Intelligent Design

Quote of the Day

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I am reading Atheist Delusions by David Bentley Hart and set forth a lengthy quote below. The topic of this thread will be Hart’s assertions in the last two quoted sentences. Instead of putting everything in the sometimes hard to read block quote format of WordPress, I notify one and all that everything past this sentence is a quote from the book:

Nothing strikes me as more tiresomely vapid than the notion that there is some sort of inherent opposition – or impermeable partition – between faith and reason, or that the modern period is marked by its unique devotion to the latter. One can believe that faith is mere credulous assent to unfounded premises, while reason consists in a pure obedience to empirical fact, only if one is largely ignorant of both. . . .

All reasoning presumes premises or intuitions or ultimate convictions that cannot be proved by any foundations or facts more basic than themselves, and hence there are irreducible convictions present wherever one attempts to apply logic to experience. One always operates within boundaries established by one’s first principles, and asks only the questions that those principles permit. . . .

There is, after all, nothing inherently reasonable in the conviction that all of reality is simply an accidental confluence of physical causes, without any transcendent source or end. Materialism is not a fact of experience or a deduction of logic; it is a metaphysical prejudice, nothing more, and one that is arguably more irrational than almost any other. In general, the unalterably convinced materialist is a kind of childishly complacent fundamentalist, so fervently, unreflectively, and rapturously committed to the materialist vision of reality that if he or she should encounter any problem – logical or experiential – that might call its premises into question, or even merely encounter a limit beyond which those premises lose their explanatory power, he or she is simply unable to recognize it. Richard Dawkins is a perfect example; he does not hesitate, for instance, to claim that ‘natural selection is the ultimate explanation for our existence.’ But this is a silly assertion and merely reveals that Dawkins does not understand the words he is using. The question of existence does not concern how it is that the present arrangement of the world came about, from causes already internal to the world, but how it is that anything (including any cause) can exist at all. This question Darwin and Wallace never addressed, nor were ever so hopelessly confused as to think thy had. It is a question that no theoretical or experimental science could ever answer, for it is qualitatively different from the kind of questions that the physical science are competent to address. Even if theoretical physics should one day discover the most basic laws upon which the fabric of space and time is woven, or evolutionary biology the most elementary phylogenic forms of terrestrial life, or paleontology an utterly seamless genealogy of every species, still we shall not have thereby drawn one inch nearer to a solution of the mystery of existence. . . . Even the simplest of things, and even the most basic of principles, must first of all be, and nothing within the universe of contingent things (nor even the universe itself, even if were somehow ‘eternal’) can be intelligibly conceived of as the source of explanation of its own being.

86 Replies to “Quote of the Day

  1. 1
    TCS says:

    This reminds me of Roddy Bullock’s post on ARN, Everybody Believes Something Unbelievable.

  2. 2
    hazel says:

    I agree with the first sentence.

    I disagree with the second sentence, especially as it leads down the “first cause” rabbit hole.

    I wonder why you brought this up, becaue we discussed it before?

  3. 3
    Jehu says:

    hazel,

    Relax, not everybody reads every digression of every thread. For those of us that have a life and cannot spend hours everyday on UD, this is an interesting thread, regardless if a digression on another thread about a month ago covered the same topic.

    My question to you. Why are you so uptight that you must write two consecutive posts to make sure everybody knows that a digression on a thread about a month ago covered a similar point? Something bothering you? Like your conscience?

    Me thinks you doth protest too much.

  4. 4
    hazel says:

    You’re right that just because this was discussed elsewhere recently doesn’t mean everyone paid attention then.

  5. 5
    Marduk says:

    Problem is to know you exit requires DETECTABILITY, you can’t be ‘immaterial’ and have a complete feedback loop of nothingness.

    The irony of the above post is that materialism is in some sense true, for without it, no knowledge can be known.

    Why bother exploring the world “out there” if it is unreliable? Either something exists or it doesn’t if it exists then it is detectable, if it is detectable in anyway it has some kind of form or structure in a sense, otherwise you would not be able to detect it.

    So we can say quite well that provisionally materialism has lead man to discoveries of electricity, nuclear power, and cures for diseases, what has prayer and the gods of our ancestors ever done? Oh that’s right nothing.

    What I find so alarming is christians so easily believe that their god exists but no other gods besides theirs exist, but they have never studied all other religions.

    Believing in god is just what you happen to do or not do based on geography and exposure, if you lived much longer then your short life I think most religious people would grow out of it.

    Belief in traditional religions and their sacred text’s is the sign of a undeveloped child like mind.

  6. 6
    Bruce David says:

    I hope I am not violating any rules, but I think that a point made earlier in the quote is much more interesting, namely,

    “All reasoning presumes premises or intuitions or ultimate convictions that cannot be proved by any foundations or facts more basic than themselves, and hence there are irreducible convictions present wherever one attempts to apply logic to experience. One always operates within boundaries established by one’s first principles, and asks only the questions that those principles permit. . . .”

    Euclid made it clear that logical reasoning must begin with assertions that are accepted as true without proof, and no one to my knowledge has been able to overcome that limitation on “reason”.

    In my experience, most intelligent people, whether they have been trained in logical thinking or not, seldom make logical mistakes in their reasoning. Where people tend to disagree is in the fundamental assumptions of their respective world views. But what is often also true is that even quite intelligent and educated people often don’t recognize the paradigms which inform their thinking. So two opponents in a disagreement frequently are astonished at how the other could be “so stupid” as not to see the obvious truth of their position, when the problem is really a clash of incompatible world views of which neither party is actually aware.

    You often see this at work in the debates over ID and Darwinism, where the Darwinist is really a Darwinist because his or her world view includes the assumption that natural phenomena must have a completely naturalistic explanation (often but not always because he or she is an atheist), whereas the ID proponent’s belief in a Creator opens him or her to the possibility that aspects of nature were engineered. Frequently, neither can see to what extent their philosophy informs their “reasonable” conclusions. (This is particularly true of Darwinists, I find.) It is quite stunning to hear Darwinists assert that “evolution is a fact” until one realizes that it is the only possible conclusion that can be derived from their world view. It is also interesting that the Darwinist usually thinks that this conclusion is science and not what is actually is: a philosophical position.

    I have also noticed that it is rare for an individual, even a very smart one, to be able to bring to consciousness, much less question, his or her basic assumptions about the nature of things, and that when evidence or experience shows up that contradicts or calls into question those assumptions, it is either rationalized away, or if that is not possible, simply ignored.

  7. 7
    Barry Arrington says:

    Marduk, re your [5]:

    Let’s start with the name you choose to write under. The Babylonians gave the name “Bel,” meaning “Lord” to their god Marduk, thus “Bel-Marduk” or often simply “Bel.” The cult devoted to Marduk was particularly cruel and bloodthirsty, with practices that included sacrificing babies to their “god” Why would you want to go by that name? It’s like calling yourself “Hitler.” Perhaps you are ignorant of these facts.

    1. You write: “Problem is to know you exit requires DETECTABILITY, you can’t be ‘immaterial’ and have a complete feedback loop of nothingness.”

    You are arguing against a claim no one has made. Philosophical materialism is not, as you seem to think, the opposite of “immaterial.” Materialism holds that only matter and energy exist and that all phenomena can be reduced to the interaction of particles in motion.

    2. You write: “So we can say quite well that provisionally materialism has lead man to discoveries of electricity, nuclear power, and cures for diseases, what has prayer and the gods of our ancestors ever done? Oh that’s right nothing.”

    You say that “materialism” led to the discovery of electricity, nuclear power and cures for diseases as if this “fact” is so self-evident that it needs no evidence to support it. It is not self-evident. Indeed, it is not even true. You spout the pieties of the age like a true believer, but spouting materialist pieties is all you are doing. Can you actually provide an argument or evidence to support you bald assertion?

    You ask in a snarky tone, what has religion done to promote science. You assert, “nothing.” Again, you are quite wrong. Indeed, modern science was born in Christian belief. And here’s a list scientists who were Christians and the influence they had on various fields: http://www.rae.org/influsci.html Perhaps you should at least try to become acquainted with the actual facts before spouting you vacuous pieties.

    3. You write: “What I find so alarming is christians so easily believe that their god exists but no other gods besides theirs exist, but they have never studied all other religions.”

    Have you actually made an inquiry into comparative religion studies made by Christians? I seriously doubt it. If you had, you would have found that the premise of your statement, that Christians never study other religions, is blatantly false. Here’s just one website that I found after 10 seconds on Google where Christians have studied other religions.
    http://www.gospelway.com/religiousgroups/index.php Whether you agree with the conclusions of the website is beside the point. The point is that your premise – that Christians never study other religions – is false.

    4. “Believing in god is just what you happen to do or not do based on geography and exposure, if you lived much longer then your short life I think most religious people would grow out of it. Belief in traditional religions and their sacred text’s is the sign of a undeveloped child like mind.”

    Sigh. Did you actually think about any of the things that you wrote before you wrote them? Here is a list of a few of the most brilliant scientists in history who were also Christians that I found after searching on Google for all of ten seconds.
    http://www.adherents.com/peopl.....#Christian

    Do you seriously think that Maxwell and Faraday, two of the most brilliant scientists in the history of the world (to cite just two obvious examples) had “undevelped childlike minds”? Give me a break.

    Conclusion. You are confused and/or wrong about everything you said. That should give you pause and make you think that maybe, just maybe, you’re on the wrong side of this debate. But I suspect you won’t. Your comment has all the markings of a fervent “believer” who is impervious to evidence.

  8. 8
    beelzebub says:

    From the David Bentley Hart quote:

    All reasoning presumes premises or intuitions or ultimate convictions that cannot be proved by any foundations or facts more basic than themselves, and hence there are irreducible convictions present wherever one attempts to apply logic to experience.

    True, but that doesn’t mean that all faith statements are equally warrranted. It may be necessary and warranted for me to assume that reasoning is possible, but it’s neither necessary nor warranted for me to accept on faith that my cat is the reincarnation of Rod Serling.

