One thing that that really get's to me is theist who think they have the right to not be offended and all people who enable this behaviour.

I find it hard to find a theist who will have an open discussion about why they believe in a personal god at all or why they think their god is real and all the other ones aren't. Yesterday I remarked on the hypocritical nature of the followers of xtianity and was met with no argument as to why what I said was wrong but that it was rude. When I asked why it was considered rude I was told that I should have respect for peoples religion. I disagree, I'll respect your right to have religion, by all means believe whatever crackpot fairy tales you like  but if you are not willing to be offended and stand up for what you believe in then you need to take a serious look into why that is. 

Most of the theists I know don't argue because they do not even care weather or not their god exists, they go to church on Sunday and go about their lives as if they were Atheists. But I know there are theists out there who might care but are too afraid of being offended by talking to an evil non believer so they just tell you that you are rude.

Are people just being too polite or am i really too insensitive?

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just for the record.

a·the·ist

   [ey-thee-ist]  Show IPA
noun

a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supremebeing or beings.

ag·nos·tic

   [ag-nos-tik]  Show IPA

noun
1.
a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, asGod, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience.

 

I had a look at Lawrence Krauss and honestly he doesn't  answer the question any more certainly than the existence of a god does.  in one respect, the "nothing" to which he makes reference is not really nothing because it has a mass meaning that something is still there visible, invisible, whatever, so he essentially avoids the question by saying that nothing is actually something.  not to mention that this "nothing" is still theoretical.  

the five "proofs" of Aquinas are simply questions that even the most hardline atheists will ask and neither prove nor disprove the existence of god.  These questions are simply a crossroads where there are no difinitive answers.

Im pretty sure i have said this, if not i will say it now.  I CANNOT PROVE BEYOND THE SHADOW OF DOUBT THAT GOD EXISTS THROUGH NATURAL LAW OR REASON. how's that for running from it :) 

on the other side of the debate, ATHEISM CANNOT PROVE THAT GOD DOES NOT EXIST

Where does this leave us?  I suppose it comes down to what you choose to believe.  Do you choose to align yourself with theistic doctrine, in my case the teaching and tradition of the catholic church which accounts for the first cause without contradicting natural law and reason (if you want to challenge a specific point of catholic teaching with relation to science be my guest), or are you satisfied with the answer that science cannot prove conclusively at this time the origination of the universe.  Science cannot yet prove the existence of god, however it does not contradict him.  

it's not 300 bce quasi logic aquinas is much later and was far removed from aristotle.

I appreciate your concern with this issue as it is of significance and would be happy to further provide my take on it.  Why i have not responded to other posts is a matter of time and giving the the proper attention to it.  I do have a life to live regardless of what may or may not happen when i die.  Let it be said that i am not at all making an attempt to convert anyone nor am i attempting to come across as having all the answers, I simply wanted to add a sharp contrast to these discussions because in all honesty they are quite one sided and more than a little biased towards atheism.  I have written quite a number of posts today and as much as i enjoy debating and explaining and clarifying and refuting the ultimate goal is to exchange ideas regarding a certain topic and i have been met with a lot of harsh criticism and immediate dismissal.  Are atheists offended by what i am saying?  I figured you might value a contrasting opinion in a couple of one sided "debates", perhaps i was wrong?  Any way i appreciate you taking the time to post the video, i did enjoy it and found it quite fascinating.  

have a nice day

 

RE: "this "nothing" is still theoretical." - gravity is still a theory as well, could I watch you leap off a tall building, to test it? Who knows, you could levitate like your hero did.

RE: "Are atheists offended by what i am saying?" - I suspect that they're offended that you insult them by bringing the same, tired rhetoric here that we've refuted dozens of times from other theists. I'm just surprised that the really heavy-hitters aren't weighing in, but maybe they have refuted this Aristotellian bs so many times, they're bored with it.

You have a great day too, Ray

im sorry but there is nothing to refute, these questions do not require debunking, they are questions that lead to further questions to which nobody has the answer.  They simply expose the adequacies of all universal theories including that of god.

It's not aristotellian, Aquinas, but regardless of where it came from, these questions are still unanswered by modern science and even religious only have theories to answer with.  while science simply cannot explain the origin of the universe, religion does, however while science simply cannot answer these questions, religion requires faith and that is where alot of atheists get hung up and opt to wait for scientific proof instead of "misplacing" faith in an unproven deity.  People can say that "i know" god exists or "i know" that god does not exist, but nobody knows anything we simply convince ourselves of the theory we choose to believe, be it scientific or theological.

