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Thread: Does God Exist? - Battle Royale VII - Bob Enyart vs. Zakath

  1. #1
    Never, never, never give up. Knight's Avatar
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    Post Does God Exist? - Battle Royale VII - Bob Enyart vs. Zakath

    Does God Exist? - Battle Royale VII - Bob Enyart vs. Zakath

    In honor of Fathers Day 2003 we thought we would find out if we have a heavenly Father.

    Therefore...
    Battle Royale VII - "Does God Exist?"

    This will be a 10 round battle (10 posts for each contestant) and will be refereed by me (Knight )

    This battle will officially begin June 16th, 2003 (the day after Father's Day)

    RULES ACKNOWLEDGMENTHave both combatants read, understand and agree to the battle Royale Rules?

    I need a post from each combatant stating "YES" regarding the rules.

    After I receive a "yes, I understand the rules" affirming that each combatant understands the rules I will flip a coin (on Monday June 16th) to determine who posts first, then that chosen combatant will have 48 hours to make his/her opening statement. Each combatant will then have 48 hours to make subsequent posts after the other combatant makes their post. You need NOT wait for me to officially end a round before making your next response.
    Last edited by Knight; January 31st, 2008 at 06:53 PM.
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    Never, never, never give up. Knight's Avatar
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    Exclamation

    ANY AND ALL POSTS ON THIS THREAD WILL BE DELETED UNLESS THEY ARE POSTED BY: Me (Knight), other Administrators, Bob Enyart or Zakath. You may discuss Battle Royale VII here.

    Abusing this will result in banishment from TheologyOnLine.
    Last edited by Knight; July 15th, 2007 at 03:51 PM.
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    Never, never, never give up. Knight's Avatar
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    The Tale of the Tape

    While we wait for this Battle to begin (June 16th) lets find out a little bit about each one of the combatants:

    Bob Enyart pastors Denver Bible Church. Bob began his professional life working for McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Company designing simulation software for the Army's Apache AH-64 attack helicopter, and then went to work for U S West, Microsoft Corporation, and PC Week. Bob eventually left his computing career to work fulltime in Christian ministry and to host a talk show. In 1991, Bob Enyart Live began airing on Denver's KLTT radio, and can still be heard there weeknights at 7 p.m. During the mid 90s, Bob's show moved to television and was available in eighty cities from Honolulu to Orlando. More than 50,000 copies of Bob's audio and video teaching tapes have been sold. And a few thousand people have read the overview of the Bible presented in The Plot manuscript which is Bob Enyart's life's work.

    Bob launched www.KGOV.com in 1999 with the purchase of O.J. Simpson's Hall of Fame Award and football jerseys, burning those items at the largest single-event press conference in the history of the LA courthouse. And Bob has organized a mobile protest of President Bill Clinton following him from Martha's Vineyard to Auckland, New Zealand with over 1,000 protests in 147 US and foreign cities for Clinton's sexual abuse of women. Bob has worked with parents of slain Columbine students to close down memorials to murderers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, and was glad to see the destruction of two crosses on Rebel Hill and two trees planted in West Bowles Community Church memorial garden. Bob has been appeared on over 100 TV and radio shows, including multiple episodes of ABC's Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher; Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor and Hannity and Colmes, CNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, and various appearances on MS-NBC, the BBC, XTRA, Michael Reagan, E Network, etc. including on scores of radio stations from LA's KABC to NY's WABC.

    VS.

    Zakath, a two and a half year veteran poster on TOL, is an atheist with a past. The man behind the screen name was raised in a Christian home, seminary trained, earned a doctorate in counseling psychology, pastored two churches, founded a Christian school, and a Christian counseling practice with his wife of twenty-five years. Zakath left the Christian faith almost ten years ago, eventually ending up in his present belief system, atheism. Zakath is the father of four grown children; two in active duty military service, and two in the federal consulting field. When he's not posting on TOL, he runs his consulting business, enjoys reading, organic gardening (and ponding), martial arts, and home brewing.
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    Never, never, never give up. Knight's Avatar
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    Does God Exist? - Battle Royale VII - Bob Enyart vs. Zakath
    Battle length: 10 rounds.
    Referee: Knight


    OK here is the coin toss. To make this official I had my oldest son Jordan will be doing the coin toss. I declared Bob to be "heads" and Zakath to be "tails".

    Jordan will now flip the coin.

    Flip.....

    Tails it is!

    Zakath will begin and is now on the clock. Zakath has 48 hours to make his first post and then Bob Enyart will have 48 hours to make his first post AFTER Zakath's first post has been posted. You do NOT need to take 48 hours to post your post and you do not NEED to wait for me to end a round. Simply post your posts when your ready as long as its your turn!

    Remember to use the "preview this post" button to avoid editing your posts after they have been actually posted.

    Let the battle begin!

    ANY AND ALL POSTS ON THIS THREAD WILL BE DELETED UNLESS THEY ARE POSTED BY: Me (Knight), other Administrators, Bob Enyart or Zakath. You may discuss Battle Royale VII here.

    Abusing this will result in banishment from TheologyOnLine.
    Last edited by Knight; July 15th, 2007 at 03:52 PM.
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    Both Zakath and Bob have given me their acknowledgment that they understand the rules so the battle is ON!
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  6. #6
    Resident Atheist Zakath's Avatar
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    Post Zakath's Post #1

    First of all I would like to thank our Goode Sir Knight for hosting this debate here on Theology OnLine. I think that he is doing a great service for his web site and his readers by providing this sort of venue for these discussions. Next I would like to thank Rev. Bob Enyart for making the time available out of, as I recall from my time as a pastor, a busy schedule. My understanding is that we have ten posts for this debate so I will proceed with this, my first post.

    Our debate is an attempt to answer the question "Does God Exist?" This is a very important question for humans because if any of the gods or goddesses that humans have claimed throughout the ages actually exist, it tells us something about what is happening in the world, as well as what may yet happen here in the future. On the other hand, if none of these supernatural entities exist, it tells us that we humans are left to our own resources, that we have to make decisions wisely, and that we cannot depend upon a "Big Brother" (or "Mother" for our Wiccan readers) in the sky to solve our problems for us.

