Note- Published in 2010, this article was a direct rebuttal to Robert Adair's counterargument with regard to the Cosmological argument. His counterargument is available on Associated Content here (Adair, 2010).
Robert Adair provides me with limitless examples of why people should abstain from religious belief and faith in God. Where do I begin? Let us begin with Adair’s truth, specifically his belief in the cosmological argument. Adair has successfully woven together several ideas in strange circular logic in order to present an argument that seems airtight to the layperson. First, one must understand the cosmological argument before they can press forward in this endeavor.
The cosmological argument is an argument of type as there are several versions of this argument. The cosmological argument is a similar to another category of argument referred to as ontological. An ontological argument is simply an argument the attempts to prove the existence of God through reason alone. This means not using any observable or empirical means. Such that one cannot argue that God exists because the bible says so. Reason alone. I only mention this definition because it is vital to Robert’s argument.*(3)
According to Robert the cosmological argument is “…undeniable unless you wish to deny the foundations of modern physical science (Adair, 2010).” This is a bold statement from a person who in his article provides no evidence of this being true. But let us concentrate on the cosmological argument. According to Robert the cosmological argument must be true because the universe had to have a beginning or ‘cause’. As I have stated in a previous article this line of thinking is irrational because then the ‘original mover’ or ‘cause’ would necessitate coming into existence without a ‘cause’. Robert’s answer to this quandary is that the initial cause must be an uncaused cause, e.g. God. At this point the argument becomes ontological in nature. (3,4)
This is also where Robert Adair has cleverly chosen his argument. Ontological arguments are, by nature, endlessly difficult to disprove. Think about what is being said in this argument,
In order for the universe to exist there must be a cause. The cause must be uncaused.
Here is another similar ontological argument,
The chicken came first in order to lay the egg that hatched the chicken.
Ontological arguments by themselves prove little other than the fact that they cannot be disproven. I view the ontological argument similarly to certain mathematical operations. A great example of this is Pi. As known to most people Pi= 3.141593…ad infinitum. Pi because it is an infinite number, cannot be reduced. However, Pi is also an irrational number because it cannot be expressed fractionally and its decimal representation never ends and never repeats. Similarly, ontological arguments are endless since they are logically driven nowhere. Worse yet, because ontological arguments take place without the benefit of empirical evidence or testing, the arguments are only solvable through an assumption.
The idea of assumption is key to understanding Robert’s ontological argument. Adair assumes that because the ontological argument is irrefutable on the basis that there must exist an uncaused cause, e.g. God, that his argument is perfect. Robert is, however, making two huge assumptions in his version of the ontological argument. First, the universe must have an uncaused cause that is outside inquiry. This is an assumption because it assumes that the existence of the ‘first mover’ is without question. This begs the question, “Why is God outside of inquiry?” Theists state that this is because the first mover must be non-contingent or uncaused. So when one looks at Robert’s ontological argument it seems valid but at the same time it also seems to be begging the question. (2,5) More exactly it is the fallacy of special pleading since Robert cannot adequately justify why God is outside of inquiry.
The second major assumption that Robert makes goes to the idea of existence. Robert assumes that the ‘existence’ of the universe is real within the framework of his ontological argument. This is however not true. The point of an ontological argument is that, as we defined in the beginning, it is an argument that uses reason alone to prove the existence of God. The nature of the argument is that it is conceptual not real. In specific, one is arguing an idea not a reality. To understand this to a greater degree one needs only to understand the idea of what is possible in thought. Basically an inconceivable idea is conceivable or a logical impossibility is conceivable. Just because one can conceive of something does not make it true. For instance, because I can conceive of a first mover does not mean that it actually exists. I can conceive of a Flying Spaghetti Monster that created the universe but this does not make it real. So what this means is that Robert’s argument while seemingly sound only proves that a concept of a first mover exists not a real first mover. (5)
Ontological arguments have been a source of great debate and thought but soon breakdown when their application is carried outside conceptualization. The greatest proof against ontological arguments is interestingly enough not a purely logical proof but more of an argument that strikes at the (concept of God). If one follows Robert’s assertion that there is a first mover and that He is God, we now have some problems. God in the form that Robert has discovered ontologically, in no way resembles the Christian God to which he so fervently believes. At this juncture, let us say that we all believe that God is the first mover. If this is true then what does this say about God. One begins to infer things about God that in no way resemble the Christian God. Furthermore, everything is built on assumption. The idea that a benevolent God created the world for us to live in is juxtaposed by an equally possible idea that an evil God created the world for his personal enjoyment of watching us kill one another. From this example, one can see that the cosmological argument and all ontological arguments can lead to big assumptions. Let us follow Robert’s train of reasoning the best we can.
Judging from what Robert says in his Cosmological argument he has made some tremendous assumptions of his own,
“Christian thinking understands that logic is an attribute of God and when He made us in His own image He included this rational faculty. Thus there is a necessary connection between the mind of man and God, the ultimate reality. Christianity has an internal coherence totally lacking in atheism (Adair, 2010).”