I did not intend to attack atheism but to provide an alternative point of view that is just as possible as any other.

while science simply cannot explain the origin of the universe, religion does,

That's semantically sticky. Science has not answered certain questions, so in that sense, yes science cannot provide answers to questions it has not answered.

But to say that religion does answer that question brings up the issue of what constitutes an answer. As I stated elsewhere recently, a religion such as Christianity answers a difficult to solve riddle with an unsolvable riddle. To postulate 'God' adds an insurmountable complication which is not explanatory in nature.

Saying 'God' offers no actual explanation. It speculates a 'who' (with 'evidence' which we would not consider credible in any other context), when the question asked was a 'how'. If I asked you "How does one escape a straight jacket?", and you replied, "Harry Houdini," I would be hard pressed to say you answered the question.

Where do you think Aquinas got it, Ray- from Aristotle, c300 BCE - if you try to debate atheists, in fact, before you even select a religion, learn all there is to know about that religion, including the origins of its precepts, and those, your church won't tell you, it might disrupt the flow of their revenue, you'll have to seek it on your own, as we have. In fact, the average atheist knows FAR more about the Christian religion, than the average Christian - we research, before we choose.

The only thing religion explains, is that there are a large number of ignorant, superstitious people out there, who are afraid of seeking the truth, for fear of punishment for not having faith. I did not say, "stupid," I said, "ignorant," i.e., lacking knowledge.

RE: "I did not intend to attack atheism but to provide an alternative point of view that is just as possible as any other." - then bring evidence, and pack a big lunch.

 while science simply cannot explain the origin of the universe, religion does

Reread that please.

A couple of times, since I know you theists need longer to catch some things.

Then tell me how silly it sounds.

Hey Ray,

I've posted this before but let me begin by dispatching first causes. The proof that follows will dispatch any god.

If you are skeptical of this, i would challenge any athiest to prove that god does not exist.

First please allow me to introduce some basic logical terminology to describe what one might call the No Evil Genius’ Proof:

"Something" (think an event) is possible in a system Q (think universe) "in principle" if Q admits of "Something" that is sufficiently well defined relative to Q.

The word "admit" here is taken to mean "allows"; in the sense that the "laws" governing all behaviors in Q "allows" an event to occur. Those laws are simply the essence of what Q is; it is what defines Q as Q.

"Sufficiently well defined" relative to Q here means the set of properties (to include possibly laws) in Q minimally sufficient to causally entrain an arbitrary event, call it k1, occurring in Q into the causal history of Q. The causal history of Q is the set of events that did, are and will (think all conjugations of “to be”) occur in Q “since” its creation. Think of it like a proton. a proton in free space has what is called a Hilbert Space that describes all its possible states (degrees of freedom). All those allowed states are allowed because of the properties of the spatial system in which it is defined; that is, Q. So, a particle can have mass, for example. That is “allowed” because that is how Q (the universe) works.

Now, we can formalize our statement supra to a first-order approximation of where we’re going with this:

Let an event k1 be sufficiently well defined relative to a spatial system Q. An event k1 is possible in a spatial system Q in principle if Q admits of k1.

Now, consider two spatial systems R and S. Let an event k1 be sufficiently well defined relative to R.

In order for causality between R and S to exist, a special condition must be met. Let an arbitrary event k2 ∈ S.

Let the subset of all properties A ∈ R necessary and sufficient to define k1 relative to R be denoted, r, and the subset of all properties B ∈ S necessary and sufficient to define k2 relative to S, denoted s.

Now, the required condition is trivial,

r ∈ S, R and s ∈ S, R ∵ s ≡  r.

must hold.

But this is just the same as if r ∈ R and s ∈ R where R is the natural world exposed to empiricism and s contains all the properties necessary and sufficient to define a cause that is super natural. But that means that s can be fully predicted and understood using empiricism alone, which is not allowed under the presumptive definition of a god.  Q.E.D.

