I have a special place in my heart for Catholics. Being raised one, at one stage doing a nightly rosary and buying all their weak arguments until I was in my early 20’s I feel the need to counter them where I see them. I am currently writing a skeptics guide to the catechism, for giggles, it is longer than this post so sorry in advance. But I saw the below and knew it needed a rebuttal. Please bear in mind the original is around 30 pages, this one will probably be pretty close.
There are questions peppered throughout, I am sure they are of the style that we usually see asked by one of the authors as what they see as a true representation of the types of questions non-believers and skeptics ask… they are at best self-serving at worst a dishonest representation; a strawman, but I’ll persist.
Sorry about the length, Catholics tend to be a bit wordy, it comes from the old flourishing Latin masses, heck that is where we get the phrase “to pontificate”. On to the article if you feel the need to read it, here it is, like I said though 30 odd pages, and I have read it so you don't have to.
http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0276.htm Looks like catholiceducation.org have taken down the article. Wayback machine cached version here; https://web.archive.org/web/20140723220652/http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0276.htm
And the author has mirrored it here;
If all else fails I have a PDF too.
Index to make it easier, to find sections;
- The Argument from Change
- The Argument from Efficient Causality
- The Argument from Time and Contingency
- The Argument from Degrees of Perfection
- The Design Argument
- The Kalam Argument
- The Argument from Contingency
- The Argument from the World as an Interacting Whole
- The Argument from Miracles
- The Argument from Consciousness
- The Argument from Truth
- The Argument from the Origin of the Idea of God
- The Ontological Argument
- The Moral Argument
- The Argument from Conscience
- The Argument from Desire
- The Argument from Aesthetic Experience
- The Argument from Religious Experience
- The Common Consent Argument
- Pascal's Wager
- Questions for Discussion
1. The argument from Change.This is really a first cause argument. What caused the universe, rephrased to say what causes the universe to change? As though outside influences cause a body to move, and one of those outside influences is the bodies will… uh no the bodies will comes from the mind. Yes ultimately the first cause of that body is external, the parent. The continued causes are also all external, the upbringing, genetics, energy input etc, this doesn’t point to a God. Not all things have or need a first cause, quantum mechanics deals with uncaused changes, and the universe didn’t spring into existence in time for there to necessarily be a cause.
The first cause argument can be refuted a number of ways;
* What causes a stream to flow, if you said natural laws such as gravity, you are right. What causes a tablet to dissolve, if you said natural laws of chemistry, you would be right. Can both of these events happen by chance… yep. What links them… natural causes… what are you positing, supernatural causes. Do you see the disconnect in your logic here?
* What caused the first cause? If you go on to say the first cause always was then anthropomorphising this first cause by giving it a will, intellect and unimaginable power and foresight and you only over-complicate things. Why not simply save a whole heap of steps and say the universe (or multiverse if that floats your boat) always existed.
The last paragraph of this section is crazy. If there is nothing outside the universe, then there is nothing that can cause the universe to change… uh really. So if you isolate a solution in a container the contents can and do change, as long as they have the energy to do so. The universe is currently full of energy, it won’t always be though. This is really just restating the first of the laws of thermodynamics, that entropy will
2. The Argument from Efficient Causality.This argument is basically saying are things caused to exist by something all the time. Does the moon always exist because there is a Werewolf somewhere looking up at it? Music is there example, it ceases to exist once a player stops playing…. Only it doesn’t. If you travel away from that music faster than the speed of sound and then stop if the music is sufficiently loud enough you will still hear it even though you can see the musician packing away his ivories. It goes even further of course, even after you can’t hear the music the energy that went into creating it goes somewhere, remember energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it just changes. So it changes from the kinetic vibrations in the air to thermally increasing the temperature of the air itself, that then gets dissipated through the atmosphere, some may even leak off into space, but this energy will never be destroyed. It will just change into another kind of energy or become so disparate that it can’t be measured.
This “Argument” then goes on to “suppose”… bad territory for any serious argument. Now lets suppose that all things are caused to exist, does that get you to a mind infinitely more complex than any mind we have observed, the doesn’t even require physical matter for the mind to operate with. Does it get you to an infinitely powerful being, all-loving, all-knowing who sent his son to earth… no. At best it gets you to the universe being the uncaused cause… something science can agree with with the multiverse hypothesis’ or the bounce hypothesis.
It then goes on to say that existence is a gift from cause to effect. But physics doesn’t say that the singularity pre the big-bang required a cause, the term cause and effect is in essence illogical at this point as time (the thing cause and effect operate in) came into existence at this point. As Stephen Hawking has said, physics doesn’t preclude effect preceding cause in certain circumstances, perhaps the effect (singularity) preceded the cause (something in the universe).
Faulty reasoning such as we exist, therefore God must exist, is the same as saying the earth exists, therefore earth building pixies must exist, there are many steps missing in the causal chain.
To answer their Question1, why do we need an un-caused cause… we don’t. There could be causes infinitely back, this is in fact less complicated than an all-powerful and eternal mind. I have used this quote many times: “In many cultures it is customary to answer that God created the universe out of nothing. But this is mere temporizing. If we wish courageously to pursue the question, we must, of course ask next where God comes from? And if we decide this to be unanswerable, why not save a step and conclude that the universe has always existed?” - Carl Sagan, Cosmos, page 257.
Question 2; IF the Kalam argument is right in premise 1, then the universe could be caused by a preceding universe and so on forever. But premise 1 is false; we know of things in the quantum world that being to exist without a cause. Virtual particles seemingly come into existence without a cause, these have been used to predict and then explain phenomenon like the Casimir effect, and light from a vacuum (virtual particles reflecting off a near light speed velocity oscillating mirror).
Yes the Kalam argument works whether the past is finite, or infinite. But the Kalam argument makes a lot of assumptions, assumptions with no basis in reality, if it fails at the first premise which I mentioned in the preceding paragraph then the whole argument can be discarded.
Yes as this section goes on to explain we are dependent on a lot of things, but notice how every cause you see has a natural explanation, why when you go back to the beginning do you think it will be different, a supernatural cause. Point me to one supernatural cause that has been verified, then we can talk about supernatural causes at the beginning.
3. The Argument from Time and Contingency.Wow, such big words in the title this one has to be smart.
Uhh this is just another way of saying the previous argument, they add in the fallacious reasoning that if an eternity existed before the universe existed then why does the universe exist now, it can’t if it took an eternity to get here… this is like saying if you have an infinite amount of time and trillions of dice you can never roll all 6’s… of course you can. You could the every time, chance doesn’t work like that.
Our animal minds evolved to deal with a finite amount of time to imagining an infinite amount of time is near impossible. But we can talk about and realise how little we know. Hilberts paradox of the infinite hotel, shows how little we know. Say you have a hotel, with an infinite number of rooms, all of them occupied, and you have a guest show up. You can say, hmm all our rooms are full, but hang on a minute, you call room 1 and tell them to move to room 2, telling them to tell room 2 to do the same thus moving everyone up a room number, making room 1 free for the new guests.
This is odd, but it gets better. An infinitely sized coach can turn up with an infinite number of new guests inside it… now you can simply call room 1 and tell them to move to room 2, telling them to tell room 2 to move to 4 and room 4 to move 8 and so on. Then call each odd numbered room and tell them to move to their room number x2. Thus an infinite number of these odd numbered rooms will become available, for your new guests to move into.
It gets stranger still as an infinite number of these infinitely sized coaches can arrive and you can still make space for them in similar fashion.
See more here; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilbert%27s_paradox_of_the_Grand_Hotel
We can’t think in infinities being that we are finite beings, but with an infinite amount of time all things that are possible are not only likely to happen but will.
Maybe I am a little tired but the question and answer in this section seem nonsensical.
Question 1: Even though you may never in fact step outside your house all day, it was possible for you to do so. Why is it impossible that the universe still happens to exist, even though it was possible for it to go out of existence?
I think they are trying to say why does the universe exist if it was possible for it not to exist. This is a good question, with an infinite amount of time all things are possible, so perhaps the universe won’t exist forever, perhaps it hasn’t existed for a very long time and it is existing again. We don’t know.
Saying that something cannot cease to exist unless that feature is built in, is a little erroneous. As I said before energy cannot be created or destroyed, so it would seem energy doesn’t have this built-in function, thus energy could have existed forever. Conversely though, God being all-powerful does I assume have the ability to cease to exist, which given an infinite amount of time she must have tried non-existence once, so why is she in existence now?
4. The Argument from Degrees of Perfection.This is basically trying to state there must be an objective standard to hold everything else against. This is simply not the case, we hold things up against our experience and biases.
Existence is better than non-existence, but then again we exist. Love is better than no-love… then again most of us are empathetic loving beings. I have met those who are aromantic, they don’t experience sexual love, why is there existence any less valid than our loving one. Why do we consider ourselves so special, could that be because we are the ones writing about ourselves. I am sure Dolphins if they possessed the opposable thumb for writing would have different things to say about us. I am sure that if there exists an alien race even nearly as intelligent as us, they will be just as self-obsessed thinking there way of thinking, and relating is best.
This is just like the argument for objective morals, which I have answered here; http://atheism.morganstorey.com/2013/08/argument-from-morality.html
Like objective morality and objective standards, they aren’t objective they are subjective regardless of what you would like to believe. Different cultures have different standards, and different species have different moralities that serve their needs. Of course subjectively we can look at rape as wrong, but for the angler fish it is the only way its species can continue with the diminutive male forcing himself upon the much larger female. We see this as wrong, and from our context it is, from the angler fishes it is a way of life.
Question 1: The argument assumes a real "better." But aren't all our judgments of comparative value merely subjective?
Yes they are, and asking the question doesn’t prove that standards aren’t arbitrary and subjective. It just shows that the asker thought it better to ask this question, it is subjective to the asker. You can speak subjectivism, and you can live it, our legal system is the perfect example, the same crime doesn’t always get the same punishment, there are subjective reasons that are taken into account. The legal system evolves over time, taking into account societies changing attitudes to things like inter-racial marriage, slavery, child abuse and same-sex relations.
