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April 05, 2009

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Uh! I don't know the URL to your facebook page :(

I second that Melinda. What's your facebook link?

thanks for the summary Melinda, I'm looking forward to hearing the debate and listening to Greg's thoughts on it.

Just search facebook for her name. :p

Or try: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=507915175&ref=nf

I thought Craig was the clear winner; Hitchens did atheism no favors. It seemed he came to the debate unprepared.

When I arrived and received the evening program, I learned a lot right away. Inside was an insert for note-taking. On one side of the page was Craig's positions--five arguments complete with premises and conclusions; we knew what he would argue. The back side of the insert stated Hitchens' name and position ("God does not exist", or something to that effect) at the top, and then the word "Notes:" with a blank page. And that is how they argued, precisely as Melinda described. Craig followed his detailed outline in deductive format (in both his opening and rebuttal arguments), while Hitchens was all over the place.

Hitchens committed division and composition fallacies, assuming that what is true of the whole is true of the parts, and what is true of the parts is true of the whole. For example, to claim that religion has been a reason for war in the past cannot lead to the conclusion that *each* religion has been a cause of war. Hitchens seemed to be saying "religion is false", taking pot shots at various religions and denominations as though all religions are false because of these isolated incidents and beliefs.

Hitchens also seemed to think there was something really insightful about getting Craig to admit he thought many other religions (and traditions within Christianity) are incorrect. To the extent Hitchens was implying "what are the chances your exclusive view is the correct one?", Craig responded, "well atheism is a worldview just like the rest; what are the chances that you happen to have the correct worldview?"

Overall, the debate was very edifying, hopefully for everyone who watched it.

Just because there is no term commonly used to refer to non-believers-in-the-tooth-fairy doesn't mean that it is not a positive claim to assert the tooth fairy is non-existent. It's not, in fact, a mere absence of belief in the tooth fairy. It is, rather, a positive belief in the absence of the tooth fairy.

Hey Melinda,
I have to become your friend on Facebook before I hear your play-by-play review of the debate? :-) Sorry, I don't know you at all. Besides, I have a proclivity to throw sheep at my friends (courtesy the zillion mindless facebook apps) on Facebook!

Any chance you can post it on the blog?

So, if atheism is defined as a positive belief in the complete and total absence of any god of any kind and of any definition whatsoever anywhere in the universe, then all Craig has to do to oppose this is take the position that there might some entity of some type somewhere in the universe that might be called a god by some human definition of some kind. Yes?

Joe: I don't think so. The debate question is "Does God Exist?" Craig says "yes." Hitchens was supposed to argue "no." If Hitchens answers "I don't know", then it does Craig no good if he wants to answer the question. If Craig responds glibly, "my position *could possibly* be true", then we've kind of wasted our time coming to the debate.

Imagine a debate called "Did OJ kill Nicole Brown?" If two guys show up and the one who is to argue innocence responds, "well gee, I don't know; I have an absence of belief in his guilt", and the one who argues guilt responds, "well he could have done it--I win!", I'm not sure there was much point in coming to the debate. I'd prefer to hear someone present arguments that OJ did it, and someone else present arguments that he didn't do it. Not much point to hearing someone appeal to ignorance. Any of us can do that.

Of course, Craig did present arguments that God exists. Still waiting for an affirmative argument from Hitchens that God does not exist.

Ok, so, define atheism.

Actually, since I was responding to Mike, it would be better if Mike would respond to my response.

To be more specific, define atheism as a "positive belief.

...And it's a little silly to have a yes-no debate aboug the existence of God? Wouldn't it make more sense to have a probably yes-probably no debate?

Sorry about all the one sentence posts, but don't we have to define God first before we have a yes-no debate?

Would you accept the body of accumulated scientific inquiry as evidence for a positive belief in naturalism?

Essentially, naturalism depends upon premise of empiricism. That is, we assume that we can measure and quantify observables in the Universe. This assumption is sufficient to justify the scientific method, and therefore the success of the scientific method can be taken as evidence for the assumption.

Or, in other words, we accept naturalism because it works!

Matthew
Would you please define what you mean by naturalism?

Daniel,

Yes, I suppose definitions are in order.