And slapping a little butter on that, we can dispatch Intelligent Design on the way:

 

The myth of Intelligent Design is composed of two key parts. The first part is predicated on a misunderstanding of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This law states that the physical order of a closed system will increase for any positive increment in time, t. The key word is “closed”. The universe, taken as a whole, is a “closed” system and indeed, for any increment, t, the total order of the universe decreases. It does not increase. It may be the case that the physical order of a non-closed or semi-closed system within the universe might increase over a time, t. But should this happen, a correspondingly greater decrease in order will occur in that same time, t, in the universe as a whole. Therefore, the universe as a whole is not an “Intelligent Design” by any means, the first myth of a larger, two-part myth. Note that things like “perfect” orbits and what-not are counter-balanced by considerable disorder within stars, in interstellar dust clouds and in any number of other areas over large time intervals. This is why we can see so many examples of “pristine” order in various systems on Earth, including biological systems. But Earth is not a closed system and for every increase in order on Earth there is a correspondingly greater decrease in order either elsewhere on Earth or in the space beyond Earth.

The second part of the myth constitutes a backward claim of causality: Intelligent Design presumes that causality is the reverse of what it actually is. Typically, apologists describe Intelligent Design with sample observations such as the observation that the temperatures, atmospheric pressure, radiation levels, etc. of Earth were “just right” for human life to exist. This is synonymous with saying that the physical attributes of Earth are just right for human beings to exist and live on Earth. Ergo, apologists claim, the physical attributes of Earth must have been deterministically set by a rule that assigned from the attributes of human beings an exact set of attributes of Earth. This is backward. The “rule” used to make this assignment they ascribe to a supernatural entity since it is obviously not a rule used by nature. But when we turn causality back around into the correct flow we see that there was in fact a “rule” that rather assigned attributes of Earth to the attributes of human beings: human beings have the attributes they have because of the attributes of the environment on the surface of Earth. This “rule” (which is in fact a set of rules and a system of logic) was the set of properties that define how nature behaves; physics. And chemistry and biology are built on physics; the fundamental behaviors of nature. Stated more formally, the attributes of Earth constitute causes that led to effects; those effects being the attributes of human beings. This is a deterministic causality train translating attributes of Earth as causes to the effects in the form of human attributes. The rule set that made this translation was nature, not a god. It is puzzling to this author how something so obviously fallacious has gotten so much traction in the popular mindset. Intelligent Design is nonsensical

The best way to explain this to an adherent is to start with a rooster analogy. Ask the adherent if one hears a rooster crow in the morning can we conclude that the rooster caused the sun to rise? Obviously, the answer is no. But suppose I were a “cave man” who didn’t know anything about astronomy or the stars and planets. What then? Could a reasonable person be expected to make this mistake? Of course they could. This is exactly the same mistake, or fallacy, of Intelligent Design. In the case of the physical qualities of Earth it was those qualities that gave rise to the qualities observed today in human beings, which is what is so easy to overlook. In the case of the universe as a whole, there is no Intelligent Design – or increasing order - to start with. It has nothing to do with an Intelligent Design and roosters do not cause the sun to rise.

Let us tighten this up.

Let us begin a causality train whose program will be to generate a set of dependent variables, effects, from a set of independent variables, the causes. To get the set of effects A and the set of causes B which caused the set A, A and B must contain members that are not strictly arbitrary. We can define a rank n order m metric tensor, , of “causality” generators; each denoted ϕ11, ϕ11 , … , ϕnm. Then for each ϕij we can define a domain and range for each; corresponding to the sets B and A respectively. Now, let it be observed empirically that there exists a set a and b such that a ∈ A and b ∈ B; and both a and b contain one or more elements, that is:

r ∈ a ∈ A, s∈ b ∈ B and we guarantee that an enumeration of elements exists such that:

u < v.

where u is the enumeration ru ∈ a and v is the enumeration rv ∈ A.

If the generators ϕnm meet the definition of a function, that is, a rule that assigns to each element b ∈ B exactly one element ϕnm(b) ∈ A, then it is likewise possible to find a set of generators which also meet the definition of a function, δnm(s) ∈ a.

Now, we let the generators ϕnm and δnm be functions that strictly assign each element of its corresponding domain randomly to exactly one element in its corresponding range.

Then the probability that there exists a generator δnm is ∝ u / (v - u). However, the probability that there exists a generator ϕnm = 1.

QED.

In other words, appeals to beauty, order and the appearance of an intelligent design, as just one example of this proof’s application, to suggest, imply or otherwise provide evidence for an intelligent actor as the cause thereof is nonsense.

RE: "Typically, apologists describe Intelligent Design with sample observations such as the observation that the temperatures, atmospheric pressure, radiation levels, etc. of Earth were 'just right' for human life to exist."

And this assertion is made even more fallacious by the simple fact that is isn't true.

