26 Replies to “Somewhere a Village is Missing its Atheist

  1. 1
    johnp says:

    He brings up an argument I have run into and have no response to thus far.

    “What’s more, other universes are in principle detectable by their effects on the cosmic microwave background.”

    See here: http://phys.org/news/2010-12-s.....erses.html

    and here: http://www.technologyreview.co.....s/?ref=rss

    Anyone have any thoughts about these disturbances in the CMBR?

  2. 2
    scordova says:

    Although Stenger made some awful points, because I myself consider myself a Christian apologist, I have to recognize arguments I wouldn’t make and which I felt Stenger made reasonable counter points. Even if the Christian claim is correct, it may not put the opponent on the mat. Putting your opponent on the mat is illustrated by:
    Statistics Question for Nick Matzke

    That is my benchmark for an ideal argument. That said, here are arguments I don’t use and for which I believe Stenger represented a reasonable counter argument:

    1. God can be proved to exist by logic alone.

    2. The big bang proved the universe had a beginning. Everything that begins has a cause. Therefore the universe had a cause, which was God (Kal?m cosmological argument).

    3. The universe began with a singularity that marked the beginning of time.

    4. We cannot detect universes beyond our own. Therefore they are not science.

    5. Where did the mass and energy of the universe come from?

    6. How can something come from nothing?

    7. Atheists claim that the universe just “popped” into existence. I can’t believe this. It’s preposterous.

    8. Many billions of people have a hunger for God. We have a “god-shaped hole” in out hearts. If there was no food, we would have nothing to be hungry about.

    9. God gave humans free will so he cannot control suffering.

    I know I get flak when I criticize other Christians and other ID proponents, but well, where else can ID proponents get quality criticisms? TSZ, Pandas Thumb, PZ Myers? I’m not saying these arguments are awful, but I’ve not been able to put opponents on the mat with them.

    Again putting your opponent on the mat is illustrated by:
    Statistics Question for Nick Matzke

    One thing I can put opponents on the mat is this:

    There is every reason to believe in God and no good reason not to. If you do, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. (Pascal’s Wager)

    You can make the wager if you want, but that does not make God exist. If he doesn’t, think of all the time and money you wasted going to church. But more than that, if God is a just God, wouldn’t he be more likely to want to share eternity with someone who honestly disbelieved for lack of evidence than a liar who pretended to believe just to get his ass into heaven?

    I’ve posed this question to Atheists before — what is the payoff of philosophical naturalism 1 million years from now for them personally. If the answer is ZERO, you don’t make a bet on a GUARANTEED zero payoff, that is irrational. And putting your faith in the flimsy and flawed arguments against design is irrational. Stenger finally showed a bit of genuine emotion in his response, because Pascal’s wager is the epitome of rationality, and it evidences the emptiness of atheism — the guaranteed zero payoff of philosophical naturalism.

    In the casino, in business, in investing, in any enterprise with an element of uncertainty, the rational strategy is to maximize expectation value. Pascal’s wager, though flawed in sometimes the way preachers use it, can be a very good club against philosophical naturalism.

    I could be wrong, but I have zero to lose. They could be wrong, but they don’t have zero to lose. A wise man once expressed Pascal’s wager this way:

    what does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his own soul

    Stenger did touch on something:

    Absence of evidence is evidence of absence when it is evidence that should be there and is not. If the God most people worship existed we should have seen evidence for him by now. The fact that we do not proves, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he does not exist.

    Wrong. God chooses to allow people the opportunity to shut their eyes.

    It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

    Proverbs 25:2

    The greatest truths are often concealed. Science often find concealed truths. Stenger should be the last person to complain about immediate detectability.

    If someone wants to be willfully blind, God structures reality so they can remain that way until judgment day if they so choose.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    johnp, like everything else from naturalists, the evidence for a multiverse, once scrutinized, evaporated into nothingness:

    This Week’s Hype – Posted on August 5, 2011 by woit
    I noticed today that BBC News has a story headlined ‘Multiverse’ theory suggested by microwave background that assures us that:

    The idea that other universes – as well as our own – lie within “bubbles” of space and time has received a boost.

    After taking a look at the PRL and PRD papers that are behind this, it’s clear that a more accurate title for the story would have been “‘Multiverse’ theory suggested by microwave background – NOT”. As usual, the source of the problem here is a misleading university press release, one from University College London entitled First observational test of the ‘multiverse’. Somehow the press release neglected to mention something one might think was an important detail, the fact that this “First observational test” had a null result.