By naturalism I mean that all observables in the Universe are caused by natural means (as opposed to supernatural means).

I am open to considering an alternate definition if you prefer, or if my definition is nonstandard.

"naturalism I mean that all observables in the Universe are caused by natural means"

Assuming your definition (with which I have no quibble), what doesn't "work" about this is that you need an uncaused cause. Naturalism can't stand on its own for explaining the origin of life, or of any "natural means" or "observables". It is insufficient to answer questions about where these things come from.

Joe: "probably yes" and "probably no" is the same thing as "yes" and "no"; I don't expect any debate to yield a 100% certain answer. If it did, that would mean one of the debaters is opposing an undoubtable truth, which is highly unlikely to occur. If someone comes to a debate and argues "probably I don't know", that's where I have a problem.

An earlier post asked what an atheist is... An atheist is one who maintains that God does not exist or the notion of God is incoherent due to many interpretations of the word by a wide variety of people groups........and that he is responsible for all the suffering in the world which is perpetrated by those who claim knowledge of him and his revelation.

Naturallawyer,

Thank you for your cordial reply.

I dispute your assertion that the origin of life requires an uncaused cause. Abiogenesis is an active field of biological research and has yielded several plausible methods by which life could arise in a previously nonliving environment.

The scientific method is not synonymous with naturalism or for the purpose of this discussion...Atheism.
It gathers empirical data that we then use to make a philosophical conclusion.

Knowledge is not empirical and neither your knowledge or mine is self evident to anyone else.

We start with a world view ... any one is fine with me... and then test the data we have against it. As soon as you say I am starting with the improper world view because a small percentage of my answers are metaphysical , then we are going in circles.
By the way if God is Meta physics. then what are multiverses if not a metaphysical naturalism of the gaps?
respectfully
MF


"I dispute your assertion that the origin of life requires an uncaused cause."

Not just the origin of life, the origin of everything. The origin of space, time, and matter itself. It is largely (but not completely) accepted that the Universe had a beginning (big bang, or whatever you like). If "all observables in the Universe are caused by natural means", and the beginning of the Universe itself is an "observable", what caused the beginning? Whatever caused it must pre-exist the Universe. At some point, matter as we know it came from nothing. Whatever the "uncaused cause" that created the universe (or the multiverse, or everything in existence) is, it cannot be explained by the naturalistic apparatus you have constructed because you cannot have an infinite regression of causes.

As to the origin of life, I'm still waiting for the use of the scientific method to give us not just a hypothesis but evidence of life assembling from an exclusively non-life environment. I am entitled to at least as much skepticism of that proposition as an atheist is of a personal uncaused cause (i.e. God). And since there are all sorts of witnesses claiming to have seen or experienced God, and not a one claiming to have seen life spring up out of nothing, the testimonial evidence (which does constitute "evidence", at least in my line of work) still weighs in favor of theism.

>> To be more specific, define atheism as a "positive belief.

The belief that evidence exists which precludes the existence of god.

>> By naturalism I mean that all observables in the Universe are caused by natural means (as opposed to supernatural means).

Is choice an observable?

>> Atheists may object that it is religion that should be debated and Christians take the easier way out by wanting to argue mere theism.

Atheists' fundamental objection to Christianity is the denial of the existence of god; therefore, step one, for them, is theism.

>> In debates, Hitchens always quickly gets into the details of religion and theology, asking about ... [snip] ... disagreements between religions ...

*Of course* religion is the primary context of most [all?] wars: There are no contentions where there are no oughts; and only religion concerns itself with oughts.

But then, there's nothing worth living for, if there are no oughts; so, to decry religion for its wars, is to throw the baby out with the bath water.

Naturallawyer,

At present (and perhaps forever) we do not and cannot know the exact nature of the (supposed) singularity; we simply cannot know what happened before a very very short time after the postulated Bang. It certainly wasn't 'nothing' in the nihil or empty set and as such we cannot in any way conclude an uncaused cause from any kind of Big Bang theory; the evidence is essentially inconclusive and any claim from either side of the debate that the Big Bang proves their position is fundamentally flawed and given from an essential place of ignorance.