    That said, the first thing we must do is clarify just what the good Reverend means by the term "God". So my first question to Rev. Enyart is
    • How do you define God?
    Since there is a significant amount of variation of meaning for this term, even within the thousands sects of Christianity, your answer will set the tone for the debate since I need to understand just what it is you are trying to prove the existence of.

    If you answer the first question, there is a second that deals with evidence. All religions claim the existence of evidence to support their particular view of what they claim about their god(s) or goddess(es). Understanding the evidence that a believer relies upon to support the assertion that "God exists" is critical to the success of our debate. Since many Christians of my acquaintance claim there is evidence to support their belief, it would appear that the Christian religion is much like any of the others in this case.

    For the second question, I would ask you the following:
    • Upon what evidence do you base your belief in what you defined as God?


    Your answers to these two questions will provide us with a foundation and boundaries within which to continue the debate without potentially wandering off into the philosophical weeds.

    I await your reply.

  7. #7
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    How hard is it to figure this out???

    ANY AND ALL POSTS ON THIS THREAD WILL BE DELETED UNLESS THEY ARE POSTED BY: Me (Knight), other Administrators, Bob Enyart or Zakath. You may discuss Battle Royale VII here.

    Abusing this will result in banishment from TheologyOnLine.
    Last edited by Knight; July 15th, 2007 at 03:52 PM.
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  8. #8
    Gold level Subscriber Bob Enyart's Avatar
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    TOL BR DGE? Post 1b

    Thank you Knight, for hosting this Battle. And Zakath, thank you for agreeing to debate this most important of topics for human beings. For, billions of people have directed their lives by a belief in a god of some kind. And if no God exists, then there is an incalculable opportunity cost of wasted human effort. For all the time spent chasing that lie, humanity could have been more effectively pursuing truth. While I will directly address your questions in this post, I must first ask you something that takes precedence over your questions. Therefore, my first question for you is, does truth exist? If you say that nothing can be true, then you would have admitted your belief that nothing you write is true, and you would have thereby divulged your belief that you could not win the debate with any truthful arguments. Thus, if you claim that “truth does not exist,” that nothing can be true, then if you actually believe that claim to be true (which itself shows the inanity of holding that position), you should immediately forfeit the debate. If you deny the existence of truth, I would note yet another educated person whose atheism has undermined his very ability to accept truth. I hope that you acknowledge the existence of truth.

    Zakath’s Questions

    Here are my brief answers to your two questions, which I will develop further:
    Q1: How do you define God?
    A1: I define God as the supernatural Creator of the natural universe, existing eternally, powerful, wise and knowledgeable, personal, loving, and just.
    Q2: Upon what evidence do you base your belief in this God?
    A2: In this post, I present evidence only related to the creative, eternal, powerful, and knowledgeable aspects of God from the origins of both the universe and biological life. In future posts, I expect to use more evidence from physics and biology, add evidence from astronomy, and then, as evidence for God being personal, loving, and just, I will present observations from psychology and history.

    (Zakath, thank you for clearly delineating your questions. I have summarized my four questions for you at the end. Perhaps we could agree to give clear and concise answers to each other’s questions at the top of our subsequent posts, as I have attempted here, and then develop the answers if desired.)

    Potential Cost of Atheism Priced by the Nature of God

    Yes, if atheism is true, there is great waste in theism; but on the other hand, if God exists, then atheists have expended an opportunity cost, the value of which depends upon God’s nature and actions, upon what that God is like. And this brings us to further develop your first question about the definition of God. If someone proposed a god created by some other God, then they proposed wrongly, and may have been referring to an angel or demon or some other created being, but not to God. So for the sake of understanding, let us agree that the God we are debating, the one I will argue for and you against, is the first Creator, the eternally existing, uncaused, first cause. Regarding the potential opportunity cost of not believing in Him:

    * If God created matter and then left everything to itself, to develop by physical laws and chance, and has no interest in the behavior of life forms that may develop, then the atheistic opportunity cost could be relatively low, largely limited to the scientific drawbacks that may come from an incorrect view of the origin of matter.

    * If God designed the universe, biological and sentient life, but has no righteous standard and no aspirations for his creatures, then the atheistic opportunity cost would be higher, retarding the progress of science through a misunderstanding of the origins of inanimate and biological systems. However,

    * If God created the universe and life and instilled humans with a conscience which reflects His own righteous standard, then the atheistic cost becomes increasingly significant in scientific, moral and psychological terms. And,

    * If the true God also is as the Bible presents, and put eternity into our hearts, and will judge us based upon our humble trusting in Him, then you calculate the atheistic cost in terms of eternal loss of the utmost consequence.

    Thus, my second question to you is, does absolute moral right and wrong exist?

    For example, is it absolutely wrong to drag a living black man behind a pickup truck to tear apart his body out of white supremacist motives? If you answer no, and that there is no such thing as absolute morality, then I will despise your character, and record more evidence that atheism undermines morality. But I will continue the debate realizing that you would not believe it wrong for you to lie in an effort to win this Battle Royale. On the other hand, what if you admit that there is an absolute right and wrong, for example that it is inherently right to stop an adult from forcibly raping a child for entertainment. If you admit to right and wrong, then you will have provided evidence for the definition of the real God, and you will also have helped us calculate the opportunity cost of atheism. For, if there is an absolute Originator, then logically, an absolute moral standard would have originated with Him.

    Evidence for God from Physics

    For now, let’s move from the potential consequences of atheism, on to develop my answer to your second question for evidence for God, evidence that I will draw from different spheres of study, beginning with physics and biology. If the flow of the debate facilitates, I will also add evidence from astronomy, psychology, and history. So, my first evidence from physics: A rock cannot make itself from nothing; and a fire cannot burn forever. You should recognize these as alternative ways of stating the first two laws of thermodynamics: the conservation of matter and energy; and the increase in entropy.

