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  • Dr. Brown Interviews Prof. Douglas Groothius on Christian Apologetics

    July 17, 2012 | 32 Comments

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    Prof. Groothius is the author of the award winning book Christian Apologetics, and he and Dr. Brown will tackle the most difficult apologetics questions and take your calls. You can order the book here: http://amzn.to/MuPHjQ.

     

    Hour 1:

     

    Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: Jesus said that He, Himself was the truth. He said to His father that the Father’s word was the truth, and Jesus also said the truth will set us free. Friends, the truth is calling on us and beckoning. Learn, dive in, and study the truth!

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    Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: The world and many sincere Christians have many questions and many objections. Do we have rock solid answers? We should!

     

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     Meet Professor Douglas Groothius!

    Douglas R. Groothuis (Ph.D., Philosophy, University of Oregon) is professor of philosophy at Denver Seminary in Denver, Colorado. He has also been a visiting professor or adjunct faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary (Colorado Springs extension), Metropolitan State College of Denver, Westminster Theological Seminary (California campus), University of Oregon, New College Berkeley and Seattle Pacific University.

    His articles have been published in professional journals such asReligious Studies, Sophia, Theory and Research in Education, Philosophia Christi, Themelios, Think: A Journal of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, Christian Scholar’s Review, Inquiry andJournal of the Evangelical Theological Society. He has written several books, including Truth Decay, In Defense of Natural Theology (coeditor),Unmasking the New Age, Jesus in an Age of Controversy, Deceived by the Light, The Soul in Cyberspace, and, in the Wadsworth Philosophers Series,On Pascal and On Jesus. Read more here.

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    Comments

    32 Responses to “Dr. Brown Interviews Prof. Douglas Groothius on Christian Apologetics”

    1. Boris
      July 17th, 2012 @ 9:18 am

      “The arguments for God’s existence have stood for hundreds of years with the waves of unbelieiving criticism breaking against them, never totally discrediting them in the ears of the faithful, but on the whole slowly washing out the mortar from between their joints.” – William James (1842-1910)

    2. Boris
      July 17th, 2012 @ 9:25 am

      “The very need for a thing called ‘apologetics’ is example of the weakness of the theistic argument. ‘God’ always needs apologies, rationalizations, explanations, equivocations, excuses.” – Mark K. Bilbo

    3. Michael B Babbitt
      July 17th, 2012 @ 7:19 pm

      William Lane Craig and the implications of the discovery of the Higgs Boson:

      “Without wanting to spoil the party, I have to say that this impressive achievement just has no theological implications of any direct sort, so far as I can see.”

      Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/higgs-boson-discovered#ixzz20veLTQnU
      http://www.reasonablefaith.org/higgs-boson-discovered

    4. Dan1el
      July 17th, 2012 @ 7:36 pm

      LOL

    5. Michael B Babbitt
      July 18th, 2012 @ 12:05 am

      One more thing: An audio of Dr. Craig discussing both a new study of homosexual parenting – that the gay community does not like — and then the Higgs Boson.
      http://www.reasonablefaith.org/update-on-homosexual-parenting-the-higgs-boson

    6. Dan1el
      July 18th, 2012 @ 12:21 am

      M Babbit,
      Thanks!

    7. Michael B Babbitt
      July 18th, 2012 @ 12:22 am

      I forgot to mention that I read Doug Groothuis’ massive book last winter and wanted to plug it as a great, readable survey of Christian apologetics.

    8. Dr Michael L Brown
      July 18th, 2012 @ 12:35 am

      Michael, thanks for the links and the good word on the book!

    9. Boris
      July 18th, 2012 @ 2:06 am

      I thought it was interesting that on the broadcast the professor said that atheism has a moral basis. At Dr. Brown’s request he also described the ontological argument. All apologetic arguments fail because they are founded upon one or more logical fallacies. The fallacy of the ontological argument is circular reasoning. However the fatal flaw in the argument is that you can’t just define something into existence. I mean you can just as easily define God out of existence. There is a possible world in which there is no entity that possesses maximal greatness. Therefore, there is no entity that possesses maximal greatness. Therefore, God does not exist. See what I mean? I’d like to see how the professor would respond to that. I wonder if Dr. Brown could get the professor to comment on this counter argument to the ontological argument. Anyone else want to give it a try?

    10. HaMetumtam
      July 18th, 2012 @ 7:01 am

      I would be interested to hear your opinion Dr Brown on Watchman Nee’s theory that all mental activity that is not of the Spirit is of the flesh and as such can be of no benefit ?

      I can see his point, but i can also see the point of logic and sound thinking can you reconcile these two for me ?

    11. Boris
      July 18th, 2012 @ 9:32 am

      “I would be interested to hear your opinion Dr Brown on Watchman Nee’s theory that all mental activity that is not of the Spirit is of the flesh and as such can be of no benefit ?”

      Actually the opposite is true.

    12. mbabbitt
      July 18th, 2012 @ 9:40 am

      Dr. Brown, It is an honor to be of any service to you and your ministry as I have been helped immensely by your work and example. As I come from a Long Island, Conservative Jewish background, oftentimes you seem like family to me.

    13. Dr Michael L Brown
      July 18th, 2012 @ 11:25 am

      Boris,

      Thanks for listening, as always, and thanks for your post. I’ll see if I can get one specific reply from Dr. Groothuis, although I’m sure he won’t be able to join in regularly. Others, of course, can respond to Boris here as desired.

    14. Dan1el
      July 18th, 2012 @ 12:40 pm

      HaMetumtam,
      That is a coincidence that I meet you here, having just finished watching youtube videos from followers of Nee/Lee (though they did not present themselves as such, it was recognizable): keep in mind that Nee is not infallible; I look forward to Dr. Brown’s response to this question, as I have a very similar struggle as you (though I did not learn this from Nee; it was merely something I’ve held to, automatically) – i.e.: mental activity born from what we see as “self” vs. mental activity born from what we perceive is “God”.

      I don’t mean any disrespect to Nee; none of us has it 100% correct.

      Example 1: his disciples have told me even if Adam hadn’t fallen he still would’ve needed to be saved. Saved from what?
      Example 2: that the growth happens “automatically”; the person will look like his father, effortlessly – in reality, this is shirking (to me) the reality of the “discipline” which is necessary to receive in order to become like God/share in His holiness (as it says: if we do not receive the discipline, we are bastards).
      Example 3: the say that “all believers will eventually be glorified” (in my understanding, at least, this is a misinterpretation of the Romans verse “those he justified, he glorified” – in reality, ALL believers are in a state of glory, and they go “from glory to glory as they behold the Lord”: there is NO guarantee of glorification for ANY believer; if he were saying that in Romans 8, he is contradicting that doctrine in Romans 11:17-23, where he emphatically states that it IS a possibility that any of the believing Gentiles COULD fall into unbelief, and be cut off and be damned, in the same manner as the unbelieving Jews.)
      Example 4: I’ve heard it taught that the worst thing a believer would ever suffer – since they can’t lose salvation – is their part in the Millenial Kingdom: really? Everything in Scripture tells me different (again, after my understanding).

      These and other things he teaches, I do not feel at peace with – however, again, I wait for Dr. Brown’s response to your question; I have the same question, myself.

    15. mbabbitt
      July 18th, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

      Boris,
      I don’t think Dr. Groothuis was saying the atheism had a moral basis in that there is a source of morality; some might make that claim but it’s quite a stretch. And theists do not claim that atheists do not have the ability to live morally. However, the source of morality is where we have the debate. Theists have God, the Law Giver; atheists have … . If I recall correctly from my reading of his book (not available at the moment), some atheists make a “brute force” argument (Dr. Groothuis alluded to this in his conversation but not by name). They simply claim that the basis of morality is there in the material world – just because it’s there. No other mechanism or cause is needed. It is not so much an argument but a demand upon reality. My own humble take: Talk about circular logic; something like: Morality without a cause must exist because we know what is moral.

    16. Boris
      July 19th, 2012 @ 12:16 am

      mbabbitt,
      Morality or proto-morality predates humanity. Mothers loved their young before mammals existed for obvious evolutionary reasons. Dolphins push sick members of their pod to the surface to get air and whales will risk their lives to help wounded members of their group. Bats share their food. Apes and monkeys share food as well and comfort each other when they are sick or upset. So morality exists because it is necessary for the survival of the species. For humans morality is objectively based on the value of life itself. Whatever harms or destroys human life is bad or evil and whatever protects or enhances human life is good. This is why our sense of right and wrong conflicts with the teachings of the Bible. This is how we can be sure morality did not originate from that source.

