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In Defense of Mark Frank — truth, believability, undecidability, and E-prime

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[Sometimes debate at UD can be heated, and I commend Mark Frank for his temperance with his critics. If I shut down every unfriendly comment made by either side in the discussions I host, I think there wouldn’t be any discussion!]

There is sometimes a fine line between what is believable and what is true. Further there are true statements that might be formally or practically undecidable.

I find the existence of God believable. I also believe that in the existence in an Intelligent Designer of life, and that the Intelligent Designer is God. Even though many ID proponents have publicly said they believe the Intelligent Designer is God (myself included) the inference to God is insufficient from the definition of ID:

Intelligent Design is the study of patterns in nature that are best explained as the result of intelligence.

William Dembski

Others associated with the ID community (Denton, Berlinski, Yockey, Jastrow, Holye, Trevors, Shutzenberger) have classified their views as agnostic or atheistic. 😯 Yockey, who was so fierce in his criticism of naturalistic origins of life, that one would almost think Yockey a creationist, considers the OOL problem an undecidable problem and whose solution is outside of science. The irony is that some of the best “ID” literature is written by agnostics and atheists.

I believe ID is true. I believe the Intelligent Designer is real. I believe the Intelligent Designer is God. I also think that these assertions are either formally or practically undecidable. Hence for me, ID is about making the ID case believable, not a formally proving that ID is true.

All this to say, I accept that Mark Frank finds the arguments at UD not believable or persuasive. I believe him because some of the best “ID” literature came from those who probably reject ID.

I think when Mark offers criticism of the formal inferences of ID, I find myself in agreement in as much as we cannot prove whether the Intelligent Designer is real. Bill Dembski writes:

Thus, a scientist may view design and its appeal to a designer as simply a fruitful device for understanding the world, not attaching any significance to questions such as whether a theory of design is in some ultimate sense true or whether the designer actually exists.

Bill Dembski
No Free Lunch

That said, neither do I think Darwinian evolution nor naturalistic mechanism in principle can construct complex designs like the computers and information processing systems we find in life. Such designs cannot, as a matter of principle, arise from chemical laws and random chance. Attempts to circumvent this difficulty have been offered such as Darwinian evolution, but Darwin’s theory utilizes heavy amounts of equivocation and non-sequiturs which evolutionary biologists adhere to even today. If I were not a creationist, I probably would be in Berlinki’s, Trevors’, or Yockey’s camp since naturalistic theory seems completely unbelievable to me. It is a respectable position to say, “we don’t know” (RDFish/Aiguy’s position).

Mark, if you’re reading this, I can’t stop some of the comments directed at you. I appreciate you enduring it, but the nature of these debates can be nasty. I’d say part of this is because some IDists can’t conceive of how anyone can reasonably disagree with them. I don’t try to figure why someone will reject ID, I simply accept it.

If I had to offer one thought it is this, we humans have a very small sample size of reality. From this small sample we extrapolate conclusions that reach from here to the end of the universe and all time and reality. That can lead to all sorts of wrong conclusions, but what else can we do?

The fact that we don’t see the Designer in the present day, does not mean he doesn’t exist. We play the hand that has dealt us the best we can (by “hand we’ve been dealt” I mean the data we have at present). I respect that you’re playing the hand differently than I. I respect that because there is enormous uncertainty. But in my opinion, a creationist or ID proponent has far less to lose by being wrong than an evolutionist.

Thanks for your participation at UD.

NOTES:
1. from wiki E-prime
E-prime

E-Prime (short for English-Prime, sometimes denoted É or E′) is a prescriptive version of the English language that excludes all forms of the verb to be. E-Prime does not allow the conjugations of to be—be, am, is, are, was, were, been, being— the archaic forms of to be (e.g. art, wast, wert), or the contractions of to be—’s, ‘m, ‘re (e.g. I’m, he’s, she’s, they’re).

Some scholars advocate using E-Prime as a device to clarify thinking and strengthen writing.[1] For example, the sentence “the film was good” could not be expressed under the rules of E-Prime, and the speaker might instead say “I liked the film” or “the film made me laugh”. The E-Prime versions communicate the speaker’s experience rather than judgment, making it harder for the writer or reader to confuse opinion with fact.

2. HT: Elizabeth Liddle for E-prime

3. This thread was spawned by discussions in :
If fossils are actually young, would you find ID more believable

59 Replies to “In Defense of Mark Frank — truth, believability, undecidability, and E-prime

  1. 1
    JDH says:

    I would like to add some thoughts to this thread.

    1. I can not understand how anyone believes in materialism. It makes no sense to me at all.

    a) IMHO, It is self-contradictory. ( If my intellect only comes from natural processes, I can not trust my intellect to make truthful conclusions, only natural ones. )

    b) IMHO, It does not go along with laws of probability and information. ( One can not create purpose and information with blind and unguided processes. All that can be generated is a fluctuation from the most probable state. There is no such thing as an information ratchet ).

    c) IMHO, It is not what is concluded from casual observation ( Even Dawkins admits that biology looks like it was designed for a purpose ).

    d) IMHO, As far as the evidence I have read, it is not what one should conclude from all the in depth quantitative research that has been done. ( Fifty years of OOL research has more or less, in my opinion, ruled out possibilities, not pointed to any promising alternatives ).