No human could have survived in the methane/nitrogen atmosphere of early earth, when life actually began. But like life, this planet evolves, and over multiple millions of years, countless single-celled creatures lived and died, and in dying and decaying, released minute amounts of oxygen into the atmosphere. Over those eons, earth's atmosphere changed to the point that only those creatures who could adapt to an oxygen-rich atmosphere, lived, while all others died, adding still more oxygen to the eco-system.

We evolved from those survivors.

which is what i said in my initial post, the question of intelligent design is no longer unanswerable because of the knowledge of science that we have gained.  When all of the five questions can be answered with proven science then we will know beyond a shadow of doubt that god does or does not exist.

Did you listen carefully to what Neil Degrasse Tyson said (frankly, I suspect he would secretly like to have this engraved on his headstone, as he has mentioned it on several occasions):

"God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance, that gets smaller and smaller as time goes on."

Those five questions have been refuted many times over on several different threads here - Tyson refers to issues far beyond those lame five.

Did you even read Komrik's comment, or quit after the first couple of paragraphs?

Now, we can shut down this conversation by dispatching all the public myths used by apologists. Here's an excerpt from something I wrote called On the Means and Methods of Mass Deconversion:

 

Extra Socratic Methods

One of the most troubling and disappointing issues related to deconversion is the all too popular tendency of atheists to incorrectly think that intellectual arguments, quips, sarcasm, etc. actually work. They do not. These are intellectual games that do not speak to the heart of the adherent, which is what is necessary to deconvert. Most apologetics are framed in terms of formal apologetic arguments that may mean much to academics but mean little to the average adherent. Examples include “Ontological arguments”, “First Causes” etc. and should never be considered for use by a deconverter. However, the deconverter is likely to hear these kinds of arguments from adherents and therefore should be equipped to respond to them.

We will include the most common here:

The Ontological Argument

Initially proposed by St. Anselm of Canterbury and the Persian philosopher Avicenna in the 11th Century, this argument attempts to prove the existence of God through a priori reasoning alone (i.e. independent of experience, requiring only abstract reasoning). At its simplest, the argument runs as follows: God is, by definition, perfect; in order for anything to be perfect, it must exist; therefore, God exists.

In more detail, it argues that part of what we mean when we speak of “God” is a “perfect being”, or one of whom “nothing greater can be conceived”, and that that is essentially what the word “God” means. A God that exists, the argument continues, is clearly better and greater than a God that does not (for example, just an idea in someone’s mind), so to speak of God as a perfect being is necessarily to imply that he exists. Therefore, God’s existence is implied by the very concept of God, and when we speak of “God” we cannot but speak of a being that actually exists: to say that God does not exist is a contradiction in terms.

A variation on this argument was offered by René Descartes in the 17th Century. The Cartesian Ontological Argument suggests that we all have within us the idea of a perfect, infinite Being. But since we ourselves are neither perfect nor infinite, then this idea could not have come from within us. Instead, it must have come from outside of us i.e. from a real perfect, infinite being.

Refutation

It is not clear to this author that the Second Axiom of Deconversion is necessary to fully defeat this argument by proof. However, it is sufficient for that purpose.

By the Second Axiom the term “God” as used; “God is, by definition, perfect”, cannot be sufficiently well defined (to entrain any such event in a causal linkage – and is exactly the opposite of what is assumed).

If the adherent does not understand this proof then you can provide a more traditional susbstitution that does work. To the best knowledge of this author, no further challenges that suffice to:

1.)   Successfully challenge this argument in a logically sound manner or

2.)   Is compelling to the average person

exist excepting:

  1. A monk named Gaunilo, a contemporary of Anselm, used the same logic to show that a “perfect island” must of necessity exist, even though such an island obviously does not exist. Anselm counter-argued that a “perfect island” is not really a concept but merely an imaginary idea, but he did not explain why God is not also just an imaginary idea.

The Cosmological Argument

This is also sometimes known as the Unmoved Mover or the Uncaused Cause, is the argument that the existence of the world or universe implies the existence of a being that brought it into existence (and keeps it in existence). The argument, the essence of which goes back to Aristotle in the 4th Century BC, is that everything that moves is moved by something else; an infinite regress (that is, going back through a chain of movers forever) is impossible; and therefore there must exist a first mover (what Aristotle called the Prime Mover) i.e. God.

In the same way, everything that exists or happens (including the universe itself) is caused by something else, and this chain of causation can be traced back to a first cause, which was not itself caused by anything but just “was”, and which can be called “God”.