5. The Design Argument.Amazing that this is coming up from a Catholic apologist site, when Catholics accept and teach evolution and big-bang cosmology at schools. But I suppose you can accept something without understanding it, like the trinity :)
Let’s look at the crux of their argument;
1. The universe displays a staggering amount of intelligibility, both within the things we observe and in the way these things relate to others outside themselves. That is to say: the way they exist and coexist display an intricately beautiful order and regularity that can fill even the most casual observer with wonder. It is the norm in nature for many different beings to work together to produce the same valuable end -- for example, the organs in the body work for our life and health. (See also argument 8.)
You mean like the fact that our appendix is mostly unneeded and could burst killing us at any time? Or that 99% of nature (as in the rest of the universe not on this little mote of dust) is hostile and would cause our demise, the vacuum of space, the radiation of most star and the inhabitable zone around blackholes and neutron stars?
2. Either this intelligible order is the product of chance or of intelligent design.
Evolution is not chance, it is blind and cannot see the future, mutation is chance, but evolution is more than mutation. Evolution is driven by natural selection, survival of the fittest. If say a mutation causes a small but beneficial change in a species then it is passed on, and on and may lead to more changes of that ilk leading to the apparent design in a species. I assure you that the “design” of the laryngeal nerve was not very well designed in mammals getting from brain to voice box via the heart is a route not even the worst city planner would design.
3. Not chance.
Blanket asserting your position in an argument with no evidence is not a point, it is an opinion. How about I put her no God, see no supporting evidence. It makes your case look weak. Besides we already covered that evolution is not chance, the only thing that is chance is the way the rest of the universe looks, and that is the way it is.
4. Therefore the universe is the product of intelligent design.
Where is the case, you made blanket statements, and misunderstandings in your previous points.
5. Design comes only from a mind, a designer.
Who says the universe is designed, only those that posit a designer. There are an infinite number of other possibilities, we can only take those that have evidence to back them, so far the evidence points to natural means
6. Therefore the universe is the product of an intelligent Designer.
Another therefore in the same line of reason where there was no evidence or decent argument
presented. Therefore this argument is null.
The rest of this argument and the questions is just a restatement of the previous 6 points, so I will spare you.
Only to end this point with this;
"Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, "This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!" This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for. We all know that at some point in the future the Universe will come to an end and at some other point, considerably in advance from that but still not immediately pressing, the sun will explode. We feel there's plenty of time to worry about that, but on the other hand that's a very dangerous thing to say." - Douglas Adams
6. The Kalam Argument.I have kind of already covered this fallacious argument. As have many others, it is called the Kalam as it is an argument that has come down from Muslim scholars, and in the hundreds of years it has been presented it has never been convincing.
But let's take it on just to be complete.
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause for its coming into being.
Hahah, no, see virtual particles.
2. The universe began to exist.
Debatable, and some evidence is pointing to an eternal multiverse or that this universe eternally cycles… like the Hindus believe, it doesn’t make them right about Vishnu or Krishna as if the universe is found to have a defined beginning doesn’t make Christianity right. We could be a massive quantum fluctuation similar to virtual particles.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause for its coming into being.
See answer to point 1. Again even if it had a cause for its existence it is a big jump from an unseen cause of the start of the universe to all-powerful being who cares about one of the little specs out of trillions upon trillions and its tiny fleshy inhabitants.
I like how they then go on to explain the Kalam, saying you would have to be insane to not grant the first premise. Well I don’t and a lot of modern cosmologists (some likely even theists) don’t. If you can’t convince someone without insulting them, then your case is indeed a weak one.
They then go one to say premise 2 is supported by recent developments in cosmology, such as the big bang theory… except that theory came about in 1927… so about as recent as say human powered flight.
The big bounce is more recent, as is the multiverse hypothesis, the holographic universe, and the simulation universe. All of these hypothesis take into account the big bang, and have a universe or multiverse preceding it, none of these require a God, and none will get to the rank of theory till there is a plethora of evidence. Some is starting to come in, none yet for your God or any for that matter.
This point then goes on to again misunderstand infinities and show how badly our finite minds can comprehend it. Besides the big bang theory in cosmology shows that time and space began at the initial expansion of the universe, there was no time before this, none that could affect our own universe to begin with. So saying it has taken infinite days to get to here is as nonsensical a statement as you can get, showing a misunderstanding of a “recent” nigh on hundred year old theory.
Question 1: Christians believe they are going to live forever with God. So they believe the future will be endless. How come the past cannot also be endless?
I would add to this, why can God have existed forever and lived an infinite number of days till 14billion years ago/6000 years ago (depending on your brand of Christianity) when he decided to make the universe? How did he reach that decision in an infinite amount of time.
There answer to this question goes onto not understand infinity again. You can have an infinite number of positive numbers and infinite number of negative, both are infinite. So let’s say I believe in living for ever after death, then I will live for an infinite amount of time, in the positive numbers after my birth, it is still an infinity, no matter which way you try and spin it. This extent is not finite, I wouldn’t be existing forever more, if it weren’t infinite.
Here is a head scratcher for you, there are an infinite number of numbers between 1 and 2, 1.00000001, 1.0000000001 etc… This is how little this author understands infinity, this is how little the human mind can grasp it.
Question 2: How do we know that the cause of the universe still exists? Maybe it started the universe going and then ceased to be.
This is the deist position, not one I agree with as I don’t see any evidence for it. The responder tries to go on to say if the cause is outside the universe then it has to be eternal. Why? What evidence do they present… none. It could be the cause was a being from another universe not unlike our own, that performed an experiment that split off another universe, it could be our entire universe exists as a simulation in another universe, these are all valid hypothesis that don’t require the creator to be omnipotent. There is no evidence for the former, and only slight for the later.
This being existing in another universe, separated from our own doesn’t have the issue of infinite regression, they could have created our universe and there’s could have sprung up from the multiverse or there’s could be an infinite cycle of expansion and collapse, this universe could have since collapsed and ours split off from theirs, time could run differently there, slower, faster, backwards, these are all possibilities that the authors simply don’t want to address as it weakens their case.
Question 3: But is this cause God -- a he and not a mere it?
This is a good question, how do they get from universe had a cause, to the cause is a being whom identifies as male, is omnipotent and loving, that is an astronomical leap? It goes on to say if the universe where cause of natural phenomenon, then it would have happened long ago… who says it didn’t, and that that universe didn’t run its course and re-collapse into ours, or into a state of extensive hibernation, or something else. Remember time came into being at the big bang, so maybe this event has happened an infinite amount of times, stretching back into the past forever, just as your God stretches back into the past forever.
If God didn’t exist forever, then what caused God?
7. The Argument from Contingency.Yikes, 13 more of these… sorry everyone.
This is an interesting one, basically saying a painting can’t exist without a canvas, but what if the painting is the canvas then it is contingent upon itself. Below is the breakdown.
1. If something exists, there must exist what it takes for that thing to exist.
Plausible, however it can go back further. If God exists there must exist something that takes for God to exist, if you say god is self-contingent, why not save a step and say the universe is self-contingent.
2. The universe -- the collection of beings in space and time -- exists.
No argument here
3. Therefore, there must exist what it takes for the universe to exist.
I think this is a good argument for the multiverse, not God. This can be turned on its head, lets say God exists outside the universe in an outerverse, this outerverse has to exist for God to exist, and something has to exist for this outerverse to exist…Maybe, just maybe the universe is all there is, self-contingent and at least we have evidence for its existence.
4. What it takes for the universe to exist cannot exist within the universe or be bounded by space and time.
Don’t agree here, of course the universe could exist of its own accord, it is unbounded by space and time, it is finite but unbounded. Perhaps our epoch of time came into being at the big bang as the last epoch ended. Just because we don’t know, doesn’t mean you can stick God in there, otherwise you stymie progression and do the opposite of science supposing the answer and only looking for evidence to support that answer.
5. Therefore, what it takes for the universe to exist must transcend both space and time.
Again with the therefore before you have made a decent case. We don’t know if what it takes for the universe to exist transcends space and time, the universe could be self-contingent. It could depend on the multiverse, which could be self-contingent, it could depend on the Ginnungagap and Niflheim, but without any evidence how do we weigh these claims. We can weigh these claims quite easily, we go with what we have seen in the past, in this case we have never seen evidence of the supernatural all events have had natural explanations, thus it is more likely the universe has a natural explanation.
Again they restate their premises here, as though saying them over and over again will make it so, this is not a prayer and its repetition doesn’t make it or prayer any more valid.
Question 1: But why should we call this cause "God"? Maybe there is something unknown that grounds the universe of change we live in.
As I said before there is, the universe could be causeless, you claim God is, so why not save some steps, complexity and infinities (infinite power, infinite knowledge, infinite love etc) and say the universe is causeless.
Maybe this unknown will turn out, through evidence to be a multiverse of perhaps an infinite number of other bubble universes, perhaps our universe will turn out to be cyclical, big-banging and crunching away into the past eternally and into the future in a similar fashion. We don’t know, so why do you guess in place with knowledge from ancient texts, hearsay, rumour, myth, and personal revelation that is no better than anecdote from a UFO abductee?
The issue with supposing this “Giver” is that you suppose a being that is infinitely more complex than the universe itself. For it to know all, it has to be able to say store all the information that can ever be, every possible position of every possible particle in the universe, this storage would need to be basically the universes number of atoms in the universe to some enormous power, say to the power of itself. So there are roughly 10^82 atoms in the universe, so 10^82^10^82, or 10^6724 if you want easier notation. This is probably smaller than what would actually be needed, but we will grant this being the benefit of the doubt of a super powerful being. Now it needs somewhere to store all these bits, you can say it is incorporeal, but everything we know of stores its data somewhere. Lets say this being stores this 10^6724 in its incorporeal cloud, it can’t possibly have enough space to have all-knowledge of itself, so it is not omnipotent about its own inner workings. This is obviously a trick as any theist will simply come in and say God is magic… magic is not an answer, it just begs further questioning as to how it all works. If your answer in science is magic, then it is so far always been wrong, is that really the side you want to align with.
