia page on monotheism reveals a number of different monotheistic religions (including Hinduism, in that many Hindu’s believe there are only different forms of the same god. Perhaps this is a similar concept to the trinity). But there are a range of others with only one god, including within Native American societies. I wonder how many of these are consistent with the evidence and logic.

  123. 123
    Origenes says:

    Seversky @119:

    Quite obviously, atheism can never have the emotional appeal of a religious belief. It cannot offer comfort and support in times of personal crisis or tragedy, it cannot offer hope of life everlasting after this one. …. But then, I never had any expectation that atheism would make me happy, just that it was a more rational position than the faiths of which I was aware.

    [my emphasis]

    Unfortunately, materialism cannot ground rationality. In short, if blind particles in motion are the sole drivers of one’s thoughts, then one cannot be rational.

    There are, at least, two distinct arguments which point this out:
    A. The argument from reason.
    B.The argument from control; based on the consequence argument against compatibilism:

    1. If naturalism is true, then determinism is true.
    2. If determinism is true, then all our actions and thoughts are consequences of events and laws of nature in the remote past before we were born.
    3. We have no control over circumstances that existed in the remote past before we were born, nor do we have any control over the laws of nature.
    4. If A causes B, and we have no control over A, and A is sufficient for B, then we have no control over B.
    Therefore
    5. If determinism is true, then we have no control over our own actions and thoughts.
    Therefore, assuming that rationality requires control,
    6. If determinism is true, we are not rational.

    Next, Van Inwagen, explains that undetermined events (also) fail to ground rationality:

    “Let us look carefully at the consequences of supposing that human behavior is undetermined …
    Let us suppose that there is a certain current-pulse that is proceeding along one of the neural pathways in Jane’s brain and that it is about to come to a fork. And let us suppose that if it goes to the left, she will make her confession;, and that if it goes to the right, she will remain silent. And let us suppose that it is undetermined which way the pulse goes when it comes to the fork: even an omniscient being with a complete knowledge of the state of Jane’s brain and a complete knowledge of the laws of physics and unlimited powers of calculation could say no more than: ‘The laws and present state of her brain would allow the pulse to go either way; consequently, no prediction of what the pulse will do when it comes to the fork is possible; it might go to the left, and it might go to the right, and that’s all there is to be said.’
    Now let us ask: does Jane have any choice about whether the pulse goes to the left or to the right? If we think about this question for a moment, we shall see that it is very hard to see how she could have any choice about that.
    …There is no way for her to make it go one way rather than the other. Or, at least, there is no way for her to make it go one way rather than the other and leave the ‘choice’ it makes an undetermined event.”
    [Van Inwagen]

    So, Seversky, materialism offers neither comfort nor hope and it fails to ground rationality.

  124. 124

    Seversky,

    I don’t make arguments for or against any particular god other than to make the case that an agency that could reasonably be referred to as “god” is indicated by various convergent lines of evidence (such as the fine-tuning and big-bang evidence) and logical argument (such as the first cause and moral arguments). Also, I argue that atheism/materialism is simply not a rationally supportable view; it is entirely self-negating and nihilistic.

    I don’t know where my particular views about god are different from Christians because I don’t know much about Christianity. I’m unconcerned with historical claims and whether or not they demonstrate Biblical reliability. I have no interest in parsing Biblical (or post-Biblical) claims about miraculous events and whether or not they actually happened. I simply do not care about any of that.

    The question is, Seversky, can you set aside your templated narrative long enough to internally, critically examine atheism/materialism? Can you set aside ideological commitments long enough to admit that the fine-tuning evidence does in fact suggest a god of some sort, even though it doesn’t prove it? Can you let go of whatever anti-Christian animus drives you to throw up Zeus and flying spaghetti monster straw men long enough to actually understand and respond to what is really being argued here? Or, at least carry on a discussion without resorting to your Christian-response template while engaging a non-Christian?

    Or, are you just incapable of engaging a non-Christian because you don’t have any handy, pre-sorted rhetoric available?

  125. 125
    Axel says:

    @ your #12, BA77,

    I was amazed Seversky had the temerity to open his mouth, after Harry’s brilliant post #3. We just don’t seem to be made with a capacity to countenance the possibility of the atheists’ invincible ignorance, though we encounter it endlessly.

  126. 126

    This is something I’ve noticed about anti-theists over the years; they simply cannot admit that evidence for god exists. Note Seversky’s reply that there are other, better explanations; even if that was true, that still doesn’t mean that the evidence “doesn’t count” as evidence for god.

    Any sane, reasonable person can see this. The idea that evidence cannot be evidence for “an unknown thing” is ridiculous. Scientists often use evidence to propose some kind of hypothetical entity or commodity, then search for additional evidence that would support or contradict the proposed characteristics of that proposed entity.

    We have multiple lines of convergent evidence from many different avenues of research, experience and thought which indicate the existence of some entity that can reasonable be labeled “god”. That doesn’t prove god exists, but it is indeed evidence.

    One of the things I wrote about in my books (not that I recommend them) was what I refer to as an “Identity Matrix”, where the various aspects of a person’s identity formed a system of thought and behavior from a very deep, almost unalterable core that arranged the perception of all experience according to the nature of that identity.

    It was (and is) my view that some things are so contradictory to the identity of an individual that they simply cannot perceive/understand that experience; it would be too devastating to the core identity. Illusion/delusion/denialism is manufactured to protect the identity, which simply cannot survive the incorporation of the contradictory experience/information.

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