    2. This leads my mind to the ugly but logical conclusion that knowingly or unknowingly people are committed to materialism for ulterior motives unrelated to the search for truth.

    3. Despite all this, I should treat everyone here with the utmost respect, and I sincerely apologize for any time I have let my convictions overrule civility.

  2. 2
    TSErik says:

    I think when Mark offers criticism of the formal inferences of ID, I find myself in agreement in as much as we cannot prove whether the Intelligent Designer is real.

    So long as we take the assumption that life, itself, isn’t proof.

    EDIT NOTE: I think I had a typo on my blockquote, can mod delete the duplicate post?

  3. 3
    scordova says:

    EDIT NOTE: I think I had a typo on my blockquote, can mod delete the duplicate post?

    Done!

  4. 4
    Pro Hac Vice says:

    If my intellect only comes from natural processes, I can not trust my intellect to make truthful conclusions, only natural ones.

    This if…then statement does not make sense to me. What is it, specifically, about “natural processes” that would preclude truthful conclusions?

    This leads my mind to the ugly but logical conclusion that knowingly or unknowingly people are committed to materialism for ulterior motives unrelated to the search for truth.

    Would they be correct to believe the same thing about you, if they could not understand your perspective? If not, then what is the difference?

  5. 5
    Mark Frank says:

    Sal

    Mark, if you’re reading this, I can’t stop some of the comments directed at you. I appreciate you enduring it, but the nature of these debates can be nasty. I’d say part of this is because some IDists can’t conceive of how anyone can reasonably disagree with them. I don’t try to figure why someone will reject ID, I simply accept it.

    I appreciate your kind words. It is not often I get an OP with my name on it.

    I am not that fussed about the level of personal abuse. It goes with internet debate. If a IDist goes onto Panda’s Thumb they will also get a hard time.

    I do think anyone should be very careful if they think they are obviously right and they cannot understand how the other guy can believe the opposite. So many people have thought that through the ages and turned out to be wrong. Why not at least start on a basis of mutual respect?

  6. 6
    TSErik says:

    Mark Frank, I do apologize for the aggressive way in which I have addressed your posts, and will be more mindful in the future. Perhaps I have let the knee-jerk complete marginalization of anyone who espouses an ID perspective even if the discussed topic not necessarily ID related)sour me.

    Even recently here at UD we had an insult flinging troglodyte pop up and as science wasn’t what this person really wanted to discuss, I was in defense mode. I agree approaching these discussions from a basis of mutual respect would be preferable, but it is hardly true that most anti-IDists come here with that in mind.

    I admit my fault, and hope to start over without being a dick.

  7. 7
    Alan Fox says:

    TSErik @ 6

    Very good. Dr. Liddle has demonstrated it is possible to communicate across a wide divide. I try, and usually fail, to follow her example. But honesty, though sometimes unwelcome and abrupt, shouldn’t defer to politeness.

  8. 8
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    I find the existence of God believable.

    Do you find the existence of the classical God believable?

    I find it hard for any thinking, rational, moral person to believe such.

    Maybe a separate thread for this topic?

  9. 9
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    believe the Intelligent Designer is God

    God who? Allah? Yahweh? Brahman? Zoroaster?

    Let’s face it, Sal. The term “God” is a ridiculous general term. Let’s get down to specifics.

  10. 10
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    The irony is that some of the best “ID” literature is written by agnostics and atheists.

    You got that right. Berlinski is da best.

  11. 11
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    The irony is that some of the best “ID” literature is written by agnostics and atheists.

    And do you know why, Sal? Because the Bible thumping fundamentalists are crazy. And the liberal Bible thumpers are not really Biblical theists at all.

    It’s time to get real.

    The REAL creator is nothing like any of the iron age or bronze age gods. Who can really believe in them?

    The universe and biological screams of something (someone) a lot more sophisticated than all the traditional gods.

  12. 12
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    OK, I’m ranting a bit tonight.

    Nevertheless.

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    Central wants to:

    ‘get down to specifics.’

    Here are some specifics to get us started:

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

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

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

    If you want to be on a first name basis with Him Central, I suggest prayer so as to get more ‘specific’ i.e. a ‘personal’ relationship:

    Revelation 3:20
    Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

    Note:

    I find it extremely interesting, and strange, that quantum mechanics tells us that instantaneous quantum wave collapse to its ‘uncertain’ 3-D state is centered on each individual observer in the universe, whereas, 4-D space-time cosmology (General Relativity) tells us each 3-D point in the universe is central to the expansion of the universe. These findings of modern science are pretty much exactly what we would expect to see if this universe were indeed created, and sustained, from a higher dimension by a omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal Being who knows everything that is happening everywhere in the universe at the same time. These findings certainly seem to go to the very heart of the age old question asked of many parents by their children, “How can God hear everybody’s prayers at the same time?”,,, i.e. Why should the expansion of the universe, or the quantum wave collapse of the entire universe, even care that you or I, or anyone else, should exist? Only Theism offers a rational explanation as to why you or I, or anyone else, should have such undeserved significance in such a vast universe:

    Hebrews 4:13
    “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to Whom we must give account.”

    Psalm 33:13-15
    The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.

  14. 14
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    1. It is possible that a maximally great being (God) exists.

    It is possible he doesn’t. Whatever “maximally great” means.