    17. HaMetumtam
      July 19th, 2012 @ 6:19 am

      Thank you for the additional thoughts Daniel.

      I am working my way thorough his book the spiritual man. His major point in the book is that we should be lead by intuition (Spirit) and not by reason or thought or logic which is of the old man… in his opinion. His insight into the union with Christ in death and resurrection is second to none imo though.

    18. S. Johnson
      July 20th, 2012 @ 9:49 am

      Anselm had two different version of the ontological argument that in a nutshell goes like this.
      1. God by definition is a necessary being.
      2. A necessary being must necessarily exist
      3. Therefore, God exists.

      Borris is correct the ontological argument is not valid. It is much like arguing that all triangles have 3 sides. While this is a true definition it does not mean that triangles actually exist. Similarly, IF God exists He is a necessary being, but postulating the possibility of a necessary being doesn’t prove such a being exists.

      The simplicity of God is also an orthodox argument. Without it at the extreme you end up in process theology where God has two poles, on the less extreme end you end up with open Theism, where part of God knows what will happen in the future and part does not.

      Simplicity follows from the fact that inherent in the definition of having parts is that the parts “came together”. Two things follow: 1. Anything that has parts is a composed being and therefore needs a “composer” and cannot itself be the first cause. 2. Anything that has parts can “come apart”.

      Simplicity also follows from the fact that God cannot be infinite and have parts. For while an infinite exists as an abstract mathematical construct, one cannot have an ACTUAL INFINITE OF ANYTHING, because no matter how many of a thing or parts of a thing there are one can always add one more. God cannot be both infinite and have parts as it is impossible to have an infinite number of parts.

      God is pure actuality and pure act has no potential, including the potential to be divided. Therefore God must be simple.

    19. S. Johnson
      July 20th, 2012 @ 10:13 am

      Boris,

      I have another question for you. If I understand your view point, life is nothing but a random event that was spun forth by “mass/energy”. It was in essence a freak chance event, that has no inherent meaning or purpose. Such that Bertram Russel’s statement sums up the true state of humanity as follows:

      “Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving…His origin, his growth, his hopes, and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms…All the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and…the whole temple of man’s achievements must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins…Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built” (The basic Writings, 67).

      Here is my point of confusion if this is true, that man is nothing but a cosmic accident of random chance, on the same level as a roll of the dice; that any individual man is but a bag of atoms that came together, then why should we value another’s life? It seems that once we become aware of the meaninglessness of life, there is nothing inherently worth valuing. Yet you base your moral values on the value of life which is itself a random chance event?

      It seems to me, that the logical outworking of your worldview is that since life has no real meaning, but is just a collection of random events that is destined for the scrap heap anyway, then what does it matter if it ends today or tomorrow. It is all meaningless anyway.

      Further, if the sanctity of life is your only moral ground, does that mean cheating and theft are ok as long as no life is harmed? If someone steals a million dollars from say Donald Trump is that ok because he has so much money that it didnt hurt him? Is that what you teach your children? As long as you don’t cause harm to another everything is fair game.

      And speaking of children, when you bend down at night and tuck your them in and tell them you love them, do you then explain to them that in reality you are only having a neurochemical response, which itself is but another chance accident produced by a meaningless universe?

    20. S. Johnson
      July 20th, 2012 @ 10:27 am

      “economically, the saintly group of qualities is indespensable to the world’s welfare. The great sanits are immediate successes; the smaller ones are at least heralds and harbingers, and they may be leavens also, of a better mudane order. Let us be saints, then, if we can…”

      William James

      “He who forbids us to believe religion to be true, necessarily also forbids us to act as we should if we did believe it to be true. The whole defense of religious faith hinges upon action.”

      William James

      “If your heart does not want a world of moral reality, your head will assuredly never make you believe in one”

      William James

    21. Eric
      July 21st, 2012 @ 3:12 pm

      Boris,

      You seem to be confusing moral epistemology(How We Know) and moral ontology which deals with the nature of reality (What Is). Evolution has a problem answering the ontology part. Take a look at that sometime.

    22. Boris
      July 23rd, 2012 @ 2:02 am

      S. Johnson
      Borris is correct the ontological argument is not valid. It is much like arguing that all triangles have 3 sides. While this is a true definition it does not mean that triangles actually exist. Similarly, IF God exists He is a necessary being, but postulating the possibility of a necessary being doesn’t prove such a being exists.

      Response: The other apologetic arguments aren’t valid either. For example the First Cause Argument is a good example of ad hoc reasoning and the fallacy of special pleading. On the show the professor gave good descriptions of the other popular arguments such as the Moral, Design, and Fine Tuning Arguments. I’ve posted clear and satisfactory refutations to all of these arguments on various threads on this blog including pointing out the logical fallacies they are founded upon.

      Boris,
      I have another question for you. If I understand your view point, life is nothing but a random event that was spun forth by “mass/energy”. It was in essence a freak chance event, that has no inherent meaning or purpose.

      Response: Not exactly. Apparently the universe favors the development of complex systems. Rather than being a “freak chance event” as you put it, I think life is a cosmic imperative in the kind of environment we find ourselves in. Life arose naturally in order to move heat, to bridge the gap between the cold of space and the heat of the sun. Life modulates the ability of Earth to shed heat in the form of radiation into space, among other things.

      Here is my point of confusion if this is true, that man is nothing but a cosmic accident of random chance, on the same level as a roll of the dice; that any individual man is but a bag of atoms that came together, then why should we value another’s life? It seems that once we become aware of the meaninglessness of life, there is nothing inherently worth valuing. Yet you base your moral values on the value of life which is itself a random chance event?

      Response: You are making a serious error by assuming there is a singular meaning to life. From a purely biological standpoint the goal of life is reproduction and survival. However you are demanding a philosophical answer. The fact that life is inherently meaningless is not a bad thing. It means each of us is able to give whatever meaning we wish to our lives. What I find meaningful and satisfying may be of little interest to you. Some of the things you cherish in life bore me to tears. Belief in life after death devalues life and leads to all sorts of life avoidance and escapist issues including the devaluing of the lives of other people.

      It seems to me, that the logical outworking of your worldview is that since life has no real meaning, but is just a collection of random events that is destined for the scrap heap anyway, then what does it matter if it ends today or tomorrow. It is all meaningless anyway.

      Response: I had a football coach who said once before a game that in the grand scheme of things (whatever that is) this game is meaningless because one day the sun, moon and earth will all be gone and there will be no trace of we did here today. I don’t remember exactly what he said after that but we were all pretty convinced this particular game was anything but meaningless.

      Further, if the sanctity of life is your only moral ground, does that mean cheating and theft are ok as long as no life is harmed? If someone steals a million dollars from say Donald Trump is that ok because he has so much money that it didnt hurt him? Is that what you teach your children? As long as you don’t cause harm to another everything is fair game.

      Response: First of all the cheat and the thief are harming themselves in several ways. For one, rationalizing this kind of behavior is a prelude to psychosis. Second, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which people who are cheated or are stolen from are not harmed in some way.

      And speaking of children, when you bend down at night and tuck your them in and tell them you love them, do you then explain to them that in reality you are only having a neurochemical response, which itself is but another chance accident produced by a meaningless universe?

      Response: Most people find family relationships and friendships to be among life’s most meaningful aspects. For some people that’s enough to make life worth living and for others it isn’t and they feel they must have something more, something better to make life meaningful. I’m of the former group and you, the latter.

    23. S. Johnson
      July 23rd, 2012 @ 5:46 pm

      Boris,

      It is always good to talk to you.

      1. After spending literally hours with various forms of the Cosmological argument, I find it valid. There has to be a first cause, if you want to call it “Mass/energy” and say that it is uncaused, eternal and powerful, I can live with that. But denying a first cause which the cosmological argument shows is nonsense. As I said Geisler has looked at the history of the argument in various forms and their critiques over a few hundred pages. Not something that is easily reproduced here. That is why I pointed you to what I consider to be the definitive discussion of this argument. If you have defeated the logic, then you have done what some very smart philosophers could not do.

