I get email: Matthew.

I got an email from Matthew.

 I was at the presentation you gave yesterday a Rose-Hulman. You said you thought that Christian apologists had to know their evidence was bad. What would you say about the evidence of irreducibly complex systems? (Such as the Blood clotting cascade and cilium) You mentioned them yesterday (with the computer), I believe, in relation to the need for using human reasoning. The system is one that can’t come about via evolution because until all the pieces are present it doesn’t have a function to the animal/human and the jump is far too large for it to happen in one mutation.

Also you spent a fair amount of time talking about how bad of idea you find faith; yet later in your speech you talked about how you didn’t have answers to most of the science questions (specifically how the universe/earth came to be) and how you decided you would just trust that the experts had good answers to these questions. Isn’t that the same thing as faith but instead you aren’t interested in learning about it?

Lastly I was wondering what you have to say about the Kalam Cosmology argument.
1)      Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2)      The universe began to exist
3)      Therefor the universe had a cause (God)

Let’s jump straight in.

I was at the presentation you gave yesterday a Rose-Hulman. You said you thought that Christian apologists had to know their evidence was bad.  You mentioned them yesterday (with the computer), I believe, in relation to the need for using human reasoning. The system is one that can’t come about via evolution because until all the pieces are present it doesn’t have a function to the animal/human and the jump is far too large for it to happen in one mutation.

What I specifically said was that I enjoy debating pastors/priests much more than apologists.  Apologists use the same arguments, but don’t ever seem to want to defend them very deeply.  They tend to turn the debate into a game of whack-a-mole, swiftly changing the subject from one thing to another instead of answering basic questions as if they know their case is indefensible.  Pastors, on the other hand, really believe their arguments are good and that god is at their back.  They come right out with Pascal’s Wager and First Cause.  It’s much more honest.

Matt, I’m going to put you in the pastor category.  Because…

What would you say about the evidence of irreducibly complex systems?

By googling “irreducible complexity” I found the wikipedia page on it.  Here are the first few sentences from it.

Irreducible complexity (IC) is an argument by proponents of intelligent design that certain biological systems are too complex to have evolved from simpler, or “less complete” predecessors, through natural selection acting upon a series of advantageous naturally occurring, chance mutations. The argument is central to intelligent design, and is rejected by the scientific community at large

If you are a student at RHIT (as your email address would suggest), then you likely have access to EBSCOHost or some other academic paper database.  You could run a search for peer review papers including the phrase “irreducible complexity” and find that the only papers that have survived peer review are ones trashing the idea.

So I’d say that actual scientists think the idea is bullshit.  Now I, as a music major, could say that I know better than virtually every scientist on planet earth, which is what lots of Christians without the first clue about science do, but that would be hugely pretentious of me (ironically, many of the believers who adopt this attitude will then praise the humility of Christians).

The wikipedia page and the lack of any papers on IC in peer review also tell me what you did here.  You took an argument from some apologetics website and, without asking a scientist about it and without even googling it, decided to email it to me.  This tells me that you are more interested in ideas that you think confirm your present position than with answers.  It also tells me that you’re willing to treat me like your own personal google, as though my time is not already stretched and insanely valuable.  This behavior reveals contempt for me, selfishness on your part, and a lack of any real desire for the answers you’ve told me you want.

You asked what I thought of the evidence for IC and gave two examples.  The blood-clotting cascade example is even tackled on wikipedia.

I would say the “evidence” for IC only amounts to what you don’t know, Matt.  There are several systems in biology that allow for the evolution of systems that once served a different purpose than they presently do. The most common of which is intermediary pathways (like scaffolding, exaptation, and spandrels).  You would already have known this had you either used google or asked a scientist…y’know, what any mildly competent human being would have done if they really wanted answers.

Michael Behe, the author of the IC argument, uses the metaphor of a mouse trap.  The idea is that if you remove any one part of it, the mouse trap fails to function making it “irreducibly complex.”  How then could the various parts have evolved all on their own?  The answer is by intermediary pathways.  Biologist Kenneth Miller breaks it down very simply.

In fact, [Behe] also overlooks the most important error in his mousetrap argument, which is his contention that function is abolished by removing any part of an “irreducibly complex” system. At the very same conference, I removed two parts from a mousetrap (leaving just the base, spring, and hammer), and used that 3-part device as a functional tie-clip. I then detached the spring from the hammer, and used the device as a keychain. If I had cared to, I might have used the base and spring (2 parts) as a paper clip, my tie clip (glued to a door) as a door knocker, the catch as a toothpick, or the base as a paperweight.

Behe used this exact example of the mouse trap in the Dover trial (where he was one of the few ID proponents invited to defend their ideas who actually had the gumption to show up). Kenneth Miller took the stand with the mouse trap tie clip described above to show the judge why the IC argument sucked.

Lastly, even if I had no clue whatsoever how “irreducibly complex” systems came to be, that would mean what, exactly?  You can’t build a case for god’s existence based on what neither you nor I know.  Imagine how this argument would’ve looked a few centuries ago.

Amateur apologist:  What would you say about the evidence of earthquakes?  I mean, the earth is made up of unthinking rocks and dirt, how could it move itself?

Skeptic:  I don’t know.

Amateur apologist:  There must be an earth-mover.

Skeptic:  Do you have any evidence for this earth-mover?

Amateur apologist:  You don’t know how earthquakes happen.

Skeptic:  That doesn’t mean that you do.

Of course, later we’d figure out plate tectonics and realize that earthquakes have a perfectly natural explanation.  So it has been with everything we’ve ever explained, each time with believers who had previously jumped the gun and given the credit to god winding up with egg on their face.  Somehow this has never kept them from trying the same argument with some new thing we haven’t explained.

If you are to make god the the equivalent of what you don’t know, you are either saying that god is the same as human ignorance, which is not very flattering to god, or you’re giving a name to your ignorance (“god”) that moves you to worship what you don’t know, which is not flattering at all to you.  When you don’t know something, you’ve only established that you don’t know something.  You’ve not established the existence of god.  You might as well say that you don’t know where your missing sock went, so god must’ve taken it.

Then you said…

Also you spent a fair amount of time talking about how bad of idea you find faith; yet later in your speech you talked about how you didn’t have answers to most of the science questions (specifically how the universe/earth came to be) and how you decided you would just trust that the experts had good answers to these questions. Isn’t that the same thing as faith but instead you aren’t interested in learning about it?

You clearly weren’t listening to the talk, because I tackled this.

I don’t have answers to most of the scientific questions because my life is far too short to become an expert on everything.  But there are experts in a whole host of disciplines who’ve spent 12+ years learning the intricacies of those subjects and adding to humanity’s knowledge of them.  Instead of thinking my hair-brained, comparatively ill-informed guesses are better than the scientific consensus (like you’re doing with irreducible complexity), I defer to those experts.  I do this every time I get on an airplane and every time I drink water without fear of getting sick from it.  You do the exact same thing.

We trust the experts because we have solid reasoning and evidence to support the conclusion that the consensus of physicists dwarfs our individual knowledge about physics.  This isn’t faith, it’s not being arrogant as all hell.

As for having faith in science, science makes one assumption: that the universe operates under a set of rules.  That’s it.  If this assumption is true, we should be able to test it.  We test it every time we derive an equation dealing with something’s rate of descent.  We test it every time we launch something to the edge of our solar system with uncanny accuracy.  We test it with the invention of light bulbs, iphones, indoor plumbing, cars, etc.  Each of these confirms our assumption, making it less of a matter of accepting it by faith and more a matter of acknowledging that it has worked this way every time we’ve observed or tested it.  That requires only basic sense, not faith.