    …nothing within the universe of contingent things (nor even the universe itself, even if were somehow ‘eternal’) can be intelligibly conceived of as the source of explanation of its own being.

    Hart presumably considers the non-contingent ground of being to be the Christian God. This in itself seems to be an unwarranted assumption. Why must existence be underwritten by a god at all, much less the specific personal God of the Christians?

  9. 9
    Marduk says:

    Bruce David,

    You said: “You are arguing against a claim no one has made. Philosophical materialism is not, as you seem to think, the opposite of “immaterial.” Materialism holds that only matter and energy exist and that all phenomena can be reduced to the interaction of particles in motion.”

    Philosophical materialism is a moving target, you act like it is a complete system of things of agree’d upon definitions. It isn’t complete as it grows as knowledge grows. Where as religion does not grow as knowledge grows. So you are incorrect sir.

    Most people here have already pre-decided what they believe, rather then test it against reality. Most of them are caught in misconceived words that have infected the english language through ill conceived words passed down by our ancestors that has no actual meaning.

    All concepts are derived from the environment itself, all truth is DERIVED from that which was previously existing from the environment through a process of conceptualization. Even the idea of “immaterialism” is in fact a material concept, else you couldn’t think about it conceive of it, whether it actually is logically coherent or not when compared against what we know.

    All of your knowledge about the alleged idenities and characters of the gods and their religions comes to you externally from the world itself, therefore to say that immaterialist philosophy has any kind of sense or meaning is ridiculous. Since you gained knowledge about the past, your ancestors gods, their incarnations from your parents – things external to you. So they must in some sense be material.

    Most people here really do not get how intertwined the feedback loops are to how they experience the world itself.

    In order to begin to even have a thought you have to cast a ray at something to know it is there and have that thing come back to you so you can measure that it does in fact exist in some way or some manner.

    We all know without photons from the sun bouncing off physical objects in our world we could not see, nor detect objects as well as we could.

    This principle of requiring feedback to know if something exists or not (yes or no) before one can even begin to build any kind of knowledge at all shows how bereft the so called “immaterialistic” philosophy is.

    To say that something has existence is to say it has form or structure that is in some way detectable, immaterialism is the cancellation of existent structure and form. You can’t have a negation of form, structure and their subsequent relationships as a coherent entity to base a philosophy of knowledge or truth on.

    Truth be told much of what is posted at uncommondescent regarding materialism vs immaterialism goes to show the lengths that christians will go to do bastradize concepts they themselves have no real grasp of.

    My “snarky” tone also is you reading into it something that isn’t there. Rather I am alarmed at the lower cognitiity of the average christian

    Consider this: You are an all powerful all knowing god, yet you create beings that suffer immensely and through no fault of their own, not only that they cannot test, nor verify objectively which god to pick amongst umpteen hundred gods.

    The funny thing about “immaterialism” is that it leaves everything completely subjective, in a state of subjective idealism. Why yahweh, why not thor, or zeus, or zoraster?

    There are many more gods out there much more compatible with what we know to be true then the desert god yahweh of christianity.

  10. 10
    tragic mishap says:

    Marduk: “Most of them are caught in misconceived words that have infected the english language through ill conceived words passed down by our ancestors that has no actual meaning.”

    Yes, yes I quite agree. Most distressing are these pathogenic words. Thanks for this explanation. This explains why I feel so sick right now. I only have one question for you Marduk. Is “bastradize” a misconceived word or an ill-conceived word? Yes, I believe that was the one that infected me just now.

  11. 11
    Alan Fox says:

    I have also noticed that it is rare for an individual, even a very smart one, to be able to bring to consciousness, much less question, his or her basic assumptions about the nature of things, and that when evidence or experience shows up that contradicts or calls into question those assumptions, it is either rationalized away, or if that is not possible, simply ignored.

    It’s viewpoint bias, something I and, cleary, you suffer from. Scientists attempt to overcome bias by repeating each other’s experiments. Philosophers are under no such constraints.

    By the way, with minor editing, I could agree with the rest of your comment.

  12. 12
    Upright BiPed says:

    Marduk- “Most people here have already pre-decided what they believe, rather th(a)n test it against reality”

    Really…have you tested this comment against reality?

  13. 13
    glennj says:

    Marduk wrote:
    “Either something exists or it doesn’t if it exists then it is detectable, if it is detectable in anyway it has some kind of form or structure in a sense, otherwise you would not be able to detect it.”

    God is “undetectable” only if you ignore the plain evidence by which He may be detected.

    The science of Intelligent Design–recognizing and describing specified complexity, probability, irreducible complexity and so forth–is such a tool. We see atoms and molecules arranged to serve larger functions than themselves which can neither have designed themselves nor within the bounds mathematics of the known universe have “just happened”.

    What draws you to this prominent website devoted to discussion of almost nothing but the tools of ID theory? It is the mystery of your own soul seeking answers to that which you know you cannot explain–your own sense of “I am”. Only you are not honest about it.

    Love, beauty, truth…these are the evidences of the God who created you to know Him; He is detectable by your soul and you know it though you willfully deny it.

    Let go of your pride, you know Him already.

  14. 14
    Bruce David says:

    Marduk:

    I’m flattered that you have confused me with Barry Arrington, but your comment quoted him, not me, at the beginning.

    However, I’ll take the opportunity to respond anyway.

    Your comment is such a perfect example of what I was talking about in the post just prior to Mr. Arrington’s that I couldn’t have planned it better myself. Your whole argument is entirely based on the philosophical position you are trying to prove, namely materialism. When you say, for example, “All concepts are derived from the environment itself”, you are assuming that there is an environment “out there” separate from ourselves. Or consider your paragraph:

    “To say that something has existence is to say it has form or structure that is in some way detectable, immaterialism is the cancellation of existent structure and form. You can’t have a negation of form, structure and their subsequent relationships as a coherent entity to base a philosophy of knowledge or truth on.”

    It is clear from this that your assumption is that “structure and form” can only exist “out there”, separate from our minds. So you see your very arguments arise out of your basic philosophical assumptions (materialism) and thus your argument is circular.

    If you notice, everything we know about the world is either through our senses, our thoughts, or our memories. Every one of these phenomena is of the mind and exists within the mind (and in this moment). There is no logical or necessary reason why there has to be anything material that actually corresponds to them. Have you never had a dream in which you were absolutely convinced that you were in physical reality? Can you PROVE to anyone, even yourself, that you are not at this moment dreaming? Given that, where is the necessity of a material world?

    It is true that the world that we construct in our imaginations based on our memories and sense impressions contains a great deal of regularity, regularity that has been partially codified by scientific laws and discoveries. However, it is equally possible that this regularity is imposed by God on this dream we call reality as by an objective, external, material existence, as Bishop Berkely so eloquently pointed out.

    To Alan Fox:

    I won’t claim that I am immune from the failing I have stated and that you quoted. However, you merely state that I “suffer from” it without giving any details. I would be grateful if you could point out to me where I am blind in this regard with some specifics.

  15. 15
    Alan Fox says:

    I would be grateful if you could point out to me where I am blind in this regard with some specifics.

    It was just how you phrased a couple of things, for example:

    …the Darwinist is really a Darwinist because his or her world view includes the assumption that natural phenomena must have a completely naturalistic explanation (often but not always because he or she is an atheist)

    I am prepared to concede that there are more self-declared atheists among US scientists than among the general population, but I am not sure that atheism drives people to become scientists, or to look for natural explanations, since science can only look at real phenomena.

  16. 16
    StephenB says:

    —-Alan: Scientists attempt to overcome bias by repeating each other’s experiments. Philosophers are under no such constraints.”

    Well, not exactly. Philosophers, if they are any good, must honor the dictates of reason just as scientists, if they are any good, must honor the dictates of evidence. More to the point, the former constitutes a higher order of knowledge that the latter. The principles of right reason can exist without science, but science cannot exist without the principles of right reason.

    For that reason, even the best science cannot compensate for a misguided philosophy. Indeed, if one begins with the wrong premise, and reasons perfectly, he will never again get back on the road to truth unless it happens by accident through a logical error.

    Materialism is not a conclusion based on evidence; it is a premise based on preferences.

  17. 17
    vjtorley says:

    Marduk

    You wrote:

    Consider this: You are an all powerful all knowing god, yet you create beings that suffer immensely and through no fault of their own, not only that they cannot test, nor verify objectively which god to pick amongst umpteen hundred gods.

    The funny thing about “immaterialism” is that it leaves everything completely subjective, in a state of subjective idealism. Why yahweh, why not thor, or zeus, or zoraster?

    There are many more gods out there much more compatible with what we know to be true then the desert god yahweh of christianity.

    Marduk:

    Comparing Yahweh and Marduk (or Thor or Zeus) is like comparing apples and oranges. Here’s why. Yahweh is meant to be a complete explanation of reality, as Yahweh is regarded by Jews, Christians and Muslims as the Creator of heaven and earth. Yahweh is a Being who could serve as an answer to all of Gauguin’s big three questions: “Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?” A Jew, Christian or Muslim would answer: “We come from Yahweh, our Creator. We are human beings, made in the image of Yahweh. And when we die, we will be judged by Yahweh, who wants human beings to share eternal life with their Creator.” Yahweh gets a Gauguin score of 3.

    No follower of Marduk or Zeus or Thor could give an answer like that. The following quotes from Wikipedia illustrate why.

    Marduk … was the Babylonian name of a late-generation god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon, who, when Babylon permanently became the political center of the Euphrates valley in the time of Hammurabi (18th century BC), started to slowly rise to the position of the head of the Babylonian pantheon, a position he fully acquired by the second half of the second millennium BC…

    There are particularly two gods—Ea and Enlil — whose powers and attributes pass over to Marduk…

    When Babylon became the capital of Mesopotamia, the patron deity of Babylon was elevated to the level of supreme god. In order to explain how Marduk seized power, Enuma Elish was written, which tells the story of Marduk’s birth, heroic deeds and becoming the ruler of the gods. This can be viewed as a form of Mesopotamian apologetics.