NL,

If I may differ with you, I don't think that "probably yes/probably no" is the same thing as "yes" and "no". I understand that you take "yes" and "no" to mean something other than undoubtable truth, but I have to wonder how many others listening to the debate would have the same thought or point of view. I assume that many listening to the debate have an absolute belief in God, and therefore, would tend to see the "yes" and "no" positions as absolutes, too, unless someone took the time at the start to explain what "yes" and "no" meant in this context. But who knows?

And to all,

In any event, for the record, I think Hitchens is mostly just a clown and debates such as these are little more than the verbal equivalent of pro wrestling. I suppose it pays well, but otherwise, what's the point? For example, did anyone take the time at the start of this particular debate to carefully explain which definition of God as to be used for this spectacle? If not, then it really was a waste of time. If they did clearly define what "God" was under discussion, then the event might have had some minimal value.

In the meantime, while I never expect much from Hitchens, I can't figure out why the burden of proof is on Hitchens to do the impossible, that is, to prove that God doesn't exist. One can't disprove the statement "God exists" any more than one can disprove the statement "the tooth fairy exists", especially when there are thousand definitions of "God". I suppose one might test the positive statements that are said to support the hypothesis that God exists. I believe that this is what Dawkins tried to do in The God Delusion. But even that ultimately seems futile, because one can always describe God as having whatever attributes are need to overcome any disproofs of the hypothesis that God exists. (Personally, I run into this all of the time when discussing the history of life on earth with young earth creationists. I've discovered that it is impossible to disprove the claim that the Earth was covered by a global flood.)

In the meantime, still waiting for Mike to explain the "positive belief" thing.

Matthew

"By naturalism I mean that all observables in the Universe are caused by natural means (as opposed to supernatural means).

I am open to considering an alternate definition if you prefer, or if my definition is nonstandard."

First, I would point out that this is a philosophical statement, and not a scientific one. It is a philosophy of science. It is one that presupposes a closed system. One major flaw in it is that when you find evidence that points outside of such a closed system, it requires you to put the philosophy over the evidence.

"Abiogenesis is an active field of biological research and has yielded several plausible methods by which life could arise in a previously nonliving environment."

And what might these "plausible" methods be? How did they solve the problems of homochirality and the oxygen/UV paradox?

Kevin
"At present (and perhaps forever) we do not and cannot know the exact nature of the (supposed) singularity; we simply cannot know what happened before a very very short time after the postulated Bang. It certainly wasn't 'nothing' in the nihil or empty set ..."

If we "cannot know" then you do you know that it "certainly wasn't nothing...?"

Hi Joe,

I think Agilius defined the "positive belief in atheism" exactly as I would.

The atheist asserts there is no God (as if he knows for sure); hiding behind a "lack of belief" doesn't change that fact.


Daniel,

Fair enough. Let me restate: the 'nothing' that physicists refer to when speaking of what 'preceded' the Big Bang is not the nihil set required by creatio ex nihilo. Paul Davies, who is favorably quoted by many Evangelicals concerning issues of the Big Bang, states the following in reference to the "nothing" prior to the Big Bang:

The idea of space being created out of nothing is a subtle one that many people find hard to understand, especially if they are used to thinking of space as already being 'nothing'. The physicist, however, regards space as more like an elastic medium than as emptiness. Indeed, as we shall see in later chapters that, because of quantum effects, even the purest vacuum is a ferment of activity and is crowded with evanescent structures. (God and the New Physics, 18)

Later in that same work, he says that "if the prediction of an initial singularity is taken at face value, the universe began in a state of infinite temperature, infinite density and infinite energy" (Ibid, 49), which hardly sounds like "nothing" in the nihil sense required by creation ex nihilo and your statements. If quantum laws are active in the singularity (which may or may not be the case; if it is truly of infinite density, then the singularity is below the Planck scale, so quantum laws may not apply), then there are a swarm of virtual particles and activity (if anything through fields), though wholly undifferentiated, chaotic. Again, no "nothing" in the ex nihilo sense.