    Thus my third question is multiple choice:
    a) Do you believe the natural universe has existed forever exerting work and burning as a perpetual motion machine; or,
    b) Has the universe created itself, so to speak, i.e., come into existence apart from a supernatural creator; or,
    c) Was it created by an external source outside of the natural universe, i.e., a supernatural Creator; or,
    d) Is there some other conceivable account for its origins?


    If you choose “perpetual motion machine,” or “created itself,” I will press you on the laws of physics and on your evidence for your conclusion, and I will explore whether you believe this based upon a blind faith which runs contrary to hard science. And if you choose “other,” please explain what other possible way the universe could have come into existence, as I do not believe you can logically present a fourth option. For, the natural universe was either 1) always here, or 2) popped into existence from nothing on its own apart from any Creator, or 3) was brought into existence by a supernatural Creator, that is, one outside of the natural universe.

    Evidence for God from Biology

    My second and for now last piece of evidence for God is from the argument from design for biological life. Atheists believe that if just the right raw materials were assembled, then it is reasonable to believe that life could arise spontaneously; however, dead animal carcasses have trillions of compounds already assembled in just the right proportions for life, and yet scientists have never observed new life arising from the fortuitously arranged ingredients in every corpse. Co-discoverer of DNA Crick, and brilliant astronomer Hoyle, both conceded that the complexity of DNA led them to conclude the mathematical implausibility that DNA could have arisen by natural causes on Earth; and so they independently proposed to the world that biological life was planted on Earth, by aliens.

    A cell makes man’s technology look primitive, with hundreds of millions of its simplest components, the proteins (albeit themselves sophisticated three-dimensional machines of thousands of different types) doing a multitude of critical chemical jobs, coordinated by hundreds of millions of digital instructions, with a human possessing dozens of different types totaling about 100 trillion cells. Living cells are the laboratories that make an organism’s chemical components, yet they themselves are made of these same components. Such circularly dependent requirements pervade biology and introduce a dilemma for atheists, for no plausible starting point has ever been described for this circular dependence, so this remains an inexplicable mystery to evolutionists, which they typically ignore and have never come close to answering. By natural law, you cannot get a tree without a seed, nor an egg without a chicken, nor the system to copy DNA without the DNA itself. Evolutionists cannot explain even theoretically in gross terms how the first DNA strands appeared, and then before they deteriorated, how an error-correcting duplication system arose by chance. To manage life’s nutritional and functional needs, a typical cell needs to separate itself from its outside environment, it needs sophisticated subsystems with high-bandwidth and robust communication between them, it must be able to produce hundreds of intricate compounds, it must repair damaged components, it must selectively admit raw materials from outside and expel waste, and paramount, it must reliably reproduce itself. Evolutionists admit great complexity in obtaining a first cell by nature, but do not appreciate how many “first cells” would have disappeared before perfecting the ability to reproduce themselves: millions, billions, trillions, supposedly blindly moving toward an unknowable goal of self-reproduction, without benefit of natural selection nor any law or force driving them forward to achieve that particular goal.

    Thus, apart from any evidence, atheists desperately posit some simpler form of life that led up to the cell, but that is a logical impossibility, given the function of biological life. A toddler gets away with his ignorance explaining that bread comes from the store, but I will not accept an adult’s rationalization of complexity by his introducing even more complexity. To identify only the necessary systems of a single-celled creature virtually means to identify the entire cell. And so, its subsystems cannot be removed without certain death, unless a subsystem’s function was somehow replaced by a service provided from outside the cell, but of course this would increase the complexity. Any biological life must accomplish the basic fundamentals of life, and the cell accomplishes these efficiently. To propose pre-cell symbiotic life forms which fulfill each other’s requirements adds the complexity of external communication, coordination, shared eco-system dependency, and proximity in time and space. So, I declare that the atheist who posits a simpler life form which leads up to the cell cannot even conceptually describe that simplicity, thus he posits something that he has no evidence for, and something that he cannot even imagine: that is blind faith. Zakath, perhaps you can disprove my declaration, and explain what basic functions a cell’s simpler precursors would perform, and how they might perform them reliably and more simply.

    Let me remind you of a cell’s basic functions that must somehow be addressed for survival. First, please explain what comes first, the functionality, or the instructions to build the functionality; then describe what force or law led to the development of an instruction set for that functionality, and how those instructions then began to encode themselves chemically with amino acids; then explain how those encoded instructions began to get implemented by describing some primitive ribosome-like agents, and how the theoretically necessary function of messenger RNA would have been accomplished, with the development of proteins and enzymes (or their simpler predecessors) to accomplish the needed work of maintenance and reproduction. Also, you might explain, and win a Nobel Prize while you’re at it, how the wildly complex and crucial cell wall with a million sophisticated openings could develop, the wall needed for the survival of the cell, yet utterly dependent upon the cell’s functions for its own existence. Instructions for all of this are encoded into the DNA in the nucleus, the nucleus itself housing these millions of instructions and being able to produce groups of them on demand as needed to build complex chemical machines, all dependent upon the availability of a necessary supply of various amino acids. Of course, I’m not asking you for a detailed account of how this all would happen in a simpler life form.

    But Zakath, for my fourth question:
    a) Can you please either explain conceptually how the first cell would have developed; or,
    b) Give an explanation in broad terms of how a simpler system could perform the necessary functions of a biological life form, which I believe must include processing raw materials, containing itself, encoding instructions, implementing instructions, chemical processing, and reproduction, which whole system is itself irreducibly complex.


