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The God Delusion

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underscore
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PostPosted: Sat 19 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

I know that some people have been frustrated by this whole conversation, but I’m really enjoying it! It’s given me a chance to use my brain and to really think about what I believe and why I believe it!
Bombax wrote:
Quote:
This seems easily reversible to me.
You are not allowed to "reverse" it as stated if you are arguing by the laws of logic. That is why there is a burden of proof. It is not my responsibility to disprove anyone else's argument of existence, it is for them to prove it. Take the teapot scenario as an exemplum absurdum. Of course we do not wish to have knowledge on this form. That is why logic has a burden of proof.

Well, we can toss this back and forth all we want, but neither of us can give irrefutable evidence for or against God; we’re playing hot potato, and neither of us is likely to give up unless we call an impasse here. The best that we can do is provide reasons whether or not it is logical to believe that there is a god. I’ve provided a reason (and reasoning as to why I believe that reason is logical, seen below), and I’d be interested to read any sort of opposing line of reasoning (I’m a big fan of syllogisms) that you would be willing to provide.
Bombax wrote:
And now Aquinas' argument:
Quote:
the order of efficient causes cannot proceed to infinity, for in any such order the first is cause of the middle (whether one or many) and the middle of the last.
Non sequitur - it does not follow from "for in any such..." that "the order of efficient causes cannot proceed to infinity". In addition, we do no yet have any evidence that causes can proceed to infinity. (However, the Big Bang "theory", does not even take this into account, but rather denotes the start of time, space, matter and energy).

This is not a non sequitur unless you take it out of context, which is what you've done here. In "for any such..." Aquinas is setting up an example that he expounds upon in the sentences that follow it:
Quote:
Without the cause, the effect does not follow. Thus, if the first cause did not exist, neither would the middle and last causes in the sequence. If, however, there were an infinite regression of efficient causes, there would be no first efficient cause and therefore no middle causes or final effects, which is obviously not the case.

As you can see, Aquinas was merely showing the reader that "without the cause, the effect does not follow," and preparing the reader to understand why "the order of efficient causes cannot proceed to infinity". This reason, Aquinas clearly states in the last sentence, is that if there were an infinte regression of causes, there would be no definable first cause or final effect, which we know would not make sense. (To use my example, to have an infinite number of perpetually falling dominoes does not make logical sense; there is a definitive start and a definitive end to the chain of falling dominoes). Thus, there is no non sequitur; the reason why "the order of efficient causes cannot proceed to infinity" is that "there would be no first efficient cause and therefore no middle causes or final effects, which is obviously not the case."

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
Thus it is necessary to posit some first efficient cause, which everyone calls 'God.'
Sentimental fallacy and non sequitur. It would perhaps be "pleasant" if God was the "first efficient cause", but that does not mean it is true. Neither does it follow that if there is a first efficient cause, it's denotion would prove God's existence (non sequitur). Therefore, Aquina's argument is invalid.

As I stated earlier when replying to EllyEve, I agree that the use of the term "God" could easily be interpreted as a sentimental fallacy on the part of Aquinas, but in reality it is not. "God" is a word that connotes the Christian perception of "God", but this was not Aquinas's intent. Later in his works, he wrote other proofs that attempted to verify that this "God" that he proved to exist must necessarily be the all-knowing, loving Christian God. Logically, if he felt the need to philosophically prove that this "God" that he mentions in his Argument from Causality was in fact the Christian God, then he did not believe that his Argument necessitated such a "God".

In other words, Aquinas used the word "God" as a placeholder word for the being or force (necessitated by the fact that infinite regression is illogical) that was the first, efficient, uncaused cause. He could have just as easily used words such as "Allah," "Jehovah," "Shiva," or any other words that connote an all-powerful, infinite being capable of being this "uncaused cause"; regardless of what name you give to it, the fact remains that something or someone must exist that has such a capability. If Aquinas was guilty of sentimental fallacy, it was only because of word choice, not intent.

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
I don't think that it's hard to imagine an uncaused cause
It does not matter if you can imagine it or not. I can imagine God, but that does not mean that he exists. You have to provide evidence that an uncaused cause exists, AND that it is God. The Big Bang has such evidence (for example, the movement of galaxies). There is none for God.

This sentence led into an explanation of how if it is logical to assume that if infinite regression is illogical, then an uncaused cause is both logical and probable. As I've stated before, this "God" is not necessarily the Christian God, but this "God" must exist because nothing else is capable of being an "uncaused cause."

As for the Big Bang theory, yes, it could have happened. I would even go so far as to say that it probably DID happen. But from what I've read, the Big Bang originated from a singularity (the science of which I really, really don't want to try to type out here. Please just Google it). Singularities are (at least in theory) creatable, in that they can be formed following the collapse of a star. If a singularity is causable, then a singularity could not have been the "first, uncaused cause". It's a good and plausible theory, and you are right in saying that it is supported by scientific evidence, but the Big Bang does not remove the necessity for the "uncaused cause." And as I covered in discussing the "burden of proof," there is no definitive proof for OR against the existence of God, so it's pointless to make demands for irrefutable evidence one way or the other.

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
I think of it in terms of a video game programmer
Prove that this analogy explains the existence of God.

Depends on what you mean by "explaining the existence of God". If you mean to ask whether this statement was meant to prove that God EXISTS, in the same way that Aquinas was attempting to prove that God exists, then no. I do, however, believe that it explained something essential about God. In my analogy, I explained how it was logical that God could be an entity outside of the rules and logic of the universe we live in, much like a video game programmer is not bound to the rules and logic of the game that he creates.
[quote=”Bombax”]
Quote:
The question is why do you try to disprove the ones that believe in a god? Do you really gain anything through it? Anyone who believes in a god, however, would feel as though they are gaining something.

The absolutely most reliable system we have in the world is the logical system, which, compared to the illogical system, is incomparably more sensible. But if you believe in something, despite having seen the lack of logically valid evidence for, you are being illogical (e.g. sentimental fallacy), and thus, unsensible and unattached to reasoning.[/quote]
You didn’t answer the question, here. Are you implying that you wish all believers to understand that they are being illogical?
Quote:
A god that would cause infinite torture for unbelief disgusts me. I would gladly revolt against this ugly god of yours, even if the revolt be hopeless. It would be just. How would you enjoy your eternal life, knowing others are enduring infinite torment simply for non-belief? How would you enjoy your eternal life, knowing that an otherwise just person is condemned to infinite torture simply because of a thought crime?

This puzzled me for a while as well; it seemed really wrong that someone should go to hell simply because they hadn’t heard about God. Crappy deal, right? In talking to a priest, though, I learned that we Catholics DON’T believe that. Instead, we believe that, should a person who hadn’t ever been exposed to religion (and they do exist in pretty large numbers, I was told) the person would be judged according to their overall actions. Natural law (the basic premise being that it is wrong to harm another person) is something built into us, and if they do their best not to break it, then they, too, can get to heaven. You don’t have to be Catholic or even know about God, so long as you live the best life that you can! We didn’t get into an explanation of more complicated situations (example, what if someone had a bad experience caused by a church leader that drove them away from the faith?), but the way I understand it, a person must CHOOSE Hell through their actions in order to go there. It’s a fair system.
Amorphis wrote:
Why does it not move you that your "loving" god has created such a place? Eternal torture! That is a blasphemy against the human sense of decency! What crime could anyone commit to deserve eternal torture?

The answer lies in free will. In order to truly love something, you have to be able to choose it. If it is forced upon you, then you may come to like it, but you’ll never be able to TRULY love it. If you awoke and found yourself married to someone, with no chance of divorce, could you truly love them? No, because they were forced upon you. So, because God loves us and wants us to love him in return (since we’re using the Christian model of God), he gives us free will – the ability to choose him or to turn away from him.

God didn’t “create” hell. One widely understood definition of Hell is “a place of eternal punishment for sin”. But there is another definition that I THINK comes from the Baltimore Catechism, “Hell is separation from God.” In sinning, one distances oneself from God in the same way that doing things that are contrary to how your parents want you to act distances you from them. It logically follows, then, that if you are conscious of what God says is right or wrong and you choose it anyway, you are choosing separation from God.
Quote:
Even in the bible, "atheist" is consistently translated to "unbeliever".

I’ll be honest, I don’t know my Bible as well as other people, so I’m seriously questioning you out of curiosity. Could you post any sort of example where the Bible uses the term “atheist”, or any equivalent word or phrase? I can’t recall ever seeing something like that. “Unbelievers,” as I remember seeing it used, was generally used to describe worshipers of other, false gods such as Baal.


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PostPosted: Sat 19 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

I agree, the topic has been educational and insightful smile


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Amorphis
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PostPosted: Sat 19 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

(Bolding is my doing)

Apologies for not writing this as clearly as I could have, it would take a very long time to do so and I will not spare the time.
underscore wrote:
Quote:
A god that would cause infinite torture for unbelief disgusts me. ...
This puzzled me for a while as well; it seemed really wrong that someone should go to hell simply because they hadn’t heard about God. Crappy deal, right? In talking to a priest, though, I learned that we Catholics DON’T believe that.

I am amused that you went to a priest to find out what you believe. Please, say you were argued into that position with rational arguments and proof from your holy book; not just this priest's say-so.
Quote:
Instead, we believe that, should a person who hadn’t ever been exposed to religion (and they do exist in pretty large numbers, I was told) the person would be judged according to their overall actions. Natural law (the basic premise being that it is wrong to harm another person) is something built into us, and if they do their best not to break it, then they, too, can get to heaven. You don’t have to be Catholic or even know about God, so long as you live the best life that you can!

