Thursday 21 August 2014

God’s not dead…

I watched this movie so you won’t have to. I actually do like Kevin Sorbo, but he should have stuck to the other, more interesting myths..

"God is not dead. He is alive and working on a much less ambitious project."  -- graffito
Firstly to counter the title of this movie with an interesting point, God is not dead, you can’t be dead if you never existed… badum tsh.

Another one I find humorous is the Professor at one stage telling a student they get extra credit for not capitalizing the “G” in God, problem is it is a name so it has to be capitalized. Without the capital you would need to define which one of the thousands of gods humanity has dreamt up that you are talking about.

But on to the meaty rebuttal of this movie’s “arguments”, arguments like this one;

So 34minutes in before they finally get onto their arguments and over their story.

The first argument is weak seemingly on purpose. The protagonist (Josh) is only starting out in defending his faith, he has yet to do his Christian apologetic montage. Josh simply attempts to shift the burden of proof, no one can disprove god doesn't exist, see Hermoine's response above. He talks about God being on trial, but that has already been done, much better with the TV Movie God on trial.
Josh then goes on to attempt to fit the scripture to evidence to the scripture, basically cherry picking out parts that sound like they could mean the big bang; He then quotes Steven Weinberg description of what the big bang would have looked like, "in the beginning there was an explosion and in 3 minutes 98% of the matter that is or ever will be was produced". Funnily enough I can't find this quote verbatim, but that matter that Josh alludes to that was produced from energy was simply Hydrogen, which later formed Helium, and inside stars via stellar nucelosynthesis it formed heavier elements, something we can witness via stellar spectography, a technique over a hundred years old, so surprising that its recentness has been overlooked.

Josh then goes on to compare the previously held scientific belief of steady state, claiming science was wrong, while the bibles idea of a point of creation was correct... just off by billions of years and in its chronology, but regardless... This is further cherry picking, science adjusts its views based on what is observed, religious people attempt to fit the bible to science of the day. I am sure if there is enough evidence found for the multiverse some religious will claim this is where God lives. Sorry but you can't do that, either you make a prediction based on your belief and let your beliefs continued existence rest on if the prediction is found true, or you leave the discussion up to the adults.

2500 years bible right, science wrong. The bible also states that the earth is a flat circle,
 "It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in" - Isaiah 40:22 In this case the word circle (gh) in hebrew is used in Isaiah 29:3 for the troops to encircle the city. And Sphere (rwd) is used in Isaiah 22:18. So the common complaint that sphere and circle where not known to biblical authors is erroneous, either take the missed predictions with the successful ones or toss the the whole thing away.

38 minutes in; Wahoo we have the "Argument from design". I attacked this one recently here. Basically the counters revolve around either negative design (flaws in Gods perfect creation) which all creationists will counter with, the fall... which is rather convenient especially when some of these flaws define our existence, and other ones such as the wasted space must have existed pre-fall: Basically 99.99999% of the universe is not only unhospitable but downright hostile to life. All this space is described as being created in the bible, not post the fall.If you apply the argument from design to a designer you have an issue, how did something that is more powerful come to be? So it requires a William Lane Craig word game of the un-caused creator. But if you accept that then why not save a step and accept the un-caused universe?

Josh then goes on to state "nothing jumps into existing out of nothingness, atheists say except the universe". I have mentioned this before, but things do pop out of nothingness, virtual particles. That being said, no one is saying that the universe necessarily popped out nothing, the energy may have always existed, it could have been caused by some external event in the multiverse, we don't know, and until we have evidence we can't claim it was any of these or for that matter God.

Josh then goes on to state that the argument that god doesn't need a cause as Christians *believe* in an uncreated god. Well the universe doesn't care what you believe, the universe is despite of it, so far there has been no evidence of the supernatural, no evidence of a God, only evidence of natural causes, so which is more likely that a natural cause was the first cause, or that there was a supernatural cause? Josh then asks his smart sounding question "If the universe created you, then who created the universe". This can be turned around quite easily, if God created the universe, then who created God. If you want to say God is eternal then bite the bullet and admit the universe could be eternal, and admit that the universe being eternal is much less complicated.
The Professor and atheist then uses argument from authority to Stephen hawking argue for a godless universe beginning. This is a pretty weak argument, there are so many more points this professor of philosophy could have attacked, yep Hawking is an atheist, great. My atheism doesn't depend on authorities or celebrities being atheists, that sounds more like a religion. To counter this, would all Catholics abandon their faith if the Pope or another Catholic celebrities lack of faith were discovered, would all Chrisitians accept homosexuality if the Pastor they looked up to was caught with a gay masseuse? Obviously neither of these events has happened, so they either refuse to believe what has happened, dismiss it with magic (the devil had its way with them), or construct some other special pleading.
I don't do that, Anthony Flew was an atheist, maybe he did become a deist, so what, people are fallible. Dawkins could as he has said cash in and get the Templeton prize in his dotty old age, and that wouldn't sway my lack of belief one iota. The fact that you think it should shows how fragile you think reasoned belief is.