    I’ll tell you what. To me, “maximally great” means someone who can create free-willed beings who still always choose to do right. And thus avoid endless torture in some firey torture chamber furnace. If your god can’t do that, he ain’t “maximally great” since I (myself) can think of a better god than yours.

    2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.

    If proposition #1 is false, then this is irrelevant.

    3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.

    If proposition #1 is false, then this is irrelevant.

    4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.

    If proposition #1 is false, then this is irrelevant.

    5. Therefore, a maximally great being exists in the actual world.

    If proposition #1 is false, then this is irrelevant.

    6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.
    7. Therefore, God exists.

    If proposition #1 is false, then this is not a valid conclusion.

    Face it, the Classical God is a non-real entity.

  15. 15
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    Now, having said that, I am very much convince a creator of the universe exists, and creator(s) of earth’s biosphere exist. (They are not necessarily the same ontological entities.)

    I rejected the Classical God long ago.

  16. 16
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    And think about it, you can’t have “bad” come out of “maximally good.” All Good means No Bad. Ever. Period.

    Get it?

    And yet…

  17. 17
    bornagain77 says:

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

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

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

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

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

    further note:

    Ontological Argument For God From The Many Worlds Hypothesis – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4784641

    Moreover Central, I noticed that you tried to lump Judeo-Christian Theism with all those other bronze age gods. You are mistaken to take Judeo-Christian Theism so lightly:

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

    The Uniqueness Of The Bible Among ‘holy books’ and Evidence of God in Creation (Hugh Ross) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjYSz1OYG8Y

    The Most Important Verse in the Bible – Prager University – video
    http://www.prageruniversity.co.....Bible.html

    The Uniqueness of Genesis 1:1 – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBXdQCkISo0

    The best data we have [concerning the Big Bang] are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the bible as a whole.
    Dr. Arno Penzias, Nobel Laureate in Physics – co-discoverer of the Cosmic Background Radiation – as stated to the New York Times on March 12, 1978

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

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

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

    ,,, ‘And if you’re curious about how Genesis 1, in particular, fairs. Hey, we look at the Days in Genesis as being long time periods, which is what they must be if you read the Bible consistently, and the Bible scores 4 for 4 in Initial Conditions and 10 for 10 on the Creation Events’
    Hugh Ross – Evidence For Intelligent Design Is Everywhere; video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4347236

  18. 18
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    BA77: Ontological Argument for the Triune God

    Ridiculous.

    I’ll deal with it tomorrow.

    Have a great night

  19. 19
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    ‘maximally great love’

    Very quickly,

    That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

    I don’t care how many “persons” are ontologically part of some “triune god”, maximal goodness could never have any evil, or be able to generate or be a party to causing any chain of events where evil would be an outcome.

    If you believe that, you’re god ain’t “maximally good.”

    Or at very least, he/it is not the Classicl God.

    At any rate, I’ll deal with trinitarian nonsense tomorrow.

    See ya

  20. 20
    bornagain77 says:

    Central, and how do you suppose true love is possible if a person has no choice but to love God? The only one who is ridiculous in his logic is you if you think that it is possible to have true love without the choice not to love.

    Moreover, from the best we can tell ‘free will’ is built into reality:

    Can quantum theory be improved? – July 23, 2012
    Excerpt: Being correct 50% of the time when calling heads or tails on a coin toss won’t impress anyone. So when quantum theory predicts that an entangled particle will reach one of two detectors with just a 50% probability, many physicists have naturally sought better predictions. The predictive power of quantum theory is, in this case, equal to a random guess. Building on nearly a century of investigative work on this topic, a team of physicists has recently performed an experiment whose results show that, despite its imperfections, quantum theory still seems to be the optimal way to predict measurement outcomes.,
    However, in the new paper, the physicists have experimentally demonstrated that there cannot exist any alternative theory that increases the predictive probability of quantum theory by more than 0.165, with the only assumption being that measurement (*conscious observation) parameters can be chosen independently (free choice, free will, assumption) of the other parameters of the theory.,,,
    ,, the experimental results provide the tightest constraints yet on alternatives to quantum theory. The findings imply that quantum theory is close to optimal in terms of its predictive power, even when the predictions are completely random.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-quantum-theory.html

    i.e. it is found that there is a required assumption of ‘free will’ in quantum mechanics. Moreover, it was shown in the paper that one cannot ever improve the predictive power of quantum mechanics by ever removing free will as a starting assumption in Quantum Mechanics!

    Henry Stapp on the Conscious Choice and the Non-Local Quantum Entangled Effects – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJN01s1gOqA

    Of note: since our free will choices figure so prominently in how reality is actually found to be constructed in our understanding of quantum mechanics, I think a Christian perspective on just how important our choices are in this temporal life, in regards to our eternal destiny, is very fitting:

    Is God Good? (Free will and the problem of evil) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rfd_1UAjeIA

    “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.”
    – C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

    Matthew 22:37-40
    Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

  21. 21
    Mark Frank says:

    #6 TSErik

    Thanks. I look forward to future debates.

    Mark

  22. 22
    JDH says:

    Pro Hac Vice –

    You wrote

    What is it, specifically, about “natural processes” that would preclude truthful conclusions?

    Natural responses are not precluded from being the truth, its just that there is no reason to assume they are the truth. Many of the arguments on this site are about abstract things which are almost pure information.