8. The Argument from the World as an interacting whole.This argument is basically saying that nothing could work if each system, physics and the various constants, and chemistry and its various workings, weren’t in place. It is an argument from ignorance. A simple counter is we don’t have a system with different constants and different chemistry to compare with our own, without this we don’t know if our constants are the best.
Victor Stenger has written a rather nice book called the fallacy of fine tuning where he outlines how these cosmological constants that give rise to our chemistry could have been different and still allowed for life, in fact they may have been better, they certainly could have been worse. But the anthropic principal answers that to say if they had been so bad as to not allow for life, then we wouldn’t be here to observe the constants.
What would be amazing is if we lived on a world not capable of supporting life, if we popped into existence complete with environmental suit and all. Or if the entire universe was capable of supporting our life, no vacuum in space, no deadly radiation, all habitable… that would be some decent evidence for a caring creator.
This argument also touches on the argument from design. The classic argument of useless is a mousetrap if you remove a single part… of course Dr Kenneth Miller blows this out of the water
sure it is no longer an effective mousetrap, but it makes a great tie clip or some other tool. Life and its interlocking is the same, it would still be life but not as we know it.
They then from these faulty premises make a jump to the conclusion. The issue is, even if you accept the premises, it only gets you to a conclusion that there was a creator at some point, not the next leap that the creator is named Yahweh and gave his word to desert tribe on a small planet in the outer arm of a small galaxy.
9. The Argument from Miracles.This one is going to be fun.
1. A miracle is an event whose only adequate explanation is the extraordinary and direct intervention of God.
I wouldn’t agree here, more likely a trick, a hallucination, or as Arthur C. Clarke put it;
I find it interesting that a lot of miracles either occurred in the past when scientific literacy wasn't great, or they occur in poorer parts of the world, where similarly scientific knowledge isn't widespread.
2. There are numerous well-attested miracles.
Hahah, really. There are numerous sighting’s of aliens, Bigfoot, miracles attested to Vishnu, Allah, and other deities. Anecdote doesn’t equal evidence. We need a way to distinguish exaggeration, conflation, mis-remembered, mis-told, and outright lies from the truth. The way you do that is not through eye-witness testimony but repeatable and verifiable evidence. Some evidence left behind that could actually be tested, a video that could be tested for forgery etc. Nothing yet, forgive me, but I am not going to hold my breath.
But let’s take some of those Catholic “miracles”, you are more likely to die if you visit Lourdes hoping for a miracle than if you stay at home.
The Shroud of Turin, is likely a fake. Here is the skeptics view, and here is a Christian's own take down (surely they have a bias for it being real), citing biblical mismatch.
Mother Theresa soon to be sainted, never heard God talk to her according to the letters that Chistopher Hitchens outlines in his book "Missionary position" (#I'll update this with Page number when I find it)
Finally, God doesn’t heal amputees http://www.whywontgodhealamputees.com/
3. Therefore, there are numerous events whose only adequate explanation is the extraordinary and direct intervention of God.
As I mentioned before, nope. It could be a magician performing a slight of hand, a trick like "removing" a diseased organ without scalpel as the South east Asian mystics do, or it could be a hallucination, even mass hysteria, these are all described by modern science.
Finally it could be sufficiently advanced technology as I mentioned before, something that the witness didn't realise was available, something like this (I know that is available, and would still likely be terrified if God appeared before me with a thunderous voice).
4. Therefore God exists.
You know what Jesus supposedly said about building your house on bedrock… well this whole argument is built on church taffy.
Let’s take some of their own examples, to paraphrase:
-numerous stones drop from the sky, after a holy man tells people they are sinners and God will punish them with stones from the sky.
So if this happened, even most religious people would look for the catapult, the net that had been holding the stones above them, the plane that had dropped them, or some rational explanation. The article goes on to say well if you are a sinner then this may give you pause… but then most religions say we are all sinners, we are all sick, and where oh where can you find the cure, of course from the same place that told you where sick, how convenient.
I don’t think many people would think they are worthy of punishment, even one so relatively minor as being stoned from on high, let alone the eternal punishment of hell.
Just because an event correlates with an existing belief doesn’t give any evidence for that existing belief. The event needs to be investigated in isolation and with a skeptical mind before you decide on its worth.
-references to biblical miracles
Surely you don’t accept the miracles in the Koran, the flight from Mecca to Palestine, or the miracles of the Egyptian gods, Greek gods, Roman gods or ancient Persian gods? So why do you expect us to accept your holy book as evidence for the Jewish gods miracles? What outside evidence is there of these miracles, none, OK then the miracles can be ignored.
They go on, and on about context of the miracle here. Sorry but context actually counts against them being miracles, have a look at wishful thinking, have a look at mass hysteria and group think. I think that both of these preceding references point to issues with trusting groups of people without some sort of corroborating evidence, especially if the claim is fantastic.
10. The Argument from Consciousness.Wohoo half-way. I hope someone, preferably a current Catholic got to here. Roughly a page per argument so far, sorry again, it is a long slog and no one said the road to Calvary was easy.
Wow this is another non-sequitur, but I will persist.
1. We experience the universe as intelligible. This intelligibility means that the universe is graspable by intelligence.
No argument here… well sort of. The universe is so complex that no one human intelligence can grasp the whole thing, from the minuscule complexity of quantum physics, to the enormity of scale and deep time of the cosmos, and everything chemical, biological, psychological, societal and cultural in between.
But yes it is generally understandable.
2. Either this intelligible universe and the finite minds so well suited to grasp it are the products of intelligence, or both intelligibility and intelligence are the products of blind chance.
Really, we aren’t that well suited to grasp it, that is why we have communities of minds called research groups, no one person can really grasp it. I am sure a dolphin has possibly better understandings of fluid dynamics than even the best human, and I am sure a water strider in some extent understands fluid tension better than most humans. But OK, the best of us, can in their chosen field grasp the universe. I don’t think anyone has said any intelligence from a dolphin or ape (of which homo-sapiens is a member) is due to blind chance. This is a gross misunderstanding of evolution as driven by natural selection. It isn’t blind chance, it is survival of the fittest.
3. Not blind chance.
You are only making a case here for your misunderstanding of evolution. It isn’t blind chance, it’s evolution baby. Sure it was kind of chance that we got the laws that lead to a universe that allowed evolution to take place, but then again we have the anthropic principle, if it hadn’t been a universe where evolution could have taken place we wouldn’t be here to contemplate it. I know that isn’t the best argument but it is what it is.
4. Therefore this intelligible universe and the finite minds so well suited to grasp it are the products of intelligence.
Nope, no “therefore”, bad argument, no desert for you.
Surely it could be intelligible by us as we have evolved within it. Surely it could be intelligible by us as we have developed frameworks (science and reason) to tease out its intelligibility. Though really have a look at quantum physics and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle or virtual particles both of which have been proven time and again and tell me it is intelligible.
Can you comprehend a city, surely you can. This city is not the product of one intelligence, but the product of many, your argument at best leads to this as a possible answer, so pantheism.
Saying something is irrational that follows laws, but doesn’t necessarily follow a rational mind is nonsense, since when has Yahweh shown his rationality in the Old testamanet “thou shalt not kill” then a chapter or so later he is ordering Moses to slaughter some now lost tribe. Regardless, why does something need to be designed to be rational, a stream flows downhill to the river, to the ocean, all very rational. Sure you could say God gave us those laws of water flow and gravity, but could he have done differently? Could he have done it irrationally? If not, then he is not omnipotent, if he could then that defeats your own purpose of needing a rational mind for rational laws.
Now they quote H. W. B. Joseph; an ethicist and who proceeded CS Lewis and informed some of his ideas. Interesting that the atheist philosopher AC Grayling has edited together Horace’s works, but I digress.
If thought is laryngeal motion, how should any one think more truly than the wind blows? All movements of bodies are equally necessary, but they cannot be discriminated as true and false. It seems as nonsensical to call a movement true as a flavour purple or a sound avaricious. But what is obvious when thought is said to be a certain bodily movement seems equally to follow from its being the effect of one. Thought called knowledge and thought called error are both necessary results of states of brain. These states are necessary results of other bodily states. All the bodily states are equally real, and so are the different thoughts; but by what right can I hold that my thought is knowledge of what is real in bodies? For to hold so is but another thought, an effect of real bodily movements like the rest. . . These arguments, however, of mine, if the principles of scientific [naturalism]... are to stand unchallenged, are themselves no more than happenings in a mind, results of bodily movements; that you or I think them sound, or think them unsound, is but another such happening; that we think them no more than another such happening is itself but yet another such. And it may be said of any ground on which we may attempt to stand as true, Labitur et labetur in omne volubilis aevum ["It flows and will flow swirling on forever" (Horace, Epistles, I, 2, 43)]. (Some Problems in Ethics, pp. 14-15)
Horace is basically arguing if the human mind is formed through nature then how is it we can speak what is true and what is not, any more than the wind can. It is a rather grandly worded question that basically people will read how they want. Are humans up on a pedestal, yep OK well then of course we were made special and speak the truth more than a gust of wind.
Humans are a natural phenomenon no different to that gust of wind… just alive and conscious; yep we can be just as wrong as that gust of wind, we can tell lies, and spout non-sense. Really the only difference between us and a gust of wind, is we are alive and we have developed communication, thus we can build up external sources to ourselves for our beliefs, these external sources enable us to label our thoughts as true to a certain level depending upon our level of trust in external sources and our number of these sources.
For example, prior to my talking my parents where told “it’s a boy”, I have since been treated like a boy, played with boys, seen other boys naked in change rooms and thus further reinforced my belief that I too am a boy. This label is based on evidence.
