About philosophical arguments for the existence of God, as he begins a rebuttal:
Readers and viewers who have been following this debate, “Does God exist?” (September 17, 2021), between theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty may recall that it opened with Egnor explaining why, as former atheist, he became a theist. Then Dillahunty explained why, as a former theist, he became an atheist.
Michael Egnor then stated his case, offering ten proofs for the existence of God. Matt Dillahunty responded that they were all unfalsifiable propositions. Now it is Egnor’s turn to rebut Dillahunty. The conversation was somewhat rambunctious and has been condensed for print:News, “4: Egnor now tries to find out what Dillahunty actually knows…” at Mind Matters News (September 27, 2021)
A partial transcript (beginning at 36:30) and notes follow:
Michael Egnor: Which one of the 10 arguments that I gave you do you understand? [00:38:30]
Matt Dillahunty: If you ask me a question and I start to … Am I going to get to answer your question? Let’s assume that I don’t understand any of them.
Michael Egnor: All right. So then why do you think they’re wrong?
Matt Dillahunty: Well, I’ve evaluated each of them at different times, and found them wanting. [00:39:00]
Michael Egnor: So you used to understand them, but you forgot them.
Matt Dillahunty: See, the whole point of tonight’s debate is to demonstrate that a God exists, and all I did was point out about where a burden of proof is, and you immediately start to suggest that I don’t understand what I’m talking about, which may be fine, and it may be fair, but it doesn’t do anything to prove your God. If you think that you proved your God by rattling off short intro to philosophy versions of arguments that have long been debated, you don’t understand the robustness of this. [00:39:30]
Michael Egnor: Matt, I’ll be happy to give you these arguments in detail. What I want to establish before that is that your arguments are not based on any actual knowledge. You don’t know the arguments for God’s existence. So your claim that they’re not true…
Matt Dillahunty: Which of my arguments do you reject? The argument from divine hiddenness is the only one I presented. The argument from divine hiddenness isn’t based on an understanding of any of your arguments, so please, tell me where my argument’s wrong. [00:40:00]
Michael Egnor: No, your argument is that God’s existence has not been proven.
Matt Dillahunty: Correct.
Michael Egnor: You don’t understand the arguments for God’s existence. So
Michael Egnor: Tell me Aquinas’s Second Way. What’s the second way?
Matt Dillahunty: The argument from causation and it has to do with causal change. But there’s a problem with causal change, because you cannot demonstrate that causal change extend beyond… We can’t explore the universe prior to the Planck time. So the fact that there are causal chains within the universe don’t mean that there are causal chains out of the universe that operate in the same way. As a matter of fact, if you start talking about something that exists outside of time, you’ve already made an error, because existence is necessarily temporal. It doesn’t mean anything to say that something exists for no period of time. [00:40:30]
Michael Egnor: That has nothing to do with Aquinas’s Second Way, or his First Way, or anything. [00:41:00]
Matt Dillahunty: Well, I didn’t show up to debate Aquinas, and he’s not here to defend it. So either you can tell me…
Michael Egnor: No, but you showed up to debate …
Matt Dillahunty: … you can either debate it and tell me I’m wrong, or you can just assert that I’m wrong, which is what you’ve done from the beginning. You’ve made nothing but assertions. “Here’s a whole bunch of arguments, I’m going to assert that these arguments make the case, and I’m going to do no work.” That’s what you did from the start.
Michael Egnor: Matt, the argument that I’m making is actually fairly simple, and you’re blowing smoke. [00:41:30]
Takehome: Atheist Dillahunty appears unable to recall the philosophical arguments for God’s existence, which poses a challenge for Egnor in rebutting him.
The debate to date:
- Debate: Former atheist neurosurgeon vs. former Christian activist. At Theology Unleashed, each gets a chance to state his case and interrogate the other. In a lively debate at Theology Unleashed, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and broadcaster Matt Dillahunty clash over the existence of God.
- A neurosurgeon’s ten proofs for the existence of God. First, how did a medic, formerly an atheist, who cuts open people’s brains for a living, come to be sure there is irrefutable proof for God? In a lively debate at Theology Unleashed, Michael Egnor and Matt Dillahunty clash over “Does God exist?” Egnor starts off.
- Atheist Dillahunty spots fallacies in Christian Egnor’s views. “My position is that it’s unacceptable to believe something if the available evidence does not support it.” Dillahunty: We can’t conclusively disprove an unfalsifiable proposition. And that is what most “God” definitions, at least as far as I can tell, are.
You may also wish to read:
Atheist spokesman Matt Dillahunty refuses to debate me again Although he has said that he finds debates “incredibly valuable,” he is — despite much urging — making an exception in this case. Why? For millennia, theists have thought meticulously about God’s existence. New Atheists merely deny any need to make a case. That’s partly why I dumped atheism. (Michael Egnor)