The argument comes in two main forms, “modal” (having to do with possibility), and “temporal” (having to do with time):

  • The      Modal Cosmological Argument, also known as the Argument from Contingency,      suggests that because the universe might not have existed (i.e. it is      contingent, as opposed to necessary), we then need some explanation of why      it does exist. Wherever there are two possibilities, something must      determine which of those possibilities is realized. Therefore, as the      universe is contingent, there must be some reason for its existence, i.e.      it must have a cause. The argument continues that the only kind of being      whose existence requires no explanation is a “necessary being”, a being      that could not have failed to exist. The ultimate cause of everything must      therefore be a necessary being, such as God.
  • The      Temporal Cosmological Argument (also known as the Kalam Argument for the      medieval Muslim school of philosophy of al-Kindi and al-Ghazali which      first proposed it) argues that all indications are that there is a point      in time at which the universe began to exist, (a universe stretching back      in time into infinity being both philosophically and scientifically      problematic), and that this beginning must either have been caused or      uncaused. The idea of an uncaused event is absurd, the argument continues,      because nothing comes from nothing. The universe must therefore have been      brought into existence by something outside it, which can be called      "God".

Refutation

It is not clear to this author that the Second Axiom of Deconversion is necessary to fully defeat this argument by proof. However, it is sufficient for that purpose.

By the Second Axiom the term “God”, “cause” [in the case of a “cause” that occurs in the super natural], “causality” [in the case of a “cause” that occurs in the super natural] as used; “God is, by definition, perfect”, cannot be sufficiently well defined (to entrain any such event in a causal linkage – and is exactly the opposite of what is assumed).

Scholium:

The Modal Cosmological Argument, also known as the Argument from Contingency, suggests that because the universe might not have existed (i.e. it is contingent, as opposed to necessary), we then need some explanation of why it does exist”; is a logical non-sequitir.

This is defeated by the Second Axiom because the “explanation” “needed” cannot be sufficiently well defined (to entrain any such event in a causal linkage).

The argument continues that the only kind of being whose existence requires no explanation is a “necessary being” …

Also fails by the Second Axiom because, if and as required, the “explanation” is at least partly super natural and cannot be sufficiently well defined (to entrain any such event in a causal linkage).

The Temporal Cosmological Argument … The idea of an uncaused event is absurd, the argument continues, because nothing comes from nothing … and that this beginning must either have been caused or uncaused …

The ex nihilo expositor holds and we do know that the universe had a cause. However, this proposition fails identically by the Second Axiom because the necessary and sufficient cause that is super natural cannot be sufficiently well defined (to entrain any such event in a causal linkage).

If the adherent does not understand this proof then you can provide a more traditional susbstitution that does work. To the best knowledge of this author, no further challenges that suffice to:

1.)   Successfully challenge this argument in a logically sound manner or

2.)   Is compelling to the average person

exist excepting,

  1. The argument is disproven by contradiction since if God is thought not to have, or not to need, a cause of his existence, then his existence would not be possible because of the initial premise that everything that exists has a cause of its existence!
  2. If God or the Prime Mover “just is”, then why can the universe not “just be”? Why is there a need to go a step further back? The widely accepted concept of “Occam’s Razor” suggests that the simplest solution to a problem is always the most likely, and that additional unnecessary complexity is less likely.

The adherent may counter with a popular myth:

Interestingly, at the sub-atomic quantum level, modern science has found that physical events are observed to have no evident cause, and particles appear to pop in and out of existence at random. In the first infinitesimal fraction of a second after the Big Bang singularity, classical physics is known to break down and just such unpredictable and counter-intuitive quantum effects are thought to apply.

This argument actually argues in favor of the Second Axiom and the conclusions reached here. It does so if one understands the Standard Model well enough to understand why this is happening. The reason this is happening is precisely due to issue of “definition” and is beyond the scope of this work.

It will suffice to tell the adherent that the reason for this is due to the fact that causal events in quantum coherent states cannot be sufficiently well defined due to an inability to observe all degrees of freedom with equal precision. And no, by the Second Axiom it is undefined and provides no argument by itself for a God (I’ve heard this objection before).

The Teleological Argument and Intelligent Design

Also popularly known as the Argument from Design or Intelligent Design, is perhaps the most popular argument for the existence of God today. It is also, in this author’s opinion, the most sophisticated of all. It suggests that the order and complexity in the world implies a being that created it with a specific purpose (such as the creation of life) in mind.