    For example, an argument might ensue about whether or not fine-tuning of the universe is good evidence for ID. I say it is. Someone else says it is not. Okay we have a contradiction. This implies that at least one of us must be wrong. If we are both just bags of chemicals, there is no reason to believe that my brain processes have led me to a wrong conclusion, but my opponents brain processes have led him to a truthful conclusion. Or vice-versa.

    On the other hand, if there is a God who has given me a mind able to seek truth, I have every reason to believe that I can examine abstract arguments and use God given logic to come up with the best answer.

    If that is not clear, please point out to me what you find unclear.

    You also asked,

    Would they be correct to believe the same thing about you, if they could not understand your perspective? If not, then what is the difference?

    Let me try an explain one difference I do see between my worldview and that of a materialist.

    The materialist is making a constricting statement. “There is nothing directing your brain other than chemical forces”. This is an extraordinary statement. He is severely limiting what can happen.

    My argument has no such constraint. I believe in an all powerful God that gave me consciousness, will, mind, etc. I am not limited by what can be produced by purely natural means. I do not have to work around a glaring self inconsistency.

    Even the way you phrase the question involves a decision, a choice, a will. You said, “What if they believe the same thing about you?” Don’t you mean “what if the chemical processes going on in their brains dictated to them that they think the same thing about you?” See you can’t even make the argument with me without resorting to words expressing belief, ( i.e. choice about abstract concepts ) that is inconsistent with materialism.

    They can believe all they want that my position is incomprehensible, it’s just that for them to use the words “I believe” is again just another position that is inconsistent with the belief in materialism.

  23. 23
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    BA77: Central, and how do you suppose true love is possible if a person has no choice but to love God? The only one who is ridiculous in his logic is you if you think that it is possible to have true love without the choice not to love.

    Easy, for a maximally good entity: make a free-willed being who always chooses good, then replicate that over and over.

    Ask yourself: is Jesus Christ a free-willed being? Does he always choose good? Then replicate that, over and over. See how that works?

    But more fundamentally, “free-will beings where evil is an option” is not even possible at the causal hands of a maximally good entity. All the choices of a free-willed being from a maximally good entity, would always choose good. It may not always choose the same thing, because it can make choices, but all choices would be good, since there is no such thing as evil within the reality of a maximally good entity.

    So, “evil” has to be something that is fundamental to reality. If free-willed beings exist that can cause evil, the Classical notion of God is bogus.

    G’day

  24. 24
    bornagain77 says:

    Central,

    “Easy, for a maximally good entity: make a free-willed being who always chooses good, then replicate that over and over.”

    small problem with your ‘easy’ solution:

    http://www.cyberpunkreview.com.....obot02.jpg

  25. 25
    bornagain77 says:

    If God, Why Evil? (1 of 4) – Norm Geisler – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSTzJ-kbfkc

  26. 26
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    BA77, as if I’ve never heard them all before. None of these arguments get to the root of the issue:

    How can evil come out of non-evil? Even as a potential.

    A maximally good, non-evil entity, wouldn’t even (by definition) be able to create the potential for evil.

    Saying that the non-evil entity created “free will that could do evil” is not an explanation. It’s the question. You can’t answer the question with the same question in a different form.

    The Classical God is false.

  27. 27
    bornagain77 says:

    Central, for anyone who watches the Geisler video, they will see how fallacious (i.e. ridiculous) your objection is.

  28. 28
    bornagain77 says:

    Albert Einstein and his answer to his Professor !
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLOZDpE1rkA

  29. 29
    bornagain77 says:

    “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”
    ? C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

  30. 30
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    BA77, you’re changing the subject.

    I don’t deny the existence of God. Nor do I deny that God put morality into the minds of humans. I deny the classical description of God. Geisler and Lewis’s views do not solve the theodicy problem with respect to the classical God.

    Again, how can even the potential of evil come from an entity that is maximally good and not-evil? From the standpoint of a maximally good (where no evil is ontologically present or even potential), the mere potential for evil in any causal chain would itself be evil, foreign to the non-evil ontology.

    You can’t get evil from non-evil.

    Saying that God created “free willed beings and are the source of evil” for whatever reason is not an answer. It’s the question.

    I recommend people watch Geisler’s videos and see if they answer that question. He never does. Because nobody can.

    You like to cite references. Geisler’s video is irrelevant. Try to answer it right here in your own words, and let’s see how you do.

  31. 31
    tsmith says:

    I don’t understand why this is difficult. If God did NOT allow for evil then there would be no free will, and we would all be robots. If God did NOT allow free will then He would have never been able to demonstrate his attributes of grace, mercy, and He never would have been able to show how far He would go to redeem those who hate Him, as we all did before we were redeemed.

    This settles once and for all several questions that even in the absence of any evil would have to come up…is there a better way? Is God really good?

  32. 32
    JDH says:

    Central,

    Let me depart from the civil tone of this thread and post something which believe it or not is written with your best interest in mind. I may be completely wrong, and my post may do you no good at all. Please realize I am only taking this tone because of the extreme hubris of your comments which dismiss deep philosophical issues with paper thin – and wrong – arguments.