    Question Summary:

    1. Does truth exist?
    a) Yes
    b) No
    c) I don’t know

    2. Does absolute moral right and wrong exist?
    a) Yes
    b) No
    c) I don’t know

    3. Regarding the origin of the natural universe:
    a) The universe is a perpetual motion machine
    b) It came into existence from nothing
    c) It was brought into existence by a supernatural creator
    d) Other
    e) I don’t know
    If D, please explain: ________________________________________________

    4. Zakath will attempt to conceptually explain, apart from a creator:
    a) how the first cell developed, or;
    b) the functional simplicity of pre-cell life forms, or;
    c) nothing substantive about life’s origin
    If A or B, please explain: ____________________________________________

    Sincerely, Bob Enyart

  9. #9
    Never, never, never give up. Knight's Avatar
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    Exclamation

    DING, DING, DING.... that's it for round #1. What a start!!!

    Zakath is now on the clock as round two has begun!

    ANY AND ALL POSTS ON THIS THREAD WILL BE DELETED UNLESS THEY ARE POSTED BY: Me (Knight), other Administrators, Bob Enyart or Zakath. You may discuss Battle Royale VII here.
    Last edited by Knight; July 15th, 2007 at 03:52 PM.
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  10. #10
    Never, never, never give up. Knight's Avatar
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  11. #11
    Resident Atheist Zakath's Avatar
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    Zakath's Post #2

    In his last post, Pastor Enyart provided us with answers to two questions and the definitions were very helpful, as much for what they said as for what they left out.

    To my opponent, "God" is
    "the supernatural creator of the natural universe, existing eternally, powerful, wise and knowledgeable, personal, loving, and just."
    Perhaps at some future time we can discuss whether he believes that his God created what's outside the natural universe (traditionally including heaven and hell), and whether he considers his God to be omnipotent and omniscient, as do most orthodox Christians…

    His statement on evidence is interesting and strangely limited:
    "I present evidence only related to the creative, eternal, powerful, and knowledgeable aspects of God from the origins of both the universe and biological life…"

    He then proceeds to open his debate launching into two philosophical questions totally unrelated to his promised origins questions…

    Upon reading the rest of Pastor Enyart's first post, I would have to agree with some of our readers that his arguments are basically variants on a single theme. It appears that Pastor Enyart is an adherent of the venerable "God did it" Guild, what I term GDI for short. This ancient school of philosophy is known for its efforts across the span of human history pointing at what man doesn't know at a specific instant and solemnly intoning their mantra, "If man can't explain it, then God did it."

    Lack of information on the part of science or philosophy is not evidence for the existence of his deity nor is his assertion that his or any deity is responsible for creating the universe or life. Claiming GDI is mere baseless attribution, not hard evidence.

    The question remains: Will Pastor Enyart provide proof that his God was there and responsible at the alleged Creation?


    Enyart's Q1. Does Zakath believe in truth?

    The problem I am faced with when asked about truth by a religionist is that truth, especially when dealing with gods and religions, is described and defined in many, often contradictory, ways. I need to know

    "What is (your definition of) truth, Pastor Enyart?"
    • What is true for the Muslim, that there is no deity but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet, is untrue for the Jew and Christian.
    • What is true for the Christian, that Jesus is divine, is untrue for the Jew and the Muslim.
    • What is true for the Jew, that YHWH has chosen them alone to be his special possession and their covenant to be the sole way to heaven, is untrue for the Christian and Muslim.


    Since Pastor Enyart cites the Bible in his previous post, I have done so here. Within the context of this debate on the existence of Pastor Enyart's deity, I think the question I asked is the most appropriate answer I can provide him. It is the one that the biblical record tells us was given to Jesus of Nazareth when he raised the question of truth claims at his trial. His judge asked Jesus the same question that I asked of Pastor Enyart:

    According to the gospel record, the questioner never received an answer. I hope, after almost twenty centuries to reflect on it, that religionists, represented here by Pastor Enyart can finally provide a useful answer. Once I know just what Pastor Enyart means by "truth". I will explain whether I think it actually exists; or, like his deity, is merely an imaginative object of his religious belief.


    Enyart's Q2. Does Zakath believe in absolute moral right and absolute wrong?

    I do think that the two egregious examples of murder and rape cited by Pastor Enyart are both terrible evils and are wrong. But I also think the examples he provides are poorly chosen since both appear to be conditional, not absolute. Rape "for entertainment" is conditional, as is killing someone "for white supremacist motives."

    In light of this bit of confusion, before I can fully resond to this question, I'll need to ask Pastor Enyart, "What do you mean by absolute right and absolute wrong?"

    My further comments will have to wait for Pastor Enyart's response.


    3. How does Zakath explain the origin of the cosmos?
    Honestly, I would have to answer that I do not know, for certain, how the natural universe came into being.

    Argument for Atheism from Cosmology
    But I can say that there is evidence and a theory (Steven Hawking's Wave Function Universe theory) that would tend to indicate that the universe could very likely (greater than 95% probability) have come into being without external agency or cause. Hawking, a physicist who provided the mathematical proofs that began the search for and location of black holes, is the founder of a scientific discipline called quantum cosmology. Hawking, Andre Vilenkin, Alex Linde, and others now believe that the ultimate questions of cosmology can be answered only by quantum theory. Hawking takes quantum cosmology to its ultimate conclusion, allowing the existence of infinite numbers of parallel universes. In a nutshell, their theory is that there is a scientific law of nature called the Wave Function of the Universe that implies that it is highly probable that a universe with our characteristics will come into existence without a cause. Hawking's theory is based on assigning numbers to all possible universes. All of the numbers cancel out except for a universe with features our universe possesses. For example, contains intelligent organisms such as humans. This remaining universe has a certain probability very high -- near to a hundred percent -- of coming into existence uncaused. How does it work?
    … Hawking's theory … supposes that there is a timeless space, a four-dimensional hypersphere, near the beginning of the universe. It is smaller than the nucleus of an atom. It is smaller than 10^-33 centimeters in radius. Since it was timeless, it no more needs a cause than the timeless god of theism. This timeless hypersphere is connected to our expanding universe. Our universe begins smaller than an atom and explodes in a Big Bang and here we are today in a universe that is still expanding. Is it nonetheless possible that God could have caused this universe? No. For the wave function of the universe implies there is a 95% probability that the universe came into existence uncaused. If God created the universe, he would contradict this scientific law in two ways. First, the scientific law says that the universe would come into existence because of its natural, mathematical properties, not because of any supernatural forces. Second, the scientific law says the probability is only 95% that the universe would come into existence. But if God created the universe, the probability would be 100% that it would come into existence because God is all-powerful. If God wills the universe to come into existence, his will is guaranteed to be 100% effective. ("Two Ways to Prove Atheism" Quentin Smith 1996)
    Like any theory, it must be tested over time and subjected to much rigorous mathematical evaluation. The supporting evidence includes the COBE satellite observations of the density fluctuations in the background radiation, by the observed large-scale homogeneity and isotropy of the universe, by the evidence for an early inflationary era, and by the evidence that the critical density is near to one. But if it turns out to be correct, it puts a rather significant hole in the religionsts' need for deity-created universe since it raises an interesting the question:
    • Why do we need to postulate a Creator when the physical laws of the universe do not require such a being's existence or intervention in the first place?