The contemporary Intelligent Design (ID) movement abandons the literal reading of the Bible (which had dogged the older, largely discredited “Scientific Creationism” movement) and downplays some of the more mystical and fanciful elements of Christianity like miracles, hell and the Holy Spirit.

The universe is an astoundingly complex but highly ordered system, and the world appears fine-tuned to provide exactly the right conditions for the development and sustenance of life. Proponents of the Argument from Design argue that to say that the universe (and complex natural objects within it, such as the eye or the brain) is so ordered by chance is unsatisfactory as an explanation of the appearance of design around us, and that this implies the existence of a divine Being capable of designing, creating and ordering such complex sytems.

The 13th Century medieval theologian St. Thomas Aquinas was perhaps the most famous subscriber to this argument, but the most cited statement of the argument is that of William Paley in the 18th Century who likened the universe to a watch, with many ordered parts working in harmony to further some purpose. Paley’s analogy asserted that if someone found a watch on a beach they would never conclude that it had been produced by any means other than intelligent design and purpose. In the same way, he continued, a system as complex as nature can only have been created by a process of deliberate purposeful design by a master designer, God.

A central premise in Intelligent Design is the idea of a “fine-tuned universe”, that the conditions that allow life in the universe can only occur when certain universal physical constants lie within a very narrow range, so that, if any of several fundamental constants were only slightly different, the universe would be unlikely to be conducive to the establishment and development of matter, astronomical structures, elemental diversity or life as it is presently understood. This is cited as evidence for the existence of God or some form of intelligence capable of manipulating or designing the basic physics that governs the universe.

Refutation

It is not clear to this author that the Third Axiom of Deconversion is necessary to fully defeat this argument by proof. However, it is sufficient for that purpose.

By the Third Axiom the probability of Intelligently Designed natural objects in this universe having been produced by purely natural processes is in the limit as the number of independent variables approaches infinity, which it does (by limit laws) and the probability is 100%. It is granted that to get a probability that high one must be willing to accept that any number of universes is possible. To reverse the adherent must stand the burden of proving that a very high number of universes, even up to a limit, are not possible, which they cannot do and the Intelligent Design proposition fails.

If the adherent does not understand this proof then you can provide a more traditional susbstitution that does work. To the best knowledge of this author, no further challenges that suffice to:

1.)   Successfully challenge this argument in a logically sound manner or

2.)   Is compelling to the average person

exist excepting:

Hume also pointed out that certain phenomena and events in the world (e.g. natural disasters, diseases, etc) suggest that God did not do a very good job of designing the universe, which rather belies the concept of a perfect being. He asked what can God’s purpose have been in designing the micro-organisms that cause malaria, polio, typhoid, cholera, syphilis, AIDS, etc? Are these merely trials deliberately sent to test us in some way?

The argument also begs the question of how, if orderliness in the universe requires the existence and intervention of God, God’s mind itself can be orderly. Was God’s mind created by an even greater God? Certainly, to say that God’s mind is in some way self-explanatory or necessarily existing begs the same questions already refuted in the Cosmological Argument. Insisting that it is just a brute or ultimate fact is unjustifiable, and the same claim could be equally made for material orderliness.

This response is similar to the Third Axiom but not fully developed. It may be easier for the adherent to grasp, though it doesn’t prove the point. So, it goes, the spontaneous origin of life on Earth, for example, may have been improbable, but it only had to occur once. Indeed, in the billions of galaxies throughout the immense reaches of the known universe, over a period of billions of years, it would be extremely unlikely if such an unlikely event did not occur. Even if the odds against it were billions to one, that would still point to life arising in billions of planets throughout the universe. In fact, it is quite possible that it occurred several times independently on the very early Earth, when conditions finally became propitious.

The Intelligent Design argument is another example of the “god of the gaps” argument, as proponents attempt to latch onto something which is not yet fully understood and then just assume, without justification, that their alternative theory of intelligent design applies instead. In the same way, any gap in the fossil record of an evolutionary transition series is automatically filled by God in the minds of creationists.

It is recommend that nothing be said or no hint offered to the implications to this argument in consequence of the Theory of Evolution. This topic should be assiduously avoided in all conversations with adherents. If they bring it up, the better position is one of neutrality and to use that to build political capital with the adherent.

In the high profile 2005 court case, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, parents of school children in the Dover area of Pennsylvania sought to challenge the local school board's rule that intelligent design must be taught as a scientific alternative to the theory of evolution. The case was proven, and it was ruled that ID (including Behe's theory about bacterial flagella) was not rigorous science, and indeed not scientific at all but religious in nature, and should therefore not be taught in school.