    When I read your arguments I come to the conclusion that you are in high school and have led a fairly pampered life. Your arguments show a life that has not had to deal with suffering so it misunderstands its purpose – that has not known experientially what it means to choose to love. You sound empty and petty.

    I strongly suggest you adopt some humility. Learn a little more and stop the arrogance. Then maybe we can learn something from each other.

    For instance, I would really be interested in what life experience brought you to such a state. You sound like you have intelligence that is definitely above average, but you seem to fail to examine the soundness of either your assumptions or conclusions. Why are you like this? It would be interesting to know.

  33. 33
    bornagain77 says:

    Central, I find it interesting that your view as to what God should and should not allow in this universe is woven throughout Darwin’s ‘Origin’:

    Charles Darwin, Theologian: Major New Article on Darwin’s Use of Theology in the Origin of Species – May 2011
    Excerpt: The Origin supplies abundant evidence of theology in action; as Dilley observes:

    I have argued that, in the first edition of the Origin, Darwin drew upon at least the following positiva theological claims in his case for descent with modification (and against special creation):

    1. Human begins are not justfied in believing that God creates in ways analogous to the intellectual powers of the human mind.

    2. A God who is free to create as He wishes would create new biological limbs de novo rather than from a common pattern.

    3. A respectable deity would create biological structures in accord with a human conception of the ‘simplest mode’ to accomplish the functions of these structures.

    4. God would only create the minimum structure required for a given part’s function.

    5. God does not provide false empirical information about the origins of organisms.

    6. God impressed the laws of nature on matter.

    7. God directly created the first ‘primordial’ life.

    8. God did not perform miracles within organic history subsequent to the creation of the first life.

    9. A ‘distant’ God is not morally culpable for natural pain and suffering.

    10. The God of special creation, who allegedly performed miracles in organic history, is not plausible given the presence of natural pain and suffering.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....46391.html

    The problem in all this for you, and Darwinists who continue to use this line of argumentation, is that you set yourself up as sole arbiter of what is good and evil in the world before all facts are in, and what’s worse you presuppose that you have access to God’s infinite knowledge so as to be able to make the judgement. I hold you are gravely mistaken on both counts!

  34. 34
    bornagain77 says:

    please note points 9 and 10 of the article

  35. 35
    faded_Glory says:

    Well Sal, it didn’t take long to sink the good intentions of your OP, didn’t it?

    Let’s face it, the moment you bring religion into discussions like this, it is almost inevitable that things will go pearshape very quickly.

    Here is a suggestion to ponder: maybe the ID community should set up a discussion website where any and all mention of religion, morality and related subjects is off-topic and will be removed (not necessarily censored, but maybe moved to a dedicated forum area).

    If ID is science this should not be difficult. Just think of how scientific journals would deal with papers that strayed from the science into religion, philosophy and theology, and follow the same process.

    If ID indeed has scientific content this should not affect the quantity and quality of the discussions. It would remove most of the personal nastiness though. Just a thought.

    fG

  36. 36
    scordova says:

    fg,

    God can be postulated as valid entity in the scientific debate:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-designer/

    Without necessarily invoking large theological questions, of good, evil, morality, he can be invoked as the Intelligent Designer.

    I am ambivalent about ID being science. My view is as Stephen Meyer described:
    ID is a quasi-scientific historical speculation with strong metaphysical overtones.

    But what makes a discussion civil is the commitment of the parties to keep the conversation that way despite harsh feelings. But lets not pretend there is no nastiness in “science” blogs either. Can we say elevator gate? And we do have the sad case of Boltzmann who committed suicide because of the nastiness of the science community toward his promotion of atomic theory.

    The science industry isn’t guaranteed to be civil either, especially when reputations and research grants are at stake. Some of the hardball played in those games is a little scary…

    It would remove most of the personal nastiness though. Just a thought.

    But confrontation drives web traffic. 🙂 But I had to say something in defense of Mark because I was impressed with his temperate manner here. I hold you in the same high regard.

  37. 37
    LarTanner says:

    ID is a quasi-scientific historical speculation with strong metaphysical overtones.

    The shorter term for this is “BS”.

  38. 38
    scordova says:

    ID is a quasi-scientific historical speculation with strong metaphysical overtones.

    The shorter term for this is “BS”.

    Apparently you didn’t read the rest of Meyer’s essay. Meyer “quasi-scientific historical speculation with strong metaphysical overtones” pointed out that designation applies also to evolutionary “biology”.

  39. 39
    LarTanner says:

    Except Meyer is wrong to characterize Biology this way. He’s simply trying to drag Biology down into his own intellectual slime-pit.

  40. 40
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    BA77, you need to actually read what I write. Either you don’t carefully read what I write, or you have grave comprehension problems. It’s just not worth my time to proceed. All the best.

  41. 41
    bornagain77 says:

    Central, despite your condescension, I have read and understood exactly what you have laid out and shown it to be wanting. Perhaps you are having trouble writing down exactly what you really want to say. Perhaps you really want to say something like this:

    ‘Something really painful has happened in my life that I consider extremely unfair, therefore I don’t want to believe in God anymore’.

    Is that closer to the truth or not?

  42. 42
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    BA77, somehow you must have skipped over #30 where I said,

    I don’t deny the existence of God. Nor do I deny that God put morality into the minds of humans. I deny the classical description of God. (Emphesis added)

    Everything I have been posted explicitly pertains to the classical view of God. Go back and read it again.