      2. What is your evidence that “the universe FAVORS the development of complex systems” as opposed to them just being a good toss of the dice. Did it just happen to favor the alignment of multiple constants? The fine tuning of the universe to allow for the existence of life is mind boggling. A FEW examples:

      a) An alteration of the ratio of the expansion and contraction forces of the universe by as little as 1 part in 10 to the 55th power at the plank time would have led either to too rapid expansion of the universe with no galaxies forming or too slow an expansion with consequent rapid collapse.
      b) According to theoretical physicist Paul Davies if the ratio of the nuclear strong force to the electromagnetic force had been different by 1 part in 10 raised to the 16 power, no stars would have formed.
      c) The electromagnetic force-constant to the gravitational force-constant cannot vary by more than 1 part in 10 raised to the 40th power.

      Because so many constants have to line up to make the universe possible and then life possible, most scientists see this as quite a problem. That is why Hawkings new book “The Grand design”, puts forth a multiverse theory. He needs something to be forever randomly throwing out new universes in order to account for the lucky coincidence of all the constants lining up.
      Problem: The something he picks is the law of gravitation (which of course would require something to exist to act upon–which Hawkings ignores) and it is put forth as a scientific theory and is untestable. It also requires the use of “imaginary time”, which in my mind gives you imaginary multiverses. If some of the greatest minds are grappling with a naturalistic explanation for the unlikelihood of so many constants being so finely tuned, why does it not trouble you? Why should that much FAVORING come about?

      3. You said: “The fact that life is inherently meaningless is not a bad thing. It means each of us is able to give whatever meaning we wish to our lives.”

      Response: So it appears that we agree on the point that your worldview leads to an inherently meaningless existence. And if life is ultimately meaningless in an objective sense, then if what makes life meaningful to one person is to become another Hitler, then that must be ok, after all meaning is left to the individual. And if the knowledge that there is no objective meaning or purpose in life drives someone to commit mass killing then there is no OBJECTIVE reason to complain. Some might personally not like it, but that’s just personal opinion relative to their own personal meaning.

      And as far as your biological imperative goes (“From a purely biological standpoint the goal of life is reproduction and survival.”), such “goals” are an illusion. Blind chance has no “goals” in mind. What does it matter to the universe if anything springs forth or if it just remains in stasis? And even if we can envision “nature” having a goal, once we recognize it is really all about random chance, the jig is up. Because nature has a goal that preserves life, there is no reason I must follow the dictates of chance.

      4) “First of all the cheat and the thief are harming themselves in several ways. For one, rationalizing this kind of behavior is a prelude to psychosis.”

      Response: From the point of your own biological imperative this makes no sense. If I become powerful enough, such that I don’t need to rely on another to “scratch my back”, then my use of power for my own purposes will further my biological imperative. It becomes all about me and my offspring. If I can enslave multiple woman so as to bring forth more offspring, then my genetic imperative will flourish. If I take from your family in order to better provide for mine, so be it…it is furthering my gene pool. Why should I care about yours? In the survival of the fittest if some fall, is this really psychosis or me just following my Dawkin’s “selfish gene”?

      Lastly, if the cheat and thief are successful and don’t get caught, I am not sure how this causes them harm. They end up with more to insure their survival and comfort. I can think of lots of scenarios where that thief or cheat don’t put lives at risk (I believe that is your only absolute–although since life came about by random chance this does not logically follow). There are hackers who have taken small amounts of money from multiple accounts resulting in millions being taken, but the amounts were so small that no life was put at risk. So does that make it ok? Let’s face it your OPINION of life as the absolute moral basis (and it must be opinion as you have no objective ground for that meaning as you just said there is no “inherent meaning”), just doesn’t cut it in the real world.

      5) Most people find family relationships and friendships to be among life’s most meaningful aspects.

      Response: I’m good with that, just as long as those who hold your worldview know that there is no “inherent meaning” in our feelings toward each other. We should remind ourselves that this is but an illusion, a meaning without any basis other than synaptic activity of the brain that itself is but the product of chance and time. For most who have grieved over the loss of a loved one, this just doesn’t ring true at the core of our beings.

    24. Boris
      July 24th, 2012 @ 3:05 am

      S. Johnson
      After spending literally hours with various forms of the Cosmological argument, I find it valid. There has to be a first cause, if you want to call it “Mass/energy” and say that it is uncaused, eternal and powerful, I can live with that.

      Response: Good because that is the current scientific consensus. That could change, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.

      But denying a first cause which the cosmological argument shows is nonsense. As I said Geisler has looked at the history of the argument in various forms and their critiques over a few hundred pages. Not something that is easily reproduced here. That is why I pointed you to what I consider to be the definitive discussion of this argument. If you have defeated the logic, then you have done what some very smart philosophers could not do.

      Response: That of course is absurd. There are clear and satisfactory refutations of the Cosmological, Kalam, First Cause, Unmoved Mover, call it what you will on the Internet, at the library, in bookstores and being taught in philosophy, logic and science classes in colleges and universities all over the world. You spent hours with this argument yet you completely ignored what I said about it, which was that the First Cause Argument is a good example of ad hoc reasoning and the fallacy of special pleading. The argument asserts without providing good reason or any reason that everything except God needs a cause. Why? If something can exist without a cause, we could just as well assume that the mass-energy that comprises the universe has always existed in one form or another. This hypothesis fits in with our empirical observation that mass-energy cannot be created or destroyed, it has much more explanatory power than the hypothesis that God created the universe, and it requires fewer additional assumptions. This is why it is preferred by the scientific community. More important to our discussion this explanation eliminates the need for a first cause. However, as you pointed out, even if we granted this argument everything it asks we could still conclude that the first cause was a completely natural phenomenon such as vacuum fluctuation. Which eliminates the need for God as well. Now I’ve pointed out the fatal flaws in this argument. You are welcome to attempt to defend this argument. Don’t tell me I just need to read what Geisler wrote. That won’t do, he’s not here for me to refute.

      2. What is your evidence that “the universe FAVORS the development of complex systems” as opposed to them just being a good toss of the dice. Did it just happen to favor the alignment of multiple constants? The fine tuning of the universe to allow for the existence of life is mind boggling. A FEW examples:

      Response: It’s hard to understand why people still make this argument. It really boils down to a tautology: If things had been different, things would be different. The possibility of other laws and constants is fatal to the fine-tuning argument. Plus the argument is logically incoherent because it requires that the set of facts for our universe could have been a different set. However if that is the case, we cannot use what we know about our universe, which is all we know, to say anything about another universe. If the universe is fine tuned for life then why does life seem to be such a small and rare part of it?

      An alteration of the ratio of the expansion and contraction forces of the universe by as little as 1 part in 10 to the 55th power at the plank time… if the ratio of the nuclear strong force to the electromagnetic force had been different by 1 part in 10 raised to the 16 power… cannot vary by more than 1 part in 10 raised to the 40th power.

      Response: All of the examples of supposed fine-tuning in apologetic literature suffer from a basic misunderstanding of physics. Appeals to constants such as Plank time, the speed of light, or Newton’s gravitational constant are irrelevant because these are all arbitrary constants which means their values simply define the system of units being used. The ratio of the strength of gravity and electromagnetism is measured in what is known as dimensionless numbers that do not depend on units. When a statistical analysis of the supposed fine tuning of the universe starts at the conclusion of events as the fine tuning argument does through its backward reasoning, then the odds are going to be miniscule that the universe would display the specific properties it does. But by using this kind of convoluted statistical analysis the odds against any particular properties existing within the universe are miniscule. There is no particular or predetermined reason why the universe is the way it is. Life is tailored through natural selection to the environment in which it is found. We happen to be where life is conveniently possible because we could not be anywhere else.

      If some of the greatest minds are grappling with a naturalistic explanation for the unlikelihood of so many constants being so finely tuned, why does it not trouble you? Why should that much FAVORING come about?

      Response: Why would the fact that science cannot as yet explain something or other trouble me? Science does in fact show that the universe is not fine tuned for life. But let me make it clear that I’m not the least bit worried or concerned that the claims of Christianity even might be true. They aren’t.

      3. You said: “The fact that life is inherently meaningless is not a bad thing. It means each of us is able to give whatever meaning we wish to our lives.”
      Response: So it appears that we agree on the point that your worldview leads to an inherently meaningless existence.

      Response: No we do not agree at all. My worldview leads to a more meaningful existence because people are free to give whatever meaning they choose to their lives. There are so many religions in the world. In my opinion wasting your life worshiping a non-existent deity leads to an inherently meaningless existence.