11. The Argument from Truth.This one is really begging the question; let’s see if you can spot the flaw in reasoning.
1. Our limited minds can discover eternal truths about being.
2. Truth properly resides in a mind.
3. But the human mind is not eternal.
4. Therefore there must exist an eternal mind in which these truths reside.
Yep it is the gargantuan leap they make at point 4, and a logical error they make at point 2: Truth only exists in a mind huh, so quick no one look at the moon, does the truth of its existence cease to be? Do things that humans not know about it have no truth, ahh but the theist will say of course these truths we do not know about are in God’s mind… Really, is there anything God doesn’t know about? Is he sure of his omnipotence, how would he know if there were any of the famous unknown unknowns? If as I said before he was massively complex (a requirement to store a large amount of data about this universe) then he couldn't possibly have enough storage space to store all the information about himself. This still however begs the question, it is putting the conclusion into the argument.
Point 4 is obviously also a failure, they haven’t proved their premise in point 2. Would a rock still be a rock if God and no intelligent mind observed it, would a square still have right angle corners, would 2 + 2 still equal 4, of course. The interesting thing as Bertrand Russell points out in his book “The Problems of Philosophy” is that even in the future we know that 2 things plus two things will equal 4, it is a knowledge that transcends us.
12. The Argument from the Origin of the Idea of God.Now they are attempting to appeal to authority straight away in this one, name dropping Descartes, and his third Meditation. Yes Descartes was a Catholic, though he likely didn’t have much of a choice back in the 1500’s, he did also say to be a true seeker of truth you should doubt as far as possible all things, like maybe doubt the existence of God or the authority of a church, why not do that now.
Below is their summary of Descartes argument.
1. We have ideas of many things.
2. These ideas must arise either from ourselves or from things outside us.
3. One of the ideas we have is the idea of God -- an infinite, all-perfect being.
4. This idea could not have been caused by ourselves, because we know ourselves to be limited and imperfect, and no effect can be greater than its cause.
5. Therefore, the idea must have been caused by something outside us which has nothing less than the qualities contained in the idea of God.
6. But only God himself has those qualities.
7. Therefore God himself must be the cause of the idea we have of him.
8. Therefore God exists.
This argument can be used to prove all sorts of things exist. We have an idea or unicorns as being perfect horses with magical powers, they are greater than us, so we can’t have caused it (really I can imagine some pretty cool stuff), therefore unicorns exist. This is wishful thinking along the lines of; I am a billionaire and excesses of opulent food do not cause obesity.
Yes this defining something into existence is absurd; I also would argue that as imperfect and finite beings we can’t even imagine a perfect and infinite being.
There have been God ideas before Yahweh that where just as great, Ahura Mazda the God of Zoroastrianism is both uncreated and omniscient, and likely existed in ancient Persia 550BCE.Vishnu is both omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent existing in some form from 1500BCE. This idea of a perfect Ahura Mazda or Vishnu lends no credence to its existence.
This argument breaks down to a poor version of the ontological argument… oh what’s that next, why it is the ontological argument.
13. The Ontological Argument.They really seem obsessed with the ontological argument, presenting multiple versions. Problem is even Anslem didn’t mean the argument to be a proof of God’s existence, just a sort of affirmation that convinced him.
As they say in their intro to this argument, this argument is easy to dismiss,
1. It is greater for a thing to exist in the mind and in reality than in the mind alone.
2. "God" means "that than which a greater cannot be thought."
3. Suppose that God exists in the mind but not in reality.
4. Then a greater than God could be thought (namely, a being that has all the qualities our thought of God has plus real existence).
5. But this is impossible, for God is "that than which a greater cannot be thought."
6. Therefore God exists in the mind and in reality.
I agree with point 1, it really is greater to exist in real life than in a mind alone. That doesn’t mean that because something exists in a mind means it has to exist in real life, it doesn’t mean an even better more perfect version of an imagined object or being needs to exist.
Point 4 is a problem as most Christians will protest in response to the problem of evil “You cannot know the mind of God”, so which is it, you can have a concept of God in your head, one that is made greater by its actual existence, or does God work in Mysterious ways?
This is defining something into existence, it is not an argument for a God, just as it is not an argument for perfect faeries, unicorns or perfect round triangles.
There is an interesting counter to the Ontological argument, one of a worse being. Think of the worst being you can imagine, by the very definition it is worse to not exist, actually it is worse to not even be able to be held in thought, thus the worst being exists neither in reality or thought. This breaks down the argument to its core nonsense.
There is another counter that Dawkins uses, that it is actually a greater achievement to have a handicap and still be a creator, therefore non-existence is actually greater than existence thus God doesn’t exist.
To answer their absurd questions in this section;
Question 1: Suppose I deny that God exists in the mind?
I don’t deny that God exists in the mind, it does. Problem is everyone I have met has their own version. Does this mean all of these God’s exist, can we let them duke it out with their omnipotence and worship the winner :)
Question 2: Is it really greater for something to exist in the mind and in reality than in the mind alone?
I already answered this one, yep it is greater for something to exist. So what? Something being greater requires greater evidence not finer word-play.
Question 3: But is real being just another "thought" or "concept"? Is "real being" just one more concept or characteristic (like "omniscience" or "omnipotence") that could make a difference to the kind of being God is?
Who asks this kind of nonsense question, of course being real is both a thought/concept and an attribute. Being real tends to make a pretty big difference, this isn’t to say God exists, but being real is kind of contingent on existing.
They then move the Modal version of the Ontological argument, really just putting the argument another way. If you can’t dazzle them with knowledge, baffle them with bullshit.
Question: Just because GCB must be thought of as existing, does that mean that GCB really exists?
No, of course not. You can think of things existing, you can think of a world for example with pink swans, it wouldn’t change things much. But then Pink swans are not a huge change from the existing white and black swans, of course a pink wizzlewuzzle, is a bit odd as you don’t know what a wizzlewuzzle is.
You can also think of a world where black swans never existed, you can picture this world again as not being much different. In this world Western Australia wouldn’t have the same state emblem, that is probably the only difference.
The answer to this question claims that someone cannot think of something as existing and not existing. Nope, people can contain two contradictory ideas in their head even at the same time.
Possible Worlds Version
This is another version of the Ontological that basically twists it around to say that there is a possible world in which there exists a being of maximal greatness, but to be maximally great this being has to exist in all possible worlds. It adds some flair to this, but this is a good enough summation.
The issue should be apparent, even if we put aside the lack of evidence for the many worlds hypothesis of quantum physics, this argument still attempts to prove itself in its premise. It also fails in defining “maximum greatness”. Maybe maximum greatness is a 200IQ or the ability to run the 100m in under 10seconds… In which case we are already there. Without evidence to back your definition you are simply defining into existence what you define.
There is humorous corollary that I have heard on the ontological argument. Imagine Eric the greatest “God eating penguin”, for it to be greater it would have to exist, therefore it does, and it eats God by definition, therefore there is no God as the great God-eating penguin has eaten it.
Or this corollary from SMBC;
14. The Moral Argument1. Real moral obligation is a fact. We are really, truly, objectively obligated to do good and avoid evil.
2. Either the atheistic view of reality is correct or the "religious" one.
3. But the atheistic one is incompatible with there being moral obligation.
4. Therefore the "religious" view of reality is correct.
Let’s start with point 1. I would contest point 1, and any ethicist is likely to agree with me. There is no obligation to do good, just look at the world of business, or war. Good is rarely done, and sometimes the psychopaths among us don’t even feel remorse. This doesn't mean we shouldn't try to minimise suffering, and it is greater good when it is done and you realise there is no enforced obligation.
Point 2 is wrong, it is not 50/50 chance. There are religions with different moral guidelines, there are tens of thousands of religions and gods made up so far by humans, and an infinite number of possible gods not yet dreamt up, not to mention religions without gods and non-belief in its various forms. The view of reality can be taken from say-so religious attitudes or factual claims made by science. The “atheistic view” of reality only usually adds to the scientific view by lacking belief in a god or gods.
Point three, yes the “atheistic view” is incompatible with their being a moral obligation, I would argue so is the religious one. Famously with the Euthyphro dilemma. The dilemma states is something good because God/the gods command it, or does God/the gods command it because it is good. In the first cause God could command anything to be good, morality is arbitrary and on the whim of the God, a click of their fingers and genocide and rape are OK. The second denies God/s omnipotence as morality is outside God, if God is all good then therefore doing evil is outside its power.
Now there is a supposed answer to this, put forward by William Lane Craig, that God is good, not that it is good because God commands it, but that his actual essence is good. This still denies God omnipotence as he cannot commit evil, as it is outside his character. His character could also change, and we are back to arbitrary nature of morality. Of course if you read the bible you will see that God’s morality does seem very arbitrary, killing Amelakites and Jebusites here, hardening Pharaohs heart there, and telling David to take the virgins for himself thus condoning rape.
They then go on to construct a straw man of an atheist, who believes modern morals have no grounding. I doubt you would find many non-believers with this attitude, if so they likely haven’t thought about it.
Simply put morality as practiced by modern humans has been built up over time as a community, and as a social animal. These have been enacted into various laws, long before the ten commandments (of which only two are actually crimes in most modern legal systems), these modern laws are constantly tested and challenged inside the legal system and sometimes discarded (criminalisation of same sex-relations), sometimes changed (interracial marriage and the impending changes to same-sex marriage or decriminalisation of marijuana), and sometimes reinforced with further affirmative decisions.
I actually take on objective morality and morality in general here; http://atheism.morganstorey.com/2013/08/argument-from-morality.html
15. The Argument from ConscienceThis one as they admit is an argument from morality to some extent, claiming that because everyone has a conscience that this is evidence for God. This of course doesn’t account for the aforementioned Psychopath’s who lack empathy and may have a misguided conscience because of the combination of this and upbringing (at least in my opinion, though corporate Psychopaths exist with less homicidal fervour). This doesn’t account for those that go against their conscience or their own betterment to help another due to social pressure or logical thought.
to animals that kindly feed other species for not advantage to themselves;
to species that rescue other species at their own detriment (there are so many of these I struggled to find the original I saw several years ago with a little Benji type dog that sacrificed its life for its owners children).
Evolutionary biology has an answer for where we get our “innate” (in most of us) conscience. Simply put we are a pack animal and to succeed in the pack we need to endure in the pack, if we are outwardly evil and malicious we won’t survive long, even psychopaths quickly learn to hide their lack of empathy with false empathy, the smarter the psychopath the more empathetic they will appear to be.