    That tells me you either didn’t read what I write, or you have serious comprehension problems. Either way, adios.

    For the record, I am very much a theist, and an open theist in particular.

    All the best.

  43. 43
    Pro Hac Vice says:

    JDH,

    I’m afraid our conversation is being swamped by separate and more acrimonious exchanges.

    Natural responses are not precluded from being the truth, its just that there is no reason to assume they are the truth . . . . I say it is. Someone else says it is not. Okay we have a contradiction. This implies that at least one of us must be wrong. If we are both just bags of chemicals, there is no reason to believe that my brain processes have led me to a wrong conclusion, but my opponents brain processes have led him to a truthful conclusion. Or vice-versa.

    Thanks for the clarification. I’m not sure how an appeal to supernatural sources could solve this problem. Your suggestion is that if there is:

    a God who has given me a mind able to seek truth, I have every reason to believe that I can examine abstract arguments and use God given logic to come up with the best answer.

    But I don’t understand what “every reason to believe that [you] can examine abstract arguments” means. What reasons? Why are they different, in a practical sense, from the reasons a “bag of chemicals” would have?

    As a bag of chemicals, I might suppose that I (and my species) evolved to reason our way to actual truth, since actual truth prolongs our lives in a way that apparent truth doesn’t. I might be right about that or wrong about it in general, and in any specific case I could be mistaken or misapplying my faculties. But I don’t see how that’s any different for the non-naturalist. How do you know that your faculties, assuming that they’re god-given, lead to objective truth?

    You seem to be starting from an assumption that you’ve been given reliable faculties, but I don’t know how you’d test that assumption without using it in the process, making the reasoning circular.

    As for whether materialists have honest motives (and let me stipulate that I certainly believe that I do, and I consider myself a materialist), you state that we rely on the “constraining statement” that “There is nothing directing your brain other than chemical forces” and that this is a “glaring inconsistency.” Leaving aside whether all neural processes are strictly chemical–I don’t know, and I don’t think it matters to the discussion–I don’t see what the “glaring self inconsistency” is.

    I’ve tried to follow your explanation, but I simply can’t. Let me suggest that your beliefs about how materialists think might be inaccurate; they are certainly unrecognizable to this materialist. For example, I see nothing inconsistent about discussing belief in abstract concepts, which are perfectly relevant to my worldview. Have I misunderstood your position? Do you believe it’s possible that you’ve misunderstood materialists’ thinking?

  44. 44
    scordova says:

    Except Meyer is wrong to characterize Biology this way.

    I said “evolutionary ‘biology'”, that’s not the same thing as Biology. According to Coyne:

    In science’s pecking order, evolutionary biology lurks somewhere near the bottom far closer to phrenology than to physics

    Phrenology is a pseudo science, btw.

  45. 45
    bornagain77 says:

    Central, you seem to think that Geisler did not answer your question, but he did. Evil is a departure from the way things ought to be. Free willed creatures are fully capable of departing from God’s good and perfect way. To claim otherwise as you do is incoherent with the notion of free will. It is not that hard to understand. You seem to think I accused you of being an atheist, and re-reading I can see how you got that impression, but more specifically I consider your ill founded conception of god (small g) on par with perhaps a deistic conception of god or something along that line.,,, Moreover, If your view was true we would already be in heaven, but no Theism has ever claimed that position that I know of (perhaps pantheist have),,, The bottom line, regardless of my failure to communicate effectively, is that I honestly don’t think your position is logically valid. That is just my opinion and I’m sure you will probably disregard it. But none-the-less, I find your logic to fall apart upon only cursory examination.

  46. 46
    LarTanner says:

    Sal,

    What is the exact source of that Coyne quote? I ran a few searches and you are the only one who seems to use it or attribute it to him. It’s not on his blog and not in his book (again, based on my search).

    Nevertheless, Coyne certainly is not saying evolutionary biology is NOT a science. He’s also not equating evolutionary biology with phrenology, which I do know is a pseudoscience. If you don’t believe me, just ask Coyne. I dare you.

    Bottom line: Meyer is just posturing, as if pulling evolutionary biology into his slimy pit of pseudo-scientific hokum will make ID more respectable.

    It doesn’t work, especially when ID creationism gets into a courtroom.

  47. 47
    Barb says:

    CentralScrutinizer @ 14:

    I’ll tell you what. To me, “maximally great” means someone who can create free-willed beings who still always choose to do right.

    Free will implies choice: to do good or to do bad. Your statement is illogical.

    And thus avoid endless torture in some firey torture chamber furnace.

    Hellfire is not a teaching or tenet of all Christian religions.

    If your god can’t do that, he ain’t “maximally great” since I (myself) can think of a better god than yours.

    My God did that. That’s why I worship him.

  48. 48
    JDH says:

    Pro Hac Vice – Thanks for responding in a cordial manner that stimulates intelligent discourse.

    Let me explain what I mean by materialism being self contradictory because it can only have “natural” thoughts.

    If we only are bags of chemicals, then every thought, every thing we do is a reaction to either an internal clock or external event. There is no reason for us to initiate a search for a hypothetical. Even if one supposes that we evolved to seek objective truth, there is no reason to initiate a search for an abstract truth.