1h3min in "Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself out of nothing" - Hawking, grand design (this whole bit looks like it could have been taken from WLC's site).

Obviously here the authors of the movie are trying to make God the law giver, the fine tuner of these laws and constants. The problem with this is the universe could have been made a different way, could have been better. To imply that God needed to "fine tune" the universe for life to exist denies God's supposed omnipotence, if you have unlimited power you could ensure lifes creation in a universe that had no such fine tuning.

Josh then goes on to quote John Lennox, who claims there are three errors in that, of circular reasoning, the universe exists because it needed to exist, it therefore created itself. Uh no, not really. I think they are referring to Lennox's article here. Lennox a Christian, states his bias upfront, regardless I don't disregard someone outright necessarily due to their beliefs, I like writing by CS Lewis. Lennox here is right, the laws of physics are just laws to describe the action, the laws don't cause anything. They are just like the word Pool doesn't cause a pool, it just describes it to someone who knows English, but I don't think Hawking was saying that. He was saying because gravity follows the law, because it is predictable, because it is negative in energy, it could allow for a universe to come out of nothing. The quote is misunderstood and taken out of context.

Really here using John Lennox is Argument to authority, sure he is a Mathematician, Philosopher and a Christian apologist, so what, he can be wrong, as can and has Hawking and every other human who ever was.
Josh tries to counter his professor with a quote from one of Hawking's recent books, the grand design,  he says page5, obviously that is going to depend on the version, but here is a hint it is the first page of Chapter 1. Hawking says "philosophy is dead", in context I, an amateur philosopher agree with him, and I agree with Lawrence Krauss who expanded on this. The philosophy of science is dead (Lennox's chosen field). It is dead, as simply thinking about a scientific issue will not bring out an outcome that comports to reality. Krauss uses the apt example, you don't have computer science philosophers. Just as you shouldn't have chemistry, biology, quantum physics or cosmological philosophers, it makes no sense.
Philosophy has its place, the philosophy of things science can't yet explore, consciousness, thoughts, emotion, language, arts.... give it time.

1h7m Darwinists have been saying you don't need god. Darwin assumed lightning hit a stagnant pond. Life came from a simple beginning, but nature cannot jump, pre-Cambrian explosion.
Wow, OK there is no such thing as a Darwinist, I have said this before... But lets go, a Darwinist is someone who believes in the since massively refined Darwinian view of natural selection as a driving force behind speciation. There are a heap of people who accept evolution as I have described it and still believe in a God, people like the Pope and most of his clergy, various Muslim leaders (with the exception of human evolution of course), and people like Francis Collins (once head of the Human Genome project). In fact there is a famous saying "Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution", which is the title of an essay from a devout Russian Orthodox Christian called Theodosius Dobzhansky.

Another Argument from design here... really, already repeating your arguments hey.
1h21m Josh starts this bit with the problem of evil, stating it is the atheists most potent weapon, OK. I'll bite, it is a good one. Not what convinced me, and actually some recent article I read suggested the shear enormity of the universe is a big convincing factor (source escapes me presently)."I can't believe the special stories that have been made up about our relationship to the universe at large because they seem to be too simple, too local, too provincial. The earth, he came to the earth, one of the aspects of God came to the earth mind you, and look at what's out there. It isn't in proportion." - Richard Feynman

Lets quickly look at the good summation of the problem of evil from Epicurus
"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

Or the more recent one from Sam Harris
"Either God can do nothing to stop catastrophes, or he doesn't care to, or he doesn't exist.
So God is either: impotent, evil or imaginary. Take your pick, and choose wisely.