    In other words, Marduk cannot possibly be the ultimate explanation of Reality, as he has parents. Also, he does not possess power by virtue of his nature, unlike Yahweh; instead, he had to seize it (which means he might conceivably lose it). Finally, he doesn’t seem to want to share eternity with me, so why should I waste any time worshiping him? Hardly a satisfying Deity. Marduk gets a Gauguin score of 0.

    OK. What about Thor?

    Thor … is the red-haired and bearded god of thunder in Germanic mythology and Germanic paganism, and its subsets: Norse paganism, Anglo-Saxon paganism and Continental Germanic paganism…

    In the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda, Thor is the son of Odin and the giantess Jord (Jord, the Earth). His wife is called Sif, and little is known of her except that she has golden hair. With his mistress, the giantess Jarnsaxa, Thor had a son Magni and with Sif he had his daughter Thrud.

    This god isn’t even the Supreme Being, let alone the Creator of the cosmos. He’s just a very powerful god. A god, not the God. No wonder the Vikings converted. Thor also gets a Gauguin score of 0.

    How about Zeus?

    Zeus in Greek mythology is the king of the gods, the ruler of Mount Olympus and the god of the sky and thunder…

    Zeus was the child of Cronus and Rhea, and the youngest of his siblings. In most traditions he was married to Hera, although, at the oracle of Dodona, his consort was Dione: according to the Iliad, he is the father of Aphrodite by Dione. He is known for his erotic escapades.

    In Greek mythology, Zeus is the supreme god, but like Marduk, he had to seize power, so he clearly does not possess his power by nature. Zeus is neither uncreated (he is the offspring of Cronus and Rhea), nor self-sufficient (he has a consort), nor independent of the material realm (as witnessed by his fondness for certain women). As far as I know, Zeus didn’t bother to prepare a heaven for his devotees either. And we are supposed to worship this deity? Surely you jest. Zeus also gets a Gauguin score of 0.

    That leaves us with Zoroaster.

    Zoroaster (Latinized from Greek variants) or Zarathushtra …, also referred to as Zartosht … was an ancient Iranian (Persian) prophet and religious poet.

    Not even a god!

    I think you must have meant Ahura Mazda.

    Ahura Mazda … is the Avestan language name for a divinity exalted by Zoroaster as the one uncreated Creator, hence God.

    Now here at last we have a rival to Yahweh. So before I continue this discussion, I have to ask: are you a fan of Zoroastrianism?

  18. 18
    Alan Fox says:

    Materialism is not a conclusion based on evidence…

    Assuming you are using materialism as a synonym for methodological naturalism, I disagree both that it a conclusion, rather it is simply a way of looking at the world, and it is most definitely based on evidence.

  19. 19
    Alan Fox says:

    Sorry about missing “is” in previous comment.

  20. 20
    StephenB says:

    —-Alan: “Assuming you are using materialism as a synonym for methodological naturalism, I disagree both that it a conclusion, rather it is simply a way of looking at the world, and it is most definitely based on evidence.”

    I was referring to metaphysical naturalism or philosophical materaialism [not that they are exactly the same thing]. Now that you mention it, though, I would affirm that metaphysical naturalism is also a premise based on preference rather than a conclusion based on evidence. Indeed, methdological naturalasm is the practice of doing science as if metaphysical naturalism was true.

  21. 21
    Bruce David says:

    To Alan fox:

    In response to your #14:

    What I was trying to convey was not that atheism drives people to become scientists. I don’t believe that. I do, however, believe that atheism drives people to look for naturalistic explanations, because if you’re an atheist, where else can you look?

    My point, however, is that, given the thinness (absence, really) of actual scientific evidence for a Darwinian explanation of MACRO-evolution, and from what I have observed of people (scientists and otherwise) defending same, I have come to the conclusion that the reason people cling to the idea so fervently is from an a priori commitment to the proposition, made explicit by Darwin, that natural phenomena must have naturalistic explanations. This conviction is not based on science. It is a philosophical position held prior to any scientific inquiry. I think it often is subsumed within a more general atheistic outlook, but clearly it doesn’t have to be, given the existence of Christians like Ken Miller.

  22. 22
    wnelson says:

    I saw this quote, from the author of _Solaris_ — a Polish sci-fi writer — Stanis?aw Lem.

    Andrei Tarkovsky directed a treatment of the novel in the early seventies, and it was redone with George Clooeney, a year or two ago. Lem didn’t think much of the reworking in the recent version and made this remark:

    “I only wanted to create a vision of a human encounter with something that certainly exists, in a mighty manner perhaps, but cannot be reduced to human concepts, ideas or images. This is why the book was entitled Solaris and not Love in Outer Space.”

    I think this explains a a flaw in the hubris of the materialists among us.

  23. 23
    Marduk says:

    All ideas are derived from the environment so we can go back to see if they were misconceived by the originators, I know because I do research on how concepts go through the process of conceptualization. Most people here are extremely ignorant of neuroscience and it’s latest advances. Now because their minds are colored with misconceived concepts and philosophies poorly conceptualized, means that the concepts themselves are incoherent and empty. Especially when we go back and see how they were conceived and we can feel free to reconceive them in order to test them by reconceiving them ourselves at the point of conceptualization, to see how incoherent they are.

    Immaterialism is not coherent, it only seemed coherent to peoples who haven’t thought about it enough and were not exposed, nor do they expose themselves to ideas that clearly overturn immaterialism.

    The simple question proding of socratic logic being the primary factor, by getting the person who believes in immaterialism, and prodding his knowledge of what immaterialism means, and it’s consequences, which in the end would end up exposing the absurdities of the claim of it being any kind of valid knowledge.

    Consider the fact that you are typing on a computer and this text is saved and sent outside of your mind, the fact that you are reading this now and you know that this page is not a part of your mind, means only one thing – that that existent structure exists with or without you, because other people can come along in read it if you in fact die tomorrow.

    The absolute bereftness of immaterialist philosophy is that it denies the language of form and structure: mathematics and geometry.

    To say you think and perceive is to say you are recursively detecting feedback from existent forms and structures. Any mention of form or structure at all causes immaterialism to collapse because of the logical absurdity, of form without structure and the absolute requirements of existability, and detectability.

  24. 24
    Frost122585 says:

    Marduck, I think that you are ignorant and just because you do research does not mean you are correct. Much of our conceptualization comes from self reference and is apriori coming from our natural individual framework – whether that be genetic or spiritual.

    What you need to understand about conceptualization is that it is very individualistic- not to be confused with relativistic objectivity but overall each person has very different experiences given the same environment- and there is also choice which cannot be explained by deferring to the environment or the genome- hence the spirit.

    You will learn more about the origin of knowledge reading the great philosophical works of Kant- Leibniz, the bible and others than you will from so called cognitive science. The very definition of “conceptualization” cannot be understood from the environment- the brain or anyhting of this sort- the mathematical symmetry of the universe belongs to a third realm of construction that transcends the bounds of physical science and can only be explained and understood via self reference.

    To quote Kurt Godel…

    “There is more knowledge apriori than can ever be known.”

    How we know things are true cannot be formally derived or explained- and certainly cannot be deferred to the environment- the essence and foundation of experience is owed to that which is “within.”

  25. 25
    Frost122585 says:

    you also said

    “…is not a part of your mind, means only one thing – that that existent structure exists with or without you, because other people can come along in read it if you in fact die tomorrow.”

    Without my mind present I cannot “know” that anything exists. This page could have been a dream- or it could have been taken down- it also required a mind in order for it to exist in the first place. The structure of information is inextricably linked with mind- and is in fact beholden to it.

    then you proclaim

    “The absolute bereftness of immaterialist philosophy is that it denies the language of form and structure: mathematics and geometry.”

    yet this does not fallow from any of your arguments…. This shows a poor grasp of induction and implication as it is not cogent.

    Next you actually bring up an interesting point…

    “To say you think and perceive is to say you are recursively detecting feedback from existent forms and structures. Any mention of form or structure at all causes immaterialism to collapse because of the logical absurdity, of form without structure and the absolute requirements of existability, and detectability.”

    THis is incporrect because to refer to “expierence” is ot refer to self. To refer to the details of expeice may or may not imply structure. Take for the example the feeling of love- this is not a structure that you can point too- it is an ecpeirence that is unique to each and every observer and is ultimately impossible to grasp existentially as the study of physics has revealed by the results of the uncertainty principle.

    The physical world is just a secondary organization “of the mind.” The observer is required for anyhting to “exist”= as existence is meaningless without a mind to make of it.

    Bohr saw the world as possessing no fundamental deep reality at all.

    As he so eloquently put it

    “Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.”

    Or as Heisenberg said…

    “The world is not mere stranger than we think… it is stranger than we can think.”

    This is not merely an outdated view of ancient Platonic philosophy, this IS modern physics!

  26. 26
    Barry Arrington says:

    Marduk, I will take you more seriously when you can answer this very simple question:

    Why is there something instead of nothing?

  27. 27
    Frost122585 says:

    How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress.

    -Niels Bohr

    If anybody says he can think about quantum physics without getting giddy, that only shows he has not understood the first thing about them.

    -Niels Bohr

    If quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it yet.

    -Niels Bohr

    It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how Nature is. Physics concerns what we say about Nature.

    -Niels Bohr

  28. 28
    eligoodwin says:

    Barry, perhaps you can answer your own question. I am rather curious how anyone can have any knowledge of the “why” whether they be a theist, atheist, deist, or polytheist. I assume you believe the Christian reason is the correct one, yet there is no demonstrable evidence for this.