    A materialist not only has to assume that we evolved to reason to the truth, he has to assume we evolved to have hypothetical discourses about things which may not even exist. We must be the initiators of these conversations, and then we must willingly choose to advocate our belief. There is no good reason to suppose that such a need evolved to pursue a certain belief or to advocate it.

    The problem is that systems of belief assume a purpose. But, if materialism is true, the one thing there can not be is a purpose. Even survival is not a purpose, it is just an outcome. So if you assume that you “evolved to use reason to find objective truth..” you must also assume that your search for objective truth stops with regard to purpose. You must be happy with the illusion that there is a purpose. Free will can not exist, free choice does not exist, choice of what goal to optimize for does not exist, and any purpose is simply an illusion.

    This is what I mean by the self contradictory nature of materialism. The objective truth is that nothing really matters.

    How is this avoided if there is a God? Well, God can initiate a purpose. God can grant me a will. I can decide to serve God’s purpose, or my own purpose. I am not stuck with no possibility of there being a purpose for my existence. So in a world created by God, we do not suffer from this problem.

    I hope that was clear.

  49. 49
    Joe says:

    LarTanner,

    Unguided evolution is not science. It cannot even muster a testable hypothesis.

    OTOH ID is both testable and potentially falsifiable.

    Also only the willfully ignorant think there is an ID Creationism…

  50. 50
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    Barb:Free will implies choice: to do good or to do bad. Your statement is illogical.

    Obviously some free-willed beings exist that always choose the right. Is God able to clone them or not? If not, he’s not maximally great. Remember, I’m talking about the classical description of God here.

    (You appear to read what I write and comprehend it, so I’ll engage you, Barb. Thanks for the reply.)

  51. 51
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    Barb,

    Moreover, was not God able to predict what “configuration” of free-willed beings will always choose to do the right? If not, he’s not omniscient.

    If he can’t clone free-willed beings who always do the right, then he isn’t omnipotent.

    If he can do both and yet fails to do either, he is not omni-benevolent.

    Get the picture? The classical God fails. And the whole free-will business doesn’t get that classical God off the hook.

  52. 52
    JDH says:

    Central –

    Please stop with the arrogant tone and juvenile arguments. When enough people tell you that your one-line arguments are insufficient, you should stop. Please watch some of the videos that BA77 pointed you to. They answer your arguments completely. Please just stop.

  53. 53
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    JDH,

    I’ve seen Geisler’s videos. Hell, I’ve been to his conferences. I disagree that he offers a coherent treatment of the theodicy of classic theism (among other problem.) If you disagree, then engage and post your strong reasons. Ad hominem will get you nothing from me, except a big wide yawn.

  54. 54
    Barb says:

    Central Scrutinizer:

    Obviously some free-willed beings exist that always choose the right. Is God able to clone them or not? If not, he’s not maximally great. Remember, I’m talking about the classical description of God here.

    God doesn’t clone anything; he creates.

    And some free-willed beings do choose to do right. But you are ignoring the fact that free will implies a choice that God gives to all His intelligent creation: do good or do bad. Many people know that God is powerful; they are used to hearing him called God Almighty. However, they may find it hard to grasp why he does not use his great power to end injustice and suffering right away. They probably lack an understanding of God’s other qualities, such as his holiness, justice, wisdom, and love. God displays these traits in a perfect, balanced way. The Bible thus says: “Perfect is his activity.” (Deuteronomy 32:4)

    The Bible makes it clear that sin started with Adam and Eve (Romans 5:12). Going back to that account, I figure that there are three ways that God could have dealt with those who chose to do bad:

    1. Could God simply have forgiven Adam and Eve? Forgiveness was never an option in this case. As perfect humans, Adam and Eve made a deliberate choice to reject Jehovah’s sovereignty and to accept the guidance of Satan instead. Not surprisingly, there was no sign of repentance on the part of the rebels. However, when people ask about forgiveness in the matter, they may actually be wondering why God did not simply lower his standard and tolerate the existence of sin and rebellion. The answer involves a quality that is essential to the very nature of God: holiness.—Exodus 28:36; 39:30.

    2. Could Jehovah merely have destroyed the rebels in Eden and started over? He certainly had the power to do so; soon he will use that power to destroy all the wicked. ‘Why,’ some may wonder, ‘did he not do so when there were only three sinners in the universe? Would not the spread of sin—and all the misery we see in the world—have been prevented?’ Why did Jehovah not choose that course of action?

    Deuteronomy 32:4 says: “All his ways are justice.” Jehovah feels very strongly about justice. In fact, “Jehovah is a lover of justice.” (Psalm 37:28) Because of his love of justice, Jehovah refrained from wiping out the rebels in Eden.

    Adam and Eve would not have produced offspring subject to a legacy of suffering and death. However, such a demonstration of divine power would not have proved the rightfulness of God’s authority over his intelligent creatures. Furthermore, had Adam and Eve died childless, that would have signaled the failure of God’s purpose to fill the earth with their perfect descendants. (Genesis 1:28) And “God is not like men . . . Whatever he promises, he does; he speaks, and it is done.”—Numbers 23:19, Today’s English Version.