I disagree that there is such a thing as natural law (that is not to say I am some greedy, murdering beast), but I don't care to argue that point.

This is the way that I would expect a just god to behave, so long as the natural law he applied to everyone is not absurd (most Christian morality leaves a bad taste in my mouth). Your priest's explanation is well and good, except that it sounds not much like Christianity, forgeting all of the talk of sin. By most accounts, it is a sin to be imperfect (god is perfect, thus sin separates us - this is consistent; and ridiculous).

What is it to be human? Should I repent for having an extra cookie? For desiring a woman lustfully (if this indeed be imperfect)? This list continues endlessly. Your Christianity makes everything about your body and mind a sin, and you are left forever repenting. This is the Catholic guilt. This is neurotic.

Do you feel liberated by this? Is it only the promise of the life after that keeps you trudging through this sea of black guilt? I live for the life I know I have, not for one men have promised me in their holy books.

We must have our less desirable aspects mixed with our more desirable aspects. Denying human nature and cursing it is not a very great way to live. Accept your nature, and live with that. Do not apologize for it - you did not create yourself!

It is an easy target, but that is for good reason: look at the instances of child molestation in Catholic church and the church's careless and reluctant response to them. These pure men, constantly striving to be perfect and cursing their nature are perhaps caught unawares: they cannot deny nature, and it finds an outlet!

I am not saying that natural tendencies are necessarily good, I am saying it is dangerous to live a life cursing your nature. Better to accept it and learn, and have a heart free of guilt. I can very vaguely agree with the spirit of your priest's premise, but not with the baggage of the theology behind it. It is black, and spits at life.

Quote:
We didn’t get into an explanation of more complicated situations (example, what if someone had a bad experience caused by a church leader that drove them away from the faith?), but the way I understand it, a person must CHOOSE Hell through their actions in order to go there. It’s a fair system.

God, by your own theology, has ultimate power and has created everything. This includes human nature, the moral law by which we are judged, the mechanism by which that law is applied, and this state of hell (if he did not create it explicitly, it is at least the consequence of his other creations). I'm not letting Yahweh/Jesus off the hook here. You can't make me imperfect and then punish me for it, wiping your hands clean of the responsibility of it because I had free will. It is impossible for me to be perfect, and I will not apologize and bear the guilt of that.
Quote:
Amorphis wrote:
Why does it not move you that your "loving" god has created such a place?
God didn’t “create” hell. One widely understood definition of Hell is “a place of eternal punishment for sin”. But there is another definition that I THINK comes from the Baltimore Catechism, “Hell is separation from God.” In sinning, one distances oneself from God in the same way that doing things that are contrary to how your parents want you to act distances you from them. It logically follows, then, that if you are conscious of what God says is right or wrong and you choose it anyway, you are choosing separation from God.

I've incorporated this idea of separation from god in my above replies. I disagree that god did not create such a place, if he is the creator: yes he did. He creates the moral law, human nature, and so on; as addressed above.
Quote:
Quote:
Even in the bible, "atheist" is consistently translated to "unbeliever".

I’ll be honest, I don’t know my Bible as well as other people, so I’m seriously questioning you out of curiosity. Could you post any sort of example where the Bible uses the term “atheist”, or any equivalent word or phrase? I can’t recall ever seeing something like that. “Unbelievers,” as I remember seeing it used, was generally used to describe worshipers of other, false gods such as Baal.


You haven't seen atheist in your bible, because it's not an English word. You will only find it in the original Greek. You can find it in the Epistle to the Ephesians, (2:12).

Quote:
ὅτι ἦτε τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ χωρὶς Χριστοῦ, ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι τῆς πολιτείας τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ καὶ ξένοι τῶν διαθηκῶν τῆς ἐπαγγελίας, ἐλπίδα μὴ ἔχοντες καὶ ἄθεοι ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ.


Let's look at the same passage in the King James version:
Quote:
That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:


Christians have generally referred to anyone who was not a Christian as an unbeliever, an atheist, and infidel. Yes, even atheist. Not because they are without a god, but because they were quite self centred - they were without THE god. Theos- does not specifically refer to the Christian god, though.




Last edited by Amorphis on Sat 19 Sep, 2009; edited 3 times in total
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PostPosted: Sat 19 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

How about this, God is God, we know because we have faith, strengthed by our religions, backed up by the very idea that the world around you exists. A simple Big Bang couldn't have made this, something would cause the Big Bang, if so.

Please don't take this wrong, everyone's entitled to their own beliefs, I think this thread was kind of a mistake, though the debating is sort of helping us communicate. I'm NOT poking or jesting about other religions/beliefs. We're still humans, and we were all made from something, whatever it was


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PostPosted: Sat 19 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

Someone posted:

"I disagree. The magical lesbian witch abortionist unicorn with rainbows coming out of its backside created trees. Why not? I mean if you'll go for god, why not another option? Besides, I believe a magical lesbian witch abortionist unicorn with rainbows would be a much more amusing truth."

Dear Lord Father are these the people I am to devote my life for saving? Are you serious? If I'm frustrated I can ONLY imagine your anguish. I pray for your understanding, and guidance with words. For I know they will see you one day. I pray that day comes when they have many left. I know what I must do, help me do it. In the name of everything you are... Amen


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Bombax
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PostPosted: Sat 19 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

RoD wrote:
How about this, God is God, we know because we have faith, strengthed by our religions, backed up by the very idea that the world around you exists. A simple Big Bang couldn't have made this, something would cause the Big Bang, if so.

Please don't take this wrong, everyone's entitled to their own beliefs, I think this thread was kind of a mistake, though the debating is sort of helping us communicate. I'm NOT poking or jesting about other religions/beliefs. We're still humans, and we were all made from something, whatever it was
You are attempting to restart the discussion. Please read through the discussion so far, as to determine where it lies, because many of your arguments have already been discussed.
Quote:
Dear Lord Father are these the people I am to devote my life for saving? Are you serious? If I'm frustrated I can ONLY imagine your anguish. I pray for your understanding, and guidance with words. For I know they will see you one day. I pray that day comes when they have many left. I know what I must do, help me do it. In the name of everything you are... Amen
Argumentum ad hominem. Instead of addressing our arguments, you turn to ridicule us by making our oppositions seem falsely delusional. I'm sorry to have to point this out, but your arguments have been the weakest in this discussion so far (weakest meaning having the lowest evidence per statement ratio).

I will try to respond to more people, but I have indian food to process.


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Wond3rland
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PostPosted: Sat 19 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

Okay. Messenge from God. If you so choose to accept it a so.

"You have your heads in the sand. Arguing over the trivial. Names/people/places/specifics. When the truth is I come to you all in the form of love. Life. Consciousness. If the Christian God offends you, call me Allah. If thee is still troubled call me Yah-Weh. I am the Buddha. Alpha & Omega. I am not concerned with mans arbitrary attempts at named interpretations. I placed man-kind upon the Earth to strive for perfection. For divinity. Yet the ignorance you shadow will not even allow you start the journey. Deep in your heart of hearts I am with you and will be accepted for I do not forsake you in time of doubt, in time of struggle, or in time of prosperity.
I am love, I am the light, I am the Almighty. When one has truly begun a path in search of me I will always be revealed...



"Jesus is not ducking in your rear-view."


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PostPosted: Sat 19 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

Bombax wrote:
RoD wrote:
How about this, God is God, we know because we have faith, strengthed by our religions, backed up by the very idea that the world around you exists. A simple Big Bang couldn't have made this, something would cause the Big Bang, if so.

Please don't take this wrong, everyone's entitled to their own beliefs, I think this thread was kind of a mistake, though the debating is sort of helping us communicate. I'm NOT poking or jesting about other religions/beliefs. We're still humans, and we were all made from something, whatever it was
You are attempting to restart the discussion. Please read through the discussion so far, as to determine where it lies, because many of your arguments have already been discussed.
Quote:
Dear Lord Father are these the people I am to devote my life for saving? Are you serious? If I'm frustrated I can ONLY imagine your anguish. I pray for your understanding, and guidance with words. For I know they will see you one day. I pray that day comes when they have many left. I know what I must do, help me do it. In the name of everything you are... Amen
Argumentum ad hominem. Instead of addressing our arguments, you turn to ridicule us by making our oppositions seem falsely delusional. I'm sorry to have to point this out, but your arguments have been the weakest in this discussion so far (weakest meaning having the lowest evidence per statement ratio).

I will try to respond to more people, but I have indian food to process.


My bad :D too lazy to read 7 pages ^^ . Indian food, ooh I want some lachgroen


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underscore
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PostPosted: Sat 19 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

@Bombax -- Indian food, for the win! I'm interested to hear what you have to say about my latest post.

@Amorphis -- I've been working to address each of your concerns about my post, but I've run out of time for tonight (well, where I am, anyway ). Hopefully I'll have something up in the next 24 hours or less, but man... good, tough questions!

@RoD -- its a LOT of information to digest, for sure!