    It’s well-known that one can find Stephen Hawking’s initials, and just about any other pattern one can think of somewhere in the CMB data. The authors of the PRL and PRD papers first put out preprints last December (see here and here). In these preprints they essentially claimed to have found four specific features in the CMB where the hypothesis that they were due to bubble collisions was statistically preferred. A guest post by Matthew Johnson at Cosmic Variance explained more about the preprints. I didn’t understand their statistical measure, so asked about it in the comment section, where Matthew explained that, by more conventional measure, the statistical significance was “near 3 sigma“.

    It turns out that the PRL and PRD papers differ significantly from the preprint versions. In the acknowledgements section of the PRD paper we read that:

    A preprint version of this paper presented only evidence ratios confined to patches. We thank an anonymous referee who encouraged us to develop this algorithm into a full-sky formalism.

    and the result of the new analysis asked for by the referee is summarized in the conclusion of the paper:

    The posterior evaluated using the WMAP 7-year data is maximized at Ns = 0 [Ns is the average number of observable bubble collisions over the full sky], and constrains Ns to less than 1.6 at 68% confidence. We therefore conclude that this data set does not favor the bubble collision hypothesis for any value of Ns. In light of this null detection, comparing with the simulated bubble collisions… [various bounds ensue]

    So, the bottom line is that they see nothing, but a press release has been issued about how wonderful it is that they have looked for evidence of a Multiverse, without mentioning that they found nothing. As one would expect, this kind of behavior leads to BBC stories about how the Multiverse has “received a boost”, exactly the opposite of what the scientific evidence shows.

    Update: The FQXI web-site has an article about this. In it, the authors seem far more interested in promoting their PRL paper as “first test of the multiverse” than in acknowledging that a referee made them do a better test of the idea and they got a null result. There’s no mention of the null result in the article.
    http://www.math.columbia.edu/~.....ss/?p=3879

    The following may also interest you johnp:

    Here is a devastating critique of atheist Victor Stenger’s no fine tuning argument:

    The Fine-Tuning of the Universe for Intelligent Life – Dr. Luke A. Barnes, a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for Astronomy, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxi.....4647v1.pdf
    non technical overview:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-a-fallacy

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    SC:

    One of the major problems I have with atheistical arguments is their habitual reliance on misrepresentations and caricatures, backed up by selective hyperskepticism rather than addressing comparative difficulties. Not to mention turnabout accusations and personalities, thuggishness and enabling behaviour.

    It is to the point where I often think the issue in some respects is to expose for record.

    For instance, over the past week or so, I have had occasion to argue as follows:

    Q: can the existence of God be demonstrated beyond all doubt relative to axiomatic premises accepted by all rational thinkers?

    A: Patently, not. Not least, as if one has a valid argument (p1, p2, p3, . . . pn) => q, and an objector is sufficiently hostile to q and is clever, on a major worldviews issue s/he will be almost always be able to argue . . . or, imply . . . not-q , so not-(p1, p2, p3, . . . pn). For instance, consider pi and pj, which are “controversial” and — we can say or imply — “question-begging.” So, there, we can now dismiss your “proof.”

    But of course, the position that rejects (p1, p2, p3 . . . pn) and particularly pi and pj, is itself a position with implications and underlying (often implicit) root-assumptions. Which will inevitably bristle with its own difficulties and cumulatively may be such that the skeptical view becomes selectively hyperskeptical and burdensome to the point where it is an UN-reasonable faith. In short, the cumulative skeptical view, objectively evaluated on comparative difficulties across live option start points, is in my considered view, ultimately untenable though attractive to those of a certain cast of mind.

    By contrast, belief in God, cumulatively, is arguably morally certain knowledge — especially for those in a community where they can access the life stories of people transformed by encounter with the living God in the face of the risen Christ through the historically anchored gospel.

    We are dealing with worldviews, and must address matters in terms of worldviews. So, cases will be cumulative, there are no magic bullet arguments.

    Taking up just one of your points, the evidence pointing to our observed cosmos having its beginning in a singularity some 13.7 BYA is an index of contingency, requiring a good causal explanation. Multiply by fine tuning that sets us to a locally isolated operating point favourable to C-Chemistry, aqueous medium cell based life . . . from the roots of the physics and circumstances of the observed cosmos. As Leslie pointed out, it matters not whether other regions of a wall are carpeted with flies so there any bullet hitting would hit something. Here, we need to beat the explanation of a marksman with a tack-driver of a rifle.