      And if life is ultimately meaningless in an objective sense, then if what makes life meaningful to one person is to become another Hitler, then that must be ok, after all meaning is left to the individual.

      Response: How is that ok within a moral system objectively based on the value of life itself? It isn’t and you know it. You have no argument against such a value system and you know that too. So you have to invent some extreme outlandish scenario like, “What if laws were passed that made cannibalism legal?”

      And as far as your biological imperative goes (“From a purely biological standpoint the goal of life is reproduction and survival.”), such “goals” are an illusion. Blind chance has no “goals” in mind.

      Response: Biochemistry is not blind chance.

      From the point of your own biological imperative this makes no sense. If I become powerful enough, such that I don’t need to rely on another to “scratch my back”, then my use of power for my own purposes will further my biological imperative. It becomes all about me and my offspring. If I can enslave multiple woman so as to bring forth more offspring, then my genetic imperative will flourish. If I take from your family in order to better provide for mine, so be it…it is furthering my gene pool.

      Response: You’ll have to explain to me why that would be anyone’s goal in life. Furthering your gene pool? What for? So you’ll have more people at your funeral perhaps?

      Why should I care about yours? In the survival of the fittest if some fall, is this really psychosis or me just following my Dawkin’s “selfish gene”?

      Response: We humans do not adhere to Nature’s survival of the fittest dogma. In fact we have reversed it. People with physical defects that would have prevented them from surviving long enough to have children thousands of years ago are now living normal lives and reproducing thereby passing their defective genes onto their children. It might not be good for the gene pool but survival of everybody no matter how fit is the goal of our society. You creationists try so desperately to turn evolution by natural selection into some kind of philosophy you imagine atheists live by. Anyone who thinks that we humans should adhere to some kind of survival of the fittest belief system because that’s the way the natural world operates is likely a menace to society.

      Lastly, if the cheat and thief are successful and don’t get caught, I am not sure how this causes them harm. They end up with more to insure their survival and comfort. I can think of lots of scenarios where that thief or cheat don’t put lives at risk (I believe that is your only absolute–although since life came about by random chance this does not logically follow).

      Response: I’m not sure how a person could say that unless they were inclined only to do evil. So if you stole something and didn’t get caught that would not harm you in anyway? You can’t see how the cheat and the thief are harming themselves? It doesn’t matter how life came to exist. That has no bearing on the meaning of life question. Asking why we’re here is a meaningless question. It’s like asking why 5 equals 5. We’re here and while that means nothing to the rest of the universe it means something to us. What it means depends on whom you talk to. It’s true. I don’t know why you can’t accept that.

      There are hackers who have taken small amounts of money from multiple accounts resulting in millions being taken, but the amounts were so small that no life was put at risk. So does that make it ok? Let’s face it your OPINION of life as the absolute moral basis (and it must be opinion as you have no objective ground for that meaning as you just said there is no “inherent meaning”), just doesn’t cut it in the real world.

      Response: By stating life has no inherent meaning I mean it has no singular or predetermined meaning. That doesn’t mean life is meaningless.

      I’m good with that, just as long as those who hold your worldview know that there is no “inherent meaning” in our feelings toward each other.

      Response: I don’t have a worldview to hold to. Our feelings toward each other are one of the aspects of life that make it meaningful.

      We should remind ourselves that this is but an illusion, a meaning without any basis other than synaptic activity of the brain that itself is but the product of chance and time. For most who have grieved over the loss of a loved one, this just doesn’t ring true at the core of our beings.

      Response: That’s because it isn’t true and that isn’t an accurate representation of my views and you know it. We humans decide what makes our lives meaningful. Obviously that concept frightens you as anyone could tell from the ridiculous disastrous consequences you posit if people are allowed to decide what makes their own lives meaningful. Well people have been and will continue to do just that.

    25. S. Johnson
      July 24th, 2012 @ 7:40 pm

      Boris,

      1.You say you have defeated the cosmological argument based on an ad hoc fallacy of special pleading. It is not special pleading to end in a first cause, only if you claim that first cause must be God. In my last post I said if you want to call the first cause “mass/energy” then fine; You responded by saying “Good because that is the current scientific consensus.” You go on to say in essence that if God does not need a cause neither does “mass/energy”. That works for me as well. It appears then that we both arrive at a first cause, else something comes from nothing. No special pleading involved. But does this eternal, uncaused universe creating “mass/energy” remind you of anyone?

      Now it appears then you reach for science to support that this first cause must be “mass/energy” by saying rather unequivocally that “This hypothesis fits in with our empirical observation that mass-energy cannot be created or destroyed…”. Now once again while it has been awhile since I took both courses in thermodynamics and quantum mechanics, I simply don’t recall this “empirical observation”. As we discussed previously this appears to have come from an often misstated form of the first law of thermodynamics—“energy cannot be created or destroyed”. The problem of course is that this is not the first law; correctly stated it should say “In any closed isolated system the total amount of energy remains constant”. There is no empirical data as to HOW THE ENERGY GOT THERE or as to its ultimate fate. ONCE AGAIN I ask you for the source of your version of this law; Or since you can give your own meaning to life, perhaps you also can give your own meaning to thermodynamic laws as well! Since your premise is wrong, your conclusion that you have defeated the cosmological argument based on this premise is also wrong. Please either show me the evidence for your belief that “mass/energy cannot be created or destroyed, or stop pretending that it supports your worldview!!

      2. Associated with the above discussion you said “More important to our discussion this explanation eliminates the need for a first cause.” Huh? If there is no first cause then something comes from nothing; nothing is not empty space, or forces, or energy, or anything. Nothing is non-being, nothing as Aristotle said is what rocks think about. So on the one hand you say “mass/energy” is eternal and on the other hand you say you don’t need a first cause? Seems a bit inconsistent.

      3.I asked “What is your evidence that “the universe FAVORS the development of complex systems” as opposed to them just being a good toss of the dice. Did it just happen to favor the alignment of multiple constants? “ To which you responded “It’s hard to understand why people still make this argument. It really boils down to a tautology: If things had been different, things would be different.”

      Response: I will leave you with a quote by philosopher Johns Leslie with regards to your form of counter argument: “sounds like arguing that if you faced a firing squad with fifty guns trained on you, you should not be surprised to find that you were alive after they had fired. After all, that is the only outcome you could possibly have observed—If one bullet had hit you you would be dead. However, you might still feel that there is something which very much needs explanation; namely why did they all miss? Was it by deliberate design? For there is no inconsistency in not being surprised that you do not observe that you are dead, and being surprised to observe you are still alive”

      4.“Appeals to constants such as Plank time, the speed of light, or Newton’s gravitational constant are irrelevant because these are all arbitrary constants which means their values simply define the system of units being used. The ratio of the strength of gravity and electromagnetism is measured in what is known as dimensionless numbers that do not depend on units.”

      Response: So the constants that physicists use to make predictions that allow us to say put a satellite in orbit, and measure distances to stars etc. are irrelevant? What an interesting point of view! And why would lack of units between two constants make the analysis of the ratios irrelevant?

      5.You said “My worldview leads to a more meaningful existence because people are free to give whatever meaning they choose to their lives.” Yet when I said if that is true then one may find meaning in becoming like Hitler, you cried foul, and said “How is that ok within a moral system objectively based on the value of life itself? It isn’t and you know it.”

      Response: Isn’t your “moral system objectively based on the value of life itself” just a meaning you yourself gave? If there is no objective meaning because “people are free to give whatever meaning they choose to their lives”, then how can there be objective moral meaning? Either we are free to give whatever meaning we choose to moral values or not. Or are you saying there is one objective meaning we all must have, that being the one you have assigned, that life is sacred?

      And you never quite explained where your objective value of life came from. Objective is defined in the Oxford English dictionary as “not dependent on the mind for existence; actual”. What ground beyond yourself can you point to, to call your moral system objective?

      6.“Biochemistry is not blind chance.”

      Response: Please explain. According to Darwinian evolutionary theory, blind chance is the engine that is supposed to produce the information pool that can then be selected. And since selection itself has no goal in mind, it too is somewhat random in being subject to the environmental conditions (which also have no goal in mind) are present. And by the way there are a number of scientists/mathematicians who believe in a law of “conservation of information”; that you cannot get more information out of a system than is present to begin with. For example mathematician Gregory Chartin has shown that you cannot prove that a specific sequence of numbers has a complexity greater than the program required to generate it. But I digress, as that is a discussion relevant to information theory.