“Faith” as you use it here, seems to be making conclusions about what you don’t know rather than withholding judgment and waiting until we figure it out.  That’s the opposite of science.  Unless you’re comparing science to religious faith, the thing that can allow someone to believe a Canaanite Jew rose from the dead regardless of how offensive that claim is to literally everything we know about the operation of the universe.  If it’s to that type of faith that you’re comparing my trust of the same scientific consensus that invented the medicine I take, then you’re bleeding mad.

And also, it takes a lot of damn gall for someone who used the irreducible complexity argument, who undoubtedly dug it up from a random website instead of going to see what the scientific community says, who didn’t even google that shit before emailing me, to say something like “Isn’t that the same thing as faith but instead you aren’t interested in learning about it?”  The only appropriate response to that kind of temerity is “fuck you.”  If I’m not interested in learning about it, why the hell are you coming to me with science questions and not actual fucking scientists?

Lastly I was wondering what you have to say about the Kalam Cosmology argument.
1)      Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2)      The universe began to exist
3)      Therefor the universe had a cause (God)

I’d say it’s shit.  Google it.

If I were more generous than I should be, I’d say that…

Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

This is flat out wrong.

Even if it were true, you’ve already admitted that some things can exist eternally (god).  Why does your cause have to be this hyper complex being?  Why couldn’t matter and the laws of physics be eternal?  After all, we already know matter and the laws of physics exist, which makes them superior to the god hypothesis on that one point alone.  We also know that matter and the laws of physics produce order all by themselves over time.  Even if I were to grant your premise, the obviously superior candidate for whatever’s been around forever is matter and the laws of physics, not god.

The universe began to exist

Our universe did, yes.  But nobody, not you or I, knows what preceded that event.  Cosmologists are making progress on this.  Theology has made none in thousands of years, and are still making none to this day.

Instead, theologians are doing what you did earlier: taking what we don’t know and branding it “god.”  That’s embarrassing, and only those eager for something to confirm a similar personal myth would ever paint that kind of behavior as anything other than embarrassing.

  • eric

    Very comprehensive takedown.
    Mr. Matthew could also simply have googled “evolutionary origin blood clotting” – the first three links address his example. It seems he likely read Behe’s book or some other ID creationist web site, but did not bother to look up how scientists responded to it.

  • http://pzer0.com Dan

    I completely agree with you that arguing with apologists turns in to a game of whack-a-mole. I like to call it “shit spaghetti,” because they just take a bunch of shit, throw it at a wall, and see what sticks.

  • Heather

    Humans only have 20,000-25,000 genes, which is surprisingly few considering how complex we are. What’s even more interesting is that “lower” creatures such as frogs plants such as certain lilies have more DNA per cell than we do. Why are we more complex, then? Alternative splicing. Our genome found a way to do more work with what it was given. I think that’s a much better explanation than “God gave it to us this way” since it means we still have methods of adaptation.

    • invivoMark

      Actually, alternative splicing doesn’t explain why we are more complex than other organisms. Alternative splicing explains a lot about why, biochemically, we can get away with so few genes. But compared to frogs and plants, we’re not actually more complex at a biochemical level.

      The real differences between us and ancestral species is in our development. Different genes getting turned on at different times and different places. This is why we get big brains and chimpanzees don’t.

      But I’m not sure I’d say we’re actually more complex than frogs in any way. That’s committing the platypus fallacy (http://www.genomicron.evolverzone.com/2012/06/the-platypus-fallacy/).

  • Lucy The Veterinary Student

    A simple course in biology would take care of the irreducible complexity argument; many cells start out as undifferentiated stem cells and with the influence of certain proteins coded for by the DNA, etc, become more specific cells. That is how an organism made of two cells (as in a human at conception) can become a highly-complex multicellular organism. Our own cells undergo differentiation all the time, so it is not that much of a stretch to imagine a single-celled organism becoming gradually more complicated.

  • invivoMark

    That seemed… a bit harsh.

    Keep in mind, just because a question is easily “google-able” doesn’t necessarily mean that those answers you come across will be the right answers. It is reasonable to be skeptical of claims made on Wikipedia, even when they are referenced. And sometimes, the non-Wiki answers you get aren’t informed answers. For instance, if your argument is that the theory of evolution isn’t scientific because of Popperian falsifiability, and you google “is evolution unfalsifiable”, several of the results you get will be from AiG and other such groups saying that yes, evolution is indeed unfalsifiable and therefore not science.

    The problem may not be that this person is too lazy to search google for answers. Remember, this person is a college student, and may be just learning how to find, parse, and understand reliable information. That isn’t a skill that is necessarily taught in high school, nor in all university programs.

    Your arguments, of course, were perfectly fine. I’m just tone trolling here.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd JT Eberhard

      I understand the concern. Without the “you’re just not interested in learning” line, I may have been more forgiving. It’s also why I put the line in about EBSCOHost.

      • invivoMark

        Yeah, good call. I find PubMed to be perfect for evolution articles, but EBSCO works about as well. Hell, even google scholar is decent, and has the advantage of having more comprehensive coverage of articles (though it searches by format, not content, so not every hit is an actual journal article).

    • eric

      invivoMark, the first hit you get from “blood clotting evolution origin” is an explanation of possible pathways for the evolution of the mammalian blood clotting mechanism by Prof. Ken Miller.
      What you say may be true as a general rule – googling is not a panacea. But in this case Mr. Matthew would not have been lead astray by it, so if he’s ignorant, its because he didn’t do it.

    • Robert

      It’s not harsh at all. Even if the question from the student was sincere it’s indistinguishable from an insincere question. As JT points out in his reply in some specific cases it’s evident the person that claimed to watch the presentation didn’t pay much attention to it. And the way the student asks questions matches the condescending way that a lot of apologists or evangelicals ask insincere questions (just piling eveything up, equivocation fallacies).

      I thought it was remarkable that JT treated the question as sincere.

      • invivoMark

        Alright, you guys have convinced me. Maybe I was being a bit naive.

        • MikeMa

          invivoMark,
          Naive maybe but depending on the search engine, some of the first 5 links can contain creationist bullshit.
          JT,
          Nicely done. I will use the arguments you so succinctly stated as part of a collection of creationist takedowns I keep as a ready reference.

  • ButchKitties

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Accepting supernatural explanations is like thinking X is not a placeholder, but the actual answer to an algebra problem. Goddidit is completely devoid of explanatory content. There’s nothing about Goddidit that is testable or falsifiable, that lets you make predictions, or has any of the other utilities of a scientific explanation. All Goddidit does is make an assumption of extra complexity (in the form of agency) about unknown. You haven’t found an explanation; you’ve just found a way of tricking yourself into thinking you have.

    • basementmatt

      I want to state, for the record, you have one of the most awesomest nicks I’ve seen in a long time.

  • Baal

    I loved the whole post but particularly enjoyed this paragraph:
    “If you are to make god the the equivalent of what you don’t know, you are either saying that god is the same as human ignorance, which is not very flattering to god, or you’re giving a name to your ignorance (“god”) that moves you to worship what you don’t know, which is not flattering at all to you.”