    Enyart's Q4. How does Zakath explain the origin of life on the earth?

    Most of us who studied the biological sciences have observed wondrously complex organisms and marveled at their structure and function. One thing we have observed in the last fifty years or so is that subcellular life does exist and may, in some cases, represent survivors of earlier, less complex life forms. There is documented evidence for the existence of these types of organisms/protobionts; we now know all biological systems need not be cellular life. Viruses (organisms without cell membranes or cell walls) and the much simpler prions (these do not even have nucleic acids) are two examples that many of the readers would find fascinating. Prions were first described in 1980's and appear to be responsible for Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or Mad Cow Disease). Neither exists in cellular form yet both exhibit many of the characteristics of living organisms. Additionally, since I have not studied this field in detail for more than thirty years, I am the wrong person to ask to give detailed explanations about the biochemistry behind protolife. I can only present the following broad summary of current views along with a few references for those interested in pursuing things further.

    Abiogenesis, the development of life from non-life, has been postulated as proceeding along recognized biochemical pathways. I would suggest that the study of metasystems in biology and chemistry since the late 1970's has shed a considerable amount of light on how such a process might have occurred. A very simplistic representation would be that simple chemicals develop into polymers, some of which are self replicating or autocatalytic (Lee, Severin, & Ghadri, 1997). These autocatalytic systems interact with each other forming hypercycles (Eigen & Shuster 1979). Hypercycles interact with each other to form protobionts (precursors to primitive cells) (Lazcano & Miller 1996). Selective pressure from natural selection allows some protobionts to express more and more cellular characteristics over time, producing what we would eventually recognize as cellular organisms. Interested readers might want to read Carl Woese's presentation for the National Academy of Sciences in 1995, pages 6854-6859.
    References:
    Eigen M, and Schuster P, The hypercycle. A principle of natural self-organization. Springer-Verlag, isbn 3-540-09293, 1979

    Lazcano A, and Miller SL, The origin and early evolution of life: prebiotic chemistry, the pre- RNA world, and time. Cell, 85: 793-8, 1996

    Lee DH, Severin K, and Ghadri MR. Autocatalytic networks: the transition from molecular self-replication to molecular ecosystems. Curr Opinion Chem Biol, 1, 491-496, 1997

    Woese C, The universal ancestor. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 95: 6854-6859.
    What happened when life began is still unknown and, since it is difficult to determine exact primordial conditions of the earth, science may be limited to "best guess" until we actually have the opportunity to observe other pre-biotic environments. Greater minds than many of ours have pondered these questions yet while hints and clues have been uncovered; the ultimate answers continue to elude science. Yet this does not trouble experienced scientists since they realize that it is the ultimate role of science to help mankind answer questions about the universe around him and discovering and refining such answers may take years or even generations.

    Too many lay persons are quick to assume that if they cannot understand something in a few minutes that it must mean that "God did it." Others of us are willing to nod and admit that we don't have all the answers, nor do we need them.


    This brings us to the questions I would like to propose for Pastor Enyart's consideration during the next round:
    • 1. Will you provide proof that your God was in attendance at and responsible for the alleged Creation of the universe?
      2. What is (your definition of) truth?
      3. If your deity is so aloof, then how do we study God to understand and learn about him?
      4. How can one distinguish between a God who doesn't want to get involved, and a God who doesn't exist?
      5. How do we know the "God" we're studying is the correct deity?
      6. Why has God chosen to play hide-and-seek with the universe? Why not make his existence irrefutably obvious?


    I await your reply.

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    TOL BR VII DGE Post 2b

    Zakath, I will try to be completely responsive, and encourage you to do so also. So that you can know I’m not trying to obfuscate, I’m going to attempt to clearly summarize the status of our respective questions at the top of each post, and give brief answers to yours, then develop those that need it below. It would be great if you could provide answers upfront so no one needs to read an entire post searching for a straightforward answer to a direct question.

    Bob’s Questions to Zakath

    BQ1: Does truth exist?
    ZA1: Zakath didn’t answer, and didn’t clarify, but asked me to clarify the question. I will: Truth is a statement of reality…

    BQ2: Does absolute moral right and wrong exist?
    ZA2: Zakath didn’t answer, but asked me to clarify. So I will: An absolute wrong is a harm that cannot be justified…

    BQ3: Regarding the origin of the natural universe:
    ZA3: Zakath answered (e): “I don’t know” and then (b) it “came into being without… cause” and then (a) a tiny sphere of it was always here…

    BQ4: Zakath choose to explain 4(b) “the functional simplicity of pre-cell life forms”
    ZA4: Gave examples of “subcellular life” but without describing any functional simplicity…

    Zakath’s Questions to Bob

    ZQ1 – ZQ2 answered in post 1. (The next are renumbered for ease of reference.)

    ZQ3. Will you provide proof that your God was in attendance at and responsible for the alleged Creation of the universe?
    BA3: Yes. Developed below, highlighted by (BA3).

    ZQ4. What is (your definition of) truth?
    BA4: A statement of reality.