      7.“You’ll have to explain to me why that would be anyone’s goal in life. Furthering your gene pool? What for? So you’ll have more people at your funeral perhaps?”

      Response: That is part and parcel of evolutionary theory. The whole idea of selection that the most fit survive so as to pass on their gene pool. Our genes are not programed to care about meaning and funerals only to survive and pass the best genes on. Therefore if I am stronger and can take from you what will benefit me and my survival, I am only following the laws of natural selection. I’m rather surprised you did not know that. You correctly stated “We humans do not adhere to Nature’s survival of the fittest dogma. In fact we have reversed it. People with physical defects that would have prevented them from surviving long enough to have children thousands of years ago are now living normal lives and reproducing thereby passing their defective genes onto their children”. But such actions would be seen from a natural selection vantage point as counterproductive. And just why don’t we kill the weak to help out mother nature? Did a bad gene of compassion sneak into our DNA to cause such counterproductive thinking?

      8. “I’m not sure how a person could say that unless they were inclined only to do evil. So if you stole something and didn’t get caught that would not harm you in anyway? You can’t see how the cheat and the thief are harming themselves?”

      Response: Evil? Evil? How do we define evil without a moral law? What is objective standard of good by which it can be measured? Oh yes, that’s right, your standard of life for which you have no objective ground for, other than your claim that it is objective.

      And yes as a Theist, I can see how the cheat and thief are harming themselves, but in a universe without an objective moral standard, without a lawgiver, I can’t see it. Perhaps you can explain it to me. It would seem that once I realize that there is no inherent meaning and purpose in life, that I might as well get as much for myself right now, because there is nothing beyond this life. It seems to be the logical outworking of atheism. Why should I care for anyone who cannot in some way reciprocate to better my life now?

      As always Boris, it has fun.

    26. S. Johnson
      July 24th, 2012 @ 9:07 pm

      Last line should read, As always Boris it has been fun.

    27. Boris
      July 25th, 2012 @ 1:59 am

      Boris,
      You say you have defeated the cosmological argument …You go on to say in essence that if God does not need a cause neither does “mass/energy”. That works for me as well. It appears then that we both arrive at a first cause, else something comes from nothing.

      Response: Something doesn’t have to come from nothing if something has always existed. The Universe is a concept (matter and space relation), not an object, which is why we can qualify it with the adverb ‘eternal’. How could it be possible that there was no matter and space at some instant in the past? Why wouldn’t there be matter and space in the past? What is the reason?

      No special pleading involved. But does this eternal, uncaused universe creating “mass/energy” remind you of anyone?

      Response: The idea that the universe was created with humans in mind makes me think of a baker who uses 1500 truckloads of dough all just to bake one cake.

      Now it appears then you reach for science to support that this first cause must be “mass/energy” by saying rather unequivocally that “This hypothesis fits in with our empirical observation that mass-energy cannot be created or destroyed…”. ….. ONCE AGAIN I ask … Please either show me the evidence for your belief that “mass/energy cannot be created or destroyed, or stop pretending that it supports your worldview!!

      Response: Wow! Really? It’s called the Law of Conservation of Energy. Of course like all physical laws the Law of Conservation of Energy is the result of observation, formation of hypotheses, making predictions, and testing them. I know you won’t like this either but we humans are the Lawgivers when it comes to science. Creationists think that physical laws actually govern the way the universe operates but this is not the case. They are merely humans descriptions. Of couse there is no non-circular proof of energy conservation. However if mass-energy could be created or destroyed, all of our ideas of how the universe works would have to be modified in some way. So far we haven’t had to do that.

      2. Associated with the above discussion …If there is no first cause then something comes from nothing; nothing is not empty space, or forces, or energy, or anything. Nothing is non-being, nothing as Aristotle said is what rocks think about. So on the one hand you say “mass/energy” is eternal and on the other hand you say you don’t need a first cause? Seems a bit inconsistent.

      Response: You claim God has always existed and doesn’t need a cause. Yet somehow if mass-energy has always existed it needs a cause? That’s special pleading gone into orbit!

      3.I asked “What is your evidence that “the universe FAVORS the development of complex systems” as opposed to them just being a good toss of the dice.

      Response: We observe that simplicity easily begets complexity in the world of locally interacting particles.

      So the constants that physicists use to make predictions that allow us to say put a satellite in orbit, and measure distances to stars etc. are irrelevant? What an interesting point of view! And why would lack of units between two constants make the analysis of the ratios irrelevant?

      Response: These constants are irrelevant to your argument. They’re not irrelevant in the real world. There’s a good article in the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 53 that demonstrates how numbers have been manipulated to make it seem like fine-tuning has occurred called, “The Revenge of Pythagoras: How a Mathematical Sharp Practice Undermines the Contemporary Design Argument in Astrophysical Cosmology” by Robert Klee.

      Isn’t your “moral system objectively based on the value of life itself” just a meaning you yourself gave? If there is no objective meaning because “people are free to give whatever meaning they choose to their lives”, then how can there be objective moral meaning? Either we are free to give whatever meaning we choose to moral values or not. Or are you saying there is one objective meaning we all must have, that being the one you have assigned, that life is sacred?

      Response: Morality is based in choices and choices are rooted in values. For humans, the most basic choice is between life and death, so the ultimate value is life. Morality is derived from careful deliberation and a rational understanding of our place in the world and our relationships to each other. There is no reason why we should expect this concept to be immediately obvious to every person, just as there is no reason that we should expect the laws of physics to be immediately obvious to everyone.

      Please explain. According to Darwinian evolutionary theory …And by the way there are a number of scientists/mathematicians who believe in a law of “conservation of information”; that you cannot get more information out of a system than is present to begin with… But I digress, as that is a discussion relevant to information theory.

      Response: The “information” in William Dembski’s Information Theory is equivalent to negative entropy. Entropy is not a conserved quantity like energy. The energy of an open system can either increase or decrease which of course is a fatal blow to Dembski’s so called “law” or “theory” or whatever it isn’t. What it is, is another version creationism from the same people who brought us Intelligent Design.

      That is part and parcel of evolutionary theory. The whole idea of selection that the most fit survive so as to pass on their gene pool. Our genes are not programed to care about meaning and funerals only to survive and pass the best genes on. Therefore if I am stronger and can take from you what will benefit me and my survival, I am only following the laws of natural selection. I’m rather surprised you did not know that.

      Response: Creationists will come up with any argument, no matter how ridiculous in order to try to twist evolution by natural selection into some kind of ideology or even funnier into a religion. This is just another form of the “If we are related to other animals we should act like animals” argument and it’s equally ludicrous because they both ignore the fact that humans are social animals. Just because we have observed how Nature operates doesn’t mean we should model our personal and least of all our social lives after natural selection. We humans have been using artificial selection for thousands of years in agriculture, animal breeding and of course among ourselves. Someone should have told Ray Comfort that bananas are the result of human artificial selection before he made the claim that bananas are proof of Intelligent Design.

      You correctly …But such actions would be seen from a natural selection vantage point as counterproductive.

      Response: Yes but we humans view things from an artificial selection vantage point because we have learned how to tame many aspects of Nature for our own benefit.

      And just why don’t we kill the weak to help out mother nature?

      Response: Because for we humans the ultimate value is life.

      Did a bad gene of compassion sneak into our DNA to cause such counterproductive thinking?

      Response: We are social animals.

      Evil? Evil? How do we define evil without a moral law? What is objective standard of good by which it can be measured? Oh yes, that’s right, your standard of life for which you have no objective ground for, other than your claim that it is objective.

      Response: You need to show that there is to humans a value greater than life or your counter argument fails. Whether you agree that a system of morality based on a value is objective or not is beside the point. Your morality is subjective to the extreme because it is established, supposedly, by a being most of the world does not believe exists and whose motives and very nature are absolutely beyond human comprehension, which makes it impossible to discern any moral law beyond “God wills it.” This has made it possible to justify many of the worst atrocities in history in the name of God. If both systems of morality are subjective the one I posit is still superior to morality based on the Bible.

      And yes as a Theist, I can see how the cheat and thief are harming themselves, but in a universe without an objective moral standard, without a lawgiver, I can’t see it. Perhaps you can explain it to me.

      Response: Anyone positing a Lawgiver must explain why there is and has always been such widespread disagreement over morality. Go ahead. Explain that.