    And suggesting that maybe other domains might find an echo in the COMB, is one thing. Actually showing such and eliminating other possibilities on observations is another entirely.

    Suggesting speculative possibilities is an exercise in phil, and even if you wear a lab coat while doing it, you are now at the table of comparative difficulties where all live options have a right to sit.

    KF

    PS: I also think an outline of the Plantinga free will defense is in order as a link, cf. here.

  5. 5
    OldArmy94 says:

    From a logical standpoint, Pascal’s Wager makes sense. But, from a spiritual standpoint, I don’t see how it a real faith can develop from it. Maybe I’m wired differently, but it seems impossible to “muster up” enough belief based on that proposition alone. Of course, I have some Calvinist leanings, admittedly, so I strongly believe in God’s irresistable, effectual call on the Christ follower.

  6. 6
    johnp says:

    BA77 Thank you! Perfect refutation of CMBR “boundary collision” nonsense.

  7. 7
    Chalciss says:

    They can come up with million ways/suggestions, blog posts/books to argue against biblical truth, they will not succeed. It is very hard to argue against Truth.

    These debates serve a purpose when they can get a believer to think and get the thinker to believe.

    When we seek the truth, the truth will set us free indeed!

  8. 8
    JDH says:

    I read some of Stenger’s article but could not get past this howler,

    “Darwin showed that complex organisms evolve from simpler ones by purely natural processes, without the need for a more complex designer. “

    I know it’s somewhat of probably just a grammatical error on Stenger’s part, but Darwin did not show “that complex organisms evolve from simpler ones by purely natural processes”.

    To show is to demonstrate visibly either by direct physical observation or by indirect observational methods.

    Darwin came up with a proposal. It has been evaluated for 150 years and the evidence is still missing. NO ONE has shown that complex organisms evolve from simpler ones. If they had, the debate would be over. As a matter of fact much evidence has been generated that this simply does not happen, the idea of “gradualism” has been thoroughly debunked, and there is no evidence that even with deep time there has been nearly enough time to generate any change in body plan much less all the biodiversity we observe. It seems to me that clearly misworded sentences like the above get by because the confirmation bias of the Darwinist does not see the mistake in the statement. He claims to be an independent thinker and scientist. Instead, the incorrect statement he makes shows his internal bias at work.

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:

    SC:

    I wish to further take up contingency of the cosmos, thus its need for an underlying cause.

    I know your interlocutors are very dismissive of Kalam, but it seems to me that is typical of selective hyperskepticism and the Green deny the consequent to reject the antecedent maneuver rather than a truly sound objection. It is patently an impossible super-task to count up to aleph null in finite steps, and so also finite chains of events. It is also impossible in reverse, to count DOWN from aleph null to zero, now. That is, we see a definite finite past for he only actually observed cosmos, the one we inhabit. Which entails contingency and a beginning thence at root a necessary being root cause.

    Which must therefore be eternal and immaterial.

    But we can look at the cosmological picture the other way: heat death- wards. (And yes, the term is a bit old fashioned. It is still relevant, especially if we confine ourselves to what we actually do observe as a constraint on speculation.)

    As long as we are dealing with sub cosmi with dependence on energy flows linked to heat and thus molecular scale or equivalent variations in energy concentration, we are looking at Prevost’s heat exchanges and ultimate dissipation. Unless we have some sort of energy injector, in a revival of a steady state cosmos as a whole. But such an everlasting energy injector, of course is going to be a necessary being, thus beyond the material order.

    So, contingency is a lot harder to be rid of than has been commonly assumed.

    And, given that matter is contingent, a source of a cosmos as a whole that is evergreen, is beyond it. Is immaterial in short, in order to not be causally dependent on enabling factors (which would bring any such entity within the ambit of the contingency we are discussing).

    The best explanation of a cosmos that is so persistently contingent is a root necessary being, even through a multiverse speculation.

    The alternative is at some level to deny causality and derive things from nothing, without rhyme or reason. Which is untenable, in many ways . . . though attractive to a certain mind- and heart- set.

    Multiply by the evidence of the observed cosmos being fine tuned for C-chemistry, cell based aqueous medium life.

    Mix in the mathematically deeply involved nature of that fine tuning.

    Further compound this with the evident fact that we are under moral governance.

    All of these point to a root cause that is eternal, immaterial, highly intelligent, skilled and moral.

    All of which sound rather familiar.

    The point is, the cumulative impact of these and many other issues and factors persistently points in the same direction. If compass needles keep pointing a certain way, we can safely infer there is a Pole on the sides of the North.