  • Sara

    In addition to everything you said, Matthew and people like him need to understand with his logical argument at the end – jumping from the universe had to have a cause to labeling that cause god is a non sequitur. Even if the universe has to have a cause, it does not mean that we can determine that cause to be a deity. It could have been two branes crashing together (if string theory is correct) or that “nothingness” is a very unstable state in the quantum sense. It does not equate to there being a deity.

    • Randomfactor

      And a further mistake labeling the god involved as necessarily THEIR god and not someone else’s.

      The deists of Jefferson’s time were humble enough to know that they had no answer for how species came to be (before Darwin came along) and humble enough to know they couldn’t describe or interact with such a creator.

  • http://biblicalscholarship.wordpress.com/ Jayman

    “We trust the experts because we have solid reasoning and evidence to support the conclusion that the consensus of physicists dwarfs our individual knowledge about physics. This isn’t faith, it’s not being arrogant as all hell.”

    That’s a definition of faith: “confidence or trust in a person or thing” (first definition given at dictionary.com). You have trust in experts. Theists have trust in God.

    “As for having faith in science, science makes one assumption: that the universe operates under a set of rules. That’s it.”

    No it isn’t. Other assumptions would include: (1) the external world exists, (2) human senses are generally reliable, (3) human testimony is generally reliable, (4) the laws of nature are the same in different times and places, etc. And please note that (2) and (3) involve faith (trust).

    “This is flat out wrong.”

    If a cause means the conditions that must be in place for the effect to occur then your article implies vacuum fluctuations are a cause of matter coming into existence. How does that hurt premise (1)?

    “Why does your cause have to be this hyper complex being?”

    On classical theism God is simple, meaning not composed of parts. I don’t see Matthew stating God is “hyper-complex” so you appear to be attacking a straw man.

    “Why couldn’t matter and the laws of physics be eternal?”

    Because matter began to exist and the laws of physics are abstract descriptions without causal powers.

    “We also know that matter and the laws of physics produce order all by themselves over time.”

    That’s a metaphysical statement, not a scientific statement. I don’t have a problem with metaphysical statements but you are begging the question in your discussion. Your statement is only acceptable to the materialist/naturalist. Matthew is presumably coming at the nature of matter from a different angle so you would have to argue for this point to convince him.

    “Even if I were to grant your premise, the obviously superior candidate for whatever’s been around forever is matter and the laws of physics, not god.”

    If you grant his premises he has deductively proven a First Cause that did not begin to exist. Since matter began to exist it could not be the First Cause. The “laws of physics” are merely descriptions and have no causal powers in themselves. So your “candidate” is not tenable.

    “Theology has made none in thousands of years, and are still making none to this day.”

    Theologians and philosophers have argued that our universe had a beginning for centuries. Scientists only came around to the idea in the past century.

    “Instead, theologians are doing what you did earlier: taking what we don’t know and branding it “god.””

    Of course the kalam cosmological argument is based on what we do know and drawing logical conclusions from that knowledge. You’re attacking a straw man.

    • Robert

      @Jayman

      Without evidence to back up their discussion theoogians and philosophers have indeed made no progress at all.

      Fortunately philosophers often do end up having evidence for or against their questions when science tackles them, so progress is made.

      That progress does not come from theological discussions because again, without evidence that’s the same as making stuff up. It’s like arguing that Star Trek canon has made progress thanks to fan discussions (actaully even that analogy isn’t great because there is evidence to back up issues fans may find and clear up).

    • Rob

      (2) human senses are generally reliable, (3) human testimony is generally reliable

      Not assumed. That’s the point of double blind,research into cognitive flaws, and reproducibility.

      If a cause means the conditions that must be in place for the effect to occur then your article implies vacuum fluctuations are a cause of matter coming into existence. How does that hurt premise (1)?

      Those fluctations themselves don’t have a cause. Special conditions are required to measure it, but that’s it.

    • Sara

      “That’s a definition of faith: “confidence or trust in a person or thing” (first definition given at dictionary.com). You have trust in experts. Theists have trust in God.”
      That’s a very loose, non-academic view of faith and only considers one of the definition for it. The definition you’re using is missing one key word – “complete” confidence or trust. I know very few skeptics who would have complete trust in a scientist, as we know they all make mistakes. Now, if you were trying to argue that we have “faith” in the scientific method, you’re also incorrect. We test the scientific method constantly and the products of it (you’re doing it now by being online). That’s not the same as faith.

      “No it isn’t. Other assumptions would include: (1) the external world exists, (2) human senses are generally reliable, (3) human testimony is generally reliable, (4) the laws of nature are the same in different times and places, etc. And please note that (2) and (3) involve faith (trust).”
      Firstly, you have to make your first two assumptions if you wanted to be able to exist in any way shape or form. Every human has to. The third portion is actually not a part of science. Human testimony isn’t reliable, only tested empirical data and strongly supported theories. It requires far more than just human testimony.
      If you’re going to try to use epistemological arguments, you should try to make sure they’re an accurate representation of reality.

      “On classical theism God is simple, meaning not composed of parts. I don’t see Matthew stating God is “hyper-complex” so you appear to be attacking a straw man.”
      You’re confusing what a complex thing would be. No one is saying that your deity is complex because it’s comprised of parts – it’s complex because it’s above and beyond the natural realm. Those who claim that the nature world is too complex to be without a creator seem to faith to realize that within that argument, you have infinite regression. A supernatural force able to create the universe but not be bound by those laws would have to be pretty complex, moreso than its creation. Then, who made your deity?
      Also, when you talk about “classical theism”, you should probably state what deity you’re speaking about and which model of theism. Western God isn’t the only deity speculated about, nor is it the default.

      “Because matter began to exist and the laws of physics are abstract descriptions without causal powers.”
      So then, if all things need a creator, who created your deity?

      “Theologians and philosophers have argued that our universe had a beginning for centuries. Scientists only came around to the idea in the past century.”
      You do realize that science is born out a specific form of philosophy, right?
      Secondly, speculating the beginnings of the universe is one thing, providing evidence for it is another entirely. Theologians and philosophers have failed to provide evidence, where science has. That is the massive difference between the two categories of thought.

    • JHendrix

      There is no scientific evidence whatsoever that “all of matter and energy” “began to exist” in the very specific meaning the Kalam actually means it does.

      We have evidence that our space-time universe did not exist in the form it does presently eternally into the past, but nothing in the scientific evidence states that the energy that makes up our space-time began to exist; and we have very good reasons to think that such a thing is actually impossible (see the first law of thermodynamics).

    • Laurence

      “On classical theism God is simple, meaning not composed of parts. I don’t see Matthew stating God is “hyper-complex” so you appear to be attacking a straw man.”

      I see no reason to accept the assumption of classic theism that God is simple.

    • invivoMark

      [quote]That’s a definition of faith: “confidence or trust in a person or thing” (first definition given at dictionary.com). You have trust in experts. Theists have trust in God.[/quote]

      That is called an equivocation fallacy. You know that when people say they have faith in God, they mean something different from when I say that I trust my auto mechanic to fix my brakes.

      [quote]No it isn’t. Other assumptions would include: (1) the external world exists, (2) human senses are generally reliable, (3) human testimony is generally reliable, (4) the laws of nature are the same in different times and places, etc. And please note that (2) and (3) involve faith (trust).[/quote]

      (1) is the only assumption you listed that is actually made, and that is one of the fundamental assumptions of any epistemological system. (2) is something that we know is false, as well as (3). (4) is not an assumption, but a prediction that has so far been supported by the preponderance of evidence.