James Glanz, in a 1999 article in Science ("Which Way to the Big Bang?," vol. 248, 1448-1451), refers to the current debates concerning whether we even can say anything about the singularity or what was occurring prior to the Big Bang (citing Stephen Hawking [a favorite of William Lane Craig] as an opponent to the view that we can, in fact, meaningfully speak of the "beginning"). Adolph Grunbaum (with whom Craig has had a few spats) has argued (well in my mind) that our discussions of t=0 are inherently problematic, whether we are speaking of divine or secular cosmology (see, for example, his "Narlikar's 'Creation' of the Big Bang Universe Was a Mere Origination," Philosophy of Science 60/4 (1993), 638-646).

Brian Greene, in his Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality (2004), states:

And if we continue our journey, right back to nearly time zero itself--the time of the big bang--the entire known universe is compressed to a size that makes the dot at the end of this sentence look gargantuan. The densities at such an early epoch were so great, and the conditions were so extreme, that the most refined physical theories we currently have are unable to give us insight into what happened. For reasons that will become increasingly clear, the highly successful laws of physics developed in the twentieth century break down under such intense conditions, leaving us rudderless in our quest to understand the beginning of time. We will see shortly that recent developments are providing a hopeful beacon, but for now we acknowledge our incomplete understanding of what happened at the beginning by putting a fuzzy patch on the far left of the cosmic spacetime loaf--our verson of the terra incognita on maps of old. (247-248)

More could be given, but your sense of security in the standard Big Bang model as a demonstration of an ex nihilo is not felt in the wider physics community for whom there are many other questions and anomalies that need to be addressed. I do find it interesting that, even as Evangelicals favorably cite a few of those mentioned above in relation to cosmology, they never seem to catch what they say they mean by "nothing."

Kevin, where did the "nothing" come from, if it's not really nothing. Is it turtles all the way down?

Mike,

So, atheism is the "positive belief that evidence exists which precludes the existence of god"? Huh.

So, we could also say that "afairyism" is the positive belief that evidence exists which renders fairies impossible from the start or which rules out the existence of fairies in advance, yes?

Well, by that definition, I suspect that there are very, very few atheists and/or afairyists out there. Are you an afairyist?


Daniel,

What is your theory of abiogenesis?

Mike,

Where did God come from?

If you assert, "There are no fairies," then yes you imply that you have evidence that fairies don't exist, otherwise you would just say you don't think that fairies exist (if you're honest).

Where did God come from? God is uncaused and self-existent. That's part of the definition of God. Now if you want to claim that the universe itself is uncaused and self-existent, that's fine. But now you're appealing to metaphysics, which luxury the naturalist doesn't have.

Mike,

So God is uncaused and self-existent by human definition. Neat solution, not very convincing. See what I mean about "describing God as having whatever attributes are need to overcome any disproofs of the hypothesis that God exists"? As the old joke says, "first, let's assume we have a can opener".

Seems to me that we'd be better off just saying that we don't know the answer to the question of the ultimate origin of everything. We don't know, we can't know, we aren't going to know. Why do we have to fill in the gaps with "God"? Why not just admit our limitations and leave it at that? We don't know where the universe came from, and that's as good as it's going to get.

So, are you an afairyist? Yes or no? Personally, I saw one at the bottom of my garden just this morning.

...No, seriously, I want to know if you're an afairyist or not.

"And what might these "plausible" methods be? How did they solve the problems of homochirality and the oxygen/UV paradox?"

A good first place to look is here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis

You mention chirality as a problem for abiogenesis. It's not clear to me that necessarily is. In any event, I have colleagues who are now talking about using polarized spectroscopy of the interstellar medium to test the prevalence of chirality in the Galaxy. Indeed, this is an active field of research.

Now, pointing at an active field of research is not a good argument for theism. It is a god-of-the-gaps argument which, as you may know, has two notable problems. The first is that you are implicitly assuming that if science can't explain something, then the answer must be theism. The second problem is that even if science has not yet provided the answer to a problem, it is an ongoing process which may very well reveal the answer in the future.

Mike,

Well, it depends on who you talk to. I think one of the better contenders out there is eternal inflation theory (http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/hep-th/pdf/0702/0702178v1.pdf).