What on earth does this have to do with the cosmological argument? One can only infer that Robert is basing his reasoning on the idea of the ontological significance of the cosmological argument. Robert assumes that because the cosmological argument is conceptually true, that all logic must therefore be connected with God since He was the ultimate creator. From this assumption, Robert then constructs another assumption that unless logic is founded in belief in God that it is ultimately meaningless. I love the way that Robert hammers away at this idea, here is Robert continuously stating this idea in comments and in his articles;
“…you have no rational basis for the ethical judgments you make. So you think one religion is better or worse that another, so what? This is no more significant than pref chocolate ice cream to vanilla (Adair Comment, 2010).”
“Only a Christian philosophy can supply us with a rational basis for science. When we get away from Christianity, science is seriously compromised (Adair, 2010).”
“Logic is based on the rational intuitions of the human mind. In Atheism, these intuitions are like everything else in evolution, accidental developments like an explosion in a boiler factory. In Christian metaphysics, logic is an attribute of God who made man in His own image so there is a necessary connection between logic and ultimate reality (Adair, 2010).”
This is the point where Robert has taken a turn into the bizarre. Robert truly believes that all logic is useless or incorrect based upon the assumption that logic must be connected with God. (Talk about throwing out the baby with the bath water?) How Robert has arrived at this conclusion is beyond me. His argument, I assume, from his incoherent articles, is again based on the significance of the ontological argument. He infers this in his articles when he talks about how atheism views logic as an accident, “There is no necessary connection between these accidental things and ontology (Adair, 2010).”
Even if all atheists were in agreement about logic being insignificant or accidental in nature, how does this make their logic incorrect? Robert is creating numerous fallacies; (too many to name.) But this is Roberts trick. You see I must be wrong. In fact everything I have stated here is wrong because I lack the necessary connection between my logic and belief in God. This is why Robert hammers away at the idea of logic needing a connection to God, because Robert can now falsely discredit atheists or anyone who disagrees with him. Here is Robert proving he believes this strange circular logic;
“Well Van Noir, Your "logical arguments" would be more convincing if you had ever studied logic and knew what a logical argument is. Also if you would stop presenting logical fallacies as if they somehow proved something except that you don't know what you are talking about. You would also need to show that within the metaphysical framework of your evolutionist religion logic has anymore significance than liking ice cream (Adair Comment, 2010).”
Robert has continuously used this argument to try and undermine what I am saying. Notice how he only attacks my use of logic and not my actual argument. This was a comment placed on my article “Creationism and the Missing Link called Reason” This is the Adair trick; he conveniently discounts my argument by stating that I am using unsound reasoning based upon his assumption of logic. However, Robert has failed to disprove anything I stated in the article. This is why I consider Robert a fraud. If he really believes what he is saying then he hinges on insanity. Who on earth would believe that all logic is bad because it is not founded in a belief in God?
The truth is that Robert is a fraud. He is a fraud because he uses difficult and ambiguous arguments to support his irrational concepts. He is a fraud because he is tricking people with his pseudoscientific ideas and philosophic jargon. People like Robert do more harm than good. His brand of philosophy promotes closed-minded thinking and is causal to prejudice. Robert attacks everyone who does not believe what he believes. He fools the uneducated and the gullible without consideration of the damage that he does.
People who are fooled by Robert believe his nonsense and as a result act and say things that are malevolent and ignorant. Here is a message sent to me from one of the Adair followers;
“Mr. Van Noir, Dr. Robert O. Adair is the most intelligent, educated man I have ever read. If you have a problem with him you don't know what you are talking about. It would do you well to learn from him instead of finding fault.”
Notice how this person has given no consideration to anything that I have said. She just blindly has faith in this person who is really leading her the wrong way. Here is the Adair con shown in its entirety when this same reader returned to tell me;
“Mr Van Noir, Dr. Robert O. Adair is one of the most highly intelligent, well educated man I have ever read. Let me assure yuo anyone who reads his articles will not be told wrong. He looks in to articles he writes with scrupulos research. It does not come from the top of his head as some writers do. It would do you well to really read what he writes before making your respones. In other words think first slowly so you can understand him better.”
This would be comical if it were not so tragic. I feel sorry for this person because she is taken in by Robert’s con. He has successfully tricked her into believing that everything he says is correct, so much so that she is unwilling to even read or give any attention to my argument. This is how zealots like Robert Adair trick people into being closed-minded and unreasonable.
1-ANSELM'S ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT From the Proslogium, (translated by Jonathan Barnes)
2-David Hume “A treatise of Human Nature” 1739
3-Graham, O. "Ontological Arguments". in Edward N. Zalta. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
4-Ontological Arguments First published Thu Feb 8, 1996; substantive revision Thu Jul 12, 2007 Graham Oppy
5-Kant and the metaphysics of causality by Eric Watkins Cambridge University Press 2005
*It should be noted that these definitions are in no way completely comprehensive of the significant differences between ontological and cosmological arguments. They have sufficient strength to carry this article.