Regarding the specific ID argument that entropy is seen to be decreasing on Earth and order increasing, the Second Law of Thermodynamics specifically applies to a “closed system”, and the Earth is not a closed system, nor are most of our everyday experiences. Living things, for example, are not closed systems because they have external energy sources (e.g. food, oxygen, sunlight) whose production requires an offsetting net increase in entropy. The entire universe, however, is a closed system (so far as we know), and as a whole it is in fact expanding and increasingly entropic.

As for how an increasingly entropic universe can be consistent with the growth and development of galaxies, clusters, etc, it should be borne in mind that, as the universe continues to expand, so does its maximum possible entropy. The actual entropy in the universe is also increasing with time, but not to the same extent as its maximal entropy, leaving a “gap” or room for the formation of some increasing order (in the form of coalescing star systems, galaxies, etc). These pockets of order, however, are insignificant in the overall scheme of things, scattered randomly throughout the reaches of deep space, which on the whole exhibits very little structure and no sign of design. Even more tellingly, the visible universe represents only about 4% of the total mass of the universe, the balance being composed of “dark matter” and “dark energy”, about which we still know next to nothing.

Pascal’s Wager

Pascal’s Wager is the name given to an argument put forward by the French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal in the 17th Century. His argument for belief in God was based not on an appeal to evidence that God exists, but rather on the idea that it is in our own interests to believe in God and it is therefore rational for us to do so. It essentially argues that to believe in God is a better bet than not believing in God, and so it makes sense to believe “just in case”.

The argument runs as follows: If we believe in God, then there are two possible outcomes: 1) if he exists, we will receive an infinite reward in heaven, and 2) if he does not, then we have lost little or nothing. Conversely, if we do not believe in God, then the possibilities are: 1) if he exists, we will receive an infinite punishment in hell, and 2) if he does not, then we will have gained little or nothing.

Part I.

1.)   If he exists, we will receive an infinite reward in heaven, and

2.)   If he does not, then we have lost little or nothing.

Part II. Conversely, if we do not believe in God, then the possibilities are:

1.)   If he exists, we will receive an infinite punishment in hell, and

2.)   If he does not, then we will have gained little or nothing.

Pascal argued that "either receiving an infinite reward in heaven or losing little or nothing" is clearly preferable to "either receiving an infinite punishment in hell or gaining little or nothing", so it is therefore rational to believe in God, even if there is absolutely no evidence that he does in fact exist.

Refutation

It is not clear to this author that the Second Axiom of Deconversion is necessary to fully defeat this argument by proof. However, it is sufficient for that purpose.

By the Second Axiom

If the adherent does not understand this proof then you can provide a more traditional susbstitution that does work. To the best knowledge of this author, no further challenges that suffice to:

1.)   Successfully challenge this argument in a logically sound manner or

2.)   Is compelling to the average person

exist excepting:

It is almost prima facie ridiculous, but I’ll engage this in a way that an adherent would most likely appreciate and understand. Overall, it assumes God exists, which it cannot do.

In Part I item 2 is false or at least cannot be assumed. It may be that being an adherent alone has an enormous cost. Part II item 2 is false or at least cannot be assumed. It may be that being an adherent alone has an enormous cost.

There is little else to say and almost all adherents would see the problem mentioned supra.

Absence of proof is not proof of Absence

Following on from the argument that it is impossible to prove the non-existence of God, it is sometimes asserted (both by theists and particularly by agnostics) that the claims of atheism are negated by the idea that “absence of proof is not proof of absence”, and that asserting the non-existence of something without any hard evidence is just an argument from ignorance.

It is alleged that asserting non-existence in the absence of evidence is the equivalent of an argument like the following: although I have no evidence that my dog can fly, you have no evidence that my dog can not fly; therefore, I am justified in believing that my dog can fly.

Refutation

The mantra “absence of proof is not proof of absence”, like any proposition, has contextual limitations. Consider, for example, the question of whether there is any butter in my fridge: if we do not actually look in the fridge the absence of proof clearly does not amount to proof of absence of butter; if, however, we do look in the fridge and see that there is no butter in it, then we have “proof” of the absence of butter. Of course, this refutation dances around an inherent problem that has to be examined to make this durable in the face of criticism from an adherent.