At this point I think there is a high degree of probability that you will mention the Kalam cosmological argument, to which I would most likely reply that I find it completely impotent, as it relies on word play on the meaning if 'infinty' (I think Graham Oppy's arguments to this effect are cogent).

I am not a physicist, nor do I claim to be. (I'm a lawyer, so I'm better with questions about what constitutes "evidence" and logic and the like.)

So I have a few clarification questions for the atheists and theists who would know far better than me (these are honest, non-rhetorical questions meant only to help me, and perhaps others, understand the views being posited).

Assuming that the universe was once a super-small, super-dense "thing", does it make sense to ask questions about that "thing" such as (1) "where was it?", (2) "when did it exist?", (3) "did anything happen 'before' it existed, came into being, or exploded?", (4) "was anything 'outside' of that 'thing'?", (5) "if it was super-small, did it have 'boundries' (like an orange peel rind), and if so, describe the properties of whatever was or wasn't outside of those 'boundries', if there are any theories about that", and (6) "was there a cause to the explosion or sudden movement of the 'thing' (a force to explain away the law of inertia)?".

Some of these questions may be non-sensical, depending on what has actually been asserted and whether I understood it. I think the answers to these questions would help me (and others) understand the atheist's argument about what really happened "in the beginning".

Damn it, Jim, I'm a biologist, not a physicist! Or a lawyer!

Seriously, I haven't a clue. Perhaps others do.

Kevin, maybe I'm misunderstanding, but that first quote you put up there doesn't seem to have a definition of the kind of nothing he's talking about that existed before the beginning of the universe. All he says is that the "nothing" the universe came out of is different from the "nothing" we think about when we think of space because space is not really "nothing." The first "nothing" is "hard to understand" precisely because it's not like the vacuum of space, which is actually something. Does he ever define the first kind of nothing? Because if all he does is contrast it with the vacuum of the elastic medium of space (explaining to us that the beginning was more "nothing" than what we even think of as being "nothing"), it does sound like he's talking about absolute nothing.

>>So God is uncaused and self-existent by human definition. Neat solution, not very convincing.

Joe, there's actually a reason why this is so:

An infinite regress of causes is logically impossible. That is, there could not have been an infinite number of successive events in the past because we never would have reached the events happening now.

This means, by necessity, if the world came into existence, there was a first cause beginning the world. Since nothing natural caused that first cause (by definition--nothing natural yet existed), the first cause 1) had to have begun this world by a decision of will (because the first event was not a natural result of an earlier event, and only a personal being can initiate something that's not an automatic result of a natural cause), and 2) had to be, as the first cause, a self-existent being that did not come into existence. That being is God. By definition, He does not have a cause.

If you ask, "Who created God?" you're really just asking, "Who is the real God--the true first, self-existent, personal cause?" because the one true God--the initiator of everything--does not have a cause.

This isn't just ad hoc, but is reached through reason. If memory serves, I believe Aristotle was the first to come up with this.

>>The second problem is that even if science has not yet provided the answer to a problem, it is an ongoing process which may very well reveal the answer in the future.

Matthew, how is this not a "materialism of the gaps" answer? That really is saying, "Naturalism did it!" when you don't have an answer. The theist argument, by contrast, doesn't just say, "We don't know, so it must be God" (as you are saying, "We don't know, so it must be random, natural forces.") It says that, given our understanding of personal beings, the laws of science, and the marks of design, the existence and design of the world points us to the existence of a powerful, intelligent being. That's different than suggesting "God" as an answer out of ignorance. Even if you disagree with the conclusion we think it's pointing to, we think it points there.

"Since nothing natural caused that first cause (by **definition**--nothing natural yet existed),..."

"Only a personal being can initiate something that's not an automatic result of a natural cause."

Again, you're simply solving the problem by defining terms as you wish and by giving the "personal being" the traits you need to solve the problem. Why should a "personal being" be required to solve the problem?

So, what created the "personal being"? I understand the logic involved in rejecting the infinite regress, but rure "reason" doesn't alway solve the problem (see Zeno's paradox, etc.). In the end, something has to create this entity capable of will, right? How many turtles between the first turtle and the turtle we call "God"? Could be one, could be a bizillion gods creating gods. And if God can always exist, then why can't matter and energy always exist?