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Wond3rland
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PostPosted: Sat 19 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

Weakest evidence per statement ratio. Ha. Pretty fancy for wrong. My evidence is the world you inhabit. Everything you are, feel, and think. If the evidence is weak your eyes are closed. I'm so sorry. You don't even have an argument. There is no argument. We have a creator who made us out of love and joy to strive for all that is good in the world. And you, along with all your scientific friends, think we have no purpose. I'm so sorry, again. You live in a world with no absolute purpose or definition for Why we are here. You, and all your lil friends again, either believe in self, (Buying bigger T.Vs, nice houses, jewlery, fancy cars and luxury) or you believe in helping others. One or the other.

Your either here to help you, or to help other people. Make your pick. If you pick the latter, other people, then you must ask yourself "Why." Because this goes against the human nature trait of greed.

And my last thing. Someone please anyone, read through the last couple pages and note that every athiest or whatever never actually made a point. They just called us believers wrong. They literally copied what we wrote, quoted it... and put wrong. Never making a case for themselves.

Your entire case consists of "Billions of numbers FROM BILLIONS OF YEARS AGO and the fact you can't see him." Done Over. No one post again. The argument was settled, and they lost. I'm sure I'll get a moderator or whatever. They're probably just a pissed off athiest too. if I become removed it will only be due to hipocracy. "Wond3rland don't voice your opinion. And if you do, don't believe it. Because someone might get offended if you think they're WRONG"

Smart people believe in God. Dumb people believe in fabricated calculations from 1000000 BILLION years ago.

I'm sorry. Not sorry as in wrong, sorry as in you don't see it yet. The absolute worst thing is I know why. I do. I understand, like actually understand. There's a war going on for your mind. WAKE UP! WAKE UP! WAKE UP!


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PostPosted: Sat 19 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

God, FTW.

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PostPosted: Sat 19 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

i completely agree with RoD's earlier statement. even though i have only read half of it i get the basic/half complex structure of the post/thread thingy. but annyway i think that all this time spent on talking about some book about god could have made atleast 10 more posts for me to entertain myself on for the rest of the night(remember im an addict )and be amused with the problems,techniques and games that LD4all has to offer so as a user of ld4all i boycott this post untill further realization of how useless 100 posts on a phony attempt to make alot of money book about god is. im sorry all of you im even sorry for myself but this post is destroying the friendship and peace in this community,you all may have other opinions but thats how i feel and you can critisise all you want. peace siiw

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Wond3rland
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PostPosted: Sat 19 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

This topic has caused dismay amongst people for a millennia. I aim to resolve that, at least for myself. No one ever likes talking about Religion or Politics. I'm sorry maybe we should get back to talking about Kanye West at the VMAs, yah... maybe that's more important.

And by Kanye West I mean the pointless trivial small talk we use as a platform to socialize.

I will stop, and continue thinking I'm right. Along with 5/6 of the free world. I ask the atheist to do the same. But when the day comes and your sign is revealed, do not ignore it. God's plan is so perfect it had to be this way for any purpose to exist. If everyday was sunny would you not miss the rain? If everyday was perfect, could perfect exist. With some people un able to see, it strengthens the believers giving purpose to our testimony. I like what one guy said, paraphrased...

"What does an atheist have to gain from converting a Believer? Where as the Believer feels compelled to spread eternal life to that atheist, saving a soul for God.


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PostPosted: Sat 19 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

Let me say as a disclaimer for this post that, at the moment, I am only responding to Bombax.

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
Oh dear... Well, to be honest, I am glad that you at least took a high school logic course. Unfortunately, it appears you didn't do too well in it.


Post hoc ergo propter hoc - just because I know logical fallacies does not mean I took a high school logic course. Which I didn't. Argumentum ad hominem - you attack me, my performance in this non-existant course I took instead of discussing my arguments.


Well...apparently I gave you more credit than you seem to deserve. Before I argue, let me make sure you're caught up to some rules of logic.

Logical fallacies, by definition, are only fallacies in an argument. With no argument, there is no point that is being conveyed, hence, there is no logic used to prove said point. Therefore, identifying a "logical fallacy" in a sentence deprived of logic or persuasive thought is both redundant and self-humiliating (Which you would have actually learned in a high school logic course, rather than learning what you know of logic from wikipedia (Hey, look! An ad hominem! Now, since we both know I know the definitions of logical fallacies as well as when I make one, how about we not fill up an essay by repeatedly reciting definitions!)).

Additionally, simply because an argument contains logical fallacies does not mean that the rest of the argument--the proper logic, truth, evidence, or thought conveyed by the rest of the post--is discredited--no matter the number of logical fallacies in the argument.

Furthermore, identifying logical fallacies is basic rhetoric. Advanced rhetoric needs not to publicly identify logical fallacies, as both parties know when they are made (for instance, in this argument I use numerous ad hominems, either-or fallacies, straw men, non sequiturs, and so forth. I know when these are made and I make them to enforce the tone of my argument rather than attempting to use them to enforce the logical points of my argument. Since I know that I make these fallacies--as everyone arguing should--it is pointless to address them). Advanced rhetoric also argues back, so I would appreciate an actual reply of substance rather than pointlessly addressing fallacies.

My quoted post in this instance was most obviously satirical and certainly not an argument that, judging by your response earlier, you had failed some whimsical logic course in high school. If this were the case, my quoted statement would contain a much greater volume of logical fallacies than the two pointed out above. Therefore, you are either proving your ignorance of the rules of logic and logical fallacies, or you are proving your intent to automatically discredit my remarks, whether or not they are even an argument.

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
By the way, I'm only going to actually make that reply to humor you; if you knew much about logic, you'd know that the burden of proof rests on you

Okay, burden of proof of what? What is it that I must provide evidence for? If you are referring to my first post, I clearly stated directly afterhand that I was not supposed to be taken seriously. The next following statements are also logically valid. So far, I have not made any logical fallacies. I would, however, be more than happy to listen to what fallacies I have made which you can correctly point out.


You have the burden of proof, as your first post stated your opinion that the Bible stands in contrast to scientific claims. You may have said that you were kidding, but from the grammar of your post, it is evident that you meant that you were kidding about your belief in God creating the world and that you are in fact agnostic, rather than your opinion that the Bible stands in contrast to scientific claims. The burden of proof is, therefore, upon your shoulders, as you made the first polemic claim.

To reference Russell's teapot, by his logic, he is correct. This is because Russell did not first assert that no teapot existed—rather, someone asserted to him that one did exist. If he had made the first assertion, the burden of proof would have been upon his shoulders, even if disproving this is impossible. However, since in this case you made the first claim, the burden of proof rests on you, no matter how impossible it is to prove or disprove your thesis. This shouldering of the burden of proof is yet another thing that you would've learned if you had actually taken that high school logic course. (Keep in mind that I know I'm making these fallacies here; I know you want to point this one out. However, keep in mind that that last sentence takes nothing away from the overall argument in that paragraph.)

Additionally, while logical fallacies do not all have Latin names, your logic is most certainly faulty, which I will now proceed to show you.

Bombax wrote:
I am going to point out all the logical fallacies in your post. If you do not accept this, then you are not able to argue logically for your point, and if that is the case, then there is no point in arguing with you.


From your first sentence, you are mistaken. Had my first post been an argument of the nature that you mistakenly assumed it was, you still would not have even pointed out all of the mistaken logic in that post. From the second, you are logically flawed. If I do not accept your logical fallacies it could mean that you are misinterpreting my argument--which is, in fact, the case--and what you see as flaws in my logic are, indeed, misplaced.

Now onto the real stuff...

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
"When you analyze all of the most current affirmative evidence from cosmology, physics, astronomy, biology, and so forth--well, I think you'll discover that the positive case for an intelligent designer becomes absolutely compelling." -- Johnathan Wells, Ph.D., Ph.D., who received a doctorate in molecular and cell biology from Berkeley, and a doctorate in religious studies from Yale.

  • Argumentum ad verecundiam - argument from authority. Because someone has a Ph.D. and a basis for authority it does not logically imply that what he is saying is correct.
  • Non sequitur - it does not follow. It does not logically follow that the "positive case for an intelligent designer" is a result of "analyzing all of the most current affirmative evidence."


I am, in all honesty, glad that you are able to see past the farce that is an absolute appeal to authority as a source of truth. However, a postmodern element of your worldview shines clear as day here. You assumed (illogically) that the point of my quotation was to show the truth of my future claim (that is, you assumed that these quotes were used to illumine my later argument that The God Delusion is a flawed book). This was not the case. My quotation of Wells, as well as following scientists, was simply to show that people of high education and prestige do accept the Christian--or at the very least, theistic--worldview.

It is commonly argued that no individuals of higher education or who have been educated in the disciplines of biology, evolution, or physics do accept the Christian, or theistic, worldview; then, it is illogically assumed that this lack of authoritative agreement must make this worldview false. Since this is a common objection, I posted quotes from three scientists educated in these disciplines from prestigious institutions to refute this possible claim before it was made. I did not post these quotations as a begetter of truth as, like you have so elegantly pointed out, posting those quotes alone as argument is flawed.

I do want to point out that your non sequitur in this case is misplaced. If one could not make a judgment based upon the cumulative verdict of a mass of evidence, the entire scientific method would be illogical and discredited. If, indeed, all of the most affirmative evidence points toward a designer, then it is logical to infer that the evidence constitutes a justified belief that there is a designer--just as if the evidence pointed away from a designer, it would be logical to believe that there was no designer.