They go on to hypothesise over where we may have got this conscience
1. From something less than me (nature)
2. From me (individual)
3. From others equal to me (society)
4. From something above me (God)
So let’s look at these four possibilities, firstly why does it have to be just one, why can’t it be a combination? Let’s break them down, I am not going to address point 2 as I have no issues with that, I think morality does come from 1,2,3 and have no issue with what is said in point 2.
So point 1 and 3: Here they are claiming that nature is less than me… wrong. We are all part of nature; by that very definition it is immensely larger than an individual. Also claiming society is equal to me, again wrong, the current body of knowledge contained by society is so immense that no one head can store it, the same I would argue goes for moral thought. There are moral situations I have not thought of or been exposed too, there are likely some that I never will think of or be exposed too. The people that are exposed to these moral quandaries have more moral knowledge than I, even more so if they learn from their success/failure in these situations and have to repeat them.
Point 4 of course is just plain wrong as they need to first give some decent evidence for this something above me. Besides even in their own literature we are claimed as children of God, surely children are not always lesser than their parents, often they will surpass them in knowledge, perhaps we have already surpassed God in morality :)
They then go on to consider their strawmen possibilities. We can be obligated by something less than us, we can also be obligated by nature something much more immense than us, they just refuse to see it as they put themselves on an artificial pedestal. Example a child, less than an adult in reasoning and intellect can come out with incredible truisms that people should heed, “don’t fight, be nice” I once heard a boy of 6 say. Should this be ignored as he is currently my moral and intellectual inferior? No, that is stupid, it is sound advice and should be evaluated. Of course Nature is not smaller than a human or even humanity, it is vastly more than us in time and complexity.
Coming to oneself, of course you can arbitrarily go back on a moral decision you have made. Example, you deem that killing is wrong and morally you will never deprive another human of their life. A human being then poses you with a conundrum kill them or they will kill your loved one, you have to have the moral flexibility to be able to rescind your early moral decision and make a judgement if this situation calls for it to end another’s life to save a loved ones.
Coming to society, no a million people don’t make a relative into an absolute, but they do give you something to start with. There are no absolutes, especially in morals. Society isn’t God, there is no God as far as all the evidence points, this isn’t evidence it is special pleading and wishful thinking.
What is more likely innate moral behaviour in beings that evolved, evolved into us as an advantageous trait, or was handed down from on high by an infinitely powerful/knowledgeable/complex God? This also unfortunately claims a monopoly on morality, so a non-your-god believer can’t be moral, how about the aforementioned supposedly soulless animals?
Thus the only adequate solution here is that morals aren’t obliged and have developed along with our brains capacity to reason. Some people find it hard to be moral (psychopaths) just as some find it hard to reason. This makes neither of them less human.
There addendum here tries to address their previous allusion to belief having the monopoly on morals. As I have stated before it is more moral to come to a conclusion on your own with no hope for reward (heaven) or fear of punishment (hell), than it the opposite. But let's address the rest of their addendum.
The Dostoyevsky quote; "If God does not exist, everything is permissible". Yet if he does exist then morals are likely subject to his will. I have stated this dilemma before (The Euthyphro dilemma), but God has in the bible said it was OK to kill your own child. I have to ask, when is it ever morally OK to kill your own conscious child as Abraham was asked and Jephthah(https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Judges+11%3A29-40&version=RSVCE) delivered? I would wager that even if your child was a psychopath you would instead get them help or monitor them closely rather than kill them.
The rest of this addendum seems to be a just so, repeatedly stating something doesn’t make it fact. There is no evidence that God is the first cause of the universe or of morals, even if we were all created by God and instilled with morals that doesn’t explain peoples that have no God concept but still have moral code, that doesn’t explain the continued march of moral progress.
Catholics seem to be obsessed with the moral argument, when if you ask any non-catholic to rate the level of morality inside the church you will likely get a very negative moral landscape. It is a testament to God’s power that his supposedly chosen institution is so corrupt.
They continue on in there addendum to go the William Lane Craig route that morality is not apart from God, but a part of his nature. As I said earlier this means that with his omnipotent power he can change his nature, if God cannot do evil then he is not all powerful, if he can, what is to stop him from changing the rules and thus marking morality arbitrary on his whim.
Wow, I had to include this little gem on morality coming from the universe via natural selection; “The principle of causality is violated here. How could the primordial slime pools gurgle up the Sermon on the Mount”… this shows a gross mis-understanding of evolution and evolutionary psychology. The pools never gurgled anything, it took billions of years for this slime (if it ever existed, way more on that in a later post),to even evolve to a being that had movement, let alone vocal chords and the brain capable of spoken language. Point here, Catholics from the pope down accept evolution, they accept it but some don’t understand it.
The sermon on the mount which has been picked apart rather well here; http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Sermon_on_the_Mount#Counter-apologetics
I will agree with the article here, morality doesn’t exist it would seem at a molecular level, but it doesn’t require much in the way of brains, fish can be moral, as can everything up from there through, see my gifs and videos at the start of this section.
They wander into the argument from ignorance here, because we currently can’t describe morality 100% with science, doesn’t mean it won’t be. If it is will you then discard that power from God as the ancients had to discard lightning from theirs when it was explained? Where will that leave your God? Maybe you would be better discarding everything, then building up your beliefs based on evidence and not preconceived notions, as anyone who is intellectually honest would do.
16. The Argument from Desire1. Every natural, innate desire in us corresponds to some real object that can satisfy that desire.
2. But there exists in us a desire which nothing in time, nothing on earth, no creature can satisfy.
3. Therefore there must exist something more than time, earth and creatures, which can satisfy this desire.
4. This something is what people call "God" and "life with God forever."
This is basically presuppositional, it presupposes that we all know/desire God exists. It is supposing that we all know God exists or we have a desire for it. I am sure every westerner has had a moment or two in their life where they have wanted for nothing, surrounded by their loved ones, post an enormous family meal. But they will say there is still a small niggling desire in you, they claim to know you better than yourself, how arrogant.
They then go on to claim you can have a desire for innate and externally conditioned things. Innate are things like hunger, sleep, thirst, sex etc. Externally conditioned come from external, eg a house, car, money, to fly like a superhero, or visit the Land of OZ. Externally conditioned desires don’t have to necessarily exist they state, but supposedly no-one has found an innate desire that doesn’t exist. I would argue here that our desire to find agency (a mind) behind all events is proof that some supposed "innate" desires don’t exist, I’d also argue what I imagine their next point will be, how do you know that the desire to know God is innate and not conditioned, after all there are people brought up without God and if they don’t have the societal influence they are unlikely to desire God at all such as certain deity-less tribes or even people raised as an atheist, but let’s go on.
Skip to 11:45 for the bit about "is that it"... but the whole clip is beautiful.
They then go on to be just so about how they classify these innate desires and artificial desires, basically classifying things as innate if they deem them them to exist, thus bringing their argument to bear by their own definition. It is the same as saying I am the best writer that has ever existed... because I said so.
Not everyone believes in God, and even those that are raised in the culture can question it from an early age, Children as young as 4 or 5 will question the existence of Santa, the Easter Bunny (Bunny's don't lay eggs, hens do, so maybe the Easter Rooster distributes as I said as a 4 year old), I know some people who questioned the biblical accounts as young as 5, this is more evidence against the belief in God being innate as they offer that it is.
They then go on an appeal to consequences, even if you aren't fulfilled with life, even if you think "Is that all there is" then bad luck, if that is the case all the wishful thinking in the world can't change the facts. I hate that I have to sleep 6+ hours a night to function, no amount of wishful thinking will change that.
They press on saying they are not satisfied with the finite lives they have, surely that is greed, one of the seven deadly sins. Also I think they speak for themselves, sometimes as I sit in reflection I smile at how truly deeply satisfied I am with my life, sure there are things I would like to fix, but overall I am loved and I love deeply. My children are kind and work is enjoyable, what more could I want. Any more that I want, I can work for and likely get, like the outlet of writing I am doing now. Again, just because YOU are unsatisfied, that is not an argument for anything. If this where the case there would be no one in hospital and self-help gurus would abound inside our medical institutions. Instead we have tried and tested medicine and in extreme cases pain relief and coma inducing drugs.
I love when they quote the bible and it is a verse that the bible itself contradicts, God is a concept that is so immense it transcends the concept... "no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived" (1 Cor. 2:9)... Countered by the fact that Adam saw God on several occasions (Genesis 1-3), so did Jacob "So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”" Genesis 32:30, and so did Moses (Exodus 33:11)... Sure they will twist and turn out of this, but the words are plain, if they are so open to interpretation maybe the whole original sin thing, admonishment of homosexuality, the denouncement of women's rights and the entire God concept should be opened to the same interpretation and discarded in kind, start from scratch and build it up your beliefs based on evidence and reason.
They quote here from C.S Lewis,
Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A dolphin wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. (Mere Christianity, Bk. III, chap. 10, "Hope")
Great quote, but it comes back to the same issue I pointed out before; these supposed desires for other worldly things, how do you prove them, how do you prove it is from another world, till you can prove the other world or prove some other thing(s) don't satisfy the desire.
How do you know another's experience, I will admit there have been many times in my life when I have wanted for nothing, does that mean I have found God, or I have evaluated what I actually have and been honest with my satisfaction? Maybe I don't have the desire for God as others do, but this brings up another issue did God create me this way, if so he created me damned, and I'll be damned (badumtsh) if I would worship a being that would create people so broken that he has to torture them for his own mistakes or for his own wrong doings.
I like this quote from C.S Lewis, which strikes at the heart of some of his other religious arguments (quote mining is fun);
Lets cover their Q and A;
Question 1: How can you know the major premise -- that every natural desire has a real object -- is universally true, without first knowing that this natural desire also has a real object? But that is the conclusion. Thus you beg the question. You must know the conclusion to be true before you can know the major premise.