I don't know, seems insoluble to me, and somewhat pointless. And why should be expect that we could solve the puzzle? Why can't we just shrug and watch the sunset and enjoy it?

Naturallawyer,

These questions are all quite reasonable to ask. I'll try and answer them from my background as a cosmologist.

1 & 2) Where and when?
Time and space are properties of the Universe, and our understanding of them through General Relativity gives no unique predictions on how they would behave outside of the Universe. So, it's possible that there is no "where" and "when" outside of the Universe. Alternately, it's possible that there is a "where" and "when" outside of the Universe, but we have yet to conceive of an experiment to test this.

3) Did anything happen before?
Assuming there is a "before" to speak of, we don't know. Perhaps. There exist plausible speculations on the matter, but we have yet to conceive of an experiment which would give us any hints.

4) Was anything outside?
This has the same answer as (3).

5) Did the Universe have boundaries?
Our measurements of the cosmic microwave background combined with supernova surveys and measurements of the large scale structure of the Universe indicate that the Universe has a flat geometry. The simplest model for a flat Universe is one which is infinite and therefore has no boundaries.
However, it is possible that the Universe's geometry is more complicated beyond the observable horizon. I am not aware, however, that any of these propose an actual boundary to the entire Universe.

6) What caused the explosion?
Our understanding of physics predicts that if the Universe started off in a very dense, very compressed state, it would have expanded. No outside impetus is necessary.
Why did it start the way it did? Well, it was the state of maximal entropy, which is naturally most likely.
Why did it start at all? We don't know. We're working on it.

>>In the end, something has to create this entity capable of will, right?

No. If there's no self-existent being, then there's no way to explain the existence of anything.

>>And if God can always exist, then why can't matter and energy always exist?

1) Some people used to think it did, but that's not what astronomers are saying today. 2) The Law of Entropy is something we observe. Material things die. 3) For the same reasons I've stated about infinite events--there can't be an infinite regress of actual events in time, or we never would have reached the point where we are today. There are all sorts of absurdities that result when one tries to make sense of an infinite series of actual things.

>>And why should be expect that we could solve the puzzle? Why can't we just shrug and watch the sunset and enjoy it?

Ah, and yet you can't because you're still here, even though you've expressed your desire to forget it. :) You want to think through these things because they're important. These are the great questions! It's a much more interesting life to think about them than to shrug.

Amy,

Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

I believe that you have misunderstood my argument. My argument that you quoted was against using the existence of a gap in our knowledge as positive evidence for the existence of a god. I did not point at gaps in our knowledge as positive evidence for a naturalistic worldview.

Also, please do not quote me as saying "Naturalism did it!" or "We don't know, so it must be random, natural forces." I support neither of these statements.

Amy,

Well, again, it will depend on who you talk to: virtual particles, wave/probability functions, a 'false vacuum' state, etc. The most useful way I've heard it discussed is as a no-thing-ness, in that there are no organized things, but complete entropy/chaos. One thing that is generally agreed on is either (1) that the 'nothing' is not non-existence or the nihil set (as required by creatio ex nihilo) and/or (2) that we cannot conclude anything about the 'before' and, as such, speculations about it are essentially meaningless (as argued by Stephen Hawking) and/or groundless (as argued by Adolf Grunbaum and Wes Morriston).

Amy,

I appreciate your answers, but I still think that much of what you've done is simply assign properties to an theoretical entity to solve the problems. And from what little I understand about astronomy, I believe that there is some disagreement about whether or not matter and energy could have always existed or not, but my knowledge is limited. Yes, these are interesting questions for awhile, and they will pique my interest for awhile, but in the end, there aren't going to be answers, and that leaves the sunset.

>>Also, please do not quote me as saying "Naturalism did it!" or "We don't know, so it must be random, natural forces." I support neither of these statements.

I understood what you were trying to say. I was trying to point out that you're misunderstanding us and possibly not seeing what you're saying about your own position.

