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In his fifth post alone, Pastor Enyart raises eighteen discrete questions for consideration while answering only one of mine… Which one, you ask? Well, after five posts containing more words (>16,500) than the John's Gospel in Greek (about 15,600), Pastor Enyart finally unveils (metaphorically speaking, of course) what his absolute standard of morality is. According to Pastor Enyart, the absolute standard of morality is: (drum roll please )
Pastor Enyart chided me severely for either ignoring or not understanding his answer to the questions asking him to show us his absolute standard of morality. He told us in his Post #5 thatHe kindly provides us an exact quotation of his words. So I looked back in his posts and how many times do you suppose the phrase "God's own righteous standard" appears as an answer to my question?"… I have previously answered that the absolute moral standard is God’s righteous nature, which is “God’s own righteous standard,”
If it was five times, I could understand his exasperation. If it were three or four, I could see him being a bit peeved. Perhaps if it was twice, I could understand him being mildly miffed. But do you know how many times these quoted words appear in his first four posts?
If you guessed once, you'd be wrong. The answer is not at all. Pastor Enyart has manufactured the alleged quotation from thin air (or since this is the Internet, perhaps we should say "thin ether"). Why? Only Pastor Enyart knows why he would do such a thing.
So did Pastor Enyart actually refer to his deity as the source of absolute right and wrong in his first four posts? No. He implied it. Well, kind of. He mentioned it exactly once. In his first post as part of a hypothetical statement.So that’s nice. Now we know where Pastor Enyart believes it came from – his God. But there is still the need for those of us who are not followers of his deity to be shown the standard that comes from the deity. So, over and over, I asked Pastor Enyart to show us the standard. Last post he finally replied:For, if there is an absolute Originator, then logically, an absolute moral standard would have originated with Him.So, Pastor Enyart claims that his deity is the standard. It should be a simple matter then, to show us the standard behind his alleged absolute right and wrong by showing us his God."I follow God, and He is the standard you ask for. "
At this juncture, dear reader, you might be asking yourself, "I though Pastor Enyart's God was a person?" (Admittedly a very BIG, very important, very powerful person; but a person nonetheless.) How can a person be an absolute moral standard?
So that is another question we are left with for Pastor Enyart – how can a person, even a god, be an absolute moral standard?
Unfortunately since all we have is a name (YHWH), we still need to discern what the standard is.
- Will the philosophy that Pastor Enyart has argued tell us? I think not.
Will the astrophysics that Pastor Enyart has argued tell us? I think not.
Will the biology that Pastor Enyart has argued tell us? I think not.
Will the psychology that Pastor Enyart has tried to argue tell us? I know it doesn't. (I'm a psychologist )
So, Pastor Enyart. You've pointed to your deity as the absolute moral standard. But wait one minute here…
Wasn't the entire debate supposed to be centered on arguing the existence of deity? What you've done is presented us with a logical quandary. To simplify it, it looks like this:
Enyartian Argument of Absolute Moral Standards as a Proof of God's Existence
1. Pastor Enyart asserts that an absolute moral standard exists.
- Now we must realize that Pastor Enyart has yet to prove that an absolute moral standard exists. He has provided weak evidence, in the illustration of the human conscience which both law enforcement and psychology have demonstrated is not universal either in its occurrence in the human species or in it's expression of moral standards. But in his last post he makes a the astounding assertion that becomes premise #2.
2. Pastor Enyart asserts that the absolute moral standard is his deity.
- Again, Pastor Enyart asserts something is so without offering a single shred of evidence or proof either for the existence of his deity or that his deity actually is the alleged absolute standard.
3. Pastor Enyart asserts that an absolute moral standard is evidence for the existence of his deity.
- Since Pastor Enyart has not proven the existence of such a standard, merely asserted it, this premise is unsubstantiated.
So what is our conclusion supposed to be "Therefore: Pastor Enyart's God exists"?
Unfortunately, the only logical conclusion I can draw is that this is merely a demonstration of the logical fallacy of circular reasoning. On the other hand it could be that Pastor Enyart is bluffing by always asserting that the truth lies behind his premises, but never quite displaying it. Either way, it doesn't work.
Let's move on to his other non-arguments…
In his last post, Pastor Enyart spends a considerable amount of energy and words (over 80% of the post) attempting to discuss science. Unfortunately for all his readers, Pastor Enyart is neither a good scientist or a good technical researcher. His long maunderings are not only tedious but erroneous, as well. For example, he tries to tie a famous Abiogenesis experiment, the flies and meat, to Louis Pasteur. If Pastor Enyart actually knew the history of microbiology and was not merely paraphrasing from an undisclosed secondary source, he would know that the experiment to which he refers is known as the Redi experiment, named for Francesco Redi who demonstrated that flies did not arise spontaneously from meat almost two hundred years before Pasteur.
Pastor Enyart continues with a torrent of questions,The reader should remember that only two hundred years ago, science could not provide a means to save a human from rabies. No scientist in the world could have told you how. Today we can and do.Could science ever conceivably close the gap between the observation of biological life, and that the first life must have arisen naturally? Could science ever theoretically close the gap between the observation of the universe, and that the universe must have originated naturally? Could science ever close the gap between the observation of consciousness, and that self-awareness must have arisen naturally? Will the atheist admit that these are theoretical possibilities?... Zakath, can science possibly discover real limitations of matter, energy, and natural processes? Here’s a psychology experiment: As an atheist, can you admit that you would rather not think about the limits of natural processes? Can you admit a bias in which you would be slower to recognize a scientific limitation of nature than would a theist?