    But there will always be North Pole deniers, if that is not suitable to a certain mind- and heart- set.

    KF

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    JDH: Excellent observation. KF

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: SC, I suggest you read Lewis on “Joy,” sehnsucht.

    Let’s bring up Wiki, in inadvertent testimony against interest:

    Sehnsucht (German pronunciation: [?ze?nz?xt]) is a German noun translated as “longing”, “yearning”, or “craving”,[1] or in a wider sense a type of “intensely missing”. However, Sehnsucht is difficult to translate adequately and describes a deep emotional state. Its meaning is somewhat similar to the Portuguese word, saudade. Sehnsucht is a compound word, originating from an ardent longing or yearning (das Sehnen) and disease (das Siechen). However, these words do not adequately encapsulate the full meaning of their resulting compound, even when considered together.[2]

    Sehnsucht represents thoughts and feelings about all facets of life that are unfinished or imperfect, paired with a yearning for ideal alternative experiences. It has been referred to as “life’s longings”; or an individual’s search for happiness while coping with the reality of unattainable wishes.[3] Such feelings are usually profound, and tend to be accompanied by both positive and negative feelings. This produces what has often been described as an ambiguous emotional occurrence.[citation needed]

    It is sometimes felt as a longing for a far-off country, but not a particular earthly land which we can identify. Furthermore there is something in the experience which suggests this far-off country is very familiar and indicative of what we might otherwise call “home”. In this sense it is a type of nostalgia, in the original sense of that word. At other times it may seem as a longing for a someone or even a something. But the majority of people who experience it are not conscious of what or who the longed for object may be, and the longing is of such profundity and intensity that the subject may immediately be only aware of the emotion itself and not cognizant that there is a something longed for. The experience is one of such significance that ordinary reality may pale in comparison, as in Walt Whitman’s closing lines to “Song of the Universal”:[citation needed]

    Is it a dream?
    Nay but the lack of it the dream,
    And failing it life’s lore and wealth a dream
    And all the world a dream.

    Lewis’ actual argument was that we have an insatiable yearning that transcends material human appetites and inherently draws us north pole wards, unless we somehow derange the compass within. Nothing on earth can satisfy it.

    So, what best explains a creature like that?

    A man may perish of hunger or thirst in the desert or on a ship wrecked craft, but that only testifies to a nature that needs and finds food.

    So, what best explains a nature with a Joy-compass needle that cannot reach a north pole in this world?

    And yes, Lewis was making a subtle inference tot he best explanation argument, on a massively cumulative case backed up by his own life experience.

    His answer was, there is but one really good candidate, we are not merely material beings and live in a wider world or reality rather in which Joy finds its North Pole.

    And Lewis further answered,in Johannine theology and scripture-driven Evangelical parlance, that — having been driven there by the unsatisfactory nature of any other philosophical answer and having senses a Voice calling him uncompromisingly and severely to duty to the right and the truth — he found the new birth and Eternal Life, and looked forward to Heaven where the serious business is Joy.

    North Pole deniers have some serious question to answer to, and not just in Physics and the like.

    KF

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: The culminating scene in the Narnia series, as the participants move into that Undiscovered Country, aptly captures the vision. And,notice, the North Pol denying dwarves, who are lost even as those around them are Found.

  13. 13
    TimT says:

    Gee, what about that question “How can something come from nothing?” His “answer” starts “‘Nothing’ is notoriously difficult to define.”

    Really, well I just looked up a bunch of dictionaries and none of them had any difficulty it like:

    “pronoun 1. no thing; not anything; naught: say nothing. 2. that which is non-existent” or something similar.

    Stenger may not like that definition, but if he redefines it, it’s gonna be “something”, not nothing.

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: We my all want to pause and read here. I find it fascinating that Lewis, who certainly knew the German word, insisted instead on assigning a new dimension (or a renewed one?) to a short, powerful English word, Joy. Then wrote a whole series of books on it! (And, maybe that is why I am a Narnian . . . who first read those books as an adult. I am sure Aslan approves.)

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    TT: Bingo, nothing is non-being, and why Stenger hates that is it necessarily can have no causative powers. Thus lies naked the underlying irrationality. KF

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Wherein, TT . . . and SC, properly understood, lies the subtle but undeniable force of “how can something come from nothing”? KF

  17. 17
    scordova says:

    I read some of Stenger’s article but could not get past this howler,

    “Darwin showed that complex organisms evolve from simpler ones by purely natural processes, without the need for a more complex designer. “

    Howler indeed. That’s the argument you can take Stenger to the mat on. If the refutation can be expressed in one short, clear paragraph, that’s the way to do it.