The reason for this is that this mantra only holds in cases in which an exhaustive observation of fact is not considered or possible. The refrigerator example is an attempt to make the observation appear exhaustive. Therefore, in the context of proving or disproving the existence of a god, it would be a valid mantra only if direct testing for the existence of god could not be extensively and exhaustively done. But this is what the entire deconversion conversation is about, so it is disingenuous to use this argument.

Information Theory as applied to RNA

The argument is based on what is called Information Theory; and as applied to DNA/RNA. The basic argument, I think, is to say that genetic systems contain information, or “code”, that could not come from less information; that is, it is irreducibly complex. And furthermore, this code, being an intelligent code that cannot derive from less information, could have only come from a “mind”.

Refutation

Of course, the immediate problem you can see here is that a “mind” need not be god’s, but we won’t tangent into a discussion of aliens and all the other possibilities because the premise of the statement is invalid anyway.

Information Theory is a mathematical treatment of the evolution, or change, in information within a system over a period of time.

Specifically, it defines information as a reduction in uncertainty; caused by an event for which the outcome can be predicted only in terms of probability. Therefore, once the event occurs and a “decision” is made, the uncertainty is reduced and that reduction in uncertainty constitutes information.

Therefore, in this treatment, information has a very specific mathematical meaning. To illustrate it, consider the exercise of flipping a coin. The act of flipping the coin is an event, call it x, that is binary in the sense that it has two possible outcomes. Therefore, the total number of outcomes available is M=2. So, information can be precisely treated as a function I such that:

I (x) = logu(M) [equation 1.0]

where u is the base used and the units in which I(x) is measured. So, the units of measure for Information are likewise precisely defined as the base of the logarithm of M. Suppose we choose base 2 so that we can express our result in binary notation. Then flipping a coin yields exactly 1 bit of information after the event occurs.

Contrast this with the definition of “information” in DNA; i.e. biological systems: “information” in DNA is base pair sequencing corresponding to an amino acid. We will return to this shortly.

These are completely different definitions and Information theory is not even applicable to the problem of information in Biology. But for the sake of demonstration, we will momentarily grant this falsehood. Let me expound:

Let x be an information source (an event). These events are any events in nature that can be characterized using an understanding of math and physics.

As an aside, this analysis also illustrates why you cannot depend on wikipedia for all of your information, or quote it as an authority, as atheists, in particular, love to do. This is because here we have yet another example of people posting on wikipedia who don’t know what they are talking about. In the wikipedia entry it is stated that “entropy” is a concept in the Second Law of Thermodynamics and does not apply to Information Theory. This is a reflection of ignorance of Information Theory since Information Theorists are using this term in a completely different manner; i.e. they have created their own operational definition that has nothing to do with physics. If they do not even know this much, a poster should not be trusted in any conversation about Information Theory. But I digress.

Entropy, denoted in the literature as a function H(x), is a measurement of our average uncertainty when we don’t know the outcome of an information source. That means it’s a measurement of how much information we don’t have (before the event) or how much information we gain (after the event).

H(x) = ΣMi=1 pi log2 (1/pi) [equation 2.0]

where p is the probability of a symbol, i. Much of the terminology in Information Theory is unfortunate. The term “symbol” is an obfuscated way of referring to one possible, measurable outcome of an event, x. M is the total number of “symbols” the source, x, can possibly generate. Therefore, using the simplest example, a binary event with equal probabilities in outcome will generate exactly 1 bit of information from an antecedent condition consisting of 0 bits of information. Information has increased. As we can see from the equation above, equal probabilities of symbols in an event x generate the greatest amount of information.

Therefore, in a biological system information is generated from a lack of information; exactly the opposite of what the Information Theory proponents argue. This is represented as a change in the genotype due to an event, z, which alters the base pair sequence such that the sequence before event z is not identical the sequence afterward. Once a selection pressure, for example, forces a change in a genotype, information is increased, not decreased. And from no information thus can come information.

To prove this we can take our previous equation 1.0 and explicitly solve the coin flipping event scenario:

I (x) = logu(M)

=> I(x) = log2 (2) = 1 bit.

But what about the condition prior to the event x? Does it contain more or less information? Since the number of total possible outcomes, M=1, we set that value appropriately and solve:

I(x) = log2 (1) = 0 bits.

Q.E.D.

Therefore, information is gained from no information. And this also denies any possibility of it “requiring” an intelligent “mind” to create it, as it derives of “disorder”, randomness or a lack of information. As with so many academic arguments so easily dispatched already, there truly is nothing to see here.

 

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