One hundred years ago mankind could not fly in heavier than air craft. No serious practitioner of engineering science could build a successful heavier-than-air craft. Today, any sufficiently determined hobbyist may build such craft.
Fifty years ago mankind could only dream of human feet touching the moon, of world wide portable telephonic communication, of pace makers to stabilize ailing hearts, of cloning plants and animals, of using recombinant genetics to treat diseases. Today, all those things have happened. I would suggest that, based on the record of scientific achievement over the last three hundred years alone that it is not infeasible that scientists (or even amateurs, as we remember the Wright brothers during their 100th anniversary year of their first flight) might pierce the veil of ignorance and provide the means to move from non-life to life. But just as the people who lived twenty years before Pasteur couldn't describe how a vaccine was made, let alone how it worked, neither can I describe the mechanisms and processes yet to be uncovered by future exploration.
Pastor Enyart's science questions are all interesting questions. If this was a debate about the future of science, they would even be good questions. Ones that, presumably, will be answered someday. But in the context of this debate, they are distractions from the single question we are here to discuss – does God exist? Since they are merely distractions, not one of them will be answered here. Thus, not to aid Pastor Enyart in using his focus on the less than omniscient nature of scientific investigation as a diversionary tactic, I will postpone considering them until my last post. (I will meet similar future attempts likewise.)
If Pastor Enyart desires, he can generate a hundred more questions for my consideration. But if they do not serve to solve the question of whether or not deity exists, I will not address them here. The problem is that none of this endless palaver about science is helping to assess the question we came here to answer: DOES GOD EXIST?
Later, much later, Pastor Enyart brings up this interesting question:In keeping with my general promise above, since this is a science question, I'll not answer it except to make the following general comment. An important characteristic of a scientific theory or hypotheis is that it be "falsifiable". This means that there must be an experiment or possible discovery that could prove the theory untrue. For example, Einstein's theory of Relativity made predictions about the results of experiments. These experiments could have produced results that contradicted Einstein, so the theory was (and still is) falsifiable.Zakath, could science conceivably ever falsify natural origins by closing the gap for the origin of the universe and biological life, showing conclusively that natural processes themselves cannot account for such origins?
Unfortunately, Pastor Enyart's theory of divine origins is not falsifiable and is thus essentially unscientific. One cannot prove that his God was there or responsible for the origins of the universe. Nor can he devise an experiment to falsify his theory. Or can he…
The last item I'd like to discuss in this section is Pastor Enyart's assertion that his examples of NAZI murder and the murders at a local Denver area high school somehow refute the notion that conscience is not existent or functioning in sociopathic persons. I don't understand how either example demonstrates functional conscience, which flies in the face of the good pastor's assertion that they somehow indicates "that all the billions of functioning human beings, even the wicked, have a conscience."
Argument from Non-Belief (ANB)
In my last post, I presented and explained the Argument from Non-Belief and how it supports the atheistic position. Surprisingly enough, instead of attempting to refute the argument, Pastor Enyart refuses to address it, until after I have made my final post:Pastor Enyart, please correct me if I am reading this wrong, but it sounds to me as if you are saying that if I make any argument that uses your scriptures that you will refuse to address it until after I am no longer able to refute an argument you present., I will postpone answering it until my last post. (I will meet similar future attempts likewise.)
Surprisingly enough, it appears that the good pastor is afraid to use the BibleSince I was debating someone who is allegedly a Christian, I merely used the Bible to clarify why my premises were true (at least from a Christian's point of view). If Pastor Enyart had been a Muslim, I would have used the Qu'ran. Why do you suppose that a Christian pastor would refuse to use one of the few textual sources in the world that allegedly clearly supports his arguments for the existence of his deity?… I will avoid specifically Scriptural arguments and for the benefit of the readers, stick to the debate topic of Does God Exist? … I think readers can recognize Zakath’s instance of the Argument from Non-Belief as an attempt to divert the debate into a wide-ranging discussion of the Bible…
That said, I'll proceed to my next argument, without citing any specific portions of the Bible…
The Argument from Confusion (AC)
This argument, a little more complicated than the previous Argument from Non-Belief (ANB), consists of four premises:
1. Christians are confused in that:
- A. They disagree with one another about a variety of important doctrinal issues including the nature of God, God's Law (e.g. which kinds of killing are acceptable within the law), the role of sacraments, requirements for salvation, role of Church hierarchy, the place of the Jew and the nation of Israel, the sequence of end-time events, and the status of the Bible, to name a few.
B. The Bible contradicts itself on these doctrinal matters, is exceedingly unclear in many important areas, and contains errors which make it appear to be merely manmade work.
C. Different copies of the Hebrew and Greek biblical manuscripts say conflicting things. Even the biblical canon involves disputes and appears to be arbitrary.
D. There is no objective procedure for settling any of these many disputes, especially since the original manuscripts of the Bible have been lost, there is no public declaration from God that would resolve any of them.
2. If God were to exist, then he would love all Christians and want that love reciprocated. He would also strongly desire that, here on earth, Christians become aware of, and be clear about those aspects of his nature and system of governance that have importance to their lives.
3. Hence, if god were to exist, then he would prevent Christians from becoming confused in their beliefs about his nature and system of governance in ways that have importance to their lives and that interfere with them coming to love him.
4. But Christians have not been prevented from becoming confused in those ways. The forms of disagreement mentioned in premise (1), above, are examples.
Therefore, God does not exist.
I offer this argument without specific reference to any scriptures to assist Pastor Enyart in dealing with the argument itself without having to deal with the distractions of discussing the validity of the Bible.