Bombax wrote:
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"While there will always be points of tension or unresolved conflict, the major developments in science in the past five decades have been running strongly in a theistic direction.... You can invoke neither time nor space nor matter nor energy nor the laws of nature to explain the origin of the universe. General relativity points to the need for a cause that transcends those domains. And theism affirms the existence of such an entity--namely, God." -- Stephen C. Meyer, Ph.D., who received his doctorate from Cambridge, focusing on the history of molecular biology, the history of physics, and evolutionary theory.

  • Again, Argumentum ad verecundiam - argument from authority. Because person A has a Ph.D. and thus educational authority it does not imply that he is correct.
  • Again, Non sequitur - it does not follow from "General relativity" that "[it] points to the need for a cause that transcends those domains.


I already addressed the fact that I was not arguing from authority but trying to prevent a future claim, and you misinterpreted this.

I do want to address your non sequitur here. I assume you do not know how much your insertion of the word "it" changes the original statement made here by Dr. Meyer. Dr. Meyer is referring to Einstein's theory of general relativity--a theory of gravitation developed by Einstein and used in physics today.

This theory, applied to the theory of the big bang, points to a force that transcends matter, energy, time, and the laws of energy, as none of these could have existed prior to the big bang, and thus, something must have caused them all into existence. Therefore, by inserting the word [it] into my sentence and changing the grammatical structure of it, you have created a logical fallacy that was absent prior to your tampering--further indicating your ignorance on the topics against which you argue. I will get to this argument later, though, after I am done with the polemic portion of my post and onto the apologetic portion. Please do not jump on my post at this point and point out that I have made claims without evidence--the evidence is coming later on.

I will ignore the third ad verecundiam accusation you made, as I hope it is apparent by now that you misinterpreted the objective of those quotes.

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
The Bible contains nothing contrary to scientific thought. It is also coherent and logical. This is why the discipline of Christian theology is so prevalent among the church, as the coherence of Scripture not only has face value but much depth to it as well. Read into actual scientific data, and look deep into it. Materialism is the dominant philosophy in our culture, and it holds more weight than the actual science supporting it should allow for.

  • Base rate fallacy - You say that "the Bible contains nothing contrary to scientific thought, it is also coherent and logical." What evidence do you have of this?
  • Argumentum ad populum - argument from popular belief. Because "Christian theology is so prevalent" does not mean that it is correct.
  • Post hoc ergo propter hoc - correlation does not imply causation. Even if the premise "it is also coherent and logical" was correct (which it isn't, see above), "Christian theology is so prevalent" would not necessarily follow.
  • Appeal to emotion - "actual science supporting it should allow for." What evidence do you have of this?


My "base rate fallacy" in this case is irrelevant. This is the very statement that the burden of proof rests upon your shoulders; the statement that you made that caused me to reply in the first place. I have already explained what this statement was, and I expect you to supply proof for your position before I argue against it, as you currently have the burden of proof on this issue.

You misinterpreted my use of the word "prevalent." By prevalent, I did not imply that it was popular, I implied that it was intricate, complicated, and deep. I can very well argue the case for Christian theology's rationality (as can John Locke, a great philosopher who wrote an entire essay on the rationality of Christianity--look it up for some better proof than you'll find here), and I very well will do so if R3TRO does not want to argue this position for me. He attends Grace School of Theology, and could most likely argue for its coherence in simultaneously more complex terms and understandable language than I could. Look for his post right below mine.

Understanding my usage of the word prevalent also nullifies your "post hoc ergo propter hoc" fallacy, as Christian theology's complicatedness and intricate nature most certainly follows if theology is a coherent and logical whole. Additionally, your argument that Christian theology is illogical is based on a misinterpreted logical fallacy you found in my writings. My writings are, assuredly, not indicative of the whole discipline. Since you have made this claim without refutation but as an independent argument, the burden of proof is now on both of our shoulders for this issue. I have the burden of proof to show that is logical and coherent, as I made a statement that it was without citing evidence, and you also made a statement that it was not without citing evidence. Therefore, as I will hold up my end of the bargain if R3TRO does not for me, I expect you or someone else who you agree with to hold up your end of the bargain, and prove on that Christian theology is actually illogical (for starters, you might want to look up Thomas Hobbes, he makes some great arguments in this category (unfortunately, his arguments are hundreds of years old by now and have since been largely refuted)).

You are right in that I did not post evidence that materialism's scientific weight does not support its cultural weight, but this is by no means an appeal to emotion--unless that statement to you is like religion to Richard Dawkins, and a red flag to a bull. This evidence is now my burden of proof, and this evidence will be shown shortly in my post.

Bombax wrote:
  • A red herring! Ignoratio elenchi - distraction from the argument - in this case you are addressing how Dawkins was such a good scientist before, and now he has become bad because he has presented arguments for something that you do not agree with. You/McGrath are not addressing his arguments, but himself instead - a form of Argumentum ad hominem - argument from the man.

I am ignoring the final ad verecundiam, as I hope I have addressed that issue to death.

Well, I hope you will find it funny, as I most certainly do, that the quotations I took from "The Dawkins Delusion?" were entirely from the first paragraph and introduction, and therefore, were most certainly not intended to be an actual refutation of his work.

I will now proceed to refute his work, however, along with supplying all of the proof that materialism is not absolute truth, but rather must be taken by faith even more-so than a religion.

To begin, I will first address the issue of whether or not there is scientific contradiction in the Biblical text. I will then present scientific evidence from cosmology, physics, biochemistry, and neuroscience in support of my conclusion. I will then transfer into a section on the inaccuracy of Dawkins' book, The God Delusion. I will then summarize this information as a conclusion.

Regarding the Scientific Validity of the Christian Scriptures

You challenged me to prove that there is no inconsistency with science in the Christian Scriptures. However, as previously addressed, you made the first claim in this area, so you shoulder the burden of proof.

I want to address Leviticus 11, as this has been brought up. Yes, it appears in our English translations with our English grammar and in the structure set centuries ago of separating verses that Leviticus 11 refers to the bat as a type of bird. However, the structure of the verses we see in Leviticus 11 did not exist when the book was first written. In fact, the chapters of the book didn’t either. Ancient Hebrew grammar is much different than ours, and it did not necessarily include sentence starts and endings in the same ways we use them. The words, “And the bat,” appear after the entire list of flying, feathered birds, but before the entire list of flying insects. Additionally, the bat is the only “bird” in Leviticus 11 receiving the word “and” before it is listed, indicating in Hebrew contexts that it is of a special significance. I have heard it argued that in the original connotations, the special significance marks “the bat” as somewhat of a transition between birds and insects. Indicating that while it is something that flies, it falls neatly into neither category.

Some others argue that modern taxonomy is man-made, and thus not necessarily truth but labeling. I disagree with this argument, but I bring it up for others’ sakes.

Evidence of Cosmology

I write this argument with the (hopefully, for your sakes, correct) presupposition that you believe in the “Big Bang,” and I will write this assuming you know its basic thesis. However, I will cite a small amount of evidence for this theory just in case you do not already accept it, and I will build my argument from there.

When Albert Einstein developed his general theory of relativity in 1915 and started applying it to the universe as a whole, he was shocked to discover that it didn’t allow for a static universe. According to his equations, the universe had to be either exploding or imploding

In 1920, the Russian mathematician Alexander Friedman and the Belgium astronomer George Lemaitre were able to develop models based on Einstein’s theory. They predicted the universe was expanding. Of course, this meant that if you went backward in time the universe would go back to a single origin and beyond--to a time where it didn’t exist. The astronomer Fred Hoyle derisively called this the Big Bang, and the name stuck.

In 1929 the first empirical evidence was gathered that supported these mathematical models. The astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered that the light coming to us from distant galaxies appears to be redder than it should be, and that this is a universal feature of galaxies in all parts of the sky. Hubble explained this red shift as being due to the fact that the galaxies are moving away from us. He concluded that the universe is literally flying apart at enormous velocities.

Then in the 1940s, George Gamow predicted that if the Big Bang really happened, then the background temperature of the universe should be just a few degrees above absolute zero. He said this would be a relic from a very early stage of the universe. Sure enough, in 1965, two scientists accidentally discovered the universe’s background radiation—and it was only about 3.7 degrees above absolute zero. There’s no explanation for this apart from the very fact that it was a vestige of a very early and a very dense state of the universe, which was predicted by the Big Bang model.

The third main piece of evidence for the Big Bang is the origin of light elements. Heavy elements, like carbon and iron, are synthesized in the interior of stars and then exploded through supernovae into space. But the very, very light elements, like deuterium and helium, cannot be synthesized in the interior of stars because you would need an even more powerful furnace to create them. These elements must have been forged in the furnace of the Big Bang itself at temperatures that were billions of degrees. There’s no other explanation.

Up until this theory was proposed and verified, it was taken for granted that the universe was a static, eternally existing object. During the Enlightenment, this presupposition was used as an argument against the existence of a god. Since the universe had no beginning point, no creator was needed. It was a fairly open and shut argument, which is why individuals like Thomas Aquinas devoted so much time and energy to prove the existence of God despite a static universe.

Now that we can prove that the universe had a beginning, an old argument for a creator, the kalam cosmological argument—first established by Muslims around 1000-1100—has resurfaced. This argument is a compelling argument to most cosmologists and other scientists who have heard both the evidence and argument. The argument goes like this, “Whatever begins to exist has a cause. The universe had a beginning. Therefore, the universe had a cause.”