    ZQ5: What do you mean by absolute right and absolute wrong?
    BA5: An absolute wrong is a harm that cannot be justified. Justified by what? See below.

    ZQ6: If your deity is so aloof, then how do we study God to understand and learn about him?
    BA6: My definition did not imply God is aloof, and you can learn about Him through the His creation.

    ZQ7: How can one distinguish between a God who doesn’t want to get involved, and a God who doesn’t exist?
    BA7: By science confirming a requirement of a supernatural creator for the origin of the natural universe, with mankind finding no evidence of God’s subsequent intervention.

    ZQ8: How do we know the “God” we’re studying is the correct deity?
    BA8: If we prove the existence of God, then we can look for evidence of His nature. Since we are already having some difficulty responding to each other on basics, I suggest we first keep focused on the existence of an eternal creator.

    ZQ9. Why has God chosen to play hide-and-seek with the universe? Why not make his existence irrefutably obvious?
    BA9: He has made His existence irrefutably obvious (if not, refute the Creator by winning the debate); He does not play hide-and-seek; and further demonstrations of His existence would be counterproductive. Daily miracles could easily produce a stubborn immunity to God in yet more people, and even if dead celebrities were resurrected, most people would not believe, because when the truth is shoved into someone’s face, the human tendency is to shove back.

    Now let’s dig in…

    Old Business

    On Truth

    BQ1: Does truth exist?
    ZA1 / ZQ4: “What is (your definition of) truth, Pastor Enyart?”
    BA4: Truth is, you just answered my question with a question.

    Truth is a statement of reality.

    Zakath wrote:
    • What is true for the Muslim…
    • What is true for the Christian…
    • What is true for the Jew…

    What is true in the above is that you listed three different belief systems. If you can’t admit that is true, then how about this, what is true is that you presented three bullets. If you can admit that, even taking just that baby step, then we have a starting point, and then you will have fulfilled my request to know if you believe in, or can accept, or even just admit to, truth.

    In the future if you feel a basic clarification is needed, please offer one (as I will), to save the readers an iteration, and to get us closer to the heart of the debate. But Zakath, I had already clarified my definition of truth in my original post sufficiently enough to answer your bullets when I wrote: “If no God exists, then… all the time spent chasing that lie, humanity could have been more effectively pursuing truth.” That makes it clear that I am not presupposing the existence of truth means: “I win the debate.” In my experience, many atheists are hesitant to accept truth, any truth; and the way you handled this, as I expected you would, reinforces the theists’ suspicion that atheists react almost as though they fear truth. Or perhaps you just overlooked my comment indicating, at this point in the debate, that truth could conceivably indicate that God does not exist (“If no God exists…”). But then, in a debate on this topic, in my first paragraph, how could you miss that? So again, I hope you acknowledge truth. Besides, admitting truth wins you the bonus of trying to show that theism is truly false. It’s tempting, no?

    So my first question is sadly a repeat of my previous first question: I ask you again, Zakath, does truth exist?

    On Right and Wrong

    I’ve noticed something peculiar in the Grandstands. Those who disbelieve in right and wrong jump all over anyone trying to define an absolute wrong while describing a condition in the process. Do you realize that nothing could be conceivably right or wrong in the slightest degree, apart from conditions? I believe they protesteth too much over “conditions,” intending to obfuscate. You criticized my examples of child rape for entertainment and racist murder because they “both appear to be conditional.” What isn’t? There are conditions attending to every event, every good and every crime, and every chemical process for that matter. The anti absolute-morality crowd is itself obsessed with conditions: when asked if child rape is wrong, you all do back-flips devising bizarre conditions in which raping a child saves the human race. You multiply conditions to justify the rape! You guys remind me of the “repeat” instruction for shampoo and conditioner. One condition isn’t enough. “Rub in conditioner…, repeat.” Such epistemological hypocrisy seems to be evidence of the extent to which right and wrong is burned into their conscience. Zakath: “But I also think the examples [rape and murder that Bob] provides are poorly chosen since both appear to be conditional.” Appear? Recall my point that “atheism undermines morality.” Why not just avoid the duplicity and answer my question saying, “we atheists have no standard by which any rape is absolutely wrong.”

    The day I post this, June 22, 2003, the Associate Press reports that, “Cosmetics heir and former fugitive Andrew Luster left behind a notebook in Mexico in which he apparently seeks to justify the assaults that led to his rape conviction.” This “great-grandson of Hollywood makeup legend Max Factor took three women to his seaside home… and attacked them after giving them the so-called date-rape drug GHB. Some of the encounters were videotaped.” One passage read: “Yes they [his victims] were in an extreme state of inebriation… But this - as any actively sexual person (player) knows is not outside the grounds of ethical play…” Ideas have consequences.

    Instead of a substantive response, you answered my second question with another question. Zakath, didn’t your mother teach you to avoid bad habits:

    BQ2: Does absolute moral right and wrong exist?
    ZA2 / ZQ5: “What do you mean by absolute right and absolute wrong?”
    BA5: An absolute wrong is a harm that cannot be justified.

    If a doctor tries to save a woman, but she does not survive the surgery, his incision into her neck may have finally killed her, but the condition of the action shows no guilt; if he made the incision in order to kill her to steal her gold teeth, the condition shows guilt. If a man gives someone truly in need money for a meal, he does a good; but if he gives money to an addict to buy drugs in hopes of him overdosing, he does harm. When you said child rape was wrong, you meant, for you, wrong in your opinion, or in some particular groups’ opinion, meaning that yours is just one opinion among others, among valid opinions one of which that can defend all child rape. I say that if someone rapes a child, they do wrong. Period. Go ahead, “apply conditioner and repeat,” I dare you.

    BQ2 is far more loaded than BQ1, because at this point in the debate, truth might theoretically show that there is no God and no authority above mankind; but as you rightly agreed with Knight in TheologyOnline Battle Royale II, absolute right and wrong would require a standard that transcends every man and every society (this I openly admitted upfront when asking my question, for I don’t need to trick you or catch you off guard). So, while we can say much more about this topic, you’ll save us all time by just answering, “No,” to BQ2. Otherwise, you will be forced into a secondary hypothesis of some non-deity authority over all mankind, and that would become messy.