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.
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Does God Exist?
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Zakath, thank you for correcting me on mistaking Louis Pasteur for another theist, Francesco Redi, who first disproved the spontaneous generation of maggots. Pasteur expanded on Redi’s work by experimentally disproving the spontaneous generation of microbes, thus disappointing atheists. I do appreciate the correction which leaves my argument fully intact, and I look forward to your last post in which you implied you might answer my God of the Gaps rebuttal questions, which address your primary argument.
You wrote, “Pastor Enyart has manufactured the alleged quotation from thin air” when your search didn’t produce a previous source for my 5b quote:
“God’s own righteous standard,” whereas what I had written in 4b was:
“[God’s] own righteous standard,” from which I removed my own clarifying brackets when repeating this for the third time after previously substituting ‘God’ for ‘His’ for reader comprehension. Zakath, trying to understand why we wasted time on all this, I believe that I should have been more clear, but at first it didn’t dawn on me that as a former Christian pastor that you could have misunderstood my view that the absolute moral standard is God's own goodness, so I just assumed that you were being difficult, but below I illustrate a possible source of the confusion.
Then, I had specifically stated in 5b: “While I have presented some arguments as proof for God, for now, I have presented conscience as just evidence, not as full-fledged proof.” But you headlined half your 6a post as the “Enyartian Argument of Absolute Moral Standards as a Proof of God's Existence.” Oops. And that followed my 4b comment: “Human conscience is not all the evidence we have for an absolute moral standard, but it provides strong evidence… evidence is used to establish proof. You only need one proof, but it may consist of two or three pieces of evidence.”
Also in this post I add proof for a Creator from broad features of the solar system and I address Zakath’s vague question about the physics of a supernatural creation while responding to his continued assertion that theism results from scientific impatience and ignorance.
Bob’s Questions to Zakath
BQ14 – BQ19 all unanswered, including those about gaps, falsifying his arguments on absolutes and origins, and the ill effects of shoving truth into someone’s face.
Zakath’s Questions to Bob
ZQ15: Pastor Enyart, how can a person, even a god, be an absolute moral standard?
BA15: Atheists understand this golf quote easily enough: “Tiger Woods set the standard,” (SI, 12-02). Similarly God, being loving and just, defines the absolute standard which requires love and justice (examples: love your neighbor and the punishment should fit the harm done). Of course we can expand on this, but this much completely answers your question.
ZQ16: Regarding NAZI and Columbine murderers, how can “either example demonstrate functional conscience?”
BA16: From my post 4b: “People who violate the demands of conscience, in an effort to appease it, attempt to justify their own actions. Whereas if they had no conscience, they would have no compelling need to justify themselves. For example, Dylan Klebold, Adolf Hitler… endeavor to justify their actions... trying to appease their conscience… For your conscience generates an inescapable urge to weigh moral actions on the scale of justice. And it gnaws at you…” Without a conscience, they could have simply killed people without offering justification, but these along with a million of the worst criminals repent from, defend, or deny their actions. And even those who deny having any conscience inherently feel wronged when lied to or stolen from, and yes, “even the wicked have a conscience.” You seem to confuse the ideas of conscience and coercion, and distinguishing these will help you better understand mankind.
ZQ17: Respond to Zakath’s Argument from Confusion (AC).
BA17: Just as I offered to address your Non-Belief (ANB) problem, I will similarly try to help with your problems of confusion and moral knowledge (MKAA). In BQ19, I stated, “Zakath, if you really want us to pursue further your Moral Knowledge Argument for Atheism, then please address my prior BA9 answer… on the negative consequences of shoving truth into someone’s face.” FYI, BA9 addresses ANB, AC, and MKAA, OK? For my part, I have already answered this alphabet soup in BA9 and with this from 3b: “Why would we have more disagreement regarding God than regarding the Earth’s approximate circumference? Why? Because more [people] have more at stake regarding the topic of God than they do about the 24,901-mile equator… our world is full of hurt and suffering, and much of it is inflicted by people upon others, and oftentimes, even upon our own friends and family members. And if a God of justice exists, then there are quite a few [people] that will be held accountable for hurting others, many guilty of hurting even their own wives and children. And so, as the field of view focuses on the judgment of men’s actions, of their characters, and even of themselves as human beings, we should expect to see an increasing refusal to incorporate other frames of reference, and even a denial of objects observed in our own fields of view (such as the aggregate hurt we have inflicted upon others). Thus, the closer the topic comes to [a just] God, the more hesitancy, resistance, dishonesty and even fear, you [should] expect.”
ZQ18: Pastor Enyart “cannot… devise an experiment to falsify… that his God was there or responsible for the origins of the universe.”
BA19: I can falsify my claim. The falsification test does not require simplicity, but possibility. Think of an investigation that might falsify not a physical law but an historical event, say a 1960s criminal conviction, with now available DNA evidence; such possible falsification was not easy for mankind to achieve, but it was theoretically possible. In Battle Royale VII, we are debating Does God Exist? and the existence of any God would invalidate atheism, but as the Tale of the Tape and Zakath informs people, I, Bob Enyart, am a Christian, the pastor of Denver Bible Church. Of all the religions I know of, Christians can most concretely falsify their God, for we worship Jesus Christ. Even atheists agree with the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:14 writing that Christianity is false “if Christ is not risen.” Here is my falsification test: if an archaeological or historical investigation proved from the evidence that Christ did not rise from the dead, then my God was not there at creation, for He doesn’t exist. Thus properly weighing the evidence for Christ’s resurrection can most efficiently invalidate the world’s largest religion or all the others. Notice that Christian theists for 2,000 years have been willing to show our beliefs as falsifiable, while atheists like Zakath resist this basic intellectual discipline either through fear or because they cannot even do so.