    Secondly, you accused Marduk of perhaps being evil–because his username happens to be the name of the god of ancient Babylon. Many a buddhist find your Judeo-Christian God to be equally horrifying, considering ho

  29. 29
    Frost122585 says:

    eli- his point was not that the question he asked was answerable under a judeo christian world view but that it is not answerable under a materialist world view- hence this undermines and disproves Marduk’s assertion that you can only have material explanations – or that metaphysical explanations are inadequate. Berry’s metaphysical question trumps Marduk’s material philosophy,

    this is not an argument being used to show who is correct — but to show “what is reality.”- and materialism is not it.

  30. 30
    eligoodwin says:

    Barry, perhaps you can try and answer the question of “why” yourself. I am curious how an atheist, theist, deist, or polytheist can have any knowledge of this why. I assume you accept the Judeo-Christian version as being the correct “why,” an issue of faith and not subject to demonstrative evidence or else it wouldn’t be called faith…

    Secondly, you indirectly accuse Marduk of being evil, because his screen name is that of the god of ancient Babylon. Many a Buddhist would call the Judeo-Christian god no less bloodthirsty considering the numerous accounts of genocide attributed to your god.

  31. 31
    Frost122585 says:

    Eli- a Christin obviously has scripture to appeal to to answer he why questions- though one cant know the full mind of God, one can accept his revelations. This is called theology.

    If however you seek non-religious scientific or philosophical explanations – you have ruled out the subject of your own inquiry apriori- hence making your question effectively meaningless.

  32. 32
    vjtorley says:

    To marduk and other materialists on this thread:

    Could you please offer us a definition of what you mean by materialism. Do you mean:

    1. the doctrine that only beings with a spatio-temporal location can meaningfully be said to exist?

    or

    2. the doctrine that only beings with quantitative attributes can meaningfully be said to exist?

    or

    3. the doctrine that only beings with an internal structure can meaningfully be said to exist?

    or

    4. the doctrine that only beings that are independent of the human mind can meaningfully be said to exist?

    or

    5. the doctrine that only beings that are independent of any kind of mind can meaningfully be said to exist?

    All of these definitions are philosophically problematic.

    Definition 1 would rule out God, but also the multiverse and other universes. Not only that, but we would have to say the univese doesn’t exist, either, as there isn’t anything for it to be located in.

    Definition 2 sounds question-begging. What’s wrong with a being possessing purely qualitative attributes, and not quantitative ones? Why are quantitative attributes necessarily more fundamental? Justify your position, please.

    Definition 3 is too vague, and in any case it is compatible with immaterialism. For instance, some people might say that the Christian God had an internal structure, as He is a Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The difference, of course, is that these three persons are necessarily inseparable from one another; they are of one Being (homoousios). (God cannot be separated from His own act of knowing and loving Himself, as He does these things by nature.) If the materialist doesn’t like this kind of structure, then the materialist will have to add that any being must possess an internal structure which is contingent – but that seems to be making a philosophical virtue out of a vice! Why should contingency be a criterion for existence?

    Definition 4 is not problematic for either materialists or immaterialists. All it entails is that God and the angels (who are supposed to exist independently of my mind) could be described as real, but that Harry Potter (a creation of J. K. Rowling’s mind) could not. OK. No problem. Can we all go home now?

    Definition 5 would rule out God and the angels, but it would also rule out the existence of any minds at all – including human ones! Now, perhaps you’re comnfortable with saying that your own mind doesn’t exist – you might be an eliminative materialist. But to deny that minds exist altogether is a very radical position for even a materialist to take.

    But I suspect all you really want to do is to affirm that minds can only be said to exist if they either (i) emerge from or (ii) supervene on some underlying material entity.

    Claim (ii) is stronger than (i) as it entails that two material entities with the same physical properties necessarily have the same mental properties. However, as I argued in a previous thread, there is no experimental evidence whatsoever for this claim. I thought materialists liked experimental evidence. Why the dogmatism?

    Claim (i) sounds more plausible, but it is compatible with not only atheism but also pantheism, and it additionally begs the question of what a material attribute is, and why material attributes should necessarily be considered more fundamental than mental ones.

    I’d say you still have some explaining to do.

  33. 33
    Marduk says:

    Barry,

    “Marduk, I will take you more seriously when you can answer this very simple question:

    Why is there something instead of nothing?”

    Because there is no such thing as the negation of existence, to say we exist, is to say existence itself exists. The implication is that existence is something that is simply there and has always been.

    Consider these questions using the socratic method:

    Do I exist?
    Does existence itself exist?
    Was there ever a point when existence never existed?

    If you answer the last question with no, then the two prior questions become absurdities.

    I believe existence simply is and has always been, since if we think about the consequences of being derived beings, existence must be since we are derived.

    Therefore it is the simplest explanation – i.e. something must be, for a contingent being that is derived from that which was previously. Many people have believed that existence simply is. In fact the only tenable situation from either standpoint whether one is religious or not is to accept that existence itself has always been, since to say we (being derived beings) were derived from the negation of existence is an absurdity in itself.

  34. 34
    Frost122585 says:

    Science tells us that there was a beginning to the universe- hence existence “began” to exist at some point- thus it has not “always”- as one way that we know of was in fact non-existence.

  35. 35
    Frost122585 says:

    You see the universemay have always existed “in time”- but if in fact existence transcends beyond time- in some sort of a concept space (which we have no evidence for nor against except the positivist argument for the abstract idea on the merit of it’s manifestation as possibility- we could accept that the universe did not always exist- that it in fact ceased to exist a given point before time.

    Points, after all, are primarily spacial concepts as opposed to temporal. So you have ruled out apriori a concept space that transcends the temporal- if the universe has a beginning then there must be a reason why or how time could begin to exist- and the reason would therefore beg an explanation greater than time itself.

  36. 36
    Frost122585 says:

    excuse me on above ^ that is meant to be “…a given point “beyond” time.

  37. 37
    Barry Arrington says:

    Marduk writes:
    “Therefore it is the simplest explanation – i.e. something must be, for a contingent being that is derived from that which was previously. Many people have believed that existence simply is. In fact the only tenable situation from either standpoint whether one is religious or not is to accept that existence itself has always been, since to say we (being derived beings) were derived from the negation of existence is an absurdity in itself.”

    NOW WE ARE GETTING SOMEWHERE! I agree completely. Now, let’s unpack what you’ve said.

    “something must be, for a contingent being that is derived from that which was previously”

    Exactly. Everything that is contingent depends upon the existence of something prior to it that was necessary for it to be.

    “the only tenable situation from either standpoint whether one is religious or not is to accept that existence itself has always been”

    You are correct. To suggest otherwise is, as you say, an absurdity.

    But don’t you see that your position does not, as you seem to think, lead to the materialist conclusion.

    You write: “This existence is something that is simply there and has always been.” In other words, you aresaying that the existence of the universe is a brute fact before which we must stand mute.

    But don’t you see that there is another choice. That choice is that the universe itself is contingent having been derived from a prior necessary being.

    Thus the choices are two and only two: (1) the universe accounts for its own existence; it is a brute fact that cannot be explained; or (2) the universe is contingent, having been derived from a prior necessary being.

    Which is more reasonable? That gets us back to the OP. No matter how much you try to avert your eyes from the fact, it is an absurdity to say that a MATERIAL being can account for its own existence. To believe otherwise is to believe that which has never been demonstrated, defies logic, and runs counter to every observation ever made. In other words, it is something you believe on faith in the teeth of logic and evidence.

    On the other hand, to believe the universe is derived from a prior necessary being (i.e., God) does not require such a blind leap of faith.

    You say, “existence simply is.” Exactly. God is, in His very essence, Existence. That’s what God meant when he said to Moses “I am that I am.” It is what Paul meant when he wrote that in Him “we live and move and have our very being.”

    To believe in God means we no longer have to believe the self-referential absurdity that a material universe accounts for its own existence. Instead, we can believe that the existence of the material universe is the result of a prior necessary SUPER-material being, before whose existence we must stand mute.

    The main point is that both positions require faith. Your position requires faith in the absurd. My position requires faith only in that which I cannot explain.

    You know this is true no matter how much you deny it.

  38. 38
    Alan Fox says:

    Thus the choices are two and only two: (1) the universe accounts for its own existence; it is a brute fact that cannot be explained; or (2) the universe is contingent, having been derived from a prior necessary being.

    Has everyone given up on Free Lunch?

    The main point is that both positions require faith. Your position requires faith in the absurd.

    Not really, Barry. It means some of us would prefer to consider the question unexplained rather than accept an explanation that is unconvincing to them.

    My position requires faith only in that which I cannot explain.

    Well, exactly. But if it works for you, that’s fine.

    You know this is true no matter how much you deny it.

    How do you know what others know or believe? I find it most irritating to be told what I really believe (even though I deny it) by someone who is not a mind reader. (And I don’t believe people can read minds, either!)

  39. 39
    alan says:

    Marduk “Because there is no such thing as the negation of existence, to say we exist, is to say existence itself exists.”

    Lets just call this “The Marduk” assumption when trying to have a discussion the brings in the relevance of the possibility of a beginning of matter and even time. I have trouble getting past the notion that things and even time itself are causes and as such something “beyond” them caused them. This may be an assumption, but please help me understand why it is woefully ignorant or less cogent than “existence alway existed”.

    thanking you in advance

  40. 40
    alan says:

    quick correction – clarification

    “I have trouble getting past the notion that things and even time itself are NOT causes and as such something “beyond” them caused them.

    to be or not to be hey!

  41. 41
    Barry Arrington says:

    Alan Fox, re your [38]:

    1. All of the evidence suggests there was a point in time when the universe began. We call that point in time the Big Bang. Is it so far a stretch to suggest that that which began is contingent, depending for its being on a prior necessary being? I submit that far from being a stretch, it is the most reasonable position.

    2. You quote me: “The main point is that both positions require faith. Your position requires faith in the absurd.” Then you write: “Not really, Barry. It means some of us would prefer to consider the question unexplained rather than accept an explanation that is unconvincing to them.”