      It would seem that once I realize that there is no inherent meaning and purpose in life, that I might as well get as much for myself right now, because there is nothing beyond this life. It seems to be the logical outworking of atheism.

      Response: Get as much what exactly for your self right now? Material things? Or would you find ways give your life as much purpose and meaning as possible? I’m going to get as much happiness as possible and whenever possible spread the joy.

      Why should I care for anyone who cannot in some way reciprocate to better my life now?

      Response: Are you saying that caring for other people who cannot in some way reciprocate does not better a person’s own life?

    28. S. Johnson
      July 26th, 2012 @ 12:44 pm

      Boris,
      “How could it be possible that there was no matter and space at some instant in the past?”

      Response: Because that is where the scientific evidence points (Big Bang evidence) and it also arises from Einstein’s theory. It appears the universe, space and time arose from a singularity. You didn’t get that memo?

      “Wow! Really? It’s called the Law of Conservation of Energy. Of course like all physical laws the Law of Conservation of Energy is the result of observation, formation of hypotheses, making predictions, and testing them.”

      Response: Please site your source for this law. ONCE AGAIN (sigh) the first law states :”In a closed isolated system, the total amount of energy remains constant”. Which part of that says how the energy got there in the first place? It only says that ONCE THE ENERGY IS THERE it is constant. ONCE AGAIN if you misstate/misunderstand a law your conclusions will not be valid.

      “Of couse there is no non-circular proof of energy conservation. However if mass-energy could be created or destroyed, all of our ideas of how the universe works would have to be modified in some way. So far we haven’t had to do that.”

      Response: Does this statement mean that you are finally saying there is no empirical proof of your version of “energy conservation”? It seems like you are saying two different things in the same paragraph. And if energy could be created, once it was there, exactly how would that change “all our ideas of how the universe works”? Or would it just change your naturalistic worldview, so you don’t like even the possibility? Seems to me, that no matter where energy came from, once it’s here, everything works the same; none of the laws of physics are changed.

      “You claim God has always existed and doesn’t need a cause. Yet somehow if mass-energy has always existed it needs a cause? That’s special pleading gone into orbit!”

      Response: That is not what I said. I said there must be a first cause that is uncaused, eternal and powerful enough to create the universe and all its complexity. I even said if you want to label that first cause “mass/energy” fine. No special pleading involved. The only special pleading comes into play when you take what I said and turn it on its head.

      So let’s do a short recap here by examining the lynch pins of your refutation of the cosmological argument. 1. Your claim of special pleading—nope it just doesn’t hold water, unless of course you think arrival at any first cause even “mass/energy” is special pleading.
      2. Your proof based on the law of conservation of energy. But since you misunderstand the law, this does not help your alleged dismantling of the cosmological argument either. Since both lynch pins are pulled, what remains of your definitive argument?

      “We observe that simplicity easily begets complexity in the world of locally interacting particles.”

      Response: Really? Simplicity easily begets complexity? If it is so simple can you explain it? Can you in a simple way start with the simple and show how the complex came about. And does reduction to smaller parts really result in something simple anyway? We start with say a simple biological organism, then we reduce it to a simple cell (which consists of a host of simple protein machines that simply “know how to work together”. The we come to the cell center and arrive at an elegant highly complex information coding DNA, with myriads of proteins involved in its replication. We need proteins to translate DNA and DNA to make the proteins necessary to translate it. Well there is another simple problem that hasn’t been solved. The information coding process is so simple that our brightest minds don’t understand it and use adjectives like “amazing” and “incredible”. We can next go down to the atomic structure and find the original model of protons, neutrons and electrons just doesn’t do it justice. The “simple” atomic structure appears to be evermore complex. But as you say it is all really simple! It is so simple that what we do understand only the brightest among us can comprehend, and even those at the genius level still don’t really know how things work.

      “These constants are irrelevant to your argument. They’re not irrelevant in the real world.”

      Response: I live in the real world which is here only because of those constants are in effect. I will have to try to get hold of the paper you mentioned. You see if you think you have a source that can refute an argument, I will actually read it. I have books on my shelves from different worldviews, I have read the works of those considered to be the greatest atheist thinkers. Perhaps you can send me the link, to see if this paper does what you claim in refuting the claims of mathematicians of the caliber of Oxford scholar John Lennox, who does think these constants are meaningful.

      “The “information” in William Dembski’s Information Theory is equivalent to negative entropy. Entropy is not a conserved quantity like energy.”

      Response: I think we had this discussion before. While your version of negative entropy might produce say a salt crystal, this is a far cry from specified complexity. It is apparent that you either have not read Dembski’s books (e.g. The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance through Small Probabilities) or you just don’t understand them.

      In response to my argument about the survival of the fittest you said: “Creationists will come up with any argument, no matter how ridiculous in order to try to twist evolution by natural selection into some kind of ideology or even funnier into a religion….. Just because we have observed how Nature operates doesn’t mean we should model our personal and least of all our social lives after natural selection.”

      Response: Seriously? The idea of survival of the fittest is “ridiculous”? Have you ever done coursework in biology and evolutionary theory and even modeling? I have. And it is all about selection of the fittest. Those species that can adapt to their environments (by lucky mutations) to insure survival are selected for, and pass on their gene pool. It appears that you don’t even have a good handle on what the evolutionary theory you purport to be true actually says!
      Now I find it interesting that you used the word “should” in the statement I just quoted. Should? Should? Where do you get the funny notion that people “should” do anything? If Bertram Russell is right and we are “but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms” then where does this idea of “should” come from? Can you really make a case that a “collocations of atoms” “should” do anything. Do atoms have morals now?

      “You need to show that there is to humans a value greater than life or your counter argument fails.”

      Response: Now let me see if I have this right. I ask you for an OBJECTIVE basis for your belief in the sanctity of life and you reply with the above statement, which effectively says I must show you the lack of a basis? Huh? Really? That’s how things work now. When someone makes a statement and we ask for a ground for the statement, they should just reply, well why don’t you show me I don’t have grounds. To quote Alice in Wonderland your logic gets “Curiouser and curiouser!” So in essence what you are saying is you really have no objective ground you can point to for your moral imperative. It is in your personal opinion. It is a meaning that you have given your life. And since without an “Ultimate Mind” to give ultimate meaning, you are correct in saying that meaning becomes personal. But why should I accept your meaning? Certainly history speaks to the fact that many did not accept your imperative (e.g. Hitler). And then on what basis can you say they are OBJECTIVELY wrong?

      “ Get as much what exactly for your self right now? Material things? Or would you find ways give your life as much purpose and meaning as possible?”

      Response: As a Theist, this wouldn’t work for me. But it Worked well for the wall street crowd.

    29. S. Johnson
      July 26th, 2012 @ 9:04 pm

      Boris;

      I missed a question you asked.

      “Anyone positing a Lawgiver must explain why there is and has always been such widespread disagreement over morality. Go ahead. Explain that. ”

      Can you give me examples of this? Can you name cultures that condone murder, theft, dishonesty and cowardice? C.S. Lewis put together a nice appendix on the universality of certain moral laws by sampling works from multiple cultures in the Abolition of Man. It would be a bit much to reproduce here. Ravi Zacharias (originally from India and well traveled in the remote parts of the world) gives similar examples.

      Usually when there are apparent differences between cultures and people it is a matter of fact not of value. For example, in the western world, the taking of an innocent human life is considered wrong. Yet thousands of abortions occur every year. The question differences do not lie in a variance of moral values between those who abort and those that do not, rather it lies in the definition of when life begins. Upon analysis of most cultural differences in morality, at the heart you will find a fact difference and not a value difference.

      This is probably why despite having contradictory central beliefs, different religions and worldviews are said by many to be all the same. They are similar in that they teach a similar moral law, they differ in who the moral law giver is.

    30. Boris
      July 27th, 2012 @ 2:11 am

      S. Johnson
      Boris,
      “How could it be possible that there was no matter and space at some instant in the past?”
      Response: Because that is where the scientific evidence points (Big Bang evidence) and it also arises from Einstein’s theory. It appears the universe, space and time arose from a singularity. You didn’t get that memo?

      Response: Nowhere in Modern Big Bang Cosmology is the notion that mass-energy was created. Einstein’s Theory of Relativity disproves the existence of God. If God existed He would provide a timeline for an absolute frame of reference. However according to Relativity, no such timeline can exist. I guess you didn’t get that memo. Let that be correction #1. You really shouldn’t parrot what creationist apologists misstate about scientific theories and physical laws. Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of science will know what the law or theory really states.