ZQ10: Continued request for evidence for God.
BA10-5: Below I add my fifth line of evidence for a supernatural Creator marked by (ZQ10-5) showing that neither a swirling cloud of gas nor any other natural process could have created our solar system.
ZQ12: Explain the physics of a supernatural creation.
BA12: My 3b summary answer is repeated and expanded right here:
Recall Zakath’s post 3a question ZQ12: “Let’s hear the explanation for the physics behind Pastor Enyart’s God as creator and perhaps this atheist will reconsider his disbelieving position.”
Here’s my BA12 summary: “A natural explanation for the universe is limited to natural possibilities; a supernatural Creator is not limited by the laws of the natural universe, and so could bring matter and energy into existence from nothing.” I now add that a supernatural Creator could create from nothing without even a seeming contradiction of natural law. So Zakath, have you reconsidered your atheism since hearing that natural law has no jurisdiction over a supernatural Creator?
We know that whatever the natural law says, it says to those entities which are under the law. Natural law governs only the natural sphere and has no logical jurisdiction over a supernatural Creator. Many atheists believe that all matter could have come from nothing by itself but could not have been created out of nothing by something non-material. Go figure.
Apparent contradictions exist between natural law and natural origins. But Zakath, your question implies that you think there is some challenge in, or an obvious contradiction between, the origin of the natural universe and the existence of a supernatural Creator. I can think of none. If you can identify some conflicts, or even just one, please present such. The following will lead to a question on this:
Institutional science today has a passionate anti-supernatural bias and lacks even a willingness to debate creationism. And most scientists now surveyed respond that they reject God as the explanation for origins, and a large percent are atheist or agnostic. However, before the a priori rejection of a supernatural realm, many brilliant men of science defended creationism as the intellectual solution to the dilemma of existence. My own list of defenders of creationism are fathers of science whom I have catalogued partly from my perusing their original writings in the Encyclopedia Britannica Great Books series, partly from reading their quotes elsewhere, and a few from third-party references.
So here is my own list of fathers of the physical sciences who rejected natural origins:
Philip Paracelsus, died 1541, Chemical Medicine
Nicolas Copernicus, 1543, Scientific Revolution
Francis Bacon, 1626, Scientific Method
Johann Kepler, 1630, Physical Astronomy
Galileo Galilei, 1642, Law of falling bodies
William Harvey, 1657, Circulatory System
Blaise Pascal, 1662, Probability and Calculators
Robert Boyle, 1691, Chemistry
Isaac Newton, 1727, Gravitation
Carolus Linnaeus, 1778, Taxonomy
George Cuvier, 1832, Anatomy/Paleontology
John Dalton, 1844, Atomic Theory
For those who object that these brilliant men lived prior to the 1859 publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species, consider the following scientific giants all of whom in a time of more open debate, publicly rejected natural origins and Darwinian evolution, and indicated that the evidence supports belief in a supernatural Creator:
Michael Faraday, 1867, Electromagnetism
Gregor Mendel, 1884, Genetics
Louis Pasteur, 1885, Microbiology
James Joule, 1889, Thermodynamics
Lord Kelvin, 1907, Thermodynamics
Joseph Lister, 1912, Modern Surgery
G. W. Carver, 1943, Modern Agriculture
The many modern scientists and inventors, from the Wright Brothers (aviation) to Werhner von Braun (space exploration), from Raymond Damadian (MRI) to Los Alamos’ John Baumgardner (Terra geophysical simulator), to the 650 voting members with post-graduate scientific degrees at the Creation Research Society, and the above listed fathers of science show that great intellect also sides with the theistic explanation of origins. An atheist who mocks theism for being anti-intellectual is ignorant or worse. On an a priori bias, today’s scientific community dismisses creationism without debate and without even considering the merits of its technical arguments. Institutional science will look for aliens (SETI) and declare intelligent life in outer space if they detect a few prime numbers out there, but it refuses to debate scientists with extensive mathematical evidence for creation in the genetic code.
Medieval academics were intellectually enslaved to the geo-centrism of pagans Aristotle and Ptolemy. They had no justification to shut down debate on heliocentricity, and had only misinterpreted evidence on their side. Today’s institutional science, enslaved by its political correctness, similarly has no justification to shut down creation debate, lacking evidence for its own presupposition that the universe, biological life, or consciousness could arise naturally. If scientific academic debate on creation were permitted today, Zakath being well read might have realized that ZQ12 on creation physics was a non-challenge. Here’s another kicker: you cannot even find the context or the terms in which to frame a serious challenge regarding the physics of creation.
But don’t feel inept. The brilliant scientists listed above knew of no apparent contradiction either between natural law and a supernatural creation. And neither do today’s atheist scientists. But just to illustrate that the scientific advance of the last decades has not discovered a scientific or rational contradiction between the laws of physics and a Creator, I will officially ask you this: Zakath, can you identify any apparent contradiction between a supernatural Creator bringing the universe into existence from nothing, and the natural laws of physics?
I predict that Zakath can offer no answer for this question, which silence will belie his post 3a comment that, “The Problem of God as the Creator also essentially begs the question he raises about the violations of the laws of thermodynamics at the Creation. How did Pastor Enyart’s God create matter and energy from nothing?” To show the absurdity of atheists commonly making this non-challenge, I offer these back-to-back questions:
Do many atheists think it is possible that the universe came into existence from nothing?