To address a possible, though poor, refutation of the the first premise of this argument, I must first address the concept of absolute nothingness. Absolute nothingness is the absence of anything and everything. It is the absence of atoms, molecules, proteins, amino acids, electricity, light, sound, color, and everything else. It is intuitively, logically, and empirically obvious that whatever exists has a beginning, as not anything—from the most basic building blocks of life to the largest structures known—has ever been reported, recorded, or observed as arising from nothing. We do not even have the concept of absolute nothingness in our universe, as there is matter everywhere that is known. Even the famous skeptic David Hume didn’t deny the first premise of this argument (hey look, I know you’re going to be extremely tempted to point out I’m arguing from authority here! Keep in mind that I said “even,” indicating he is not a source of knowledge by himself but a knowledgeable and respected man in the category of skepticism. Additionally, he’s an atheist, so he’s on your side (and I know, that’s a logical fallacy to assume that a person’s side has anything to do with their validity, so don’t bother pointing that out to me either)). Hume wrote in 1754, “I never asserted so absurd a proposition as that anything might arise without a cause.” It wasn’t until the discovery of scientific confirmation for a beginning of the universe that anyone—especially materialists and promissory materialists, who, with a static universe, had science on their side--began to suggest that the universe possibly just came from nothing—yet, this is their position, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary and no evidence whatsoever in support of this position.

Thus, whatever begins to exist has a cause. As proven empirically earlier, the universe had a beginning. Therefore, logically—and this is basic, basic logic—the universe had a cause. Thomas Aquinas stated that if the Aristotelian view of cosmology was true and the physical universe did in fact have a beginning, then proving God’s existence would be too easy. This cause for the beginning of matter, space, time, energy, and the laws of nature, must, by definition, transcend the limitations of these entities. While this argument cannot point towards what it actually is that transcends these entities, the proposed theistic/deistic argument of a Creator God accurately meets these qualifications. Thus, as stated earlier—and proving the supposed non sequitur you posted in reference to my Meyer quote as wrong—general relativity indeed does point to something that transcends these domains.

Hypothetical explanations have been given to address the myriad of evidence presented in the Big Bang theory without actually allowing the universe to have a beginning. However, these explanations are purely speculative and with no evidence whatsoever in favor of any of them and each having a multitude of evidences opposing them. Should you feel it necessary to raise one of these objections, I will refute it with evidence. However, since this reply is already lengthy enough, and it is of no point in posting these theories simply to refute them outright and immediately, I will not waste time or space posting them here.

All of this information can be referenced to “The Case for a Creator” by Lee Strobel, pages 105-108. Strobel interviews a cosmologist in this chapter, William Lane Craig, Ph.D., Th.D. Additional references for the numerical or quotational evidence presented in this argument are found in that book, but to save space, I will not post each and every book here. Simply go and look in that one single book for all the other sources if you really want them.

The Evidence of Physics

The evidence of physics for a creator is more suggestive than concrete than the evidence of cosmology for a creator. With this in mind, I will present a point of evidence in physics for a creator, the Anthropic Principle.

Over the past thirty years or so, scientists have discovered that just about everything about the basic structure of the universe is balanced on a razor’s edge for life to exist. The coincidences are far too fantastic to claim that it needs no explanation—atheistic or theistic.

Back in the late 1950s, Hoyle talked about the process by which carbon and oxygen are produced in a certain ratio inside stars. If you tinker with the resonance states of carbon, you won’t get the materials you need for building life. Incidentally, recent studies by the physicist Heinz Oberhummer and his colleagues show that just a one-percent change in the strong nuclear force would have a thirty-to a thousand-fold impact in the production of oxygen and carbon in stars. Since stars provide the carbon and oxygen needed for life on planets. If you throw that off balance, conditions in the universe would be much less optimal for the existence of life.

Most of the research and writing about the fine-tuning of the universe has taken place since the early 1980s. There have been hundreds of articles and books written on it from both a technical and popular perspective.

As an example of the fine-tuned laws of physics, consider gravity. Imagine a ruler that was long enough to go all the way across the vast distance of the universe. Imagine that it’s broken down into usual, one-inch increments, meaning that there would be billions upon billions upon billions of inches. The entire ruler represents the range of force strengths in nature, with gravity being the weakest force and the strong nuclear force that binds protons and neutrons together in the nuclei being the strongest—a whopping ten thousand billion billion billion billion times stronger than gravity. The range of possible settings for the force of gravity can plausibly be taken to be at least as large as the total range of force strengths. Now let’s imagine that you want to move the dial from where it’s currently set. Even if you were to move it by only one inch, the impact on life of the universe would be catastrophic. That single inch adjustment would increase gravity by a billion-fold. That increase is actually not much relative to the entire range of adjustment options—it’s extraordinarily small, just one part in ten thousand billion billion billion.

However, that adjustment’s impact on life would be catastrophic, as stated. Animals anywhere near the size of human beings would be crushed. As astrophysicist Martin Rees said, “in an imaginary strong gravity world, even insects would need thick legs to support themselves, and no animals could get much bigger.” In fact, a planet with a gravitational pull of a thousand times that of Earth would have a diameter of only forty feet, which wouldn’t be enough to sustain an ecosystem. Besides that, stars which have lifetimes of more than a billion years—compared to ten billion years for our sun—couldn’t exist is you increase gravity just three thousand times. As you can see, compared to the total range of force strengths in nature, gravity has an incomprehensibly narrow range for life to exist. Of all the possible settings on the ruler, from one side of the universe to the other, it happens to be situated in the exact right fraction of an inch to make our universe capable of sustaining life.

Another parameter mind-bogglingly precise for life is the “cosmological constant”—and this measure is so precise that is boggles the minds of the world’s most skeptical scientists.

Nobel-winning physicist Steven Weinberg, an atheist, has expressed amazement at the way the cosmological constant—the energy density of empty space—is “remarkably well adjusted in our favor.” The constant, which is part of Einstein’s equation for general relativity, could have any value, positive or negative, “but from first principles one would guess that this constant should be very large,” Weinberg said. Fortunately, it isn’t, and he adds, “If large and positive, the cosmological constant would act as a repulsive force that increases with distance, a force that would prevent matter from clumping together in the early universe, the process that was the first step in forming galaxies and stars and planets and people. If large and negative, the cosmological constant would act as an attractive force increasing with distance, a force that would almost immediately reverse the expansion of the universe and cause it to recollapse.”

“In fact,” Weinberg said, “astronomical observations show that the cosmological constant is quite small, very much smaller than would have been guessed from the first principles.”

The unexpected, counterintuitive, and stunningly precise setting of the cosmological constant is “widely regarded as the single greatest problem facing physics today.” The fine-tuning of this constant is so precise that it has conservatively been estimated to be at least one part in a hundred million billion billion billion billion billion. That would be a ten followed by 53 zeroes; inconceivably precise.

When you combine the odds of these two constants happening to fall on the settings that they did, this fine-tuning would be to a precision of one part in a hundred million trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion. The odds of this happening by chance are roughly equated to throwing a dart from outside the universe into the universe, and hitting a specific atom of an unknown location anywhere in the entire known universe.

Additionally, there are multiple other examples of fine-tuning. For instance, there’s the difference in mass between neutrons and protons. Increase the mass of the neutron by about one part in seven hundred and nuclear fusion in stars would stop. There would be no energy source for life.

Furthermore, if the electromagnetic force were slightly stronger or slightly weaker, life in the universe would be impossible. Or consider the strong nuclear force. Imagine decreasing it 50%, which is tiny—one part in ten thousand billion billion billion billion, compared to the total range of force strengths. If this change was made, since charges repel, the strong nuclear force would be too weak to prevent the repulsive force between the positively charged protons in atomic nuclei from tearing apart all atoms except hydrogen. Regardless of what they may show on Star Trek, you can’t have intelligent life forms built from hydrogen. It simply doesn’t have enough complexity.

Few concepts stretch the mind as much as the fine-tuning of the universe. For example, Oxford physicist Roger Penrose said one parameter, the “original phase-space volume,” required fine-tuning to an accuracy of one part in ten billion multiplied by itself one hundred and twenty three times. Penrose remarked that it would be impossible to even write down that number in full, since it would require more zeroes than the number of elementary particles in the entire universe! This showed, he said, “the precision needed to set the universe on its course.”

Obviously, the chances of all of these forces being set how they are based solely on chance is almost infinitely improbable. It is, therefore, more reasonable to choose the theory of intelligent design over the theory of chance. It does not prove an intelligent designer in itself, but when paired with a theory that better explains this result than pure chance, that theory is the more logical of the two.

There is an argument against the Anthropic Principle known as the Weak Anthropic Principle, which I will address here. The argument states that if the universe were not fine-tuned for life, then human beings would not be around to observe it. Consequently, this theory contends that the fine-tuning requires no explanation.

While there is certainly an intuitive appeal to that argument, there is a counter-argument to that as well, also based on intuition. Robin Collins, quoting John Leslie, stated, “Suppose you were standing before a firing squad of fifty highly trained marksmen who were all aiming at your chest from a short distance away. You heard the order, ‘Ready! Aim! Fire!’ But you didn’t feel anything. You remove your blindfold and see you’re still alive. Not one bullet hit you. Now, you wouldn’t allow the skeptic to simply dismiss the situation by saying, ‘Oh well, if they had shot you, you wouldn’t be here to comment on the situation.’ No—the circumstances are still surprising and they would still demand an explanation. Did they conspire together to miss you? Was this a mock execution? And the same thing is true for the fine-tuning of the universe. It still demands an explanation. My assessment is that the best explanation is a designer.”