      [quote]If a cause means the conditions that must be in place for the effect to occur then your article implies vacuum fluctuations are a cause of matter coming into existence. How does that hurt premise (1)?[/quote]

      If anything, JT has shown that Matthew’s first premise is not self-evident, and must be justified. It was not justified.

      [quote]On classical theism God is simple, meaning not composed of parts. I don’t see Matthew stating God is “hyper-complex” so you appear to be attacking a straw man.[/quote]

      Way to avoid the point. So let’s suppose your god is simple (whatever that even means). Why does your universe require your simple god?

      [quote]Because matter began to exist and the laws of physics are abstract descriptions without causal powers.[/quote]

      How do you know that?

      [quote]“We also know that matter and the laws of physics produce order all by themselves over time.”

      That’s a metaphysical statement, not a scientific statement. I don’t have a problem with metaphysical statements but you are begging the question in your discussion. Your statement is only acceptable to the materialist/naturalist. Matthew is presumably coming at the nature of matter from a different angle so you would have to argue for this point to convince him.[/quote]

      First of all, it is fine as a scientific statement. We see nature produce local order all the time. We call the most obvious examples “organisms”, though some of them we call “crystals”.

      Second, you avoid the point entirely, yet again, by failing to provide reasoning why your (simple) god is a better hypothesis.

      [quote]If you grant his premises he has deductively proven a First Cause that did not begin to exist.[/quote]

      No he hasn’t.

      [quote]Since matter began to exist it could not be the First Cause.[/quote]

      Where is your evidence?

      [quote]The “laws of physics” are merely descriptions and have no causal powers in themselves. So your “candidate” is not tenable.[/quote]

      Insofar as the laws of physics cause events such as comets smashing into planets, and stars burning hydrogen, they are causal. How do you know that the laws of physics cannot cause (in this sense of the term) the formation of a universe? And if you are looking for an “ultimate” cause that brought the laws of physics into existence, then how does a god answer this, and why wasn’t the god caused?

      [quote]Theologians and philosophers have argued that our universe had a beginning for centuries. Scientists only came around to the idea in the past century.[/quote]

      Actually, you’ve managed to say something entirely correct for once. Of course, it isn’t a point that defends theology – theologians never came up with the big bang cosmology or defined an age of the universe, not even with thousands of years of arguing. And science comes along and solves it in a couple short centuries. Even if some theologians agreed with science’s current conclusions, that doesn’t make the theologians right, any more than it would make a powerball player “right” to pick the winning combination. Lucky guesses happen (and, to be sure, the odds of guessing that the universe had a beginning are far greater than the odds of guessing a lottery number). Theologians never had any evidence to back up the argument (which is why the argument lasted until science actually went and found some evidence and settled the debate).

      [quote]Of course the kalam cosmological argument is based on what we do know and drawing logical conclusions from that knowledge. You’re attacking a straw man.[/quote]

      Speaking of straw man: JT was obviously not discussing Kalam in this sentence. But let’s not let that get in the way of you making untrue statements: Kalam is not at all based on what we know, it’s based on assumptions that have no supporting evidence.

      • invivoMark

        Damn! How to html here?

        • Nate Frein

          Heee, you’re using BBCode tags, which would work fine if this were a bulletin board type forum.

          You’ll want to use actual HTML tags for this.

          • invivoMark

            So, instead of square brackets? Or is it more complicated than that?

          • invivoMark

            Oh! It ate my pointy brackets! I must be doing something right, then!

          • Drakk

            The word “blockquote” in pointy brackets will format a quote. You end it in a fashion similar to bbcode, using a / just inside the open pointy bracket.

      • http://biblicalscholarship.wordpress.com/ Jayman

        @invivoMark:

        (1) What do you think the difference between faith in God and faith in a mechanic is? They seem similar to me.

        (2) If I wanted to know the temperature at which water boils how would I go about determining that in a scientific way without trusting my senses in any manner?

        (3) If scientists claim to have found an ancient fossil of a human ancestor why should I believe them if I did not dig up the fossil myself and cannot trust their testimony?

        (4) JT seems to accept that many/most things that begin to exist have a cause. He also provided a flawed example of something that began to exist without a cause. Matthew can rely on the fact that premise 1 of the KCA (a) makes the world world more intelligible than its denial and (b) is supported by induction from observation.

        (5) The fact remains that JT merely assumed Matthew’s God is complex (whatever that means to JT). I refer you to the arguments of Aristotle and Aquinas for why God is simple (not composed of parts) and strongly recommend accessing secondary literature to understand the context of those arguments.

        (6) I know matter began to exist because it is a mix of act and potency. Only something that is pure actuality could not begin to exist.

        (7) The fact that we observe nature producing order is not the same thing as saying we observe nature producing order all by itself.

        (8) That God is simple is not an hypothesis. It is a logical deduction (see the arguments referenced in #5 above).

        (9) You claim that granting the premises of the KCA does require one to grant the conclusion. This is only possible if the argument is not logically valid, which JT did not challenge.

        (10) The “laws of physics” are just descriptions of things like matter, forces, and fields. If none of those things described by the laws of physics existed at some point in the past then the laws of physics did not exist either and could not be the cause of the universe. I think the KCA makes it abundantly clear why the First Cause is uncaused (he didn’t begin to exist).

        • invivoMark

          1) I have evidence to support my trust in a mechanic. Such as: I know that I live in a society where businesses are held to a high standard of service; I see other vehicles at the mechanic’s that are being repaired and driving away fixed; I can check online and read what other people have said about the quality of the mechanic’s service. There is no evidence for any sort of god.

          2) Why, hello there, strawman! You aren’t representing what I said at all, and your author knows that, so I’m going to ignore you!

          3) Hey, look, it’s another strawman! This time, though, it’s misrepresenting science. Science is not run on hearsay. It is run on evidence. If you can’t tell why that distinction is meaningful, refer to the answer to #1.

          4) Why would the KCA premise #1 make the world more intelligible? And why is that a good measure for the accuracy and reliability of a premise? After all, the universe would be more intelligible without all that relativity and quantum nonsense faffing about, yet we know that quantum nonsense is a property of the universe. Intelligibility has no bearing on the truthiness of a claim.

          And you say it’s supported by observation and inductive reasoning? How many universes have you observed being created?

          5) I don’t give a damn whether you call your god simple or complex. We could replace it with a magic tiara sitting just outside of physical reality, and it wouldn’t make a flea’s fart of a difference.

          6) Vört de fürk? This is word salad.

          7) Fine. We observe nature producing order, and we cannot see anything helping it. I guess you want to make sure I make room for your “intelligent crystallization” hypothesis, right?

          8) The existence of a god is a hypothesis. If there is a logically deductive method to prove a god, then present it. And then explain to me why no theologian has ever bothered to point out to atheists that this proof exists.

          9) What I said is that the premises do not necessarily imply a god. They could also imply a magic tiara that exists just outside of physical reality.

          10) How do you know that the laws of physics didn’t exist at some point? And if there were no physical laws, what was there? Presumably, you think there was your god; but was this god bound by any sort of laws, and how do you know that this god wasn’t actually a magic tiara?

          • http://biblicalscholarship.wordpress.com/ Jayman

            @invivoMark:

            (1) You’ve confirmed that the kind of faith/trust in God is similar to the kind of faith/trust in a mechanic. The issue is evidence, not faith/trust. You object to faith/trust in God because you believe the evidence for God’s existence is weak, not because you have an objection to faith/trust itself.