Do many atheists think it is impossible that the universe came into existence from nothing by an outside Creator?
Zakath, I know you agree that we theists are not infallible, and in this long paragraph, I will address an error theists commonly make regarding the origin of the physical laws. Perhaps this will help you or some other atheist by removing this unnecessary hurdle which many Christians likely have put in front of you. God created the material universe, and the physical laws are simply the inherent properties of that universe, which properties we reduce to words in order to understand the functions of nature. The physical laws do not exist unto themselves, as though you could isolate one or see it with a microscope. Also, these laws are not arbitrary, as though they could have been any different. God could have made matter that exhibited different laws, but then He would have made a different universe. When He created the space and matter that He did, God did not then need to ‘invent’ a law of momentum. Rather, momentum is simply an inherent property of matter relating to mass and velocity, which we then reduce to a description; thus momentum describes the innate behavior of the kind of matter God created. God could have created different subatomic particles, and thus different kinds of atoms. If He had created matter without electrically charged particles, then that matter would have behaved differently. If He had done so, H20 might not exhibit the capillary action that lifts water against gravity to nourish tree tops. If He had made a different kind of water, then it might have behaved like most other compounds which contract when cooled and expand when heated, but then ice would be heavier than liquid water and so lakes would freeze from the bottom up killing all their fish. God comprehended the laws which would come into being, so to speak, attendant to Creation, and so He designed matter in order to achieve the functionality He desired, which functionality is described by those laws. Now here’s the correction of a common Christian error: God created the physical universe, not the physical laws. Some might think this a minor distinction but ignoring it presents an unnecessary stumbling stone to those non-theists like Albert Einstein who think clearly about this, as when he said “God Himself could not have arranged those connections [the physical laws] in any other way than that which factually exists” (Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory, 1992, p. 242). Theists assert wrongly when they say that God could have decreed the laws to be otherwise. God is not a magician. Making the laws arbitrary gives unbelievers like Einstein a valid objection to that part of the theist message. For he rightly rejected this sloppy theist notion that God could arbitrarily establish the physical laws. Perhaps this misconception led to Zakath’s non sequitur question about the physics of creation. Perhaps too, Zakath misunderstood my point that the absolute moral standard comes from God’s nature partly because the same misinformed Christians also say that God created the spiritual laws. He did not. They are a reflection of His nature. Thus, they could not be different than they are. Because God is righteous, the spiritual laws uphold righteousness and condemn evil. Many Christians have unwittingly undermined the holiness of God by suggesting that He can be spiritually arbitrary, because He is God. That’s wrong. God could not do evil (anything against the present description of His nature), and remain holy. He remains Holy because He acts consistent with His nature. God did not have to invent the command against kidnapping, nor the prohibition against perjury. Once He created beings made in His likeness, then the moral and spiritual commands followed automatically from His nature, and they are simply the properties of these beings, prohibiting behavior that inflicts harm and leads toward death. By the way, while spiritual and moral laws are absolutes, any symbolic ordinances that God may issue could be arbitrary, such as feast days which may symbolize spiritual truth. Thus God cannot issue righteous laws which defy His holy nature, for example, prohibiting all love and requiring envy. So, God created physical entities and spiritual beings, but He did not create the physical and spiritual laws.
Zakath, I’d like to know, have you ever heard theists state or imply that the physical and spiritual laws are as they are because God created them that way? On behalf of all Christians who agree with this, I apologize to Zakath and other unbelievers for this unnecessary stumbling stone. This illustrates to me that wrong ideas about God certainly can affect an individual’s decision making, although ultimately, people will reject the just and loving God not because of confusion, but because they oppose His goodness.
The Frenchman Voltaire fabricated a revisionist history of hostility between science and Christianity which has been discredited by most science historians writing today (see Pearcey & Thaxton, Soul of Science, 1994). Heavily Christianized Europe bred men with a commitment to a rational view of the universe; whereas eastern mysticism suggested the universe was an illusion, or maya, which belief stifled scientific inquiry; and in Plato’s myth, the creator imperfectly manipulated stubborn eternal matter, leading the Greeks to expect irrationality from nature; and Aristotle’s and Ptolemy’s insistence of a geo-centric solar system led astronomy into the dark ages until Christianized men founded modern science. The church of the middle ages was intensely Aristotelian in science and philosophy, and so Voltaire blamed the earth-centered cosmology on Christianity, rather than on its well-known pagan Ptolemaic and Aristotelian roots. Further, the enormous atheistic experiments of the Soviet Union and Communist China spent countless billions on high technology, but mostly copied the scientific progress of America, the world’s most fundamentally Christian nation. I am not, here and now, arguing that Christianity is the true religion, which is not necessary in this Battle Royale VII, but only that Christian theism is not the enemy of science as often claimed by atheists. Fundamental scientific discoveries typically give rise to enormous scientific gains, as is true of the discoveries from the above list of Christian (and heavily Christianized) scientists. Thanks to Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo, we accurately navigate the Earth and the solar system. Harvey, Cuvier, and Pasteur opened the floodgates of modern medicine and microbiology. Boyle, Dalton, Faraday, and Joule introduced us to chemistry and electromagnetism, and pointed us toward nuclear energy. Linnaeus, Mendel, and Carver developed the very framework for subsequent study and management of living organisms lasting until today’s latest genetic findings. (Contrast all this with the dearth of scientific discoveries produced directly from the theory of evolution.) And Isaac Newton, considered by science historians the world’s greatest scientist, wrote much on Christian theology interspersing God and science in his work. Newton unleashed centuries of concrete scientific progress leading to technologies from fiber optics to the GPS system with his discoveries of the nature of color by wavelengths of light, differential calculus, mechanics, and universal gravity. In his 1687 work Principia Mathematica, Book Three on The System of the World, Newton wrote of God that “He is eternal and infinite, omnipotent and omniscient, that is, his duration reaches from eternity to eternity: His presence from infinity to infinity: he governs all things, and knows all things that are or can be done.”