Since this is the only known universe (suggested hypotheses of multi-verses, which were largely made to avoid this problem metaphysically, have no evidence whatsoever, empirical or mathematical, and I would be happy to disprove any multi-verse hypothesis you find with an argument based on logic against any of them.), and since these parameters are very fine-tuned, it is reasonable to believe that the pure chance of these occurring falls short in comparison to the theory of an intelligent designer.

All of this information can be referenced to “The Case for a Creator” by Lee Strobel, pages 131-138. Strobel interviews a physicist in this chapter, Robin Collins, Ph.D. Additional references for the numerical or quotational evidence presented in this argument are found in that book, but to save space, I will not post each and every book here.

The Evidence of Biochemistry

The evidence of biochemistry that I will present here is more of an argumentation against current theories of evolution and the evolution of some basic structures on Earth that currently exist than it is an argument for an intelligent designer in the overall sense. With that in mind, I will present the evidence for a creator in biochemistry, a condition called “Irreducible Complexity.”

When Darwin proposed his theory, scientists could currently see cells under a microscope, but they looked like little globs of Jello, with a dark spot as the nucleus. They observed that the cell could do interesting things—it could divide, it could move around—but they didn’t know how it did anything. The speculation as to how, back then, normally involved electricity. Scientists in Darwin’s day speculated that the deeper they delved into the cell, the more simplicity they would find. But the opposite happened.

Now we’ve probed to the bottom of life, so to speak—that is, we’re at the level of molecules—and there’s complexity all the way down. We’ve learned the cell is horrendously complicated, and that it’s actually run by micromachines of the right shape, the right strength, and the right interactions. The existence of these machines challenges a test that Darwin himself provided.

Darwin said in his “Origin of Species,” “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possible have been formed by numerous successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” This is the basis of the concept of irreducible complexity.

A system or device is irreducibly complex if it has a number of different components that all work together to accomplish the task of the system, and if you were to remove one of the components, the system would no longer function. An irreducibly complex system is highly unlikely to be built piece-by-piece through Darwinian processes, because the system has to be fully present in order for it to function. An illustration commonly used—at the risk of being too simplistic—is a mousetrap.

In a mousetrap, the interdependence of the parts is evident. First, there’s a flat wooden platform to which the other parts are attached. Second, there’s a metal hammer, which does the job of crushing the mouse. Third, there’s a spring with extended ends to press against the platform and the hammer when the trap is charged. Fourth, there’s a catch that releases when a mouse applies a slight bit of pressure. And, fifth, there’s a metal bar that connects to the catch and holds the hammer back when the trap is charged.

Now, if you take any of these parts—the spring or the holding bar or whatever—then it’s not as if the mousetrap becomes half as efficient as it used to be or it only catches half as many mice. Instead, it doesn’t catch any mice. It’s broken. It doesn’t work at all. Also notice that not only do you need to have these parts, but they also have to be matched to each other and have the right spatial relationship to each other. An intelligent agent sets the parts in the right place for a mousetrap. But in the cell, no one tells the parts where to go—they have to do it on their own. There is a necessity to have the information resident in the system to tell the components to get together in the right orientation, otherwise it’s useless.

Evolution can’t produce an irreducibly complex biological machine suddenly, all at once, because it’s much too complicated. The odds against that would be prohibited. Additionally, you can’t produce anything irreducibly complex by numerous, successive, slight modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor system would be missing a part and consequently couldn’t function. There would no reason for it to exist. And natural selection chooses systems that are already working.

One well-known molecular machine that is irreducibly complex is the cilium. Cilia are whiplike hairs on the surface of cells. If the cell is stationary, the cilia move fluid across the cell’s surface. You have cilia lining your respiratory tract. Every cell in that tract has about two hundred of them, and they beat in synchrony in order to sweep mucus towards your throat for elimination. That’s how your body expels little foreign particles that you accidently inhale. Cilia also have another function: if the cell is mobile, the cilia can row it through a fluid. Sperm cells would be an example; they’re propelled forward by the rowing action of cilia.

Admittedly, this sounds fairly simple, which is what scientists used to think when they examined cilia under a light microscope. They just looked like little hairs. But now that we have electron microscopes, we’ve found that cilia are, in fact, quite complicated molecular machines. Think about it: most hairs don’t beat back and forth, what enables cilia to do this? Well, it turns out a cilium is made up of about two hundred protein parts.

Here is a basic explanation of the function and structure of cilia. There are nine pairs of microtubules, which are long, thin, flexible rods, which encircle two single microtubules. The outer microtubules are connected to each other by what are called nexin linkers. And each microtubule has a motor protein called dynein. The motor protein attaches to one microtubule and has an arm that reaches over, grabs the other one, and pushes it down. So the two rods start to slide lengthwise with respect to each other. As they start to slide, the nexin linkers, which were originally like loose rope, get stretched and become taut. As the dynein pushes farther and farther, it starts to bend the apparatus; then it pushes the other way and bends it back. That’s how you get the rowing motion of the cilium.

That explanation doesn’t do justice to the complexity of the cilium, but to avoid being too complicated that explanation proves the point. The point is this: these three parts—the rods, linkers, and motors—are necessary to convert a sliding motion into a bending motion so the cilium can move. If it weren’t for the linkers, everything would fall apart when the sliding motion began. If it weren’t for the motor protein, it wouldn’t move at all. If it weren’t for the rods, there would be nothing to move. So, like the mousetrap, the cilium is irreducibly complex.

Darwinian evolution cannot account for this system, as you can only get the motion of the cilium when every part is together. None of the individual parts can do the trick by themselves; you need them all in place. For evolution to account for that, you would have to imagine how this could develop gradually—but nobody has been able to do that. To create this system, the necessary components would have to come together at the exactly the right places relative to each other at the precise time.

Another example of an irreducibly complex system is the flagellum. While cilia act like oars to move cells, it was discovered in 1973 that the flagellum performs like a rotary propeller. Only bacteria have a flagellum. It is an extremely efficient motor that functions similar to an outboard motor on a boat. The flagellum’s propeller is long and whiplike, made out of a protein called flagellin. This is attached to a drive shaft by hook protein, which acts as a universal joint, allowing the propeller and drive shaft to rotate freely. Several types of protein act as bushing material to allow the drive shaft to penetrate the bacterial wall and attach to the rotary motor.

How the flagellum gets the energy to behave as a rotary motor is an interesting phenomenon. Some other biological systems that generate movement, like muscles, use energy that’s been stored in what’s called a “carrier molecule,” but the flagellum uses another system—energy generated by a flow of acid through the bacterial membrane. This is a complex process that scientists are still studying and trying to understand. The whole system works very well: the flagellum’s propeller can spin at ten thousand revolutions per minute—more RPMs than some high-performance sports cars. However, not only can the flagellum spin at that velocity, it can stop spinning within a quarter turn and instantly start spinning the other way at ten thousand RPMs.

Howard Berg of Harvard University called the flagellum the most efficient motor in the universe. It’s way beyond anything we can make, especially when you consider the flagellum’s size. A flagellum is on the order of a couple of microns. A micron is about 1/20,000th of an inch. Most of the flagellum’s length is the propeller. The motor itself would be maybe 1/100,000ths of an inch. Even with all our technology, we can’t even begin to create something like this.

Another details to keep in mind is the steering system on this bacteria flagellum. A motor moving an object without an ability to steer almost always results in a crash. Sensory systems feed into the bacteria flagellum and tell it when to turn on and when to turn off, so that it guides the bacteria to food, light, or whatever it’s seeking.

The flagellum is irreducibly complex. Genetic studies have shown that between thirty and thirty-five proteins are needed to create a functional flagellum. The amount of the flagellum’s complexities are not even begun being described here; we don’t even know all the roles of its proteins. At minimum, however, you need at least three parts--a paddle, a rotor, and a motor—that are made up of various proteins. Eliminate one of those parts and you don’t get a flagellum that only spins at five thousand RPMs, you get a flagellum that doesn’t work at all. It is indeed irreducibly complex, and a huge stumbling block to Darwinian theory. There is not even a proposed, speculative hypothesis that anyone has offered to explain the irreducible complexity of the flagellum in Darwinian terms.

An additional irreducibly complex system the intra-cellular transport system. The cell is not a simple bag of soup with everything sloshing around. Instead, eukaryotic cells—cells of all organisms except bacteria—have a number of compartments, sort of like rooms in a house. There’s the nucleus, where the DNA resides; the mitochondria, which produce energy; the endoplasmic reticulum, which processes proteins; the Golgi apparatus, which is a way station for the proteins that are being transported elsewhere; the lysosome, which is a garbage disposal unit; secretory vesicles, which store cargo before it’s sent out of the cell; and the peroxisome, which helps metabolize fats. Each compartment is sealed off by a membrane, just like a room has walls and a door. In fact, the mitochondrion has four separate sections. Counting everything, there are more than twenty sections in each cell.