            (2) What is your exact objection to the general reliability of human senses then? Do you actually disagree with me or are you replying merely because I’m a theist?

            (3) I did not say science runs on hearsay, I said it relies (in part) on human testimony. Evidence is only known about by others through testimony.

            (4A) Premise 1 of the KCA is what allows you to expect there to be a reason for why something begins to exist. If premise 1 is false then it is a very real possibility that something can come into existence without any cause or explanation. This lack of an explanation is what makes the world less intelligible (than the world I believe we inhabit). Note that this lack of intelligiblity is due to the nature of the world and not to human ignorance/limitations (as it is when it comes to relativity and quantum mechanics).

            (4B) The belief that everything that begins to exist is based on observing all kinds of things, not just the universe. And it is also based on the points in (4A).

            (5) But it does make a difference for at least two reasons. It means JT’s response concerning a complex god misses the mark. And it means we can deductively prove God’s existence (which we can’t do of a magic tiara).

            (6) It’s only a word salad because you don’t understand all the reasons to believe in God’s existence.

            (7) I don’t support intelligent design (or crystallization). I’m merely noting that trying to offer an explanation for teleology (conscious or unconscious) in nature is not a simple scientific question. The existence of order is entirely consistent with theism and not an argument for atheism.

            (8) The KCA is a logically deductive argument for God’s existence. I also pointed you towards Aristotle (Unmoved Mover) and Aquinas (Five Ways). It’s not as if these arguments are difficult to come across if you search for them. Now you may think these arguments fail but you can at realize that they are not scientific hypotheses. They are more like proofs in mathematics.

            (10A) If the laws of physics are just descriptions of matter and the like, and matter and like began to exist at the Big Bang, then the laws of physics began to exist at the Big Bang.

            (10B) The First Cause is an entity whose essence is existence (per Aquinas’ Five Ways). A magic tiara’s essence is not solely existence. Hence the First Cause is not a magic tiara.

          • invivoMark

            1) You still haven’t gotten the gist of the equivocation fallacy, and multiple people have told you that you’re committing it. So I’m going to move on. I’d be happy to come back to this as soon as you figure out what an equivocation fallacy is.

            2) Senses are literally the only interaction we have with the physical world. So obviously it is futile to assume that sensory data is totally unreliable. Yet we know that sensory data is fallible. The best approach to take is to trust the senses only so far as that trust allows one to best make accurate predictions about the universe.

            That isn’t faith, but neither is it not trusting one’s senses “in any manner”. That is where you decided to draw your strawman.

            3) Bullshit. Your example was a case where you stated you should not trust hearsay. Now you’re trying to claim that you weren’t talking about hearsay. Lie much, theist?

            4A) So? Why should I give a shit about intelligibility?

            4B) Proofread, please. Your statement doesn’t make any sense.

            5) Tempest in a teapot. Your entire argument here is over JT’s use of the term “complex”. Which was never defined, so how the hell would you know what he meant by it?

            6) So please explain all the reasons to believe in your god’s existence! You’ve yet to list a single one, and my soul is bound for eternal hellfire if you don’t tell me!

            7) When the hell did anyone say that the existence of order is an argument for atheism? JT only argued that it was consistent with a non-theistic world.

            8) Yes, I understand the KCA, and I understand Aristotle and Aquinas. They fail because they are based on faulty premises and they do not conclude a god, only an initial cause. Again, if you have proof of god (not from Aristotle or Aquinas), then please, present it.

            10A) The laws of physics could still exist without matter. For instance, let’s say there are physical laws concerning a new type of particle, the Mark Boson. This particle does all kinds of amazing things – it has twice the magnitude of spin of an electron, it travels back and forth in time, and it annihilates Higgs bosons when it interacts with them. However, this particle also doesn’t exist in the first 15 billion years of a universe’s lifespan. Now, do the laws governing this particle exist without the existence of that particle? I would say yes, and I think most physicists would agree.

            10B) A magic tiara’s essence is totally existence. Because I just defined it that way. It’s entirely fair to do so, because you’ve chosen to define an invisible bearded man’s essence as existence. The tiara is way more believable, too – your bearded man pokes his head into reality every now and then to look in on Earth and watch over his favorite organisms. Maybe he causes miracles, like appearing on toast; maybe he messes with DNA to make sure that humans become a major species on the planet; maybe he travels there in physical form as his own son to sacrifice himself to himself as a scapegoat for the sins committed by his chosen people (such sins as refusing to kill gay people and eating bacon); and he’s created an alternate dimension where his favorites of his favorite species get to bask for eternity in hellfire or suffer eternally on fluffy clouds with singing angels.

            The tiara does none of that. The tiara is just a fucking tiara.

        • Loqi

          I wish I had time to do your whole post because it’s so poorly thought out, but I’m running between meetings and only have a minute to tackle faith. You are using a different definition for a word than JT. It’s a bug in the English language that one word can have multiple meanings, and it provides a convenient obfuscation opportunity for posts like yours. You provided *a* definition for a word, but if it’s not the definition JT is using, it’s useless and an attempt to cloud the issue. If I told you I own a pig, you could just as easily say “well, one definition of ‘pig’ is a slobby person, so you own a person. OMG YOU KEEP SLAVES!” JT was describing “accepting something as true without evidence.” You described “accepting something someone else told you.” Those are not the same thing.

    • Randomfactor

      The Kalam argument is based on hiding the bare assertion–that everything has to have a cause–and then pretending it’s been proven to apply to the Universe by pointing to some things within it which have a cause.

    • http://teethofthebuzzsaw.blogspot.com Buzz Saw

      Soooo much wrong here.

      ““That’s a definition of faith: ‘confidence or trust in a person or thing’ (first definition given at dictionary.com). You have trust in experts. Theists have trust in God.”
      First thing we have to do is watch out for equivocation errors! For example:
      1. What is light cannot be dark.
      2. A feather is light.
      3. Therefore, a feather cannot be dark!
      The problem here is that the first usage of “light” deals with either luminance or color. The second usage deals with mass. It is the same word, but different definitions. That is the same thing we have with the word “faith,” only the differences are more nuanced. How about if we check out the second definition that is given? “Belief that is not based on proof.” As much as theists try to claim that they are using the first definition (after all, it turns out that you cannot have trust in something that does not exist as existence is a prerequisite), the reality is they are using a definition much closer to this second definition.
      But, for the sake of argument, let’s say that they actually are using the first definition. You should then be asking if that faith (trust) is justified. I’ve been using a baseball analogy lately to explain this, so I hope you know something about the sport. Situation is bottom of the 9th, home team is down by one run. Two outs with a runner on 3rd. Who are you going to have more trust in as a batter? A guy who has a .220 batting average or a guy with a .340 batting average? Which is more justified?

      “Other assumptions would include: (1) the external world exists, (2) human senses are generally reliable, (3) human testimony is generally reliable, (4) the laws of nature are the same in different times and places, etc. And please note that (2) and (3) involve faith (trust).”
      I find it weird that you didn’t say #1 involves faith, but then that wouldn’t fit the trust definition you are trying to sell us. Who’s to say, for example, that we aren’t living in a matrix/brains in a vat? #4 is just a rehash of what JT said, so that is not an “other assumption.” Scientists actually don’t assume #3, so I don’t know where you got that idea. And for #2, while that is somewhat true, science works on reproducibility. In other words, the assumptions of #4 are emphasized to weed out the times that human senses are wrong.