So this is the issue Josh has to contend with, how does he chose to do it? Free will, oh of course. So all the people killed every year of starvation through no fault of their own can simply will food to get to them, the people killed in earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, that's all either their sin or simply their own will? A good example I heard from Darkmatter2525, how about the victims free will, does God simply favour the murder or rapists free will over their victims?

Oh and then Josh goes to the ultimate special pleading "God tolerates evil temporarily, his intention is to one day destroy it." That's nice of him, why not now, what's he waiting for? It is kind of like seeing someone getting beaten while you hold in your hand a stun gun, do you wait till the victim is almost dead to step in, or do you start stunning the perpetrators left and right? If you wait, then you are a horrible human being. Josh then goes on to say the Professor doesn't believe in moral absolutes, yet at his exam in finals week, if he where to cheat he would be punished as though there is an absolute morality. God gives him a basis for morality, it is wrong to cheat, what basis does atheist have. No god there is no reason or standard morality, if God doesn't exist then everything is permissible. 

I love this argument, the good old argument from morality, I have attacked it here. Basically, humanity has determined morality through a long process of trial and error (mostly error unfortunately), if the bible is a basis for morality it is a bad one preaching genocide, slavery, rape and vengeance.
Atheists could actually be deemed more moral as they do things without expecting an afterlife treat, they do good for goodness sake.

Josh then tips his hand with the "life is meaningless" rhetoric. If your life is meaningless without an unjustified belief system this isn't an argument for that belief system, anymore than life is more fun when you shirk work and get drunk and party all the time being an argument for drunkenness.
Life is what you make it, if you suck at it don't lean on a crutch, make it better. If you are dealt a bad hand then hope others will help you, or simply be happy to be alive for a fleeting moment on this beautiful planet.

I love the closing bits where the professor all callous says;“I’m going to enjoy failing you”. Why would a professor state this. I am not a professor, but if I was I would shoot down all his arguments publicly, I would ensure his peers learnt from his logical errors, and yes I would still fail him.

Ah of course the old chestnut "do you hate God, why." Hehe, "Do you hate Zeus? Why?" Nope don't hate God, don't even hate believers, I don't even hate all religions. I hate magical thinking, I hate indoctrination and I hate the anti-science rhetroic. There is good some religions do, but mostly it is outweighed by the pompous preening and damage it has done to our society.
"Science supports gods existence", really. The aforementioned Templeton foundation has done their own studies into prayer, it has failed every time. Every time we have looked for the solution to a question that has plagued us it has been caused by a natural event, not once has the answer been supernatural, I would say that God being a supernatural entity is precluded by science.

Pascals wager

One last argument, this time not from Josh, but from the in-firmed mother, Pascal’s wager,  all-be-it with a poetic flair. Satan tempts us to stay in the cage, makes it comfortable even leaves the door open till it is too late and it slams shut.... OK so forget about the fact here that the devil is supposed to have rebelled against God yet still keeps his prison running, so what. Pascals wager has been destroyed loads of times. For those who don't know it, here it is;

Either God exists or he doesn't, if you believe in him and he does and you die then you are rewarded with an eternity in paradise. If you believe in him and he doesn't exist, then you have lost nothing. If you do not believe and he does exist, then you will be tormented for all eternity or at least miss out on this eternal bliss.

The issue of course with this is the God existence isn't binary, it isn't either yes or no, and it isn't 50% one way and the other. There have been around 10,000 Gods worshiped by humans thus far, as Bart said you could just make the real one madder and madder by worshiping the wrong one, of course it could be one we have yet to devise/receive word from, or it could be one who favours the use of our reason and only lets in ones that don't believe, or there could be no God.
It also doesn't take in the personal and societal cost of religion, Churches currently shirk billions in taxes, people pay tithes, and waste part of their free time.

Marcus Aurelius(possibly, a dubious source) answered Pascal before he was even born;
"Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust,
then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.

Finally the gem I have heard before, "The letter his ways are not our ways and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts." The old God works in mysterious ways, his thoughts are higher than ours, it'd be like an ant trying to comprehend us.

Sorry but no, if we were powerful enough to be able to communicate with an ant as god can communicate with us then we could make ourselves and our intent known to the ant, we could likely even get it on our side. This is a cop out, and beyond a weak argument it is horribly demeaning to your fellow human.

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