An acquaintance of my dad’s didn’t like my “Why the arguments for god’s existence fail” talk.

A friend of my father’s posted my talk about why the arguments for god’s existence fail.  An acquaintance of my father’s (I suspect without knowing that the “would-be intellectual” in the video was his son) left the following comment:

The title of this video is “Why the aruguments for God Fail.” This young would-be intellectual fails in his logic. How? He assumes that the five senses a human possesses in unison with the human intellect are the cutting edge tools of discerning fact from fiction. It is true that our five senses and our brain are the tools we have available to us to observe and make inferences from those observations. However, if realities exist beyond our ability to detect them do they fail to be true because we cannot detect them with our five senses? And earthworm has no sense of vision, but does that mean that colors do not exist? The same earthworm has no organ of hearing, but does that mean music does not exist? Fact is, not only do colors and music exist, they are among the more grand spices of life! But the earthworm will never know of them, nor any enlightenment they might bring to the life of a worm. The point I’m trying to make is this: just as the earthworm is missing some senses necessary to detect some amazing realities, it isn’t unreasonable at all the hypothesize that there are senses beyond the human organism, nor is it unreasonable to hypothesis that intellect far beyond the capacity of the human brain exists. The young man in the video makes the unspoken assumption that if something cannot be detected with the five human senses or made concrete to the human intellect, it must not exist. This assumption is the result of a belief that human senses allow us to observe all realities, and that the human intellect can comprehend all levels of truth. IF IF IF it is true that there are no realities beyond the grasp of the human senses, and that the human intellect IS capable of comprehending all truth, then the young man has a reason so boldly deny that there is a supreme being. But what kind of arrogance is it that allows a human to vault his/herself into the position of assuming that their senses and intellect are this universes cutting edge tools?

Oh dear.  Thankfully a legitimate intellectual has swooped in to set me straight.  I will do my damndest to retort.

He assumes that the five senses a human possesses in unison with the human intellect are the cutting edge tools of discerning fact from fiction.

Whether they’re cutting edge or not, they’re the only tools we have (which makes them the best tools we have).  How else are we to discern fact from fiction if not through information acquired via our senses and then reasoning through that information?  If someone tells you they’ve arrived at a conclusion with no information and without any thought, it’s not a very good idea to adopt their opinions as your own since literally any belief (no matter how wrong) could be “validated” in that way.  So yes, I make the assumption that our senses and our intellect are the best tools we have.  That assumption could be smashed to pieces if my interlocutor proposed some other way of reliably reaching conclusions about, well, anything.  But he didn’t.  Because he can’t.

It is true that our five senses and our brain are the tools we have available to us to observe and make inferences from those observations.

Yes.  This is how we figure shit out.

 However, if realities exist beyond our ability to detect them do they fail to be true because we cannot detect them with our five senses? And earthworm has no sense of vision, but does that mean that colors do not exist? The same earthworm has no organ of hearing, but does that mean music does not exist? Fact is, not only do colors and music exist, they are among the more grand spices of life! But the earthworm will never know of them, nor any enlightenment they might bring to the life of a worm.

Yes, there may be things out there that evade our senses (things like colorful patterns on flowers visible to bees, but not to humans…we know this to be true thanks to scientific innovation).  Nobody argued otherwise, so I’m not sure what this man is rebutting.  He’s not even arguing that a god exists – he’s arguing that a god could exist that is imperceptible to our senses.  At best, this argument is to defend the idea that even though the universe looks, to us, as if no god exists, that a god could exist that evades all manner of detection.

First, this is not the Christian god.  The Christian god is supposed to be obvious as sunlight and want a relationship with us.  This god should be just as perceptible as your pet cat or dog.  The Christian god is not invisible, undetectable by any of the means available to us.  So congrats, person giving this argument: if you really believe the argument, you should ditch Christianity.

Second, we’re arguing two different things.  I’m arguing that nobody has a good reason to believe in god.  You’re arguing that god could exist.  I’m with you: a god could exist.  But if it’s the god you describe, one that is immune to all human means of perception, then you must necessarily agree that nobody has a good reason to believe such a god actually exists, since your description precludes anybody having any evidence for god.