    Again, an absolute wrong is a harm that cannot be justified. Justified by what? By the demands of justice. One of the demands of criminal justice is equity in punishment, for example, it would be wrong to punish a woman for petty theft by executing her. Any conditioner left in that bottle?

    So, my second question for you is once again: does absolute moral right and wrong exist?

    Origin of the Natural Universe

    I warned against atheists rationalizing complexity by introducing more complexity, yet in proposing an origin for the universe, you offer atheist Stephen Hawking’s theory “allowing the existence of infinite numbers of parallel universes.” You struggle to explain the origin of our universe without contradicting basic laws of science, and so you take on the same task for, say, 42 billion universes.

    Zakath, I think you have misunderstood some of my arguments, so I am going to clarify them for you. If you find error in the clarification, I will be grateful if you can identify it. But please don’t just ignore the clarification and continue to repeat the mischaracterizations of my evidence. You have accused me of using ignorance as evidence. I agree with you that ignorance is no evidence. I can’t explain how gravity works, or why interior designers use odd-numbered groupings, or why vanilla ice cream outsells chocolate, but none of this ignorance, no ignorance, can reasonably be used as evidence for God. And if you ever find me doing such a thing, I will appreciate getting flagged. My evidence to you was not based upon what we don’t know, but upon what we do know, with the claim that your naturalistic time and chance proposals cannot work because they contradict what we do know. That’s not ignorance for evidence, that’s applying knowledge. If you can identify how I am misapplying knowledge, please do so. But don’t say that I’m arguing from ignorance. Instead, show me how I’ve incorrectly applied knowledge.

    For example, I said that there were only three options for the origins of the universe, and that you cannot logically identify a fourth. Either the natural universe was always here, or it popped into existence by itself from nothing, or a supernatural creator made it. Eschewing the third, you went with a combination of, I don’t know / but “there is evidence… that the universe could very likely (greater than 95% probability) have come into being without external agency or cause.” Appearing from nothing smacks into the well-tested physical law that states that matter cannot be created (First Law) nor destroyed (but it can be transformed from or into energy). Atheists choose to contradict this most fundamental law of science because they just cannot find a fourth alternative for the origination of the universe. And you can not find a fourth alternative, not because you just haven’t found it yet, but because there is no logical possibility of a fourth alternative. It has either always been here, has popped up, or has been made. So, while you cannot even find words to describe a fourth alternative, I can find a word for something popping into existence from nothing: magic. Magic is not real. And an atheist with a pre-suppositional bias against a supernatural origin of the natural universe must contradict at least one of the first two laws, and so, Stephen does. Hawkings is wrong.

    A scientist can study the properties of a cure-all, and disprove a salesman’s claim that it will heal cancer: “It is only sugar water, don’t believe the claims.” (BA3) The theist applies the most well-tested and fundamental laws of science to eliminate the possibility that the universe has always been here, and that it has come from nothing, and then logic forces us to the only remaining alternative: creation. Contrariwise, the atheist hopes against the most confirmed science that something can come from nothing: blind faith. You wrote that Hawking’s theory: “implies that it is highly probable that a universe with our characteristics will come into existence without a cause.” Sure, why not. From nothing. 42 billion times. Typically, with humanoids. (After all, how could Captain Kirk encounter so many life forms unless they were likely?)

    Excuse me for indulging myself, but I just have to quote the rest of your paragraph. I won’t comment. I’ll just revel in the words: “Hawking’s theory is based on assigning numbers to all possible universes. All of the numbers cancel out except for a universe with features our universe possesses. For example, contains intelligent organisms such as humans. This remaining universe has a certain probability very high -- near to a hundred percent -- of coming into existence uncaused.”

    Your next paragraph contradicts your point that “the universe could… have come into being without external agency or cause.” For then you quote Quentin Smith explaining Hawking’s theory that a pre-existing hypersphere less than “10^-33 centimeters in radius… explodes in a Big Bang…” If the cosmos preexisted, even though “smaller than the nucleus of an atom,” it still pre-existed and did not “come into being.” Thus, you are trying to have it both ways, it popped into existence from nothing, and it was always here. Were you aware that both you and Quentin have adopted this doublespeak from Hawking himself? Let me quote his “Origin of the Universe:”

    “This inflation was a good thing, in that it produced a universe… expanding at just the critical rate to avoid recollapse. The inflation was also a good thing in that it produced all the contents of the universe, quite literally out of nothing. When the universe was a single point, like the North Pole, it contained nothing. Yet there are now at least 10 to the 80 particles in the part of the universe that we can observe. Where did all these particles come from? The answer is, that Relativity and quantum mechanics, allow matter to be created out of energy, in the form of particle anti particle pairs. So, where did the energy come from, to create the matter? The answer is, that it was borrowed, from the gravitational energy of the universe.”

    What universe? Hawking was speaking of the event that “produced a universe.” And he draws the energy for that event “from the gravitational energy of the universe.” Sorry. Hawkings is wrong.

    Besides, without a mind to make a decision as to when to do something, natural forces mindlessly move forward. And the physical forces that would bring about Hawking’s Big Bang would have expressed themselves infinitely further into the past than he needs them to. So then he’s stuck in an embarrassing perpetual motion machine (Second Law).

    So, my third question this post is a true or false question: There are only three theoretical alternatives to the origin of the universe. True or False?

    Origin of Life

    On complexity, my full warning was: “A toddler gets away with his ignorance explaining that bread comes from the store, but I will not accept an adult’s rationalization of complexity by his introducing even more complexity.” So what did you go and do? I asked you to explain how pre-cell life forms could be simpler than cells, and you gave us the example of viruses. Viruses are less complex than cells, but they require cells for viability, and thus, a viral system is significantly more complex than a cell. Quantify the increased complexity by adding the viruses’ complexity (V, where V > 0) to the cell’s complexity (C). Thus C+V > C. Oops.