Juxtapose the names of these extraordinary scientists with quotes from Zakath’s posts inferring that atheists exhibit superior intelligence compared to the theists who trust in “Big Brother… to solve our problems for us… 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’ … Science differs from the form of narrow fundamentalist thinking [these creationists are] attempting to impose… [Theists have] not provided a single iota more evidence to explain the existence of this deity than has been tendered to explain the existence of Santa Claus.”
Atheists often invalidate the superstitious arguments for God, like the mocking dialogues below, while mostly ignoring the reasoned evidence. That’s convenient. Atheists should think of creationists Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Faraday, and Newton before they join Zakath as he mocks:
Religious Leader: “Can you explain why the sun moves across the sky?”
Lay Person: “Well, no.”
Religious Leader: “Then it must be God, riding his sun chariot.”
And atheists should remember creationists Linnaeus, Cuvier, Mendel, Pasteur, and Carver before ridiculing:
Lay Person: “There’s this black fuzzy growths on the grain heads…”
Religious Leader: “Well how did that black fuzzy stuff get there?”
Lay Person: “I don’t know. I just sort of showed up…”
Religious Leader: “God is responsible…”
Ironically, the world’s atheists first learned why the Sun appears to rise each morning and how to identify and prevent disease in crops, livestock, and people by the work of the creationists listed above.
Now I add features of our solar system as a fifth evidence for a supernatural Creator. Our solar system contains proof that it did not form from a condensing spinning nebula. For example, the Sun contains 99% of the solar system mass and if it formed naturally it should have 99% of the system’s spin but it only has 1% of that momentum, so that if it had formed naturally, then something has virtually stopped the Sun from turning. Also, our system has harmonies in the ratios of distances, sizes, orbits. Our star is 400 times more distant than is our moon, and it also happens to be 400 times larger, which ratios enable a perfect solar eclipse unique to the Earth. No law of physics would drive toward the behavior of two of Saturn’s moons which politely exchange places, nor Jupiter’s moons orbiting with a 1:2:4 harmony, nor Pluto and its moon Charon rotating in opposite directions while keeping their faces toward one another. Then frustrating atheist predictions Venus and many moons rotate backwards, while Venus keeps her same face toward us in the most extraordinary manner. Finally, no natural explanation can account for our own moon’s origin or for its perfect distance from Earth, far enough to avoid daily tidal waves wiping out land animals, and close enough for the oxygenating tides to keep the seas alive.
Zakath, I assume that you and other atheists agree completely with both of these bullets:
• If any natural cause, known or unknown, could originate the Sun, moons and planets, then the solar system would not be proof for a Creator and any gaps in our understanding may one day be filled.
And the converse must be true also that:
• If science has already proved limitations in matter and energy which eliminate nature as the cause of our Solar System, then a supernatural Creator is mandatory.
The Slow Sun: Everything in our solar system is spinning: thousands of heavenly bodies rotating, revolving, orbiting. And atheists currently agree that complex functioning systems cannot appear by chance in one single step (we’ll call this the honeymoon period of atheism). So today’s atheist assumes that a natural process formed the solar system from some swirling nebula, which had been spinning with a huge amount of momentum. They suppose that this swirling nebula condensed into our solar system in which the Sun holds 99.98% of our system’s mass. But then the Sun should possess 99.98% of the spin energy of the solar system. But it doesn’t. It has less than one percent. If atheists had a true commitment to natural process, every one of them would attribute great weight to this most massive feature of our solar system which goes against natural origins, but they generally ignore it. For by natural origins, the law of the Conservation of Angular Momentum would have the Sun spinning hundreds of times faster than its current rate.
Atheists can’t even stop the publication of the Bible, and now they’re trying to find a way to stop the Sun from turning. (I can’t claim they lack zeal.) That is, they must find a natural process that could stop the Sun from spinning, and yet, leave the rest of the solar system merrily on its way. If that is not physically possible, if a naturally condensing Sun’s lack of spin cannot be accounted for by any laws of physics, then that alone is another piece of evidence which itself proves that we have a Creator. The Sun’s spin is a showstopper for atheists. Welcome to the No Spin Zone of the solar system.
So, atheist desperation has launched its own spin, because in this showdown, they must somehow slow the Sun down. They look frantically for a solar brake. And unconstrained by reason or physical laws, they can always come up with something… Well, let’s not count that one. (Aliens again.) So, they keep looking. And they speculate, conjecture, imagine, and dream (all of which is valid). But the best they can do is hope that somehow the Sun reached out to the planets, grabbed onto them, and slowed itself down by speeding them up. But the Sun’s mass compares to the planets as a 499-pound ball compares to a one-pounder. If such an object were spinning in space and tried to slow itself down by magnetically grabbing onto a one-pound ball spinning with it, the most it could do is pull that ball into itself, it simply lacks the mechanisms necessary to transfer its spin into the one pound object floating along with it. For the planets themselves are falling through empty space with the Sun, and it is pulling them along! The atheist hope is tantamount to telling a paratrooper, “instead of using a parachute, just pull up on your shoes as you’re falling to slow yourself down.”