Arguing that something could exist is a much different thing than arguing that something does exist.  I’m arguing against the latter.  You’re arguing for the former which, to me, seems like a somewhat silly thing to argue.  All kinds of things could exist.  Invisible smurfs in the middle of the sun that defy all human senses could exist.  But anybody arguing that they do exist, without any evidence, should not be believed.  We should only convert what is possible to what we believe in the presence of evidence.

And I don’t think you win the argument for what does exist by defending what could exist.

The point I’m trying to make is this: just as the earthworm is missing some senses necessary to detect some amazing realities, it isn’t unreasonable at all the hypothesize that there are senses beyond the human organism, nor is it unreasonable to hypothesis that intellect far beyond the capacity of the human brain exists.

Which nobody is doing.  However, the use of all those arguments in the video for why such a thing does exist all suck.

The young man in the video makes the unspoken assumption that if something cannot be detected with the five human senses or made concrete to the human intellect, it must not exist.

Wrong!  What I do strongly assert right here (in the video this man presumes to have watched), very plainly to anybody not dying to use their favorite presuppositionist argument regardless of what their opponent actually said, is that god could exist and that one day we might find evidence for him, at which point we should change our minds.  However, without evidence for something, it makes no sense to believe in it.  Otherwise you’d have no means to reliably discern truth from falsity.  Who, when confronted with the proposition that heat-resistant smurfs live in the middle of the sun, says “You know, you have no evidence for that, but they could exist so color me convinced!”?  Answer: nobody who gives a shit about the truth.  This is why if I said to this man that I have exclusive access to a heaven way better than the one in the bible, and that I can get him into it after death for a paltry sum of $1,000 otherwise he’ll go to hell, he won’t give me any money.  Indeed, he’d likely curse me for trying to rip him off.  It’s not that such a place couldn’t exist, it’s that I have no evidence for it and so to believe in it would be positively stupid.

This assumption is the result of a belief that human senses allow us to observe all realities, and that the human intellect can comprehend all levels of truth.

This is an assumption I never made in the video and never would make in general.  In fact, at the position I linked in my previous paragraph, I imply exactly the opposite.  At least this “would-be intellectual” can read, listen, and respond to what my opponents actually say.

IF IF IF it is true that there are no realities beyond the grasp of the human senses, and that the human intellect IS capable of comprehending all truth, then the young man has a reason so boldly deny that there is a supreme being. But what kind of arrogance is it that allows a human to vault his/herself into the position of assuming that their senses and intellect are this universes cutting edge tools?

Arrogance?  Oh my.  Let’s talk about arrogance.

I listed a bunch of arguments people give for why god does exist (not for why he could exist) and explained why they sucked.  You did nothing to rebut any of those.  Yet you sneer at me as a “would-be intellectual”.  Do you know what irony is?

I never said there were no truths that exist beyond our senses.  I would never say that because I don’t believe it.  You are presuming to know the contents of my mind better than I and then calling me arrogant.

As for truths that exist beyond our senses, anybody claiming to know them, as I suspect this man would with regards to a particular god of a particular (Christian) religion, is arrogant in the extreme.

I also never said that my intellect/senses are the greatest tools for deciphering truth in this universe.  There are likely more intelligent creatures than I in the universe.  Again, you are are rebutting arguments I never made (this must be how real intellectuals do it).  However, human intellect is the best tool available to us.  Does my challenger have access to better tools than human intellect?  If so, one can only wonder why he attempted (emphasis on that word) to use human intellect to counter my talk, rather than these other, better tools for wresting true claims from the ocean of false ones.

And this whole brouhaha about me detracts from the point of the talk: there are arguments people make for why god does exist (not just that god could exist, since nobody considers what is possible to be what is true, since lots of false things are possible…at least, nobody conflates the two until we get to those desperate to believe in god).  Those arguments suck.  They’re terrible.  If this man has a good argument for why god exists, he should present it.  If not, he should not believe in a god, just like he doesn’t believe in sun smurfs.  And if he doesn’t think human intellect is the distinguishing tool needed to make that call, even though it may not be perfect, I’m not sure how much progress we can make.  Leave it to the faithful to sneer at human intellect.


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