      Please site your source for this law. ONCE AGAIN (sigh) the first law states :”In a closed isolated system, the total amount of energy remains constant”. Which part of that says how the energy got there in the first place? It only says that ONCE THE ENERGY IS THERE it is constant. ONCE AGAIN if you misstate/misunderstand a law your conclusions will not be valid.

      Response: The first law allows energy to convert from one type to another as long as the total for a closed system remains fixed. That will stand as correction #2. The total energy of the universe appears to be zero. Stephen Hawking pointed out that the negative gravitational energy exactly cancels the positive energy represented by matter. So the total energy of the universe is zero. The energy density of the universe is exactly what it should be if the universe as we know it appeared from a state of zero energy.

      Does this statement mean that you are finally saying there is no empirical proof of your version of “energy conservation”?

      Response: If you took the science courses you claimed to have taken then I’m pretty sure you would know that before Conservation of Energy was recognized it was already implicit in Newton’s Laws of Mechanics. How come you didn’t know that? Correction #3.

      It seems like you are saying two different things in the same paragraph. And if energy could be created, once it was there, exactly how would that change “all our ideas of how the universe works”? Or would it just change your naturalistic worldview, so you don’t like even the possibility? Seems to me, that no matter where energy came from, once it’s here, everything works the same; none of the laws of physics are changed.

      Response: If our measurement of the mass density of the universe had not turned out to be the exact value required for a universe that began from a state of zero energy we would have a legitimate, scientific reason to assume that a miracle was needed to create the universe. Let that be objection #1.

      That is not what I said. I said there must be a first cause that is uncaused, eternal and powerful enough to create the universe and all its complexity. I even said if you want to label that first cause “mass/energy” fine. No special pleading involved. The only special pleading comes into play when you take what I said and turn it on its head.
      So let’s do a short recap here by examining the lynch pins of your refutation of the cosmological argument. 1. Your claim of special pleading—nope it just doesn’t hold water, unless of course you think arrival at any first cause even “mass/energy” is special pleading.

      Response: I think I see why you are missing the point. We both agree that the universe as we know it had a beginning. However the scientific consensus is that the mass-energy that comprises the universe has always existed in one form or another. So nothing “caused” mass-energy to exist because it has always existed. Something caused the universe to expand but that’s not a First Cause. Objection #2.

      2. Your proof based on the law of conservation of energy. But since you misunderstand the law, this does not help your alleged dismantling of the cosmological argument either. Since both lynch pins are pulled, what remains of your definitive argument?

      Response: I already showed it is you who doesn’t understand the law with correction #2. You also don’t understand the Law of Causality, which is also violated by the First Cause Argument. Look it up. You wasted your time reading defenses of the First Cause Argument trying to prove to yourself it is valid. That is very unscientific. Now a scientific minded person would read the objections to an argument they thought was valid to see if it really was. But you’ve already decided that no objections to your precious little argument could possibly be valid so why bother with the refutations of it? Right? I mean if these refutations and objections to the First Cause Argument appear valid it’s only because Satan is making them appear that way. Right? We atheists don’t have the luxury of such a reliable though non-existent fallback position as Satan provides for the Christians. Nope, when we see evidence we have to believe what the evidence tells us.
      This is why atheists stay atheists and more and more Christians become atheists every day, especially young Christians.

      Really? Simplicity easily begets complexity? If it is so simple can you explain it? Can you in a simple way start with the simple and show how the complex came about.

      Response: I don’t have to show exactly how simplicity begets complexity, only that it has been and can be observed.

      And does reduction to smaller parts really result in something simple anyway? We start with say a simple biological organism, …and even those at the genius level still don’t really know how things work.

      Response: Why even bother making straw man arguments like that? It just proves you have no argument at all. I said nothing about it being simple to understand how life has evolved over the last 4 billion years. However the fossil record gives us a great history of simplicity begetting complexity. Complex material systems exhibit a purely natural process called self-organization, which occurs in both living and non-living systems.

      I live in the real world which is here only because of those constants are in effect.

      Response: So you’re saying that God could not have made the universe and humans in using any other constants then. An omnipotent God could do what ever He wanted. Not one easily defeated by chariots of iron though I suppose.

      I will have to try to get hold of the paper you mentioned. You see if you think you have a source that can refute an argument, I will actually read it. I have books on my shelves from different worldviews, I have read the works of those considered to be the greatest atheist thinkers. Perhaps you can send me the link, to see if this paper does what you claim in refuting the claims of mathematicians of the caliber of Oxford scholar John Lennox, who does think these constants are meaningful.

      Response: John Lennox is Christian apologist. I sent you the name of a publication and an article that shows how numbers have been manipulated to make it seem like fine-tuning has occurred. The only people trying to prove the universe is fine tuned for life are Christian apologists. What does that tell us? If you want to trust what people with a religious agenda say about science go right ahead. I do not and will not EVER do that. Why would I? The whole fine-tuning argument makes no sense because physical parameters would be irrelevant to an omnipotent God. God could have created us to live in a vacuum or with gills since 75 percent of the planet is covered with water. Yeah the Earth was created for man, who has no gills. Sure. I wonder how many Christian apologists would like to spend the night out on the Siberian plain with no clothes or shelter and then tell us how fine-tuned for life everything is. Hahaha.

      I think we had this discussion before. While your version of negative entropy might produce say a salt crystal, this is a far cry from specified complexity. It is apparent that you either have not read Dembski’s books (e.g. The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance through Small Probabilities) or you just don’t understand them.

      Response: I’ve read Dembski’s books and I understand them perfectly and more importantly why he writes them. Dembski is a creationist. In his latest book, Dembski attempts to explain how the “fall” in the Garden of Eden was retroactively responsible for the fact that animals died for millions of years before the first humans brought “sin” into the world which of course supposedly causes death according to Christian dogma. Supposedly God knew millions of years in advance that humans would bring sin into the world so this now explains how animals died before Adam and Eve existed to the Old Earth Creationists of which Dembski is now one. Really man, why would you expect an atheist to take someone seriously who believes that kind of stuff?

      Seriously? The idea of survival of the fittest is “ridiculous”? Have you ever done coursework in biology and evolutionary theory and even modeling? I have. And it is all about selection of the fittest. Those species that can adapt to their environments (by lucky mutations) to insure survival are selected for, and pass on their gene pool. It appears that you don’t even have a good handle on what the evolutionary theory you purport to be true actually says!

      Response: I said that humans should not model their personal and social lives on a model of survival of the fittest. You ignored what I said and made a ludicrous straw man argument. People who accept evolution are not obligated to adopt a survival of the fittest worldview or any worldview in particular. Evolution is not a worldview, an ideology or a religion. It is the explanation for the diversity of life we observe on this planet. You creationists have invented words like “Darwinism” and “evolutionist” to make it seem like evolution is some kind of evil ideological conspiracy bent on destroying Christianity. It’s just ridiculous and reflective of the desperation of the creationist position.

      Now I find it interesting that you used the word “should” in the statement I just quoted. Should? Should? Where do you get the funny notion that people “should” do anything? If Bertram Russell is right and we are “but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms” then where does this idea of “should” come from? Can you really make a case that a “collocations of atoms” “should” do anything. Do atoms have morals now?

      Response: You really should just admit you have no argument against morality objectively based on life itself rather than make such weak and absurd arguments. Atoms don’t have morals but collections of atoms certainly do, even other animals as I have pointed out a couple of times now. That fact argues against the claim that morals came from God. Don’t think I haven’t noticed that you ignored that I said that anyone positing a Lawgiver must explain why there is and has always been such widespread disagreement over morality. I asked for an explanation for that. What is it?

      Now let me see if I have this right. I ask you for an OBJECTIVE basis for your belief in the sanctity of life and you reply with the above statement, which effectively says I must show you the lack of a basis? Huh? Really? That’s how things work now. When someone makes a statement and we ask for a ground for the statement, they should just reply, well why don’t you show me I don’t have grounds.

      Response: We’re just going around in circles because you have no argument. Just admit it. Morality objectively based on the value of life itself leads to a far more compassionate, rational and humane system than morality based on the (supposed) whims of a deity most of the world does not believe exists anyway. So we have a minority of people telling the rest of us how we must live, what we must believe and justifying atrocities, bigotry and intolerance in the name of their God.