    More gaze averting. Alan, when you can explain to me how an entity subject to the normal rules of the materialist paradigm can account for its own existence, I will grant that that question is merely “unexplained.” Until then, I will insist not only that it is absurd to insist under materialist presuppositions that the universe can account for its own existence, but that materialists are trying to have it both ways. When it suits them they say, “everything has a material cause.” But when it does not suit them they say “the universe does not have a material cause; it just is.” Calling it a “free lunch” does not get your out from under this conundrum. That’s just a semantic dodge (i.e, more gaze averting).

    3. A shorter way of stating my thesis: The choices are two and only two: (1) believe in an absurdity; or (2) believe in a mystery. Given those choices, the reasonable alternative is obvious enough.

    4. I do no read your mind. But the Teacher has given me insight into every human’s innermost nature. “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

    5. Finally, I would point out that both you and Marduk have confirmed the OP. You both agree that the premises of materialism cannot be demonstrated. Marduk says “existence just is.” You agree that materialist premises must be accepted on faith. Here is the OP, the main point of which you both seem to concur with:

    “There is, after all, nothing inherently reasonable in the conviction that all of reality is simply an accidental confluence of physical causes, without any transcendent source or end. Materialism is not a fact of experience or a deduction of logic; it is a metaphysical prejudice, nothing more, and one that is arguably more irrational than almost any other.”

  42. 42
    StephenB says:

    —-Marduk: “Therefore it is the simplest explanation – i.e. something must be, for a contingent being that is derived from that which was previously. Many people have believed that existence simply is. In fact the only tenable situation from either standpoint whether one is religious or not is to accept that existence itself has always been, since to say we (being derived beings) were derived from the negation of existence is an absurdity in itself.”

    Yes, of course, but it doesn’t end there. A contingent universe requires a non-contingent, self-existent being for its existence That which “has” existence can only get it from that which “is” existence. To say that a contingent universe can have existence without an uncaused first cause is a nonsensical statement.

    The only alternative is to say that the universe is not contingent, which is impossible since the universe is nothing more than the sum total of all contingent physical realities. Indeed, science made this clear with the discovery of the “big bang.” A contingent universe began to exist; it has not always been.

    This brings me back to my original point. Materialism is not a conclusion based on evidence; it is a premise based on a preference.

  43. 43
    vjtorley says:

    Big news: A. N. Wilson has returned to the Christian faith, and he has some interesting things to say about Darwin as well.

    I happened to visit Ben Witherington’s blogspot tonight, and when I read the news, you could have blown me over with a feather. Has anyone else on UD heard the news?

    For those who can’t wait to read all about it, I would invite you peruse these articles (and there are printable quotes galore, I might add):

    Why I believe again

    Can you love God and agree with Darwin?

    Religion of hatred: Why we should no longer be cowed by the chattering classes ruling Britain who sneer at Christianity

    “Wait – who’s A. N. Wilson?” I hear some of you ask. For those who haven’t heard of the guy, he’s an English writer (renowned for his critical biographies of on Hilaire Belloc, Tolstoy, C. S. Lewis, John Milton, Sir Walter Scott and Jesus, as well as about 20 novels and several historical works), a well-known journalist (former literary editor of The Spectator and the Evening Standard), and a notorious skeptic, who publicly stated that he was an atheist in the late 1980s and published a pamphlet, Against Religion.

    And A. N. Wilson was no ordinary skeptic, either. He has stated publicly that reading C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity made him a non-believer in Christianity itself. Indeed, his biography of C. S. Lewis was particularly scathing of Lewis’s arguments for the existence of God, and helped perpetuate the legend that Lewis’s own argument for God’s existence had been resoundingly defeated in a now-famous debate at Oxford in 1948. Incidentally, readers who want to get their facts straight about that debate might want to have a look at this article by Victor Reppert, entitled “The Green Witch and the Great Debate: Freeing Narnia from the Spell of the Lewis-Anscombe legend”:

    http://books.google.com/books?.....#PPA270,M1

    Incidentally, Victor Reppert is a fan of an updated version of Lewis’ argument, which is defended in this review at A Response to Richard Carrier’s Review of C.S. Lewis’s Dangerous Idea (2007) by Darek Barefoot.

    Well, after reading that A. N. Wilson has returned to the fold, I feel that anything is possible. Who knows? Maybe Richard Dawkins will be next.

  44. 44
    StephenB says:

    —-Alan: “I have trouble getting past the notion that things and even time itself are NOT causes and as such something “beyond” them caused them.”

    Are you suggesting that time and a contingent universe are the causes of time and a contingent universe? Or, are you saying that time and a contingent universe need no cause?

  45. 45
    Alan Fox says:

    Alan, when you can explain to me how an entity subject to the normal rules of the materialist paradigm can account for its own existence, I will grant that that question is merely “unexplained.”

    When I can explain how to account for the existence of the universe, you will grant that it is “unexplained”? I’ll give it some thought. Actually, my position is quite easily understood. I don’t have any explanation for the origin of the universe, or for the origin of life on Earth. I doubt I will ever find one. It will remain a mystery to me.

    So when you say:

    3…The choices are two and only two: (1) believe in an absurdity; or (2) believe in a mystery. Given those choices, the reasonable alternative is obvious enough.

    it makes perfect sense!

  46. 46
    mynym says:

    Any mention of form or structure at all causes immaterialism to collapse because of the logical absurdity, of form without structure and the absolute requirements of existability, and detectability.

    There is no dichotomy between immateriality and materialism. All that we can know is that matter cannot exist without form but we do not know that form cannot exist without matter as we know it. The fact that you’re typing messages on a computer and so on illustrates that form or information is not reducible to matter.

    Ironically any mention of an irreducible form or structure causes materialism to collapse:

    The ordinary objects of our experience are irreducible composites of potentiality and actuality, of the capacity for change and something that persists through the change. In particular, they are irreducible composites of matter and form. […] It is only the form and matter together that constitute the ball. Hence we have Aristotle’s famous doctrine of hylomorphism (or “matter-formism,” to convey the significance of the Greek hyle or “matter” and morphe or “form”).
    […]
    The form is not the matter and the matter is not the form. Even if, contra Plato, the form of the ball doesn’t exist by itself; neither is it true to say after the fashion of materialism that the ball is “just a piece of matter.” Nothing is just a piece of matter, for matter cannot exist without form, and form (being the principle that accounts for permanence) isn’t material (matter being the principle that accounts for change).
    (The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism by Edward Feser :58-59)

  47. 47
    Berceuse says:

    I read some of those articles by A.N. Wilson. As a lover of music, I can personally relate to this statement:

    No, the existence of language is one of the many phenomena – of which love and music are the two strongest – which suggest that human beings are very much more than collections of meat. They convince me that we are spiritual beings, and that the religion of the incarnation, asserting that God made humanity in His image, and continually restores humanity in His image, is simply true. As a working blueprint for life, as a template against which to measure experience, it fits.

  48. 48
    Barry Arrington says:

    Alan Fox quotes me: “Alan, when you can explain to me how an entity subject to the normal rules of the materialist paradigm can account for its own existence, I will grant that that question is merely ‘unexplained.’”

    Then he writes: “When I can explain how to account for the existence of the universe, you will grant that it is “unexplained”? I’ll give it some thought. Actually, my position is quite easily understood. I don’t have any explanation for the origin of the universe, or for the origin of life on Earth. I doubt I will ever find one. It will remain a mystery to me.”

    Alan, you are ducking the question (i.e., you are engaging in yet more averting of your gaze).

    One can say that the existence of a material thing can, in principle, be accounted for under the materialist paradigm, while at the same time adding a caveat that there is presently insufficient information to explain its existence. This is what you did.

    But that is not a response to my challenge. I asked you to explain to me why saying “the universe had a material cause” is not an absurd statement.

    You had a choice. You could admit that logic compels the conclusion that the statement “the universe had a material cause” is an absurd statement. Or you could duck the question. Unsurprisingly, you chose the latter.

  49. 49
    alan says:

    StephenB: No! – I was trying to point out to Marduk my problem with his rational – that the universe is (including time) had no cause other than itself which I find hard to grasp in light of the law of cause and effect. I am waiting for Marduk to explain how “existence always existed” with it implications relative to cause and effect and why those who hold to a cause greater than a material one including time are woefully ignorant people as he set out at the beginning of this thread.

  50. 50
    beelzebub says:

    As far as I can tell, none of the theists here have answered the question I raised way back in comment #8:

    Hart presumably considers the non-contingent ground of being to be the Christian God. This in itself seems to be an unwarranted assumption. Why must existence be underwritten by a god at all, much less the specific personal God of the Christians?

    Barry, would you like to take a stab at it?

  51. 51
    Alan Fox says:

    Alan, you are ducking the question…

    Ask me a straight question and I will give you an honest answer. It may only amount to “I don’t know”.

  52. 52
    Bruce David says:

    Marduk said:

    “Immaterialism is not coherent, it only seemed coherent to peoples [sic] who haven’t thought about it enough and were not exposed, nor do they expose themselves to ideas that clearly overturn immaterialism.”

    In other words, people who aren’t materialists are either stupid or ignorant. It’s always dangerous to call someone who disagrees with you stupid or ignorant. There just might be something you have overlooked. I recommend you start with Bishop Berkeley, who was neither ignorant nor stupid, thought very deeply about this question, and who arrived at a very different conclusion from your own.

    Basically your arguments come down to noticing that our experience includes patterns and regularities that appear to be beyond our control, such as the words I type going into cyber-space, where they will remain even if I die tomorrow. One explanation for this is that there is actually a world of matter out there that obeys physical laws. But there are other possible explanations, equally internally self-consistent. One is that we are simply in a dream. I repeat from my earlier post: Can you prove, even to yourself, that you are not now dreaming?

    Another is that we are all experiencing virtual reality, as in the Matrix series of movies. A third is that the world is in fact virtual reality, but of a different kind; that there is no material universe at all; that all our experience is an illusion created by God. The patterns and regularities we notice in our experience are created, managed, and organized by Him in order to give us this apparent physical reality in which to play, learn, and grow. His mind replaces the super-computer controlling the Matrix, only it is benevolent, not malevolent.