      “On classical theism God is simple, meaning not composed of parts. I don’t see Matthew stating God is ‘hyper-complex’ so you appear to be attacking a straw man.”
      This is a good example of defining “God” to be whatever you need it to be. Imply that this god created all of the universe, imply that it had a hand involved in advancing life on earth, and then declare this god to be simple! I guess when you make stuff up, you can make it simple if you want, huh?

      “Because matter began to exist…”
      Evidence?

      “That’s a metaphysical statement, not a scientific statement.”
      How so? I would grant that JT’s statement is not entirely accurate based on the science (particularly because on the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics), but I don’t see how you can make your claim.

      “Theologians and philosophers have argued that our universe had a beginning for centuries.”
      Once again, I will use the baseball analogy. So a batter with a .220 overall batting average may have a better average against a certain pitcher than the batter with the .340 overall batting average. Is this supposed to make me impressed by the batter with the .220 average?
      Here’s another one for you: A broken clock is correct two times a day. A working clock may never be correct. Think about it — if my clock keeps perfect time, but is a minute off, it will always be a minute off. So, should I go with the broken clock?
      So theologians supposedly got one right. And this is supposed to make up for all the times they have been wrong? Give me a break!

      “Of course the kalam cosmological argument is based on what we do know and drawing logical conclusions from that knowledge. You’re attacking a straw man.”
      Not really. JT gave an earthquake example. You could use this same argument to declare that an earthquake has a cause. But it does not get you to the conclusion that god is the cause. And that is the same point that JT is making. The best you can do with kalam is get to “the universe had a cause.”

      • http://biblicalscholarship.wordpress.com/ Jayman

        Buzz Saw, I addressed some similar points in other comments so I will address mainly the “new” material.

        You should then be asking if that faith (trust) is justified.

        Bingo. Just attack the evidence or lack of evidence. Faith/trust is not really the issue.

        Scientists actually don’t assume #3, so I don’t know where you got that idea.

        Does every scientist run every experiment ever performed peronally? No, they trust the word of their colleagues.

        This is a good example of defining “God” to be whatever you need it to be.

        But that’s not the case. It’s deduced through argument. The definition has been around for at least 2500 years so atheists are without excuse in making such blunders.

        So theologians supposedly got one right. And this is supposed to make up for all the times they have been wrong?

        No, just that JT overstates his case. We should respect reason wherever it comes from.

        And that is the same point that JT is making. The best you can do with kalam is get to “the universe had a cause.

        Actually the part of the argument Matthew and JT mentioned would show that the First Cause did not have a beginning. The second part of the KCA, which has not been mentioned, goes further.

        • http://talkorigins.org jatheist

          jayman wrote: “We should respect reason wherever it comes from.”

          That theologians got something right is ~not~ an example of using “reason”. They came to their correct conclusion by being UNreasonable but getting lucky. That deserves no respect.

  • Rob
    The universe began to exist

    Our universe did, yes.

    Philosophical question for you JT. Can you really say that? I’m not arguing for an eternal universe, but how do you apply “begin” to something that initiated time itself?

    • JHendrix

      You have to be careful on your use of the word “universe”, it has multiple definitions. There’s “all of matter and energy” which is what the Kalam defines “universe” as, and there’s “our space-time universe” which is what is referred to in every piece of scientific literature on modern cosmology when it says “universe”.

      We may say that “our space-time” was not infinite into the past, but that doesn’t mean that time as a dimension doesn’t extend back infinitely, or exist in another way related to the fundamental energy that makes up everything.

  • AmyC

    My favorite part: “The only appropriate response to that kind of temerity is “fuck you.””

  • http://biblicalscholarship.wordpress.com/ Jayman

    @Robert:

    Without evidence to back up their discussion theoogians and philosophers have indeed made no progress at all.

    Arguments for a finite past are based on evidence and reason.

    @Rob:

    Not assumed. That’s the point of double blind,research into cognitive flaws, and reproducibility.

    How does the researcher make an observation without trusting his senses? How do you know a team of researchers on the other side of the world reproduced your results without trusting their testimony? How does the layman know of scientific findings without relying on the testimony of scientists and journalists?

    Those fluctations themselves don’t have a cause. Special conditions are required to measure it, but that’s it.

    The fluctuations are conditioned on the vacuum itself.

    @Sara:

    That’s a very loose, non-academic view of faith and only considers one of the definition for it.

    Which is why I said it was a definition of faith. Faith/trust comes about through testing. You have faith/trust in science and there is nothing wrong with that.

    Human testimony isn’t reliable, only tested empirical data and strongly supported theories. It requires far more than just human testimony.

    First, I didn’t claim science involves just human testimony. Second, if I did not perform a scientific experiment myself, why should I believe anything scientists say?

    it’s complex because it’s above and beyond the natural realm.

    I fail to see how something above and beyond the natural realm must be complex. Note: I do not argue that God exists because the natural world is complex.

    Also, when you talk about “classical theism”, you should probably state what deity you’re speaking about and which model of theism.

    A being whose essence is existence. The God of philosophers from Aristotle to Aquinas.

    So then, if all things need a creator, who created your deity?

    Your question fails to follow the argument. Only things that begin to exist need a cause. The First Cause did not begin to exist and therefore does not need a cause.

    Secondly, speculating the beginnings of the universe is one thing, providing evidence for it is another entirely.

    A reasoned argument is not speculation.

    P.S. Is there some way to get emails (or an RSS feed) when someone comments so I don’t have to keep coming back to the page to check?

    • Rob

      How does the researcher make an observation without trusting his senses?

      You make it more than once. You don’t trust individual observations. Can there be systematic errors? Yeah, sure. But it’s the best you can do.

      How do you know a team of researchers on the other side of the world reproduced your results without trusting their testimony? How does the layman know of scientific findings without relying on the testimony of scientists and journalists?

      Provisional trust; it’s far from absolute. For example, I don’t trust squat on the journalists for ENCODE. If a scientist is shown faking data, all of his other data becomes suspect.

      Now, what repeatable observation has shown god? (hint: none)

      • http://biblicalscholarship.wordpress.com/ Jayman

        Rob:

        You make it more than once. You don’t trust individual observations. Can there be systematic errors? Yeah, sure. But it’s the best you can do.

        That still involves trusting your senses. I’m not sure where you disagree with me.

        Provisional trust; it’s far from absolute.

        Again, I’m not sure where you’re disagreeing with me. I said eyewitness testimony is generally reliable not absolutely reliable.

        Now, what repeatable observation has shown god? (hint: none)

        Who says belief in God is based on repeatable observations? (And by observations I assume you mean some form of scientific experiment.)

    • Robert

      Arguments for a finite past are based on evidence and reason.

      I agree, and there will be times when questions brought up by theology or phiosophy actually happen have evidence in support of them. There are no solid clear lines at the boundaries of one discipline or another. This is why the Star Trek analogy I used fell apart so quickly for me.

      But theology does not rely on evidence, if it has some that’s great (for it) but it doesn’t particularly care for itm regardless of any claim it makes. That a person who practices theology is interested in questions that do have evidence to support them AND questions that don’t isn’t enough to claim that that same person is responsible for making progress on a question, it’s more of a happy coincidence that they do (ie, the coincidence that on this question they had evidence available and were thus employing a more scientific approach than not).