If the Sun coalesced from a spinning nebula, natural law predicts it would have almost all of the spin of our system. And since almost all the rotational force lies outside of the Sun, it therefore could not have coalesced from a spinning nebula. This is one way to show that Newton rightly criticized Descartes for proclaiming this swirling gas cloud theory. Isaac Newton in a letter to a Richard Bentley wrote, “The Cartesian [gas cloud] hypothesis… is plainly erroneous” saying of the solar system that, “I know of no reason [for the motion of the planets] but because the Author of the system thought it convenient.” And all atheists should agree, if there is no natural cause that could slow down the Sun from its original speed and leave the rest of the system spinning as it does, then only a supernatural Creator can account for the solar system.
Life by the Moon: No scientific law would drive toward a 400-to-400 ratio and tune our moon’s perfect placement to accomplish its functions necessary to sustain Earth’s ecosystem. The Earth and moon attract one another by gravity and the Earth’s pull on the moon keeps its heavier side always facing us, and the moon’s pull on the Earth causes the tides in the ocean, which in turn oxygenate the deep. If the moon were much closer it could produce continental tidal waves destroying life on land, but if a bit farther away the tides would cease and plankton and all sea life would die. Add to that perfect placement its plane of orbit, and its extraordinary ratios to the Sun, which is 400 times further away and also 400 times larger, and thus alone of all our system’s moons, it produces a perfect eclipse. Such an eclipse conveys both beauty and knowledge by revealing the Sun’s corona, and it speaks of God’s special attention to Earth and mankind. And the Sun’s size, distance, color, and temperature all match the needs of life on Earth.
Oh, and how could the moon form naturally? The many physical constraints on that possibility so burden conceivable theories that a scientific symposium concluded that the current theory of lunar origins is popular “not… because strong evidence was presented that the Moon was formed by this means, or even that it could have been,” but because the other theories fail even more obviously. At the opposite extreme of error, many of the ancient cultures worshipped the heavenly bodies. And between these two errors, the Christian theistic tradition for millennia has proclaimed “don’t worship the heavenly bodies,” for the Sun, moon, and stars are just lights, created by God.
Of the two worldviews, atheism struggles to explain these lunar observations while theism predicts them. For example, to evaluate the possibility of the Earth’s ecosystem to arise by chance, we must factor in the probability that the moon’s relationship with Earth would also occur by chance. So you take the mathematical possibility of life generating naturally, and multiply that by the probability of our lunar relationship. So let’s try that! For chance to develop one simple protein molecule (which is trillions of times less complex than the simplest living organism), if every atom in the known universe interacted a billion times per second with other atoms, the entire universe couldn’t produce that one protein molecule by chance in a trillion years. And yet, atheists think that not only did that happen, but simultaneously dozens of other kinds of proteins appeared, all right next to each other, and then all the other requirements for life happened (in the same place, and at the same time), and then, of course, all that would still fail to produce our planet’s ecosystem without the extraordinarily unlikely fine-tuned presence of our moon.
Planets and Moons: Saturn’s two moons, Janus and Epimetheus, share the exact same orbits, but they politely exchange places every time they pass each other. When Janus orbits closer in and faster, it catches up to Epimetheus, then they attract one another and switch orbits, so that Janus takes the further out, slower orbit until Epimetheus catches it and the chase starts over again. The “shepherd” moons keep Uranus’ dark and Saturn’s beautiful rings in place. Near collisions could nudge objects out of perfect initial harmonies and we find that Jupiter’s moons exhibit harmony with Ganymede circling almost exactly twice for each orbit of Europa, and Europa almost exactly twice for each orbit of Io, and Pluto orbits almost exactly twice for each of Neptune’s three orbits. Our moon always puts the same face toward Earth, but Pluto and Charon both always show their same face to the other and to do this dance they must rotate in opposite directions. And Venus spins opposite the rest of the solar system (as do Uranus, Pluto, and dozens of moons and satellites including Saturn’s Phoebe and Neptune’s Triton), which frustrates the predictions of a spinning nebula forming our system. And while Venus rotates backwards, check this out, every time she moves between the Earth and the Sun, Venus shows the same face to us, even though neither planet can exert enough gravity to produce that resonance! Such remarkable features of our solar system are obscured by atheistic science curriculums because they speak so forcefully against natural origins.
Zakath, I challenge you to say that the above scientific observations weigh more heavily toward atheism than toward creation. These broad features of the solar system read like a sign pointing to the Creator. Specifically (BA10-5), regarding the slow spin of the Sun, Earth’s ecosystem being enabled by the Sun’s properties and distance, our own moon’s relative size and distance from the Sun and the Earth, and the harmonious orbits of the moons of Saturn and Jupiter, the relationship between Pluto and Charon, and their harmony with Neptune, and the backward spin of Venus while she shows her same face when between us and the Sun, do all these apparently indicate evidence for Creation, or evidence for atheism?
Zakath, please explain what evidence you have to indicate that the above solar system design elements indicate actual gaps that must be filled, rather than imaginary gaps that science already has closed.
God made it easy for the humble to believe He exists, when they look into the eyes of a newborn child. But for the honest skeptic, God has filled creation with proofs of His existence.