They try answering this by saying we come to knowledge through universal truths. Yes we can, we can weigh the possibilities to be non-consequential, in their example "all humans are mortal" we can see how that has bared out so far to be true and likely to remain true for a long time to come. But this suffers the same issue as the all swans are white universal truth that once existed, you have to be able to give up these assumed truths once new data comes in.
I argue here that defining God as a natural desire is faulty, as we have evidence for acts or objects that can fulfil all other natural desires, but none for God. They are not begging the question with their assertion that God is a natural desire and I think I have argued that he isn't.
Question 2: Suppose I simply deny the minor premise and say that I just don't observe any hidden desire for God, or infinite joy, or some mysterious X that is more than earth can offer?
They suppose with their answer here that no one can be fulfilled, they suppose to know their and everyone else's heart. How presumptuous. They go on to argue that it is part of the human condition to not be satisfied, I would agree. I suppose I have gotten to my moments of satisfaction due to realising by comparison how luck I am, as a westerner with shelter, food, and running water, people that love me and employment that is fun and rewarding. However I will admit this satisfaction is fleeting, we have evolved to look for more, continue to strive, this is why generally we are rarely fully satisfied. There is no need for a God when looked at from the point of view of simple pop-psychology.
Look at animals, especially house pets. They have desires too, actually along similar lines to humans, food, water, shelter, sex and affection. These desires sometimes cannot be satiated, there are diets for dogs, animals that seek out many, many mates despite being infertile. If these desires weren't put into this kind of override then the animals they compete with who do have the overdrive will likely succeed and pass on their DNA over the ones with little desire... it's evolution baby.
I like that they said this; "It is like the game of predicting the end of the world". The saviour they are arguing for did just this predicting the end of the world; "Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." - Matthew 16:28... 2000 years of any day now.
Question 3: This argument is just another version of Anselm's ontological argument (13), which is invalid. You argue to an objective God from a mere subjective idea or desire in you.
I am going to include their reply to this
Reply: No, we do not argue from the idea alone, as Anselm does. Rather, our argument first derives a major premise from the real world of nature: that nature makes no desire in vain. Then it discovers something real in human nature-namely, human desire for something more than nature-which nature cannot explain, because nature cannot satisfy it. Thus, the argument is based on observed facts in nature, both outer and inner. It has data.
No they don't argue from that idea alone, but their basis for the argument here is one of definitions, defining into existence innate desires and artificial desires, and then assigning God to the innate desire category with no other evidence than it feels good and loads of people feel the need to believe in a God... do they, or do they feel the need for community, reflection, and ritual? If we simply grant God entry to this innate desire category, then surely it could be argued that other desires could be placed there too; such as the desire to know Zeus, or the desire for Ragnarok (the Nordic gods end time story), neither of these are based in reality but plenty of people believed in them at one stage, so why not give them access.
Which is more likely here, that a supernatural being has placed on our metaphorical hearts the desire to know his existence and worship him, although I don't understand why he/she couldn't just appear to everyone at once, even submit to testing but I digress. Why is a God who chooses to hide leaving us just with a desire to seek him/her out more plausible, than an over reacting drive to procreate, eat, drink and be comfortable? Answer God is infinitely less plausible than this explanation, sorry try again.
17. The Argument from Aesthetic ExperienceExcellent a short one... that argues from beauty basically, it may take a bit longer than their one-liner to deconstruct, so let's go.
Basically they say that because there is the beautiful music of Bach that there is a God. Art beauty and taste all point to God would be there hypothesis. They aren't definitively saying that you can't appreciate beauty without their God, that's good as the Muslim domes are gorgeous, and Hindu temples can be beautiful. What they are saying is this beauty originates from a God, again with no evidence.
Which is more likely we have evolved to find beauty and be attracted to things that are beneficial to our survival, to be intrigued by things that are both novel and attractive in the possibility that there is some reward, even if that is not definitively linked to our survival, or that an all powerful God made things beautiful to reward us, after punishing all of humanity for one couples digression?
Makes me think of this modified comic from abstruse goose;
18. The Argument from Religious ExperienceMost people that would read these twenty arguments for Gods existence have had religious experiences, thus God exists... The problem here of course is that this is an argument from personal revelation. There are loads of people who have religious experiences from Vishnu, Baal, Woden (aka Odin, father of Thor), Ahura Mazda, if one personal experience is valid, then so are they all. This of course doesn't mention the non-religious personal experiences of Aliens, Bigfoot and Elvis sightings, all should be treated with the same validity.
They then go on to say that religious experience is such that only a divine reality can explain it... you know not psychology which has explanations for the other experiences they readily dismiss. Group think, suggestion, lucid dreams, mass hypnosis, hysteria, suggestion, memory fallibility and schizophrenia are all known about and valid explanations for religious and non-religious experiences. Religious people will either dismiss out of hand someone who claims to have seen Shiva at a well as deluded at best, influenced by the devil at worst, yet protest when the Hindu claims the Christians vision of Mary is a delusion or a trick of Krishna's. They can't all be right, but they can all be wrong.
They twist this around to an argument from numbers (argument ad populum), basically stating lots of people have religious experiences, thus they are all valid. This is not evidence for, it is actually evidence against. Lots of people are pre-tuned to have these experiences, by their ritual and beliefs, then when they experience some mental distress or witness something they can't explain they assign it to their religion, they can't take "I don't know" even as an answer to themselves (see people who still claim the Stephensville lights where Alien UFO's, and where more information from a someone with experience looking at the sky can find the truth). Then their memory steps in and adds false memories conflating the event to something much grander. What starts as a mere odd reflection in a stream that they saw as a face (see pareidolia) then quickly gets remembered as the Virgin Mary talking to them.
See again this link on Lourdes and its failure as a site of healing.
There point by point goes like this;
1. Many people of different eras and of widely different cultures claim to have had an experience of the "divine."
2. It is inconceivable that so many people could have been so utterly wrong about the nature and content of their own experience.
3. Therefore, there exists a "divine" reality which many people of different eras and of widely different cultures have experienced.
How cute. This goes back to what I was saying before, point 1 is an argument ad populum (an appeal to numbers, eg billions of people are , there have been loads of different divine experiences that have nothing to do with the god of Abraham aka the God of Christianity; Yahweh. It is also arguing from antiquity, basically saying because people in the past had these experiences they couldn't explain is some kind of evidence. It isn't. A quote attributed to the famous Hippocrates (where we get the name for Hippocratic oath that Doctors swear too);
This quote argues against both the argument to antiquity and argument ad populum, we now know that epilepsy is not divine, that these experiences where either a chemical imbalance or brain fault. These stories are then passed down, embellished, misremembered and enhanced, they are not proof of anything.
So on to point 2, it is very conceivable that so many people could have been so utterly wrong about their own experience, as likely all the UFO/Bigfoot/Elvis witnesses are likely to be mistaken.
Point 3, how many times have I said, no therefore. If you have yet to prove your first points you can't therefore. This actually brings about a good point though in their conclusion; "reality which many people of different eras and of widely different cultures have experienced". This part is really telling, interestingly as Carl Sagan points out in his book demon haunted world, these experiences change with time and culture. For example sleep paralysis was once claimed to be the cause of demons, the word nightmare actually comes from the name of the demon that supposedly sat on ones chest while they slept and made it impossible to move, yet once aliens entered the public collective psyche abductees described this same sleep paralysis and attributed it to aliens instead, even the appearance of the aliens matched prior media the supposed abductee would have likely consumed, eg in the 50's and 60's big steel type aliens, typical of the first alien movies in the 50's and 60's, and 70's through 90's the grey ones with big black eyes, again typical of media from the time and before.
I have a good argument against this and demonic possession, don't you think if demons could inhabit bodies and give superhuman strength that some government body wouldn't have already capitalised on this phenomenon and we see demonic super-soldiers in the field of battle... yeah I don't think that has happened, battles are won by the countries with the most soldiers that are best equipped, that is all.
Realistically you would think all these people that have had personal revelation would come back with some amazing piece or information as yet unknown or even simply definitively unknown to the experience, even something simple like a lost language, an unsolved problem in math or science, or as The Iron chariots wiki says the meaning of the word Frontlets that is actually in the bible and its definition lost.
19. The Common Consent ArgumentHome stretch now.
This argument goes like this;
1. Belief in God -- that Being to whom reverence and worship are properly due -- is common to almost all people of every era.
2. Either the vast majority of people have been wrong about this most profound element of their lives or they have not.
3. It is most plausible to believe that they have not.
4. Therefore it is most plausible to believe that God exists.
OK, lets take it one at a time. Point 1, nope belief in a single God is not common, for most of human history it has been an entire pantheon of gods, most of the time not omnipotent, sometimes not even responsible for the creation of the universe. Of course there have always been people who have doubted the veracity of these god claims.
The extension to Mark Twains quote above is a good one, atheism started with the person standing there skeptical of the con man. But just because atheism or religion has been around a long time, doesn't make it correct, so was slavery, rape, murder, and genocide, I think we can ditch all those, so we can ditch reverence and worship, except where proven due.
Point 2, what is more likely a group of pre-bronze age peoples, who still thought the earth was the centre of the universe got grander cosmological and philosophical concepts correct, or they guessed because they didn't know the answer, and the story grew over generations. Stories have been shown to do this, so why not 2500 years ago, pre the first writings of the Torah?
Point 3, no, it is most plausible to believe that humans are very fallible, as they remain to be, that even the meaning of the written word can change over time (hence the umpteen different bible interpretations), so these extraordinary claims require and equivalent amount of evidence. There is not even enough evidence for Christian historians to agree on the events at Jesus birth, or Jewish scholars to agree on the location of the events in the Torah (old testament to non-Jews), so why should the stories be believed by the non-scholarly people who are trying not to be as biased as the aforementioned scholars?
Point 4, DRINK... another therefore with a weak buildup. It is plausible at this point, and every other point this pitiful article has tried to make to WITHHOLD judgement on the God claim. WITHHOLDING judgement is the agnostic atheist position, congratulations.