    This is the main point that you are referring to: God’s ability to create free-willed beings:

    Satan’s rebellion raised a question regarding the rightness of God’s sovereignty. Jehovah’s sense of justice required that Satan’s challenge be given a just answer. The immediate execution of the rebels, while well-deserved, would not have provided such an answer. It would have provided further evidence of Jehovah’s supremacy in power, but his power was not in question. Furthermore, Jehovah had stated his purpose to Adam and Eve. They were to have offspring and were to fill the earth, subdue it, and have all earthly creation in subjection. (Genesis 1:28) If Jehovah had simply destroyed Adam and Eve, his stated purpose regarding humans would have become empty words. Jehovah’s justice would never allow for such an outcome, for his purpose is always accomplished.—Isaiah 55:10, 11.

    3. Could anyone in the universe address the rebellion with greater wisdom than Jehovah? Some people might propose their own “solutions” to the rebellion in Eden. In doing so, however, would they not be suggesting that they could think of better ways to handle the issue? They might not do so out of a wicked motive, but they do not have an understanding of Jehovah and his awe-inspiring wisdom. In writing to Christians in Rome, the apostle Paul delved deeply into God’s wisdom, including the “sacred secret” regarding Jehovah’s purpose to use the Messianic Kingdom to bring about the redemption of faithful mankind and to sanctify His holy name. How did Paul feel about the wisdom of the God who devised this purpose? The apostle concluded his letter with these words: “To God, wise alone, be the glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.”—Romans 11:25; 16:25-27.

    There is nothing wrong with the “classical” description of God as you seem to think there is. The problem lies with your conception of free will. I’ll get into the omniscience later, in a separate post, since these are separate topics. Also bear in mind that your rejection of the “classical” God does not mean that He doesn’t exist, nor does it disprove anything I’ve posted here.

  55. 55
    Barb says:

    Moreover, was not God able to predict what “configuration” of free-willed beings will always choose to do the right? If not, he’s not omniscient.

    He is also the Omniscient One. Not only does he know the end from the beginning, the future being an open book to him, but in him also resides all knowledge and wisdom, as seen by his wonderful works of creation. Never in any of his dealings has he made a single mistake. The argument that God’s not foreknowing all future events and circumstances in full detail would evidence imperfection on his part is, in reality, an arbitrary view of perfection.

    Perfection, correctly defined, does not demand such an absolute, all-embracing extension, inasmuch as the perfection of anything actually depends upon its measuring up completely to the standards of excellence set by one qualified to judge its merits. Ultimately, God’s own will and good pleasure, not human opinions or concepts, are the deciding factors as to whether anything is perfect.—De 32:4; 2Sa 22:31; Isa 46:10.

    If he can’t clone free-willed beings who always do the right, then he isn’t omnipotent.

    Humans clone, God creates. Do you really not understand the difference between these two words?

    Jehovah told Abraham: “I am God Almighty.” (Genesis 17:1) Being almighty—omnipotent—Jehovah can use his power to overcome any obstacle to the fulfillment of his promises and purposes. Jehovah is also all-knowing, all-wise—omniscient. He thus can foresee whatever he wishes to foresee. These two qualities make it impossible for Jehovah to fail. (Isaiah 14:24)

    You seem to be asking if God knows and foreordains everything. Note what is written at Deuteronomy 31:20, 21. God states that “I well know their [the Hebrews] inclination that they are developing today before I bring them into the land about which I have sworn.” Note that God’s ability to discern the outcome of their course did not mean that He was responsible for it, or that it was what He wanted for them, but on the basis of what they were doing he could foresee the outcome. Similarly, on the basis of what is observed, a meteorologist can predict the weather, but that does not mean that he likes it or has caused it.

    You again misunderstand the point of free will. Revelation 22:17 notably states that “let anyone wishing take life’s water free.” It is an open invitation from God, but the choice is not foreordained; it is left to the individual. If you cannot or will not discern how free will works, there is little point in continuing. The problem lies not with God, but with your concept of both God and free will.

    If he can do both and yet fails to do either, he is not omni-benevolent.

    Get the picture? The classical God fails. And the whole free-will business doesn’t get that classical God off the hook.

    Actually, it does, but people like you are simply too arrogant to understand the facts. The problem lies with you, not with God.

    Oh, and your entire argument is reminiscent of Epicurus (http://www.iep.utm.edu/epicur/). My own attitude is this: whatever authority people may arrogate to themselves, you do not have to accept their conclusions if they contradict God, ignore his Word, and violate common sense. In the final analysis, the wise course is always to “let God be found true, though every man be found a liar.”—Romans 3:4.

    Here’s one response to the argument you made: http://philsphil.wordpress.com.....-argument/

    And here’s another: http://atheistsareidiots.blogs.....radox.html

    Your argument, while millennia old, really brings nothing new to the table that hasn’t been discussed and debated before. You may reject any and all explanations given to you, but that only underscores that the problem lies with you and your concept of free will and God.

  56. 56
    JDH says:

    Central

    You continually make mistakes of logic and erroneous assumption

    Obviously some free-willed beings exist that always choose the right.

    Why is this obvious? It is not. Please learn some humility.

  57. 57
    Barb says:

    Hmm. After my posts, CentralScrutinizer seems to have stopped scrutinizing. I wonder why.

  58. 58
    bornagain77 says:

    Barb, your patience, focus, and breadth of knowledge are truly amazing sometimes.

  59. 59
    Barb says:

    BA77 @ 58: Thank you.

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