Cells are constantly getting rid of old stuff and manufacturing new components, and these components are designed to work in one room but not others. Most new components are made at a central location in the cell on things called ribosomes. A ribosome—a collection of some fifty large molecules containing more than one million atoms—has been described a an automated factory that can synthesize any protein that is instructed to make by DNA. Given the correct genetic information, in fact, it can construct any protein-based biological machine, including another ribosome, regardless of the complexity. A scientist has marveled, “It is astonishing to think that this remarkable piece of machinery, which possesses the ultimate capacity to construct every living thing that has ever existed on Earth, from a giant redwood to the human brain, can construct all its own components in a matter of minutes and…is of the order of several thousand million million times smaller than the smallest piece of functional machinery ever constructed by man.”

Not only is the ribosome so amazing, but now you’re faced with the challenge of getting these new components into the right rooms where they can operate. In order to do that, you need to have another complicated system, just like you need a lot of things in place for a Greyhound buss to take someone from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. First of all, you’ve got to have some molecular trucks that are enclosed and have motors attached to them. You also need to have little highways for them to travel along. You also need to be able to identify which components are supposed to go in which truck—after all, it doesn’t do any good if you just grab any protein that comes along, because each one needs to go to a specific room. So there has to be a signal attached to the protein—sort of a ticket—to let the protein onto the right molecular truck. Additionally, the truck needs to know where it’s going, which means having a signal on the truck itself and a complimentary signal on the compartment where the truck is supposed to unload its cargo. Furthermore, you have to have a way to get the cargo out of the truck and into the compartment, and it turns out that this is an active process that involves other components recognizing each other, physically opening things up, and allowing the material to go inside.

In that transport system, you have numerous components, all of which have to be in place or nothing works. If you don’t have the signal, or if you don’t have the truck, or any of the other things, you’re out of luck. This microscopic transportation system is not something that can be self-assembled by gradual modifications over time.

An additional irreducibly complex system that I could discuss, but will not for the purpose of saving time, space, and energy, is our very own blood clotting system.

Any scientific test or theory that has been devised to create an irreducibly complex system, or prove that one could be created by successive modifications has failed. While there are some that have tried, all of them ended in failure—though that is not always reported. If you happen to raise one of these tests as a counter-argument, I will address it in its entirety. However, since, again, I see no point in wasting time, space, and energy to type all of these tests and theories out simply to refute them or show their failure outright and immediately, I will not do so now.

The irreducibly complex systems have yet to be explained by naturalistic means, despite a popular book raising awareness of this issue for several years now. As science advances, we are continuing to find even more and more complexity in the cellular world. Though disproving Darwinian evolution certainly does not necessitate a creator, it does necessitate an explanation for life as we know it—a materialistic explanation or not. An explanation that allows for this scientific data is intelligent design.

All of this information can be referenced to “The Case for a Creator” by Lee Strobel, pages 197-217. Strobel interviews a biochemist in this chapter, Michael J. Behe, Ph.D. Additional references for the numerical or quotational evidence presented in this argument are found in that book, but to save space, I will not post each and every book here.

Evidence of Neuroscience

Materialism is a form of realism, where matter is considered to be all that truly exists. Thales (625-545 BC) believed the universe was made of water. Anaximenes (585-528 BC) claimed that it was primarily air. He said, “Just as our soul, being air, keeps us together, so also breath and air encompasses the whole cosmos.” Heraclitus (535-475 BC) said that the universe was formed of fire. Diogenes quotes him as saying, “The world order was not made by a god or man, but always was and is and will be an ever-living fire.” Democritus (460-360 BC) believed that reality exists only as matter and known by the physical senses. But he also postulated the existence of atoms as the unifying element of reality. Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679 AD) believed that the universe was matter-in-motion and could be measured through sense perception or technological extensions of our senses (like the microscope). In materialism, the mind is merely motions of matter within the brain. Most modern (philosophically modern, that is, opposing postmodern—which is our current society and our culture’s philosophy—and pre-modern—believing in the primacy of revelation) thinkers are materialists focusing on the scientific method as the only valid way of determining facts.

Materialism has no adequate explanation for the human mind and consciousness as it relates to the body. Thinking, hypothetical postulations, love, trust, virtue, and a host of other spiritual aspects of life are left unexplained or even denied. Awareness, intentionality, and subjectivity are activities that have yet to be explained by movement of atoms in the brain. Substance and essence are the matter or material stuff that an entity is made of, not substance or essence in the definition of Aristotle or Plato.

This above argument is a philosophical argument, by philosopher Daniel R. Berger, Ph.D., against materialism as a philosophy due to its complete inability to explain human free will and the subjective mind. It is taken from his book Mysterious Romantic Wonder: Engaging Philosophy, pages 82 and 83. As you, Bombax, argue so much from supposed pure reason and rhetoric, it astounds me that you have adopted materialism as a philosophy, when it is so easily and outright rejected by philosophers. I know that no evidence for these claims have been given, and I will now present this evidence. I wanted a philosophical argument to serve as my introduction to the topic of neuroscience—a field where philosophy and science are beginning to converge against the philosophy of materialism.

Materialism is a monistic philosophy, that is, it acknowledges only one substance: matter. Since the brain is both the seat of consciousness, yet bound by the laws of physics, free will is logically eliminated. Materialist neuroscience, therefore, denies the existence of consciousness, claiming that it is an illusion, or a byproduct of brain function—a hologram, if you will—and that we are bound to our brain’s function. To quote Francis Crick, “’You’, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: ‘You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.’”

“If all this seems dehumanizing, you haven’t seen anything yet” – Materialist neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran

“Despite our every instinct to the contrary, there is one thing that consciousness is not: some entity deep inside the brain that corresponds to the ‘self,’ some kernel of awareness that runs the show, as the ‘man behind the curtain’ manipulated the illusion of a powerful magician in The Wizard of Oz. After more than a century of looking for it [materialist] brain researches have long since concluded that there is no conceivable place for such a self to be located in the physical brain, and that it doesn’t exist.

The basis for these quotations is known in neuroscience as the “binding problem.” The binding problem is rather self explanatory. Conscious perception involves perceiving numerous aspects of the world. Consider walking in to a room. Upon entering said room, you see a red chair, blue book, white carpet, your friend Melissa, and a swimming pool outside a window. All of these objects all activate different parts of your brain, yet these activated sites do not converge on one area of the brain (let’s say, to make a judgment about how to handle these things consciously). However, there is still a unified “self” or experience. Your perception or self-identity does not change depending upon your environment or your thoughts, but your brain states do, with no common basis in any one place to another. Therefore, this problem, known as the “binding problem” (referring to the inability for science in knowing how these events are bound together in our brain to create a single, unified, consistent experience), is the basis of materialist scientists making the claims quoted above.

However, there are obvious logical problems with this philosophy of neuroscience. If there is no consciousness or free will, what about ethics? Can we expect people to behave any way other than what is necessitated to them by their brain’s electrical currents? Ethics in materialist neuroscience must be divorced from science in the same way that many individuals attempt to divorce science and religion, claiming in both instances that they are different fields which deal with different subjects. The obvious problematic implication of this stance, however, is that ethics are necessary for all human endeavors, including science.

Besides the logical ramifications that these concepts would have on the legal system, and our every intuition to reject these concepts, there is strong empirical evidence in neuroscience against this paradigm.

I warn you, please do not attempt to show me from my argument henceforth that I have simply proved what I set out to prove false in these earlier paragraphs (that is, there is a material seat for consciousness). I know that when individuals know minimal amounts of neuroscience, it seems apparent that there is a material seat for consciousness or free will. If you suggest something of this nature, attempting to use what data I have posted here to validate a materialistic explanation of free will, you will be expressing an inability to argue in the area of neuroscience. The evidence posted here is extraordinarily indicative of something nonmaterial. If you are not already familiar with the discipline, take heed. However, if you do understand neuroscience, you will see that this is indeed very compelling evidence.

A study was done on men. Ten young (twenties to age 42) men were put into fMRI machines to monitor their brain activity while they watched four excerpts from emotionally neutral films (e.g., interviews, carpentry, etc.) and then four excerpts from erotic films. Each excerpt lasted 39 seconds, with 15 seconds in between for rest. The number and gender of persons shown in both types of videos was the same in each case. The men were scanned in two different conditions, one in which they were asked to simply experience their reactions while watching the films through goggles, and one in which they were asked to down-regulate, or observe in a dispassionate, nonevaluative, and nonjudgmental, their reactions to the erotic films. In this second condition they saw similar but not identical films. At the end of the session, they were asked to complete a “strategy questionnaire” in which they described the strategies they employed when deliberately preventing themselves from being sexually aroused.

All of the men were sexually aroused but they displayed little other emotion, according to the self-report scale. Significantly, they were able to suppress their arousal when asked to do so. Sexual arousal was associated with the right amygdale and hypothalamus, among other areas, and suppression was associated with the right lateral prefrontal cortex and the right anterior cingulate cortex. These results are consistent with findings indicating that the LPFC cortex plays a role in top-down (metacognitive/executive) processes, that is, processes that can monitor and control the information processing necessary to produce voluntary action.

To sum up, the belief that men cannot really choose to reduce their arousal, whether based on ancient traditions or modern materialism, is simply mistaken. Penal codes that hold men accountable for sexual assault are based in neural reality, not simple-minded idealism.