      To quote Alice in Wonderland your logic gets “Curiouser and curiouser!” So in essence what you are saying is you really have no objective ground you can point to for your moral imperative. It is in your personal opinion. It is a meaning that you have given your life. And since without an “Ultimate Mind” to give ultimate meaning, you are correct in saying that meaning becomes personal. But why should I accept your meaning?

      Response: No one is asking you to. Do whatever you want. Ignore the real world consequences to you actions and see what happens.

      Certainly history speaks to the fact that many did not accept your imperative (e.g. Hitler). And then on what basis can you say they are OBJECTIVELY wrong?

      Response: Hitler was a Christian so I don’t think you Christians should use him as an example of anything. You really should just give up. People who harm or destroy life would be considered bad or evil and their deeds wrong under the system of morality objectively based on the value of human life itself. The Nazis wore belt buckles that said, “God is with us” which meant that they valued God more than the lives of other people. Once again that shows the superiority of the humanistic system of morality over the Bible based morality, which has justified some of the most unthinkable atrocities in all of history. You are more than welcome to ignore the value of life, even your own and adopt biblical morality, which means you can then do whatever you want no matter how evil and just claim it was God’s will like George Zimmerman claimed God used him to kill Trayvon Martin.

      As a Theist, this wouldn’t work for me. But it Worked well for the wall street crowd.

      Response: So are you admitting that you would live the same way whether God existed or not? I mean it really doesn’t matter. There are no verifiable consequences either way.

      Here’s another problem with all of you flawed apologetic arguments that supposedly prove God exists. It isn’t just God Christianity is selling. Much more importantly it’s this superstition about an afterlife complete with judgment, punishment and reward for which of course there exists not even the tiniest shred of evidence. These apologetic arguments with all this pseudo-scientific mumbo-jargon and theological double-talk are designed to make believers feel as though there is really no giant leap of faith involved in being a Christian but that it’s all very logical and supported by science. However there is no logical reason to assume that even if there is a God that there is also an afterlife, let alone that angels, demons and an absurd being like Satan all really exist as well. All of that stuff takes a giant leap of faith to believe in. A leap right off the edge of reality and into a meaningless life filled with fear, self-loathing, superstition and all sorts of other escapist and life-avoidance issues. Enjoy.

    31. Boris
      July 27th, 2012 @ 2:37 am

      Christian arrogance and relgious bigotry gone into orbit: “And since without an “Ultimate Mind” to give ultimate meaning, you are correct in saying that meaning becomes personal.”

      Translation: No one can have real meaning in their lives without Jesus. Of course the opposite is true.

    32. S. Johnson
      August 1st, 2012 @ 10:14 am

      Boris,

      I am leaving town for several days, but couldn’t resist at least a few responses.

      “Nowhere in Modern Big Bang Cosmology is the notion that mass-energy was created. Einstein’s Theory of Relativity disproves the existence of God. If God existed He would provide a timeline for an absolute frame of reference. However according to Relativity, no such timeline can exist. I guess you didn’t get that memo.”

      Response: Guess I missed that memo and Einstein must have missed it also since he said :”I am not an atheist and I don’t consider myself a pantheist.” He also said, “The harmony of natural law…reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.” . So you are saying Einstein ignored the outworkings of his crowning achievement and believed in God despite that his theory proved otherwise? Nonsense!

      “The first law allows energy to convert from one type to another as long as the total for a closed system remains fixed. That will stand as correction #2.”

      Response: Yes that’s what it says alright. ONCE ENERGY IS IN A CLOSED ISOLATED SYSTEM, it remains constant. Doesn’t say anything about it being eternally there. That is your assumption, not a statement based in observational science. As far as Hawking’s zeroing out goes, this is based not on observable provable science, but on assumptions and theory. The problem with his “M Theory” and multiverse story is that it is not testable. Further “M theory” has not even yet been fully formulated.

      And speaking of Hawking, he finds the fine tuning of the universe to be a problem which is part of why he needed multiverses to explain it. He also believes the universe had a beginning, although he gives the power of creation to the law of gravity (but laws are descriptive not creative) “Because of the law of gravity, the universe can and will create itself out of nothing” (The Grand Design p. 180). So he believes once there was a first cause BEYOND the present universe that brought the universe into existence. That is the universe and matter ARE NOT eternal but had a cause.

      But I digress, so much for your corrections.

      “You wasted your time reading defenses of the First Cause Argument trying to prove to yourself it is valid. That is very unscientific. Now a scientific minded person would read the objections to an argument they thought was valid to see if it really was. But you’ve already decided that no objections to your precious little argument could possibly be valid so why bother with the refutations of it? Right?”

      Response: Actually when I first read the cosmological argument, I spent hours trying to prove it was wrong. I even went so far as to write to Geisler (since his work on the argument appears to be the most comprehensive) to voice my objections, which were shown to be in error. And like I have said I have read the ORIGINAL works of many atheists to make sure I understood what they said correctly without any apologetic spin. I’m guessing that I have read more of the classic works of atheists than you have. So much for your little diatribe on about what I have already decided. Perhaps it is you that have the preconceived notions.

      “Complex material systems exhibit a purely natural process called self-organization, which occurs in both living and non-living systems.”

      Response: Show me an example of an information rich “self-organized natural process” that we can observe in real time today. Not theory, not conjecture but empirically observable information rich systems that have come about by natural processes. After all the present is the key to the past (Laplace’s principle of uniformity). Since we see water causing erosion in the present, we can point to similar effects in the past and infer that water caused similar erosion patterns in the past. So give me the example of specified complexity occurring in the present by “natural process”.

      “The only people trying to prove the universe is fine tuned for life are Christian apologists. What does that tell us? If you want to trust what people with a religious agenda say about science go right ahead. I do not and will not EVER do that. Why would I?”

      Response: The people who tell us of Hitler’s worst atrocities are the Jews, and they are clearly biased. What does that tell us, they have an agenda. They can’t be objective. You have committed the genetic fallacy. The source of information, apologist or not does not mean the arguments should be dismissed out of hand. Further, many apologists started out as atheists or agnostics. It was the evidence they saw in science that brought them to faith. But according to your logic, once the evidence leads them to faith, then anything they have to say must be dismissed as being biased. Yet more nonsense! Your own personal biases against Theism become ever more clear, as your underlying anger comes out.

      ” I’ve read Dembski’s books and I understand them perfectly and more importantly why he writes them.”

      Response: Once again we are back to the genetic fallacy. Any Christian who writes a book should be ignored because he is biased. Demski’s first book “The Design inference” was received quite positively until, the Theistic implications were brought forth. Initially, it was considered a well written and well thought out thesis. Now as far as his latest book goes, having read it, I was not impressed. He should stick with the math and the numbers. But as far as your claim that Dembski is saying order is just negative entropy, well if you had read his better books, you would know that is just plain silly. He goes through great pains to show that order alone is not the same as information.

      “I said that humans should not model their personal and social lives on a model of survival of the fittest. You ignored what I said and made a ludicrous straw man argument.”

      Response: Why shouldn’t they. If this was what made humanity rise from the primordial soup, then why not stay with what works? After all if the race is to continue to evolve, it would be best to eliminate the weak. One might even come up with the idea of trying to make a master race.

      “Atoms don’t have morals but collections of atoms certainly do, even other animals as I have pointed out a couple of times now. That fact argues against the claim that morals came from God.”

      Response: It still does not explain where these morals that “collections of atoms” has come from. If they are genetically based then once we realize this, we have not objective reason to follow them. We can cast them aside knowing there is no such thing as OBJECTIVE justice. Our notions of justice are at best a genetic fluke and at worst just something we made up. There is no one that will call us to account someday. So why not do what makes me happy now? It’s worked will for that segment of the Wall Street crowd that did not get caught. It worked well for dishonest CEOs that plunged companies into ruin but walked away with fat bonuses. Since there is no ultimate reckoning why not do what you want? It’s funny that the poster child for atheism Nietzsche, recognized this when he said “When God died, all value died with him” and predicted once the “myth of God” died the 20th century would be the bloodiest of all, and yet you can’t see that without a lawgiver the door is open to moral relativism.

      “Don’t think I haven’t noticed that you ignored that I said that anyone positing a Lawgiver must explain why there is and has always been such widespread disagreement over morality.”

      Response: I did not ignore this question. I answered this earlier with reference to the writings of C.S. Lewis. See post 29.

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