    There is no logical reason for choosing one explanation over another, but the materialist explanation has one insurmountable difficulty, in my opinion. And that is that the materialist point of view simply cannot explain how experience arises out of inanimate matter. How do complex patterns of electro-chemical activity in the brain become or produce experienced sensations, emotions, and thoughts? Put another way, in the materialist paradigm, the brain is just a machine, a very high powered computer. How does one program a computer to feel pain? To experience love or hate?

  53. 53
    Alan Fox says:

    So I guess this is the straight question:

    I asked you to explain to me why saying “the universe had a material cause” is not an absurd statement.

    Is this an absurd statement:

    “The universe had a material cause”?

    If you are using material cause as in Aristotle’s four causes (from Wiki: the result of whose presence something comes into being—e.g. the bronze of a statue and the silver of a cup, and the classes for which contain these), it would seem that is equivalent to saying the universe created itself, which does sound absurd. But then I am not versed in philosophical debate. As I have often remarked, we are better counting the number of horses teeth than debating it.

  54. 54
    jerry says:

    “Hart presumably considers the non-contingent ground of being to be the Christian God. This in itself seems to be an unwarranted assumption. Why must existence be underwritten by a god at all, much less the specific personal God of the Christians?”

    It is doesn’t have to be the Christian God. So that settles part 2 of your question. But Whoever designed the universe has to have an immense intelligence. So whether one wants to call such an intelligence God or not is a semantic question. So that settles part 1 of your question.

  55. 55
    allanius says:

    You know, Beelzebub, I’ve been worried about you ever since you fell. One sign of an addled brain is the compulsion to be clever. (They’re always the last to know!)

    Amazing, isn’t it, that “theists” are somehow able to resist the temptation to respond to your brilliant riposte? One would have thought they would find such a devilish question irresistible.

    Obviously you do. Fifty posts later, and you still can’t get over it.

    For Beelzebub, it seems, hell means being ignored by the grown-ups.

  56. 56
    beelzebub says:

    jerry wrote:

    But Whoever designed the universe has to have an immense intelligence. So whether one wants to call such an intelligence God or not is a semantic question.

    That sounds like another assumption. How do you know that intelligence is a prerequisite for the formation of a universe?

    By analogy, suppose that you are seeing a picture of a snowflake for the very first time. You might conclude that the beautiful and complicated object you were seeing was designed, but in fact it is not, and its formation is ultimately the result of a few simple physical laws.

    Without knowing in detail the laws (or metalaws) behind universe formation, how can you assert that intelligence is a necessary ingredient in the process?

  57. 57
    vjtorley says:

    Beelzebub

    Hart presumably considers the non-contingent ground of being to be the Christian God. This in itself seems to be an unwarranted assumption. Why must existence be underwritten by a god at all, much less the specific personal God of the Christians?

    I take it that by “god” you mean a personal being of some sort. Very briefly (and please remember this is just a bare-bones outline), the main lines of argument that have been adduced for believing in a personal God are as follows:

    1. Chance, Necessity or Agency?
    There are only three general ways of explaining any given state of affairs: we can explain it as the outcome of chance, necessity or agency (or some combination of the above).

    To explain the cosmos in terms of pure chance (e.g. the universe just popped into existence out of the blue) won’t work; pure chance explains nothing, and no-one accepts it as an explanation of anything. Even random events turn out to have some underlying explanation. For instance, the phenomenon in which subatomic virtual particles pop in and out of existence can be explained in terms of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which permits minor energy fluctuations to occur, provided that they are extremely brief.

    Necessity alone cannot explain the cosmos either, for if it did, the cosmos would itself be necessary – which it is manifestly not.

    Necessity plus chance won’t do the job either. For that to work, we’d have to imagine a necessary being which possesses certain probabilistic characteristics by nature – e.g. once every trillion years, it belches out a universe. The problem with this view is that probabilistic attributes are not the kind of traits that a necessary being could possess – or it wouldn’t be necessary.

    That leaves agency. The universe arises from a Necessary Being, but it is neither a necessary by-product of this Being nor a fortuitous spin-off. Rather, it is the free creation of an intelligent agent – and as such, contingent, but here for a purpose. And since the Necessary Being that creates our universe possesses personal attributes, we may call it God.

    2. Argument from the Immateriality of the Necessary Being

    Anything material is contingent: whatever traits it has could be otherwise. Consequently, the necessary Being is immaterial.

    Anything immaterial is intelligent, because its properties – and hence its modus operandi – are purely formal and not material. To be intelligent is the same as having a purely formal modus operandi (think of something performing logical or mathematical operations).

    Since the necessary Being is immaterial and hence intelligent, it may be described as personal – and may thus be called God.

    3. The Argument from Design

    Not only is the Universe contingent; it also possesses certain properties (e.g. fine-tuning; functional complex specified information) which make it overwhelmingly probable that it is the creation of an Intelligent Designer. An Intelligent Designer of the cosmos could also be called God.

    4. The Argument from the Intelligibility of the Cosmos

    Paraphrasing Einstein, the most peculiar thing about the cosmos is that is it comprehensible. Actually, there is a two-fold wonder here: the fact that reality is intelligible; and the fact that we possess minds that can grasp it. (In fact, I would go so far as to say that nothing in the cosmos appears to be beyond our ken.) In the absence of a personal God, these two facts should strike us as unbelievable good luck, and as states of affairs that we have no right to count on. But if the cosmos is the creation of a Divine Mind which wants to be known by the intelligent beings in the world it has created, then we would expect these facts to be true.

    Putting it another way: an Intelligence is the only thing that can gaurantee that the cosmos will remain intelligible, no matter what.

    5. The Argument from the Reliability of Thought

    This line of argument seeks to show that a personal God is the only kind of entity that explain why I can trust the workings of my own mind. The review article by Darek Barefoot, which I linked to in #43 above, spells out the argument properly.

    For a modern summary of the reasons for believing in a personal God, see the article, The Justification of Religious Belief by Professor Richard Swinburne.

  58. 58
    Barry Arrington says:

    Alan Fox writes:

    “Is this an absurd statement: ‘The universe had a material cause’? If you are using material cause as in Aristotle’s four causes (from Wiki: the result of whose presence something comes into being—e.g. the bronze of a statue and the silver of a cup, and the classes for which contain these), it would seem that is equivalent to saying the universe created itself, which does sound absurd.”

    Thank you for your honesty. It is refreshing.

  59. 59
    Alan Fox says:

    Thank you for your honesty. It is refreshing.It is easy for me. I am not selling anything.

  60. 60
    Alan Fox says:

    Oops, could have sworn I put the tags in. Trying again:

    Thank you for your honesty. It is refreshing.

    It is easy for me. I am not selling anything.

  61. 61
    vjtorley says:

    beelzebub

    By analogy, suppose that you are seeing a picture of a snowflake for the very first time. You might conclude that the beautiful and complicated object you were seeing was designed, but in fact it is not, and its formation is ultimately the result of a few simple physical laws.

    Without knowing in detail the laws (or metalaws) behind universe formation, how can you assert that intelligence is a necessary ingredient in the process?

    Invoking snowflakes to dismiss ID is a surefire way to get invited to do some more reading. Suggest you start with these:

    http://www.cosmicfingerprints......dthis1.htm (very readable)

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/faq/ (especially questions 26 to 28 and question 39)

    http://www.ideacenter.org/cont.....hp/id/1114

    Now, you might object that the foregoing arguments apply only to DNA, and not to the cosmos as a whole. And the designer of DNA might not be a Cosmic Designer. Good point.

    In that case, you might like to read these articles on fine-tuning and why the multiverse is a bad explanation of this fact:

    http://home.messiah.edu/~rcollins/ft.htm

    http://home.messiah.edu/~rcollins/muv2.htm

    http://arxiv.org/ftp/astro-ph/.....403047.pdf

    After reading Perry Marshall’s article, I’m wondering if astronomers should look for a cosmic analog of DNA – something out there which embodies instructions for making a cosmos. My prediction for 2009 is that scientists will find it in the next 20 years.

  62. 62
    tgpeeler says:

    There is a reason that it is so difficult to gain traction in an argument of this kind with people of this kind. In a nutshell, one of the problems of dealing with irrational people is that they reject logic and evidence even as they purport to be reliant upon them and claim that “you” do not. This makes it impossible (witness this thread) to reason with them. It is like to trying to grab smoke. But hope springs eternal.

    Any hard core proponent of naturalism (all that exists is nature) or materialism (all that exists is material, i.e. matter and energy) or physicalism (the thesis that the physical facts fix all the facts) that has thought about things in any serious (logical) way and yet still holds to his naturalism is irrational, at best.

    In my explanation for why this is so, I will lump all of these “isms” together since they all make the same fundamental ontological commitment, that only material, or physical, or natural, (all synonymous) things actually exist. I use the phrase “fundamental commitment” deliberately as it implies that one actually believes what one is claiming. Thus, one is shut off from availing oneself of “non-materialist” or “non-natural” or “non-physical” resources when explanations of any kind for anything are provided. Since it is equally, at least, tiring to read the trinity of “isms” as it is to write them, I will use the term “materialism” to refer to this fundamental commitment from here out.

    So what is material? I want to be as generous as I can in order to avoid the straw man fallacy so I propose the following description of “material.”

    Material things are either matter or energy. Or if you prefer, sub-atomic particles in energy fields. We can also further define matter as anything that is located in space/time, has mass and inertia, is subject to gravity, (yes, I understand that photons do not have “mass” but are still subject to gravity) can be converted to energy, and is detectable by one of our five senses, i.e. is empirical, and therefore, can be measured. Energy is anything that can heat or move matter.