    I’d say Darwin’s so called theory doesn’t agree with observation and his theory of “natural” selection in unnatural and fantasy. Nature can’t “select” for vital organs that don’t exist, and missing vital organs result in death, preventing evolution. Nature selects for novel simplicity, not non-existent novel complexity — antibiotic resistance is selection for simplicity. Darwinism would work if the intermediates are viable and selectively favorable, they are not.

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    OA945: I think Pascal’s point was, if YOU are in equipoise, then weight the expectations and then sensibly choose life. Meeting Him who is Life Himself, Reason Himself and Truth Himself, will resolve the situation decisively. Never overlook Pascal’s Nov 23 1654 night of fire experience in understanding his thought. KF

  19. 19
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Stenger’s rhetorical tactic on the ontological argument is a classic of the reject the consequent problem I have noted. He cites a medieval form (and that in skeletal form out of context), as though that is all there is, so he sets up and knocks over a strawman, using a sweeping dismissal that every other form of ontological argument . . . and BTW, such arguments apply to a host of entities not just God . . . is inevitably logically flawed.

    In fact, in context of the cluster of arguments regarding worldview foundations, something like the Plantinga modal form is demonstrably not invalid [which is where LOGIC would come to bear]. But instead we have yet another case of dismissing a consequent to then challenge the premises, without reckoning with the comparative difficulties issues implied by such a process.

    The matter is however complex and may not work well in a superficial talking points debate context.

    Let’s go to Plantinga, here, especially his culminating argumentation, noticing how carefully nuanced his words are:

    . . . we can restate this last version of the ontological argument in such a way that it no longer matters whether there are any merely possible beings that do not exist. Instead of speaking of the possible being that has, in some world or other, a maximal degree of greatness, we may speak of the property of being maximally great or maximal greatness. The premise corresponding to (25) then says simply that maximal greatness is possibly instantiated, i.e., that

    (29) There is a possible world in which maximal greatness is instantiated. [–> effectively, having all great making properties to maximum possible degree and no lesser-making ones]

    [52] And the analogues of (27) and (28) spell out what is involved in maximal greatness:

    (30) Necessarily, a being is maximally great only if it has maximal excellence in every world

    and

    (31) Necessarily, a being has maximal excellence in every world only if it has omniscience, omnipotence, and moral perfection in every world.

    [53] Notice that (30) and (31) do not imply that there are possible but nonexistent beings — any more than does, for example,

    (32) Necessarily, a thing is a unicorn only if it has one horn.

    [54] But if (29) is true, then there is a possible world W such that if it had been actual, then there would have existed a being that was omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect; this being, furthermore, would have had these qualities in every possible world. So it follows that if W had been actual, it would have been impossible that there be no such being. That is, if W had been actual,

    (33) There is no omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect being

    would have been an impossible proposition. But if a proposition is impossible in at least one possible world, then it is impossible in every possible world; what is impossible does not vary from world to world. Accordingly (33) is impossible in the actual world, i.e., impossible simpliciter. But if it is impossible that there be no such being, then there actually exists a being that is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect; this being, furthermore, has these qualities essentially and exists in every possible world.

    [55] What shall we say of this argument? It is certainly valid; given its premise, the conclusion follows. The only question of interest, it seems to me, is whether its main premise — that maximal greatness is possibly instantiated — is true. I think it is true; hence I think this version of the ontological argument is sound.

    [56] But here we must be careful; we must ask whether this argument is a successful piece of natural theology, whether it proves the existence of God. And the answer must be, I think, that it does not. An argument for God’s existence may be sound, after all, without in any useful sense proving God’s existence. Since I believe in God, I think the following argument is sound:

    Either God exists or 7 + 5 = 14

    It is false that 7 + 5 = 14

    Therefore God exists.

    [57] But obviously this isn’t a proof; no one who didn’t already accept the conclusion, would accept the first premise. The ontological argument we’ve been examining isn’t just like this one, of course, but it must be conceded that not everyone who understands and reflects on its central premise — that the existence of a maximally great being is possible — will accept it. Still, it is evident, I think, that there is nothing contrary to reason or irrational in accepting this premise. What I claim for this argument, therefore, is that it establishes, not the truth of theism, but its rational acceptability. And hence it accomplishes at least one of the aims of the tradition of natural theology.

    Thus, we are back at the issue of the need to evaluate worldview starting points manifested in how we object to arguments such as this, on comparative difficulties.