  • John Horstman

    Jayman, you’re failing to understand the concept of reasonable doubt (and perhaps others are as well), perhaps willfully, by conflating “faith” with “a belief in something that has not definitively been proved to be true, even if there’s overwhelming evidence for it.” Of course we have to trust that we exist and that our senses are generally reliable – it’s possible that neither of those is true, but then it hardly matters because none of us are actually here. The fact that our senses (and existence) are suspect means we can’t be 100% certain of anything, but then we don’t really need to be when 99.9999999999999999999999999etc.% certainty can be functionally rounded up to true. (I agree that the only way to prove something True or False in an absolute sense is within an abstracted system like sentential logic, but I don’t really think it matters.) The difference between that kind of belief and belief in a god is the degree of evidence – there is none for any god, and a whole lot for the accuracy of our senses, at least insofar as they are applied to tasks to which they are adapted. Yes, the ‘hard’ sciences are predicated upon a whole host of assumptions, but those assumptions have been backed up with overwhelming evidence over the course of centuries, and they are tweaked or modified in the presence of new, contrary evidence. I have no objection to a discipline that investigates the nature and meaning of existence on the basis of evidence, changing its ideas when new evidence is found, but we call that philosophy. Most theology (and all apologetics) necessarily presupposes a given god or existential framework and dedicates its efforts to reconciling that god or framework with reality, as opposed to starting with reality and working toward a model to explain it (I’d argue all science IS philosophy, that the ‘hard’ sciences are effectively the experimentally-applied branch of philosophy). The cosmological argument is a good example – not knowing how the universe began in no way suggests a god, nor Yahweh in particular.

    • http://biblicalscholarship.wordpress.com/ Jayman

      John:

      The difference between that kind of belief and belief in a god is the degree of evidence – there is none for any god, and a whole lot for the accuracy of our senses, at least insofar as they are applied to tasks to which they are adapted.

      I think the difference is that I believe there is far more evidence for God’s existence than you do. The “kind of belief” really isn’t the central issue.

      Yes, the ‘hard’ sciences are predicated upon a whole host of assumptions, but those assumptions have been backed up with overwhelming evidence over the course of centuries, and they are tweaked or modified in the presence of new, contrary evidence.

      And many of those same assumptions are used in arguments for God’s existence. The challenge for the atheist is to convince me that I should use such assumptions when doing science but not to use such assumptions when doing theology. Atheists often complain that God is a “science-stopper”. Yet they want me to seriously consider that things can begin to exist uncaused. That’s not merely a science-stopper, it’s an explanation-of-any-kind-stopper.

      The cosmological argument is a good example – not knowing how the universe began in no way suggests a god, nor Yahweh in particular.

      But that’s not a fair summary of the CA. The structure of various CAs logically entails their conclusion. It isn’t an argument from ignorance (if you think it is then you probably don’t understand the argument).

      • B. Millotts

        Jayman,

        “I think the difference is that I believe there is far more evidence for God’s existence than you do.”

        Perhaps then you could provide us with your evidence for your god’s existance..

        “The “kind of belief” really isn’t the central issue.”,

        “Kind of belief” is central to the argument. To use the above argument, my mechanic exists – I can have a n audible two-way conversation with him, physically meet him at his shop and shake his hand, witness him working on my car and see the sweat roll down his brow, receive a bill for his work and return to the shop and confront him in the event the work he performed is not to scratch.

        Your contention that your god is equally real does not hold to the same criteria: you cannot have an audible two-way conversation with your god, you cannot physically meet your god anywhere on earth and shake your god’s hand, you cannot witness your god repairing any physical object and see the sweat roll down your god’s brow, receive a bill for your god’s work and return to your god’s place of business and confront your god in the event the work yur god performed is not to scratch

        I could be completely wrong about my mechanic, like maybe he really doesn’t exist and I’m just imagining it – however, I think not because other people have met, touched, watched and spoken (and have been spoken to) by my mechanic.

        You’ll claim that your god speaks to you – but no one has witnessed hearing your god audibly.

        You’ll claim that you’ve seen your god – but no one can agree on what your god looks like.

        You’ll claim that you’ve touched you god – but no one can agree on what your god feels like.

        In fact, none of your claims can be made that meet any evidence that fully support the existance of my mechanic.

        So, perhaps you could provide us with your evidence for your god’s existance.

        Frankly, I don’t think youq can, otherwise, you would have already done so

      • http://anthrozine.com Cubist

        sez jayman: “Atheists often complain that God is a “science-stopper”. Yet they want me to seriously consider that things can begin to exist uncaused. That’s not merely a science-stopper, it’s an explanation-of-any-kind-stopper.”
        Jayman, feel free to look into the topic of virtual particles and then tell us all what causes them to exist. And if you want to go the “they don’t really exist because they’re virtual particles” route, I, for one, will flatly demand that you explain how the fuck the Casimir effect works, if there ain’t no such animal as virtual particles.

      • Brad

        Jayman:
        “But that’s not a fair summary of the CA. The structure of various CAs logically entails their conclusion. It isn’t an argument from ignorance (if you think it is then you probably don’t understand the argument).”

        The primary problem with the cosmological argument is that you can’t actually reach conclusions about the physical universe using pure logic alone (ie, without supporting it with empirical evidence). This is the primary contribution of Immanuel Kant’s 1787 work “Critique of Pure Reason”. For further thoughts along this line, see:
        http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2012/08/06/two-philosophers-walk-into-a-bar/

        My new favorite form of the cosmological argument (also from the linked article) is as follows:

        Assumption 1: anything that exists requires a cause
        Assumption 2: that cause cannot be the thing itself
        Assumption 3: infinite regresses are bad

        You can see, written in this way, that we have a contradiction. How do we resolve it? 3 main choices:

        Solution A – Violate assumption 1: Allow the “first cause” to be uncaused
        Solution B – Violate assumption 2: Allow the “first cause” to be self-caused
        Solution C – Violate assumption 3: Allow an infinite regress

        You can make a philosophic argument for one of these options (I presume the theist would argue for A, as would some physicists like Krauss, ironically), but according to Kant, there is no way to reach any real supportable conclusions using pure logic. Even considering what evidence we have (big bang cosmology) doesn’t completely rule out C, since the “big bang” might have been the result of a “big crunch” or something else unknown (and probably unknowable).

        Even somehow resolving this dilemma in favor of A (allowing an uncaused cause) can’t tell us anything about that cause (and yes, I’m familiar with William Lane Craig’s arguments to the contrary).

        In short: the Cosmological Argument is not convincing.

  • http://faehnri.ch/ eric

    Imma just leave this here.

  • Gwynnyd

    Logical arguments can only get you so far. Jayman says If you grant his premises he has deductively proven a First Cause that did not begin to exist.

    If you grant his premises … Why do you think I would grant his premises or trust the conclusion based on them? You can prove anything if you get to define the premises any way you want without any reality checks.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd JT Eberhard

    I was going to wake up and take Jayman to task, but now I see you guys have done it and there’s no need. Well met.
    On to Dalrymple…

  • JHendrix

    I like how Jayman responded to others on the Kalam, but doesn’t address the points on science I brought up refuting the notion that “the universe” as the Kalam states it, “began to exist”.

  • Daniel Schealler

    Great takedown.

    It’s not as if you need more arguments against IC. But here’s another one:

    Asserting that a thing is irreducibly complex in order to conclude that it is therefore designed is a logically invalid argument.