    Given this, it seems obvious to me, but I will say it out loud anyway, just in case a materialist would like to disagree, (please be specific when you do) that given this definition of “material” it looks for all the world to me that now all I have to explain anything and everything is the laws of physics. No? If all that exists is material, and all that is material is explainable by physics, then everything that exists can be explained by physics. I’m pretty sure that works out the way I’m saying it.

    I will start with a one word refutation of materialism and then go on from there. The one word destruction of materialism is “mathematics.” But because I am a fair guy, I want to make it easy for any materialist to frame his reply. All you have to do to prove me wrong is do any one of the following things.

    – Locate mathematics in space/time. Where is it, exactly? In a closet somewhere, perhaps?
    – Tell me what the mass of mathematics is.
    – Tell me how mathematics is subject to gravity.
    – Tell me how mathematics can be converted to energy.
    – Tell me what mathematics smells like, tastes like, feels like, sounds like, or looks like.
    – Tell me how long it is or how much it weighs or what color it is. Measure it somehow.
    – Tell me how mathematics can move or heat matter.

    If you would be so kind as to actually do any one of these things then I will be persuaded to continue to argue with you about your fundamental ontological commitment and the equally irrational conclusions that follow. Or, of course, you can deny the reality of mathematics. That is, if you want to remain committed to your materialism yet keep a shred of intellectual integrity. Your call.

    But just to drive the point home, let’s consider some other things. The very laws of physics themselves are immaterial. Do we have to go through the list again? Or how about the laws of reason, or economics, or the moral law, or any language? Can you say that these things are material? No, you cannot. Therefore, materialism fails and any conclusions based upon that faulty premise will also fail.

    Just in case this isn’t enough, I would like to drive one last stake through the heart of this vacuous and inane, in other words, empty of any intellectual content, position known as materialism.

    Materialists cannot explain information because information always reduces to mind, not to matter. How can I say this? In order for information to exist, language must exist. (Try to imagine information apart from language.) In order for language to exist, symbols must be used. (This applies to all languages. Think about it.) But there is nothing in physics that can explain symbols. That is, the representation of one thing, or things (letters, here) for another thing. Whether material or abstract or real or imaginary, symbols represent other things. Only a mind is capable of creating and manipulating symbols according to agreed upon (abstract) rules in order to communicate information.

    Here’s the problem. Nothing in physics says that “act” means to do something, or something done, or a segment of a play, depending upon the context. Nothing in physics explains that “cat” means a certain kind of mammal. I know. I’ve checked. General relativity doesn’t. Thermodynamics doesn’t. Quantum mechanics doesn’t. The Standard Model doesn’t. String Theory doesn’t. Quarks and leptons don’t. Physics has nothing to say about how it is even possible, or even how it could be possible, for one thing to represent, to be a symbol for, another thing. It is impossible for physics to ever say anything about symbols. Therefore, materialism fails. Again.

    This is what makes arguing with a materialist so frustrating. If they are forced to adhere to their own ontological commitments, they could not even express an opinion since they have no explanatory resources with which to do so (mind and language). Yet they obviously feel free to avail themselves of the explanatory resources that a dualist (non-materialist???) has. To my mind, this makes them not only irrational but hypocritical. I don’t know which one is worse. In any case, they are intellectually degenerate, that is, they lack intellectual integrity, since they actually reject the very “reason” that they profess to worship. The fool has said in his heart, “there is no God.”

    p.s. This means, of course, that neo-Darwinian evolution is also a farce since it relies only upon materialistic explanations and therefore has no hope of accounting for information. In fact, “natural selection” is a linguistic phenomenon with the same ontological status as tooth fairies and unicorns. If “natural selection” was a real force in nature, the physicists would know about it. But they don’t. So it isn’t. It’s a myth. It’s a way to smuggle in Mind and Design without saying Mind and Design. It’s also just as intellectually dishonest as the rest of the materialist enterprise. Why must this be endlessly repeated?? What do “you people” not get?? Really.

    tgpeeler.blogspot.com

  63. 63
    jerry says:

    “Without knowing in detail the laws (or metalaws) behind universe formation, how can you assert that intelligence is a necessary ingredient in the process?”

    The universe is exquisitely fine tuned. Why this combination of laws and forces when an infinite number of others could theoretically be available. If there are meta laws behind the formation, then this begs the question of how the meta laws arose. If you want to make up anything you can dream of and play games go ahead but you have to deal with the fine tuning. Somewhere a choice was made and this implies intelligence.

    If you want to deny this, be my guest but you will have a very small cul de sac of like minded individuals to discuss it with. My guess the members of this cul de sac are really not interested in the origin of the laws one way or the other but only want to discuss how they can thwart those who seem to have the logic behind them.

  64. 64
    jerry says:

    tgpeeler,

    I have consistently argued that atheists are intellectually bankrupt but you go me one better and say that they are also hypocritical.

    John Davison who periodically appears here would not agree with you because he considers them determined and thus not capable of hypocrisy. They have no choice, but are predetermined to their illogical position. They believe that determinism rules and thus their position is determined and they are helpless to change it. They are not capable of realizing the scale of their illogic.

    So hypocrisy is out and probably intellectual bankruptcy too. We are not arguing to change them because they never change. Their usefulness are as foils for logical arguments to those who read this blog and are not as pre determined as they are. They will retreat to an amazing amount of illogical arguments just to never give an inch. And for that we are eternally grateful because it is so easy to see through. It is almost like we pay them to come here and act this way but we don’t. They are happy to do it for nothing.

  65. 65
    Upright BiPed says:

    correcto-mundo, Mr Peeler.

    I agree completely. Materialism has been fatally debunked by the mere presence of symbol-based language being embodied into a physical object. The material trek comes to a halt at information; it can go no futher.

    This is a point I made to our very own Allen MacNeil just days ago on this very blog. He promptly waived his hands about analogies and kept right on going.

    (He is a teacher, who refuses to learn)

    – – – – – – –

    Thanks for your interesting post.

  66. 66
    Alan Fox says:

    Materialism has been fatally debunked by the mere presence of symbol-based language being embodied into a physical object.

    Are you saying that letters carved on a rock are immaterial? Are thoughts immaterial? Is language immaterial? Is love immaterial? Does a materialist reject all these as non-existent? If so, I am certainly not a materialist.

  67. 67
    Upright BiPed says:

    Alan,

    “Are you saying that letters carved on a rock are immaterial?”

    Letters carved onto a rock are not immaterial, they are material. It is not the rock that needs to be explained, it is the symbol system that creates meaning.

    Did the rock formulate the language?

  68. 68
    Oramus says:

    tgpeeler,

    I had a similar argument with atheists on another forum discussing evolution last year around this time.

    I posted the same article vjtorley mentions in a post above from Perry Marshall on information as a key obstacle to materialist notions of origins and evolution.

    Many posts into the thread, I claimed Darwinism was basically “chance in the gaps”. It all came down to the spontaneous self-assembly for the materialist.

    So I said “Show me spontaneity. What is it? Can I see it in a microscope? If not, how is that a better explanation than God? If its a choice between spontaneity and God, God wins hands down since spontaneity is a negative claim where God is a positive claim.

    So my new evo-devo retort is:

    “Darwinism is magic in a lab coat”.

  69. 69
    beelzebub says:

    Oramus writes:

    If its a choice between spontaneity and God, God wins hands down since spontaneity is a negative claim where God is a positive claim.

    Oramus,

    I’m not sure where you got the idea that positive claims are more plausible than negative claims, but you’ve stated it on two separate threads now.

    See my response here.

  70. 70
    tgpeeler says:

    “… in a lab coat.” Nice. 🙂

    The contradictions and irrationalities of the materialist project are legion. When I got serious about finding out what was actually true I thought there was a real war to fight. Now I understand that it’s not about intellect, it’s about will. They don’t have a rational or empirical leg to stand on and it’s tragic that anyone will blindly hold on to dogma in the face of overwhelming reason and evidence to the contrary. Anyone with an open mind and even a casual commitment to finding out the truth quickly comes to God. Those that don’t… well, we’ll all find out someday. Reality always wins in the end.

  71. 71
    Alan Fox says:

    Did the rock formulate the language?

    No, I doubt that. Lots of organisms use sound to communicate. In primates and cetaceans it seems to reach quite sophisticated levels. I suspect language and the capacity for it may have evolved over time from simpler forms of verbal communication. I could be wrong. Do you have an alternative explanation?

  72. 72
    Alan Fox says:

    Anyone with an open mind and even a casual commitment to finding out the truth quickly comes to God.

    Presumably to your particular culture’s God? I find the teachings of Buddhism quite seductive, myself.

  73. 73
    tgpeeler says:

    “Presumably to your particular culture’s God? I find the teachings of Buddhism quite seductive, myself.”

    Actually not. The God demanded by reason is the God people come to. This makes sense because the Christian God reveals Himself as pure reason in both the old and new testaments. The teachings of Buddha may be seductive, irrational things often are, but that does not make them true. Try me out with a specific truth claim that Buddhism makes about the origin of the universe and we can compare that to the Biblical account and see which one survives rational analysis.

  74. 74
    tgpeeler says:

    “No, I doubt that. Lots of organisms use sound to communicate. In primates and cetaceans it seems to reach quite sophisticated levels. I suspect language and the capacity for it may have evolved over time from simpler forms of verbal communication. I could be wrong. Do you have an alternative explanation?”

    You are correct that lots of organisms use sound to communicate. Some also use chemicals, odors, and movement. The point is that in ALL systems of communication, symbols are used. The honey bee dance tells the rest of the hive that the “pollen is over here.” The screeches of dolphins translate into “the food is here” or whatever.

    Language cannot evolve from “simpler forms of verbal communication.” Did you miss my lengthy post on that? ALL languages require the use of SYMBOLS. Symbols are things (letters, sounds, pictures, clicks, scents, chemicals, etc…) that represent other things according to agreed upon conventions (called vocabulary, grammar, and syntax) so that communication is possible.

    Physics is incompetent to do this. “Evolution” is equally bereft of explanatory power. Only mind can represent one thing for another.