Additionally, a stumbling block in materialist neuroscience that is commonly known and experienced is the placebo effect. The placebo effect in drug trials usually helps a percentage of patients that are enrolled in the control group, perhaps even 35 to 45 percent. Thus, in recent decades, if a drug’s effect is statistically significant, which means that it is at least 5 percent better than a placebo, it can be licensed for use. In 2005, New Scientist hardly known for its support of nonmaterialist neural theory, listed “13 Things That Don’t Make Sense,” and the placebo effect was number one on that list. The placebo effect cannot exist if you assume that the mind does not exist or have control over the brain.

However, recent fMRI experiments have found that placebo analgesia has actual effects on the brain—something it should not have if the mind has no control over the brain. This analgesia is related to decreased brain activity in the pain-sensitive region of the brain known as the thalamus, insula, and anterior cingulate cortex. Pain relief was also associated with increased activity in the prefrontal cortex during anticipation of pain, suggesting that placebos act on pain-sensitive areas of the brain to alter the painful experience.

A strong evidence for the existence of a soul or mind is in neuroimaging studies of Carmelite nuns done while the nuns had mystical experiences (if you want the details of how this was possible, I will explain, but I am over 10,000 words here and trying to save time).

This study found in these nuns’ brains significant activation in the mystical condition, relative to the baseline condition, in the inferior parietal lobule (IPL; Brodmann area—BA—7, 40), the visual cortex (BA 18, 19), and the caudate nucleus. Other significant loci of activation were seen in the right medial orbitofrontal cortex (MOFC; BA 11), right middle temporal cortex (MTC; BA 21), right superior parietal lobule (SPL; BA 7), left brain stem, left insula (BA 13), and left anterior cingulate cortex (ACC; BA 32). In addition, we found significantly more activation, in the mystical condition compared to the baseline condition, in the right MOFC (BA 11), right medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC; BA 10), right MTC (BA 21), right ACC (BA 32), left IPL (BA 40), and left SPL (BA 7).

The study conductors hypothesized that the right MTC activation was related to the subjective impression of contacting a spiritual reality. They also posited that the loci of activation detected in the caudate nucleus, right MOFC (BA 11), left MPFC (BA 10), left ACC (BA 32), left insula (BA 13), and left brain stem reflected changes in the various aspects (cognitive, physiological, feeling) related to the emotional state of the subjects. As for the activations in the visual cortex, the study conductors proposed that they were related to visual imagery. Last, with regard to the loci of activation noted in the parietal cortex, given that the right SPL is also involved in the spatial perception of self, the conductors submitted that the activation of this parietal region (BA 7) during the mystical condition might reflect a modification of the body schema associated with the impression that something greater than the subjects seemed to absorb them. Moreover, there is evidence that the left IPL is part of a neural system implicated in the processing of visuo-spatial representation of bodies. Therefore, the left IPL activation the mystical state was perhaps related to an alteration of the body schema. However, the IPL plays an important role in motor imagery. It is thus possible that the activations in the right (BA 40) and left (BA 7) IPL were related to the motor imagery experienced during the mystical condition.

From a simplified neural perspective, the key finding from this study was that many brain regions, not just the temporal lobes (as had been the suggested explanation from materialist neuroscience, that claimed that this brain region was entirely responsible for generating religious experiences), are involved in mystical experiences. These include the inferior parietal lobule, visual cortex, caudate nucleus, and left brain stem as well as many others. These findings demonstrate that there is no single “God spot” in the brain located in the temporal lobes (again, as had been suggested). Rather the objective and subjective data suggest that religious/spiritual/mystical experiences are complex and multidimensional and mediated by a number of brain regions normally implicated in perception, cognition, emotion, body representation, and self-consciousness.

This argument and evidence for the soul or mind and against materialism is taken from The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul, by Mario Beauregard, Ph.D., and Denyse O’Leary, pages 131-132, 141-142, 272-273. Many, many additional references for the numerical or quotational evidence presented in this argument are found in that book, but to save space, I will not post each and every book here.

An Argument Against “The God Delusion”

My primary source for this argument will be from Alister McGrath’s, “The Dawkins Delusion?” This will be a concise critique, as I have spent much time already arguing for the existence of God, and this critique can be done in a quick and logical manner.

Dawkins insists that Christian belief is “a persistently false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence.” Thus, faith is irrational. The problem with this argument is the particular evidence he bases his argument off of. In Dawkins’ book, he cites a few choice snippets from sixteenth century German Protestant Martin Luther, culled from the Internet, demonstrating Luther’s anxieties about reason in the life of faith. No attempt is made to clarify what Luther means by reason and how it differs from the word Dawkins takes to be the self-evident meaning of the word.

What Luther was actually pointing out was that human reason could never fully take in the central theme of the Christian faith—that God should give humanity the wonderful gift of salvation without demanding they do something for Him first. Left to itself human common sense would conclude that you need to do something to earn God’s favor—an idea Luther




Last edited by Freecube on Sat 19 Sep, 2009; edited 2 times in total
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Freecube
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PostPosted: Sat 19 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

It cut my post.. to resume:

Left to itself human common sense would conclude that you need to do something to earn God’s favor—an idea Luther regarded as compromising the gospel of divine graciousness, making salvation something that you earned or merited.

Dawkins’s inept engagement with Luther shows how Dawkins abandons even the pretense of rigorous evidence-based scholarship. Anecdote is substituted for evidence; selective Internet trawling for quotes displaces rigorous and comprehensive engagement with primary sources.

Addressing Dawkins’s address of Aquinas’s “Five Ways.” At no point does Thomas speak of these as being “proofs” for God’s existence, as Dawkins claims he does; rather, they are to be seen as a demonstration of the inner coherence of belief in God. Belief in God is actually assumed in Thomas’ argument; it is then shown that this belief makes sense of what may be observed within the world. The appearance of design can offer persuasion, not proof, concerning the role of divine creativity in the universe. Dawkins misunderstands an a posteriori demonstration of the coherence of faith and observation to be an a priori proof of faith—an entirely understandable error for those new to the field, but a serious error nonetheless.

Dawkins devotes an entire chapter to an argument to the extreme improbability of a God existing. This chapter surmises that because our universe is vastly improbable, a God more complex than it all is even more improbable. This argument contains a crucial fallacy from the beginning and can simply be dismissed outright. Complexity does not necessitate improbability. God’s complexity behind an improbable universe means nothing of the improbability of God. Additionally, the issue is not whether God is probable, but whether God is actual.

Dawkins claims that there are no limits to science. However, science theories cannot be said to explain the world—they only explain the phenomena that are observed within the world. To illustrate this, I will use a classic example from Dawkins’s first work, The Selfish Gene, “[Genes] swarm in huge colonies, safe inside gigantic lumbering robots, sealed off from the outside world, communicating with it by tortuous indirect routes, manipulating it by remote control. They are in you and me; they created us, body and mind; and their preservation is the ultimate rationale for our existence.” While this all looks scientific to the untrained eye, consider this next statement, a rewriting of this first statement by Oxford physiologist and systems biologist Denis Noble. What is proven empirical fact is retained; what is interpretative has been changed, this time offering somewhat of a different reading of things: “[Genes] are trapped in huge colonies, locked inside highly intelligent beings, moulded by the outside world, communicating with it by complex processes, through which, blindly, as if by magic, function emerges. They are in you and me; we are the system that allows their code to be read; and their preservation is totally dependent on the joy that we experience in reproducing ourselves. We are the ultimate rationale for their existence.” Though these statements are completely different, and they cannot both be right, they are empirically equivalent. Science has limits on questions of purpose, such as, “What are we all here for?” and, “What is the point of living?” Such questions as well as the above statement indicate that there are begetters of truth besides the scientific method.

Dawkins claims that science has destroyed religion, yet a survey of many Ph.D. scientists in the years 1916 and 1997 resulted in absolutely no change of the percentage of scientists—45%--who believe in a “personal God who might be expected to answer prayer,” which also rules out deists, pantheists, or other religious individuals who have a Ph.D.

Dawkins assumes, as most anthropologists did in the 19th century, that religion has fairly universal features and makes an argument for an evolutionary origin based upon those universal features. However, modern anthropology now acknowledges no universal features to religion and finds it to be one of the most difficult concepts to define. This discredits Dawkins’s argument, as his entire argument is built upon this premise.

Concepts like the virus of the mind and the meme have no more scientific evidence than pure speculation—something a supposed scientist should hesitate to postulate as possible truth.

While religion can certainly bring violence, as Dawkins correctly points out, Dawkins neglects to mention that the most violent regimes—Stalin’s, Soviet Russia, and Hitler’s, to name a few—have all been atheistic, and that it is at the heart of certain religions such as Christianity to avoid violence. Violence may better be seen as an abuse of human ideals than caused by any one thing in particular.

Conclusion

In conclusion: there is a plethora of evidence that is well-explained by a creator God. Dawkins uses much faulty reasoning. I spent way too much time writing this thing. 11,582 words.

Bombax, I challenge you again as I did earlier: reply to my post with actual substance. Pointing out logical fallacies is very basic rhetoric. I know when I have made these fallacies. If you properly address any inconsistencies I make by providing evidence to the contrary or how what I said actually reverses my argument, I will be glad. I look forward to an actual argument from you. I think all my work here typing all this up deserves one.

Additionally, I wrote most of this late at night after a full day of senior college classes. If there are spelling and/or grammatical mistakes, it is because I am exhausted. Please ignore them, as they make no difference to the argument.


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