You said we don't know what caused the universe--that science has not provided a naturalistic answer to the problem, but we ought to assume that it can and probably will. I'm not sure I see the difference between this and a naturalism of the gaps. If this argument is being used to deny evidence that seems to point to an intelligent being, then it's being used to support your naturalistic position. And if not explicitly, then in practice, because even if the best explanation of the evidence is God, you will withhold that judgment because you're assuming naturalism will provide a better reason someday. That's naturalism of the gaps.

>>My argument that you quoted was against using the existence of a gap in our knowledge as positive evidence for the existence of a god.

Yes, I know that's what you were saying we were doing. I was trying to point out that not only are we not positing God in a gap because we don't know something, but that you are the one positing naturalism in a gap.

>>I did not point at gaps in our knowledge as positive evidence for a naturalistic worldview.

Again, I was trying to show you that you have a misconception about Christian arguments. As I said, we have positive reasons pointing to our conclusion (see above), not gaps. We're not merely resorting to God to explain away ignorance. We're using what we know to be true about the universe, design, personal beings, etc. as positive reasons that point to God.

This looks like explaining away ignorance to you because you are coming into this assuming naturalism is true. Therefore, anything that seems to point to God is really just ignorance of a naturalistic force. But if one doesn't start with that assumption, then it's very possible for positive evidence to point to God.

Kevin

For a useful look at how alternative theories to the standard big bang model fail to escape a beginning in finite past, see http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=6115. Given that you cannot have an actual infinite, how would you account for the beginning? Even if the singularity was the initial state of matter and energy, where did that come from?

Joe
"Daniel,
What is your theory of abiogenesis?"

You know, me. I believe God created life, and there are 'fingerprints' to point to Him. This is not "God of the gaps." This is based on a 'cumulative case' for God's existence + God's plenary inspiration of the Bible, and the claim in the Bible that He created life, that's my view.

"Mike,
Where did God come from?"

Joe, what do you mean by "God" in this question?

"See what I mean about "describing God as having whatever attributes are need to overcome any disproofs of the hypothesis that God exists"? As the old joke says, "first, let's assume we have a can opener". "

One can just as easily lay this charge at the materialist's feet. When we say God is self existent, eternal, uncaused, etc., this is simply what we mean. If this is inconvenient for you, oh well. I guess such a God may be harder to dismiss than an alternative straw man, but that's the way it goes. If any God you would point to as finite, caused, limited, etc is what you disbelieve, then I'm with you. I don't believe in that god either.

Back to you, Matthew


"You mention chirality as a problem for abiogenesis. It's not clear to me that necessarily is. In any event, I have colleagues who are now talking about using polarized spectroscopy of the interstellar medium to test the prevalence of chirality in the Galaxy. Indeed, this is an active field of research."

Actually HOMOchirality us a problem for abiogenesis. "Non-biological processes produce chiral molecules equal proportions."(called racemic mixtures.) "Lab experiments show presence of racemic mixtures of amino acids and sugars strongly inhibit the formation of amino acid and nucleotide chains." (Origins of Life, Rana and Ross, page 124.)

Joe

Zeno's Paradox only points to the POTENTIAL infinite number of UNEQUAL parts of a finite whole, and does NOTHING to refute the impossibility of an actual infinite, or traversing an actual infinite.

Also, if you were as familiar as you claim to be with the Kalam argument, you would know how it points to a personal cause to the universe.

"In the end, something has to create this entity capable of will, right?

No.


"Could be one, could be a bizillion gods creating gods."

Occum's Razor: "entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity"
You only need one.

" And if God can always exist, then why can't matter and energy always exist? "

Heard of entropy?

/time waste

"/end time waste" to Joe, not you, Matthew

Daniel,

How and when did God create the first cells? These are the kinds of questions that theories address.

I've heard of Occum's Razor. Didn't realize that it was infallible divine truth.

"As the old joke says, "first, let's assume we have a can opener". "

"One can just as easily lay this charge at the materialist's feet."

Of course, you can. I can say that matter and energy have always existed, because you don't know how far back in time that entropy has existed, and you can say "God is self existent, eternal, uncaused, etc". You can say nothing had to create God and I can say something had to create God. Neither of us can prove anything, and around and around it goes.

I believe that I'll stick to sunsets.

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