    Now, I’m not using Jedi mind tricks, putting out bait, nor laying traps, but if you keep doing things like this, our audience will think someone’s throwing the battle intentionally to cover the spread.

    Zakath, since the sudden appearance of something as sophisticated as a cell is implausible even to the almost infinitely credulous evolutionist, you accepted the challenge, by choosing to answer 4(b), of describing the functional simplicity of pre-cell forms. Then you went the other way. And the added complexity problem you introduced with viruses applies also to prions, prions being misfolded proteins which, when present in a cell cause other similar proteins to break, producing disease. Theists do believe in disease, you know, and broken proteins don’t explain simplified pre-cell functionality. Then you said, “I am the wrong person to ask to give detailed explanations about the biochemistry behind protolife.” Is that the absolutely wrong, or just the relatively wrong person? I’d like to know because I’m somewhat stuck in that you are the only person I get to query in this very small Room 7709. So, perhaps you can search some of the best atheist and evolutionist sites over the next 48 hours (you still have 48 hours don’t you… you haven’t wasted much time getting to this problem I hope) and find out if anyone has ever conceived of a way to simplify the functionality of biological life forms. I specifically told you I didn’t want a “detailed explanation.” I asked you to explain just conceptually how multiple, symbiotic precursor life forms could reduce the complexity, i.e., simplify, the basic requirements of life.

    So, let me refine BQ4 down to two choices (since you’ve already narrowed it by selecting (b) in ZA4. Zakath will either:
    a) admit that he was unable to devise or find any explanation of the theoretical reduced complexity in pre-cell life forms; or,
    b) he will explain that functional simplicity, not in detail, but only broadly, covering just the utmost basic descriptions of the needs of biological life, including its need:
    * its need to separate itself from its outside environment
    * its need for communication between its subsystems
    * its need to produce hundreds of intricate compounds
    * its need to repair damaged components
    * its need to selectively admit raw materials from outside
    * its need to expel waste, and paramount,
    * its need to reliably reproduce itself.


    That’s it. Just simplify that list for us. Perhaps the precursor life did not need to process raw materials, or perhaps it never expelled its waste (maybe it just always had that bloated feeling), or maybe it couldn’t reproduce (no, that wouldn’t work). Well, maybe… you get the idea. Simplify. Reduce the complexity. Just conceptually. But you can’t. It’s the same problem with the origin of the universe. Some problems have no solutions. Science should help us identify unsolvable problems. But this is a benefit of science the atheist flees from, because he holds out eternal hope for demonstrably unachievable goals. If this is not true, feel free to provide me with any conceivable scientific evidence that would cause you to conclude that life could not spontaneously originate. I will be happy to do the converse at your request. Remember, I’m not talking about evidence from ignorance. (BA3) I’m talking about applying knowledge to see the functional limitations in systems and laws. That’s a scientific proposition, no? My 19-year-old, sometimes difficult teenager, told me last month that he is learning that oftentimes, there are many ways of doing things wrong, but only one way of doing them right.

    In your paragraph on Abiogenesis, you throw out ideas, authors, systems, and terms which the average reader will be unfamiliar with. It will be splendid if you have learned from all that enough to answer the above question, preferably in English. Your paragraph explains Abiogenesis “proceeding along recognized biochemical pathways” and you “suggest… the study of metasystems,” representing “that simple chemicals develop into polymers, some of which are self replicating or autocatalytic,” which interact with each other forming hypercycles,” which in turn “form protobionts,” with “natural selection allow[ing] some protobionts to express more and more cellular characteristics over time…” and so the audience “might want to read Carl Woese…” I’m sure they would. Meanwhile, could you take the knowledge you gained from all this, and please answer question four.

    Atheists typically guess that life began with much simpler proteins than we have today; a few think DNA started everything; some mix these first two (they’re closer of course); RNA has garnered much attention; there have been votes for the cell barrier first and for life beginning in clay crystals; many think perhaps it began in the primordial sea, but some have suggested under ice in “cold soup,” or in warm water near volcanic vents, or in high heat deep in the Earth’s crust; and popular, with RNA being so complex, some suppose a pre-RNA world or PNA for peptide nucleic acid, for pre-precellular life; and finally, perhaps in outer space via aliens. Of course, none of this comes within a light-year of answering the above, simply put, conceptually basic, question which we are all waiting for you to answer.

    When atheists realize they will not be able to simplify the complexity of the cell, they will either join Crick, Hoyle, and the aliens; or go for the Hopeful Cell Theory (also called Punctuated Cellebrity). Of course, Crick and Hoyle never explained how to reduce the complexity for life to begin on Alderon either. So, I guess like the number of parallel universes, credulity can expand infinitely.

    New Business

    Since three of my original four questions were left unanswered (BQ1, BQ2, BQ4), and I’ve narrowed a couple questions under Old Business, I have decided not to expand the debate to new topics yet. And Zakath, if you will directly answer my questions, then I hope we will be able to eventually get to the nature of God. But, we must walk before we can run, and I won’t let you avoid issues with diversions by racing ahead.

    Question Summary

    BQ1. Does truth exist? a) Yes b) No c) I don’t know

    BQ2. Does absolute moral right and wrong exist? a) Yes b) No c) I don’t know

    BQ5. There are only three theoretical alternatives to the origin of the universe. a) True b) False
    If B, explain and please list: _________________________________________________

    BQ6. Zakath either: a) admits he is unable to produce any explanation of the theoretical reduced complexity of pre-cell life; or b) address bold points above, broadly explains such functional simplicity,
    If B, please explain: __________________________________________________ _____

    Sincerely, Bob Enyart

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    Never, never, never give up. Knight's Avatar
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    DING DING DING that's it for round #2!!

    Fantastic battle so far! Thanks to both contestants for their efforts. Only 8 more posts to go for each combatant!
    Last edited by Knight; June 23rd, 2003 at 04:56 PM.
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