    So yes, there is an alternative explanation and now you have it.

  75. 75
    Alan Fox says:

    Language cannot evolve from “simpler forms of verbal communication.”

    “Cannot” is a very confident word. I am afraid the bald assertion is not convincing. There is quite a bit of literature about the evolvability of language, for instance the FOXP2 gene and its role. Here for example.

    Did you miss my lengthy post on that? ALL languages require the use of SYMBOLS.

    Yes I did miss it. The functionality of this blog could be improved, especially with a larger number of displayed recent comments. If it is just more assertions, I am not sure I will find it any more convincing than what you have already posted.

  76. 76
    Alan Fox says:

    Try me out with a specific truth claim that Buddhism makes about the origin of the universe and we can compare that to the Biblical account and see which one survives rational analysis.

    Well here’s an analysis I found form which you could pick something:

    There is no First Cause in Buddhism. The Buddhist answer to the question, “If God created the world, where did God come from?” would be, “of course God was created as well”. In fact, in a Buddhist worldview there are an infinite number of causes and conditions that create every instant, every world, every being, including Gods. Infinite causes creating more causes, stretching to infinity with no origin or end. Buddhism allows for an infinite number of different universes to exist, some before ours, some after, some in parallel but with completely different natural and supernatural laws. Ours is not the best, or the worst. There is no ‘design’ of our world. Because our world is imperfect (and every religion says this, otherwise why would we need to change our lives or join a religion?) even if there was a designer, he/she/it would be imperfect—and to a Buddhist, irrelevant. There is no need to know why we are here, other than pure scientific curiosity. This is why Buddhism is not threatened by discoveries that contradict myths about the creation of universes or living beings, or discoveries about the shape, position, and relative movement of the Earth in the universe. None of these things was key to understanding the Buddha’s message, since there is no need to worship the forces or creatures which created our imperfect world.

  77. 77
    tgpeeler says:

    ““Cannot” is a very confident word. I am afraid the bald assertion is not convincing. There is quite a bit of literature about the evolvability of language, for instance the FOXP2 gene and its role. Here for example.”

    Cannot is indeed a very confident word and I used it deliberately. Since this is a matter of reason and not merely a matter of empirical fact, certainty is possible. The article you cite has nothing to say about the argument I made.

    Since you didn’t see post #62 above I’ll summarize it for you. Without mind, language is impossible. The argument goes like this. No information without language. No language without symbols. Physics CANNOT explain, or account for, or create, the representation of one thing for another. Therefore, any naturalistic explanation for ANYTHING fails. It’s elementary, really. I’m amazed that people don’t immediately grasp the argument.

    If you disagree with this, I’d be delighted if you would attack one of my premises and point out how I’m wrong. It’s an easy system. I’ve made clear assertions of reason and fact and all you have to do to prove me wrong is deny one of my premises.

    For example. Here’s something you could do. Show that you can communicate information apart from language. 🙂 Good luck with that. Or you can show that you can have a language without symbols. hee hee I kill me. Go ahead. I’ll give you a million dollars if you can do it. Come on, take my money. Communicate with me without using a language. Really, how hard is this? I must be missing your point. Am I? If so, make your claim in words of preferably three syllables or less so I can understand and I’ll get back to you.

  78. 78
    tgpeeler says:

    “In fact, in a Buddhist worldview there are an infinite number of causes and conditions that create every instant, every world, every being, including Gods. Infinite causes creating more causes, stretching to infinity with no origin or end.”

    Thanks for posting this and teeing me up. Nice.

    This is, of course, utter nonsense. It is impossible for a finite number of anything to be infinite. See the first principle of logic called the law of identity. A thing is what it is and it’s not anything else.

    First, we must understand that an actual physical number of anything is impossible. This is so because physical means finite and not infinite. According to the logical law of non-contradiction, something cannot be and not be. So finite cannot be infinite. If you can count it, it’s not infinite. You can count causes, seconds, and “worlds” so none of those things are infinite. This is similar to the other Buddhist nonsense of “one hand clapping.” By definition, clapping is something done with two hands so to think about “one hand clapping” is to contemplate nonsense. In the same way, Buddhism has just asked us to buy the idea that the finite is also the infinite. hee hee. Pretty funny.

    Please follow this argument from start to finish. I’m about to prove to you that time is finite. That is, it began. It is not infinite, that is, it did not begin. You should already see this coming but I’ll spell it out.

    If we start with this moment in time and trace backwards in time, where do we stop? To say that we don’t stop is just a different way of saying that we didn’t start. But clearly we did start, because here we are at today. To say that the antecedent chain of seconds that precedes this moment is infinite is to say that it never began. But that is absurd. Clearly, to everyone with a normally functioning intellect, it did begin. Because here we are at the end of that chain of seconds.

    You may say, aha, but the chain goes on forever. I say, so what, it’s still finite. We still can count each second and it only proves that you cannot create an infinite number of anything by adding one more or a trillion more or a trillion, trillion, trillion more because at the end of all that I can always say “plus one.”

    Therefore, as an exercise in pure reason, we would expect that eventually science would come to the conclusion that the universe began. (Apply the same logic to causes.) And indeed it did. For millenia, “science” thought that the universe was eternal, infinite. But starting in the late 1920’s that all began to change with Robert Hubble’s discovery of the red shift of star light. The red shift indicated that the universe was expanding (and thus had previously been smaller). It pretty much ended in the mid 1960’s when two astronomers looking for quasars or something found instead the background radiation left over from the creation event. The big bang, as it were. So now it is accepted cosmology that the universe is finite.

    Of course, the theological implications are horrifying to an atheist because if the universe began (and now the logical prediction has been confirmed by empirical science) then we must account for its beginning. If we want to be intellectually honest, that is. So the latest “escape” from this is to posit a multiverse, or an infinite number of universes. The problems with that are many but two of the biggest ones are that more universes makes the problem more difficult (who or what created them?) and there is no way to ever empirically verify their existence even if they did exist. Oh, and by the way, as we have seen, there can’t be an infinite number of universes either. I can always “add” one more.

    An ancient Hebrew knew all of this and wrote about it thousands of years ago. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” So it’s nice that science is finally catching up with the cosmology in the Bible. I look forward to similar acknowledgements in biology.

  79. 79
    tgpeeler says:

    “None of these things was key to understanding the Buddha’s message, since there is no need to worship the forces or creatures which created our imperfect world.”

    Now there’s a scientific explanation anyone can grasp. Does this exclude tooth fairies or volcano gods? What forces, exactly? Whence these forces? Was the world created imperfectly? If so, does that imply something about the Buddhist creator? If not, how did it become imperfect? How do you know it’s imperfect now? What is the standard of perfection? These are just a couple of questions that pop up. If anyone is going to rely on Buddhism as a worldview it may behoove them to consider some of these questions.

    Here are a few more. How to account for language and information? How to account for consciousness? How is it that sulfur, phosporous, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon can be suspended in water along with a few other elements and can think, remember, plan, decide, act, feel, love, reason, and so on? How does the Buddha explain any of that? No, really.

  80. 80
    Alan Fox says:

    Well, as you are on a roll, tgpeeler, I’ll leave you to it.

  81. 81
    Alan Fox says:

    @ tgpeeler

    I had a look at your blog

    I think we can agree to disagree. 🙂

  82. 82
    tgpeeler says:

    “I think we can agree to disagree.”

    I’m good with that. But why? What are your counter-arguments? I’m serious. Make them and if they are good enough I’ll change my mind. I’m not interested in believing b.s. It never did me any good best I can tell. Probably never did you any good either.

  83. 83
    Frost122585 says:

    That is a god quote- that last line is spot on- every thing has a cause except the first cause which we cannot find a cause for- hence there is nothing which can explain or be its own causation. Even the first cause defies all knows laws of evolution and physical necessity- we don’t even know what the first was really was. Hence being is as mysterious as ever. No wonder all those phenomenologicalists like Heidegger, Hegel and Husserl forcusse so much on the origin of being.

    “To be or not to be that is the question!”

    Hamlet (Shakespeare)

    “I think therefor I am.”

    – Descartes

    Consciousness and intelligence are central to being and knowing.

  84. 84
    Frost122585 says:

    Barry, actually Alan Fox was actually being more genuine than you were giving him credit for. He really does not know how the big bang happened or what could have caused it- selected it form etc- that is the truth-

    The next step however is to try and identify what a good candidate for a rational explanation might be like. Intelligence leaps up to us- that is when he doeges the inference- and thereofe the debate should turn to why is he dodging a non-material causation that is inferred by its effects on nature- if it is a theological issue then that needs to be addressed. But this is where IDE makes it’s argument- Fox has already admitted that the physical theory od evolution is not understodd- or I would prefer to call it “mystical”– in reference to his integral “gaze averting.”

    Yes this is the new indisputable fact, (cough) I mean “theory” of Mystical Evolution. Somebody please get me a picture of Darwin dressed up as palm reader while writing the Origins of Species. ;P

  85. 85
    Alan Fox says:

    …Fox has already admitted that the physical theory od(sic) evolution is not understodd (sic)…

    I can’t recall making any such statement, Frost122585.

    Please link to it or note my correction to your mis-statement. I have remarked here that the process of abiogenesis is not yet understood and may never be so unless extraterrestrial evidence is forthcoming, such as from the exploration of Mars.

    Abiogenesis is about how life got started.

    Evolution explains how, once life got started, it diversified.

    BTW, I didn’t interpret Barry’s comment on my honesty as ironic. Whatever else my comments might lack, they are my own honest thoughts.

  86. 86
    tgpeeler says:

    Evolution doesn’t explain anything. It’s a false view of how the world works. The interactions between intelligently designed (by God) creatures with their environments and the resulting adaptations are not Darwinian evolution. Not now. Not ever. Heck, even cell theory says that cells come from pre-existing cells. Or that life comes only from life. So whence the first life? Abiogenesis? Ha.

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