They try to use this line; "It seems far more likely that those who refuse to believe are the ones suffering from deprivation and delusion -- like the tone-deaf person who denies the existence of music" This is really grasping, trying to reflect their weak argument on to the non-believer. I don't refuse to believe, I find no reason too, no argument convincing enough. To turn there analogy around, I doubt you would find someone tone deaf who would deny the very existence of music, they would just deny they get pleasure from it. Just as a blind person doesn't deny the existence of light, dark and colour, they have just never perceived it. If as I said before God has created atheists blind to his existence, then he has created us to damn us and this is means he is worthy of no ones worship.
Question 1: But the majority is not infallible. Most people were wrong about the movements of the sun and earth. So why not about the existence of God?
They seem here to be trying to answer my question though it more nuanced, I am saying you need to weigh the probabilities, which is more likely the bronze age ignorant humans got deep cosmological and philosophical questions right, or they made allegorical attempts and straight out assumptions based on their experience to answer their questions, eg Lightning must be the Gods anger.
There line "But if God does not exist, what is it that believers have been experiencing? The level of illusion goes far beyond any other example of collective error. It really amounts to collective psychosis." is problematic, as the same could be argued for the "relationship" people have with their imaginary friends, other gods and the infamous John Frum from the Cargo Cults in Melanesia. This relationship is reinforced with constant prayer, recitation of affirmations and the peer influence of others who state their relationship is strong with God/Jesus/Allah/Vishnu.
They then argue via wishful thinking, if the person didn't exist then their was no one to receive you love... waaa. Sorry that really shouldn't convince anyone.
They then go on to miscategorise atheists, most atheists now-a-days once had a "relationship" with God/Jesus/Allah/Vishnu, they loved their chosen deity and felt sure of their existence. Once they put their beliefs to the test they found them groundless. There are a lot of explanations for religious experience, from faith healers and speaking in tongues for example watch the documentary Marjoe to see how a faith healer can induce this hysteria with stage presence and parlour tricks. There are also studies done on these tongues spoken, they follow no grammatical sense, they aren't a language that is known about and they don't have a flow that could be identified as a language in any way. There are lots of explanations as there are lots of phenomenon that are used to impress this experience.
Science doesn't work from personal anecdote or personal experience, it works from repeatable experiment and evidence. If you can't repeat the experiment of observation then you have nothing.
Question 2: But isn't there a very plausible psychological account of religious belief? Many nonbelievers hold that belief in God is the result of childhood fears; that God is in fact a projection of our human fathers: someone "up there" who can protect us from natural forces we consider hostile.
Sure upbringing plays a big part, most people born in the west will be raised Christian, and Christian they will remain. Most people born in the Muslim countries will be raised Muslim and remain that way, ancient peoples born in Greece would have worshiped Zeus or Poseidon. This isn't an argument against God, but it is suspicious and seems mean on his part if he exists, damning people just due to the unfortunate time and date of their birth.
Really though religion, like a lot of human endeavours is very complex, it plays on fears (heaven/hell), it indoctrinates, creates/fosters faulty reasoning capabilities (accepting appeals to authority and numbers as valid arguments, as well as supernatural thinking), gives us easy answers (the aforementioned goddunit, "that's the way God wanted it"), gives us someone to ask for help in helpless situations, someone to thank when chance goes our way (but oddly not necessarily someone to blame, unless you blame Satan or some other evil deity), it marks changes is nature and life (eg baptism, Lent season), and probably many other reasons that reinforce a believers belief in God. An interesting experiment to do, raise a child with no religion, never introduce them to it, or talk to them about it, teach them to think rationally and critically LIE to THEM and get them to question you and then when they are say 20 try and get them to follow a particular belief system, my guess unless you are holding something over them (food, shelter etc), they are as likely to follow it as you are to switch from your religion now to some other very different religion (eg if you are Christian, switch Gods to Vishnu/Krishna).
In one of the waffling replies to Question 2, they put the statement; "several writers (e.g., Paul Vitz) have analyzed atheism as itself a psychic pathology: an alienation from the human father that results in rejection of God." and yet earlier they claim that the question they posed that said God is just a fatherly project was "psychological jargon"...hmmm. I would say the psychic pathology is woo, it is nonsensical speech, psychics have never passed a test, no psychic has ever been used successfully by a police force anywhere in the world, they have catastrophically failed every test. But this goes back to my earlier point, our rejection of God cuts us off from God, so if he exists he is letting this happen, he is letting us be damned to be tormented for ever and he can stop it, seems like a nice guy.
|Tracie Harris - The Atheist Experience TV show.|
20. Pascal’s WagerEh, I took this down rather well (I am biased) here; http://atheism.morganstorey.com/2014/08/gods-not-dead.html#Pascals
They go on to say this wager shouldn't be used to coerce into belief, yep. It should be tossed away as it is horribly broken, even the supposed moronic character of Homer knows what is up;
They go on further to say that it should be used to get people to seek out God, but I am pretty sure most people seek the truth, and atheists and skeptics especially should change their beliefs if they are honest and given enough evidence most I know would, the fact that most vocal atheists now-a-days are ex-theists shows that they did seek and did not find.
Well that is it for their arguments, I am converted... actually no I think it did the opposite, good job Catholics. Actually I spoke too soon, there is a questions for Discussion section below, answered where I can, ridiculed where they have obviously performed no effort.
Questions for Discussion
- Why might someone think that the whole
question of this chapter, whether God's existence can
be proved, is trivial, unimportant, distracting or wrongheaded? How might such a person's argument(s) be answered?
I don't think it is trivial to determine God's existence (otherwise there would be no atheists), I don't think there is any current evidence but I keep reading poor arguments like the preceding in the hope of finding some glimmer of evidence.
- Could there be an argument for
God's existence that does not fit into either of the two categories
here, cosmological (external) or psychological (internal)?
Sure, they did loads of argument ad populum, argument from ignorance, and arguments to authority, but I saw no arguments to absurdity :)
That usually goes something like God exists, otherwise there would be no life in the universe to worship him... You should be able to see the error there by now, it is nonsensical, life exists; it is absurd to attempt to prove something from a contradiction to our senses. Hmm but then again I suppose the argument to absurdity fits into their psychological category.
- How psychologically forceful
and how psychologically impotent is a valid argument for God's existence
to an atheist? What does the answer to that question depend on? (There
are many answers to this question; mention as many as you can. Which do
you think is the most important one?)
They have yet to present a valid and non-flawed argument, so they are impotent (must resist joke). If I were to say the best argument for a particular God, I couldn't answer it. If you want to get to Deism (a now absent creator God) or Pantheism (The universe is God), then you could point to fine tuning of the universes constants, the place of our galaxy in the universe, the solar system in the galaxy, the Earth in the Solar system and the placement of our planet. Problem with this argument is we have no other universe to compare it to, to weigh-up these odds honestly. We also know we evolved to suit the planet we find ourselves on, not the other way around. So while the argument is not very convincing for a particular God, it is interesting and does invite further investigation... which is why I guess we have found thousands of planets inside our own galaxy, and why we are using super-colliders to investigate big-bang conditions as that may point us to the multiverse theory being true.
- How can anything be "outside"
the universe if "the universe" = "everything in space and time and
matter?" What is meant by "outside" here? Can you give any analogy or
parallel situation where a term is used like this?
Language changes over time, at one stage nebula meant cloud, and was used to describe any fuzzy object we saw through our primitive telescopes, this included galaxies outside our own, back then, not so long ago we thought ours was the only galaxy. Now we think ours is the only universe, as more data comes in this assumption may very well change. So far we have some math and some evidence (the energy level of the Higgs) that could point to a multiverse, meaning multiple contained universes. Outside is easiest imagined here as each universe being a bubble inside a bigger multiverse, each of these bubbles from our current knowledge appears contained in such a way that information cannot travel from one to the other, the laws of physics could be different in each, even time may flow differently in each. Outside of these bubbles something (God or Gods) could exist, but we have no evidence for them and there is no way with the present evidence that anything that happened in the multiverse could affect this universe beyond the initial influx of energy. So a God could exist, but it would be Deistic, creating the initial universe but not having any ability to affect events inside it, including but not limited to human affairs or design.
- Why are there more than twenty arguments for and only one against God (the problem of evil)? (See chap. 6.)
HAHAH, there are a loads of arguments against God, I did a quick search and I am pretty sure I never used the problem of evil. FAIL. I can't see this chapter 6, as I am not going to buy this book, but I assume they just refute it in the usual way with "Free will". There is a problem with this I touched on, a rapist is impacting the free will of his victim, and this is OK in Gods eyes, yet he can't only minorly impact the rapists free will and simply switch off his neurons.
There are many logical arguments, there is a definitive lack of evidence, a definitive lack of need for a God with the current discoveries.
- What commonsense meaning of
cause do these cosmological arguments use (especially 2)? What
alternative meanings of cause have some philosophers preferred? How do
they change or invalidate the cosmological argument(s)? How could these
alternatives be refuted? (Hume's is the most famous.)
The cause of the beginning of the universe I assume is where they are going. I discussed this back in Argument 2, I'll quote myself so you don't have to go looking; But physics doesn’t say that the singularity pre the big-bang required a cause, the term cause and effect is in essence illogical at this point as time (the thing cause and effect operate in) came into existence at this point. As Stephen Hawking has said, physics doesn’t preclude effect preceding cause in certain circumstances, perhaps the effect (singularity) preceded the cause (something in the universe).
- Does the answer to question 2 after argument 2 prove that God is creating the world right now?
What the hell is this nonsense? It sounds similar to the hypothesis put forward by Bertrand Russell:
There is no logical impossibility in the hypothesis that the world sprang into existence five minutes ago, exactly as it then was, with a population that "remembered" a wholly unreal past. There is no logically necessary connection between events at different times; therefore nothing that is happening now or will happen in the future can disprove the hypothesis that the world began five minutes ago.... I am not here suggesting that the non-existence of the past should be entertained as a serious hypothesis. Like all sceptical hypotheses, it is logically tenable but uninteresting (The Analysis of Mind, 1921, p. 159-160)Of course the issue with this is it can't be disproved, and there is no evidence to support it. It should be discarded due to both of these off the bat. But if you wish to entertain it for longer, it certainly could be true. So could me being God, me being the only conscious being in the universe and the rest of you just creations by my mere whimsy, and or a teapot in orbit around the sun. The burden of proof, even a logical proof lies in the person making the claim, that would be the Christian that thinks the world is still being created.