    First Argument Form
    P1) Irreducible Complexity means: A system that is both complex and designed.
    P2) System X demonstrates Irreducible Complexity
    Therefore
    C1) System X is designed

    Under this definition, using irreducible complexity to conclude design just hides the conclusion inside the definition of ‘Irreducible Complexity’. It’s a fallacy of assumption that, once stripped down, resolves to a tautology. It’s not an argument: It’s a rehearsal of a the cdesign proponentsist’s position disguised to look like an argument.

    Under P1) it would be possible to start with something we know is both complex and designed and then conclude that it is irreducibly complex. But at that point, there’s no point in going back to re-iterate the fact of the design because the goal has already been met. If the goal of proving design has not been met, then the claim of IC becomes dubious to start with… And we’re back in fallacy of assumption territory.

    First Argument Form
    P3) Irreducible Complexity means: A system such that removing one part would render it nonfunctional.
    P4) System X demonstrates Irreducible Complexity
    Therefore
    C2) System X is designed

    Under this definition the argument becomes a non-sequitur, because there’s not actually anything to link P3) and P4) to C2).

    If we throw in an implied premise P5) along the lines of: Irreducibly Complex Systems can only arise as the result of design then what we’ve actually done is reverted back to the First Argument Form again by introducing design back into the picture as an implied assumption hidden behind the definition.

    Conclusion
    No matter what way you cut it, you cannot use IC to conclude design – it’s an inherently invalid logical form.

    Design can be used to conclude IC, but IC cannot be used to conclude design.

    Concluding Design from Specified Complexity is Fallacious
    On Inferring Complexity and Design

    • Daniel Schealler

      Gah!

      P3) + P4) => C2) should be titled Second Argument Form.

      Curse you, copy/paste!

  • Mr. Matthew

    I am sorry for taking so long to reply. I haven’t had time to read his full response until a couple days ago though it has been on my ToDoList for a while. I plan to email JT some time between Wednesday and Friday.
    I have only read the first couple replies and Daniel Schealler’s (becasue it is right near the “Leave a Comment” box.
    Sara (fist post i saw you had many): This was addressed mostly in the idea of quantum vacuums. If there was nothing then there is nothing to collide or collide with.

    Randomfactor: This doesn’t say that the Christian God is the one that was the cause of the universe just that it was God. If we are debating between religions that is a completely different topic.

    Daniel – First of i wasn’t trying to prove anything i was asking JT his thoughts. Second correct IC isn’t a proof of God it is a hurdle that evolution can’t/hasn’t been able to tackle. I haven’t tried to use it as such and neither has Behe. (though i am sure that alot of people have tried and i apologize for that)

  • YerTickin’MeOff

    Jayman, when considering sense data, I believe you’re being willfully ignorant. The data set provided by my senses is rich, with billions of data points, all of which, practically speaking, are both mutually and objectively consistent. This is part of the condition of most of humanity. What cannot be directly sensed may be theorized about, AND EXPERIMENTS CONDUCTED, to determine the accuracy of the theory. All of these are based on an entirely reasonable assumption that sense data that has been 99.99999999……% accurate, and experimental data that’s reproducible to even a higher percentage. They DESERVE more confidence than the experimentally unsupported and philosophically weak claims of an Uncaused Cause.

  • YerTickin’MeOff

    Jayman, you’re dishonestly playing with definitions. The ‘faith’ of religion is entirely different than the ‘faith’ that’s tied to a rich sense database of self and objectively consistent data.

  • YerTickin’MeOff

    1. The difference between faith in my mechanic and faith in a god-idea is objective proof. The god idea exists ONLY in the subjective realm.

    2. You’re strawmanning on this point. We DO trust our senses for an initial result, and then theorize and TEST to confirm / refine the theory.

    3. Nobody forces you to believe what any other person says. Sociology would theorize on what incentive the person would have to lie, and EXPERIMENTATION (if it’s important enough to you) would allow you to confirm or deny the datum as a fact or not.

    4. The world doesn’t need to be entirely intelligible to humans. Our range of senses, in comparison to all the inputs they *could* directly receive, is very narrow. Matthew’s theory is the start of the Kalam, and he can’t show any OBJECTIVE proof for it. JT says he doesn’t know but trusts those who have *provided* *objective* proof for it, WITH A REPRODUCIBLE METHOD OF AFFIRMING OR DENYING A FACT that allows use in the objective world.

    5. You’re taking this simple god-idea as an axiom. We don’t, as it’s not OBJECTIVELY self-evident. You want to use the simple-god ‘uncaused cause’ idea, it’s going to have to be derived from simpler premises on which we DO agree.

    6. part the first, you only know that matter exists…you’re just as in the dark as the rest of us as to where it came from, objectively (what you *believe* is a different matter). Part the second here is that which you want to treat as an axiom but WE don’t accept. Prove it or lose it, dute(tte?).

    7. Yes, us observing nature producing order IS the same as saying that nature is producing order *by itself*, unless we accept your axiom, and we don’t.

    8. that your god-idea even EXISTS is based on that same faulty axiom. Find a way to get us to accept the axiom, or find a way to derive it to make it sound, or don’t use it.

    9. You lie like a threadbare rug. A large part of the discussion here is that we DON’T grant you / Matthew these premises, which you willfully and repeatedly ignore.

    10. You’re either being willfully ignorant, AGAIN, or you’re playing with semantics again. What you’re calling “the laws of physics” are just descriptions, in language, of properties of the universe. You’re using ‘laws’ as if they were prescriptive, you dishonest sack of diarrheal feces.

  • YerTickin’MeOff

    1. Jayman, you’re being blatantly dishonest on this point. The very DIFFERENCE between the types of ‘faith’ is the presence or absence of proof, loser.

    2. Liar. We accept sense data as a first approximation to be refined. You are claiming it’s unreliable or that we haven’t proven it….when you’ve actually proven it for yourself. If sense data is suspect, how are you having this discussion? Or does this all exist in your mind and you’re a closet atheist?

    3. Only the theory is passed as human testimony. Every person who is sufficiently motivated can independently confirm it, liar.

    4A. and we don’t accept that axiom. Prove it or lose it. and yes, theoretically something CAN come from nothing…google “A Universe From Nothing” for an example that’s mathematically sound and objectively observable.

    4B. You’re attributing the consistency of an algorithm to a heuristic. (difference between what ALWAYS works and what very often works). This is dishonest, I might add.

    5. only if we grant your axiom, and we don’t.

    6. you’ve provided no objective reasons to accept your god-idea as having physical existence and interaction with matter / energy. Besides, I debunked that the first time you used it, above.

    7. the appearance of purpose and intelligent purpose are two entirely different things, and again, you’re conflating the two. Just because you believe you see intelligent purpose doesn’t make it so….you may be too ignorant of the mechanism to understand how it may operate without intelligent volition ( *I* believe this last theory, and that you’re rude and fighting to remain ignorant.)

    8. re the KCA, as my logic teacher used to say: “From a false premiss, anthing follows”. We don’t grant you the axiom(s) you rest the KCA on…give it a better foundation, or stop dishonestly using it as if it hadn’t been refuted long ago.

    9. WE DON’T GRANT THE AXIOM(S) underlying the KCA. How often need I repeat it? This is just one more example of your arguing dishonestly and in bad faith, not to get to reality / truth but to defend your preordained conclusion.

    10A. OMG, a statement we agree on! Although you state it as if it’s controversial.

    10B. We don’t care what your so-called first cause is supposedly composed of…you provide no evidence for it, nor does the universe provide direct evidence for it (for all that most theists try to use consensus reality as indirect proof of this so-called first cause), so we need not accept it. And without it, the KCA fails miserably.


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