    There is no escaping the matter of comparative difficulties, as there is no one without worldview foundational first plausibles, i.e. a faith point.

    All men live by faith, the question is which one and why.

    KF

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Those puzzled by the argument may find the discussion from first principles of right reason including of cause and effect, here on in context, helpful. Pay particular attention to the fire tetrahedron case and the concept of enabling on/off factors that comes out from that case. A contingent being will necessarily have such enabling external factors, and we can therefore posit as a candidate being a being without such dependence. Is it impossible to be without such dependence? No, the number 2 and the proposition 2 + 3 = 5, are like that. But such a being will have no beginning, and no possibility of ending — it is eternal. If a serious candidate to be like that is possible, it will be actual in every possible world, i.e. it is a necessary being. Put another way, try to conceive of a world in which 2 does not exist or 2 + 3 = 5 is false, or circumstances that had to obtain for these to begin to be (“before” which they did not exist) or circumstances under which they will cease. There are no such cases. This already tells us much about possibility vs impossibility of being, and contingency vs necessity of being.

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Observe too that if a serious candidate necessary being is possible, it will exist in at least one possible world and will also exist in all possible worlds including the actual one. This is because of its peculiar all or nothing character. In effect such a serious candidate, Q, will be impossible if its core attributes {a1, a2, . . an} are such that there is a fatal incoherence. But if that does not obtain, then Q will be possible, and will exist in some world, thence all worlds. The number 2 and the proposition 2 + 3 = 5 give us cases that will help us see this — there are no potentially realisable worlds in which they will not be.

  22. 22
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 2: Stenger’s understanding of the history of ideas and movements roots of Modern Science is also deeply flawed but will be persuasive to those of a certain mind- and heart- set. Which of course are exactly those whom he is writing to. Plato’s cave where an echo is, is still in business.

  23. 23
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 3: This is worth a “he said it”:

    STENGER: >>Many Christians believe in evolution.

    Not really. Surveys indicate that what most believe in is God-guided evolution. That is not evolution as understood by science. That is intelligent design. There is no room for God in evolution. >>

    I wonder what he ghost of Wallace, co-founder of modern evolutionary theory, would have to say to this.

    And, we have every right to press such a person on the self referential incoherence of the underlying a priori Lewontinian evolutionary materialism.

    KF

  24. 24
  25. 25
    jw777 says:

    I’m detecting a pattern among anti-theistic apologists like Stenger, wherein every single “argument” (if you pay close attention, they are declarations, not arguments) fits into one of two templates:

    1.) Starting with the premise that NOTHING beyond my worldview/understanding CAN happen… (Insert long rambling and possibly sophisticated argument here); therefore, nothing beyond my worldview/understanding can happen.

    2.) If I exclude all evidence for something, why can’t you show me some evidence not for it that is for it? (This is most interesting in New Testament revisionism).

    Can anyone provide an example that doesn’t fit into those two formulae?
    If so, is the example representative of a third incoherent formula? If not, do any of the “arguments” actually rise to the level requiring a rebuttal?

    I really do want to believe that someone like Stenger doesn’t realize that he keeps shifting his axioms about wantonly; that somehow he just forgot about establishing the basis of claims, or that maybe he just never learned about logic fundamentals. But the more time I spend searching for one smart atheist who makes one solid argument in this domain, I keep returning to the haunting gut instinct that tells me that such an argument doesn’t exist unless predicated on pride. I don’t see how humble inquiry can result in patent derisive dismissiveness.

    Message to Stenger and kin in the blogosphere:
    Please please please, if you are going to be taken seriously by the most basic to the most complex of critical thinkers, employ seven safeguards:
    A.) Stop building conclusions into your premises
    B.) Start to provide a convincing (or any) argument for your starting axioms
    C.) Stop sneaking in reasoning based on some other axioms
    D.) Keep Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem in mind
    E.) Don’t be shocked that even if you follow A-D stringently your conclusions, though orders of magnitude above ANYTHING the New Atheists have thus far concocted (because it will at least be coherent), will NEVER rise to the level of obligatory necessity
    F.) Don’t panic when you realize you’ve never followed these steps
    G.) Repeat

  26. 26
    tgpeeler says:

    On Pascal’s wager…

    Another way to look at it is to contrast two “investing” strategies. Would you risk everything to gain nothing or would it make more sense to risk nothing to gain everything? What would a rational person do?

    This isn’t an argument for the truthfulness of Christianity but I think it’s a decent way to prompt someone to consider why they might at least take the issue seriously.

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