- Would alternative theories of time change or invalidate any of the cosmological arguments?What
alternate theories of time* do they mean, effect not needing cause, we
know at the quantum level this can happen, or do they mean time flowing
in a different direction. There is a lot of evidence that would have to
be allowed into this new
theoryhypothesis of time as there is already substantial evidence to support Einsteins hypothesis that time and space are intertwined.
*Surely they mean hypothesis, theory is the highest status an idea can get to in science, eg the Germ theory, the General Theory of relativity, or the Theory of evolution by natural selection.
- Does the simple answer to
question 1 after argument 4 refute subjectivism? If not, where is the
error in it? If so, why are there so many subjectivists?
Oh dear this is massive reaching, I showed that not only can you live it, we do. I wouldn't have asked this strawman question as I have already shown a subjective morality. But OK, let's answer the premise that asking a question it implies objectivism, how? I don't think any asker has actually thought it objectively better to ask the question, I would gather from my own experience they have asked it as they subjectively felt the question should be asked to discern an answer, based on the situation.
- Why is the design argument the most popular?
Because humans need answers, and when one is not apparent some of us will throw in whatever fits. We also love seeing agency in things, did that grass move because of the wind, or a lion, if we run and it was the wind we have lost little, if we don't run and it was a Lion we are dead and can't pass on our non-agency seeking genes. This lead to Zeus and Thor throwing lightning, and then eventually an all powerful God letting there be light.
- What is the relation between intelligibility and intelligence? Are intelligibility, design and order interchangeable concepts?
Something doesn't need to be designed by an intelligence to be intelligible, simply analysed by an intelligence. Intelligibility, design and order and not interchangeable, as Yahweh, Zeus and Ahuru Mazda aren't.
- Isn't there a tiny chance that
the universe just happened by chance? A quintillion monkeys typing for a
quintillion years will eventually produce Hamlet by chance. Couldn't
this book have been caused by an explosion in a print factory?
It doesn't work like that, and a statement like that shows a GROSS misunderstanding of the science of cosmology and evolution. We evolved to live in the universe, the chance is not easy to determine (we have no other universe in which to compare the odds), and it is not a simply all these X needed to be in play times by all these Y possibilities, as they accumulate over time via natural selection.
So to change the monkeys typing analogy, it is less like they are bashing away randomly and more like selecting FOR the next word in the sentence that is required for the manuscript of Hamlet. The monkey still type randomly, and it may take some time, but if you automatically discarded (death due to selection) the non-legitimate next words in the work you would quickly get Hamlet typed out by these monkeys.
Also to correct the big bang, is called that but it was not an explosion as such, more of a rapid expansion. It took a long time for stars to form, then a long time for the heavier elements, it didn't all pop into existence out of nothing... that is what religious people believe.
- Regarding argument 10, how do we know the universe is not conscious or aware?
There is no evidence. Seriously, you are making the claim, a claim that differs from Christianity into pantheism, you need to provide some evidence. Counter, it has never shown any sign of being aware or conscious, can we perform a Turing test on it, can it recognise itself in a mirror, does it have anyway to communicate across its form (not faster than light that is currently very sure), has it attempted some kind of communication to us?
- Does the answer to question 3 of argument 6 prove God is a person?
Nope, it makes a lot of assumptions and "suppose"s. There is no reason there can't be endless regressions, or even a single regression with a start of time at the start of the big-bang, the evidence at present points to a single event, the multiverse has some evidence, but it is not enough, there is no evidence for a God.
- Sartre wrote: "There can be no
eternal truth because there is no eternal Consciousness to think it."
What is the implied premise of his argument and of proof 11?
Firstly truth is that which complies with reality. In essence proof is written into reality. It doesn't need to be written BY anyone, reality seems to just be without the need for a mind to comprehend it. See my refutation at "proof 11".
- Does argument 12 presuppose "innate ideas"? If not, how and when did the idea of God get into our minds?
Nope innate ideas aren't a thing, we simply have similarly evolved minds and due the number of us, some of us share similar experiences, which inspires us with similar ideas. In response to WHEN, I references Twain before, but here it is again.
- Why is it that you can tell a
lot about a philosopher's metaphysics by knowing whether or not he or
she accepts the ontological argument? What do Anselm, Descartes,
Spinoza. Leibniz and Hegel have in common? What doctrine of Thomistic
metaphysics enables Thomas to criticize Anselm's argument?
Yep I don't accept the ontological argument, if you do please direct me to this super hot girlfriend from Canada or the Unicorn that I referenced the Ontological argument proves exists back in argument 13.
Throwing out some philosophers doesn't impress me, it is an argument to Authority. Spinoza came up with the idea of Pantheism, he may not have been one as a philosopher should be able to entertain an idea without accepting it, like I do with religion :), but it seems likely he was a pantheist, the others were either theists of their geographically native religion in a time when other religions were being heavily persecuted, or they were deistic. As far as I see it, and for myself at least, Pantheism and deism were steps on the way to atheism, so please encourage your readers to investigate these philosophers (except Anslem, Hegel and Thomas, bleh) as with the extensions available now in their philosophy the step to atheism is an easier one.
I didn't know Thomas had criticised Anslem on his poor Ontological argument, but looking it up, it all comes down to Anslems argument forcing a definition of God on to people and stating that a perfect being can't be imagined by imperfect beings, fair calls of course.
Also I find it interesting that a Catholic MONK; Gaunilo of Marmoutier, came up with a similar argument to oppose this terrible argument way back around the same time that Anslem put it forward, and yet Catholics and other Christians still use it, seriously update guys.
- Can you refute the modal and possible worlds versions of the ontological argument?
Spinosa talked about the greatest possible being across all possible worlds being God, mere wordplay of course and it doesn't change the fact that Eric will have eaten it.
- Can an atheist believe in real moral obligation (argument 14)? If so, how? Do most atheists believe in real moral obligation?
I think they could believe in conditioned moral obligations, or in evolved moral compasses (some peoples are broken), but in actual moral obligation there would need to be somewhere for it come from.
- Is the argument from conscience any stronger if you admit objective moral laws?
Nope, unless you have some proof of where these objective morals came from your argument is no stronger.
- How would you formulate the relationship between religion and morality? Between God and morality?
I think Steven Wienberg formatted it rather well;
I also think I have here.
- Does everyone have the desire mentioned in premise 2 of argument 16? If so, must atheists suppress and ignore it?
Obviously not, as there are tribes that have no God concept. Of course premise two doesn't explicitly state God, just that we have an unquenchable desire somewhere inside us. I would state as I argued previously that this could simply be an evolutionary advantage, a constant wish to strive for more, more food, wealth, mates etc. Just as an overactive sex drive would have one day assisted in a larger number of progeny, so too an overactive unquenchable desire would assist in ensuring survival on many fronts at once.
- Would nominalists be able to escape argument 16? (C.f., question 1.)
Pretty complicated question really. So for people who don't know nominalists basically deny the existence of non-existent thinks, and concepts. Eg Strength doesn't literally exist, it is a concept, 7 doesn't exist, it is always 7 somethings. Premise 3 in argument 16 is escapable by a nominalist, as it makes the leap that these unfulfillable desires can even be fulfilled.
- Can you formulate argument 17 logically?
I am sure someone might try something like, beauty exists therefore God Exists... This is about as logical as an argument from absurdity can be, so not logical.
- Why is religious experience
any more of an argument for the real existence of God than any common
delusion, illusion, fantasy or dream for its object? Are we arguing here
from idea to reality, as in the ontological argument?
I don't think it is. Anecdote does not equal evidence, and reality doesn't conform with the claims that are usually made here.
- Why is the common consent argument hardly ever used today, whereas it was very popular in the past?
This is hardly used today as I think the people who would use it have realised it is an argument to numbers and an argument to antiquity, bot logically flawed.
- Is Pascal's Wager dishonest?
Why or why not? Read Pascal's version of it in the Pensees; what do you
find there that is significant that is not included here?
I am not reading the whole Pensées, seriously cite a page number. I'll use the one on Wikipedia.
Not really, it isn't dishonest, as I imagine most believers think there is only two options their God exists or they concede a little to the atheist that it doesn't.. It is wrong as there are not only the two options, there are an infinite number of other possibilities, with an infinite number it is best to reserve judgement till more evidence becomes available, reserving judgment errs on withholding belief (atheism) without being sure on the knowledge claim of whether God exists (agnostic).
- Do you know of, or can you imagine, any other argument for God's existence?
How about some proof, or even a logical consistent view of God? It would be nice to be able to debate a being that had clear defined attributes. The only argument I can see working is God presenting himself, and using his omnipotence to provide enough evidence to convert the atheists around the world. Would it mean we would all worship him/her, I doubt it, but that is a different discussion.
- Which of these twenty arguments do you find the most powerful?
None, still an atheist.
- How would an atheist answer each one of these twenty arguments? (Remember, there are only three ways of answering any argument.)
Just did and I think I used more than three ways to answer these arguments, but congrats you failed.
ClosingI have been working on this post for over 12 months (as well as doing a lot of other writing), sorry for the length, but I am glad to be done with it. You can see there was certainly some BS that needed to be challenged, nothing that made me rethink my lack of belief however.
So all these arguments are easily dismissed, I don’t want to see any religious person using them again… Hahaha, I kill me.
Now that I have answered some poor Catholic questions, maybe they can answer some of the worlds questions about the systematic abuse of Children in their care over a long period of time, about the horrible anti-STD prevention practice of decrying condoms, and misogyny and homophobia that is rife in the church? Like this; http://churchandstate.org.uk/2013/09/catholic-website-says-colleges-arent-for-women-learn-to-be-a-wife-and-mother/
Yikes that is good to be finished, I hope this can stand for a while as a reference and inspire the community to oppose poor reasoning like this when they spot it.