BQ20: Zakath, have you reconsidered your atheism since hearing that natural law has no jurisdiction over a supernatural Creator? a) Yes b) No
BQ21: Zakath, can you identify any apparent contradiction between a supernatural Creator bringing the universe into existence from nothing, and the natural laws of physics? a) Yes b) No
If Yes, please explain: _________________________________________________
BQ22: Zakath, do many atheists think it is possible that the entire universe came into existence from nothing? a) Yes b) No
BQ23: Zakath, do many atheists think it is impossible that the entire universe came into existence from nothing by a Creator? a) Yes b) No
BQ24: Zakath, have you ever heard theists state or imply that the physical and spiritual laws are as they are because God created them that way?
BQ25: Zakath, regarding the slow spin of the Sun, Earth’s ecosystem being enabled by the Sun’s properties and distance, our own moon’s relative size and distance from the Sun and the Earth, and the harmonious orbits of the moons of Saturn and Jupiter, the relationship between Pluto and Charon, and their harmony with Neptune, and the backward spin of Venus while she shows her same face when between us and the Sun, do all these apparently indicate evidence for Creation, or evidence for atheism?
BQ26: Zakath, please explain what evidence you have to indicate that the above solar system design elements indicate actual gaps that must be filled, rather than imaginary gaps that science already has closed.
Sincerely, Bob Enyart
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.
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Here we are at Post number 7. After reading his last post, I'm inclined to think that Pastor Enyart is using this debate to test material for a book or some other publication. His latest (and longest?) missive can be divided into five major topics:
- 1. Claiming that sociopathic individuals really are sorry for their crimes otherwise they wouldn't try to justify their actions.
2. A weak rebuttal of the Argument from Confusion
3. A weak example of "falsifying Christianity"
4. A long (very long) list of apparent astronomical anomalies to be answered by, (yes you guessed it) God did it!
5. God's nature defines the absolute standard of right and wrong.
I'll address these topics in order.
1. Sociopaths and Conscience
Pastor Enyart claims that "people who violate the demands of conscience, in an effort to appease it, attempt to justify their own actions." He claims that this attempted justification of their wrongdoing invalidates the observable point that sociopaths do not exhibit functional consciences. While I would agree with him that some sociopaths can be observed attempting to justify their actions, I would propose that he consider that the do so only after they have been apprehended for wrongdoing and are merely doing so to attempt to avoid punishment for those actions. I would suggest that there is strong case law evidence and psychological treatment record evidence to support the view that psychopathic personalities, like sociopaths, do not act out of "conscience" but merely out of self-preservation in another attempt to "beat the system" that has caught them in some crime or other and has finally decided to "make them pay" for their crimes. I'd suggest that Pastor Enyart inquire from his acquaintances in the criminal justice system about how many murdering sociopaths turn themselves in because their consciences are bothering them. I think he'll see how week an argument he presents here.
2. Argument from Confusion (AC)
In response to the Moral Knowledge Argument, the Argument from Non-Belief, and the Argument from Confusion, Pastor Enyart asserts that the confusion, disbelief, and lack of certainty and universality of moral knowledge any honest observer notices in religious circles comes from human's guilt about "the aggregate hurt we have inflicted upon others" and their inability to handle topics dealing with a just God. I will suggest that this is essentially a non-answer. This does not address any of the issues I raised. The idea that the world is filled with a dizzying diversity of contradictory religious forms and deities, that those deities are seemingly unable to clearly communicate their desires, wants, and moral imperatives to humankind and that, in spite of it all no single religion in the world can claim even close to the majority (i.e., greater than 50%) of the world's population as followers after thousands of years of alleged human-deistic interactions seems to fly in the face of all reason and logic.
Pastor Enyart's implied assertion that, somehow, his deity doesn't want to "shove truth in someone's face" is laughable when one considers the past record of a deity that allegedly destroyed most of the human race in a flood, ordered genocide, slaughter of the unborn, and killing of unbelievers. If an invading army beating down your gates and killing every living human in a city isn't "shoving truth in someone's face", then we must have very different views of what that means…
Thus far, he has not refuted any of the three logical arguments presented instead dragging us through endless series of illustrations of "God in the Gaps" apologetics…
3. A weak example of "falsifying Christianity"
When asked to provide an example of how he might bolster the idea that "his god was there or responsible for the origins of the universe", by providing a falsification test he offers the claim of resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth… He states "if an archaeological or historical investigation proved from the evidence that Christ did not rise from the dead, then my God was not there at creation, for He doesn’t exist." Unfortunately, such a test is about as sure a bet as finding a photograph of YHWH at creation. First, the idea of producing a 2000 year dead body of an itinerant Jewish rabbi as support of the validity of his belief is virtually impossible. Primarily due to the issue that there is no way to tell if a particular set of remains was that of Jesus of Nazareth or not. An endless series of claims and counterclaims could be imagined with no scientific resolution possible. If the Christians can't even unanimously agree on something as simple as the location of the tomb of Jesus (there are at least two sites claiming that honor around Jerusalem and IIRC, at least one in India), how could we expect them to agree that a given set of remains was the correct one?
Second, the body of Jesus of Nazareth has nothing to do with the veracity of the religionists' claims of divine intervention at the origins of the universe. People have claimed such things long before Jesus was ever born and will likely claim it long after.
4. A long (very long) list of apparent astronomical anomalies to be answered by, (yes you guessed it) God did it!
As I stated previously, I do not have either the time or the science training to answer Pastor Enyart's listings of anomalies. If he's really curious, I'd suggest he submit his questions to a group of qualified astronomers and see what they come up with…
I did get a chuckle out of Pastor Enyart's' list of "fathers of physical sciences who rejected natural origins". Unfortunately is merely another laughable attempt at presenting an argument based on the fallacy of "appeal to authority". Basically this argument states that, "we don't have any real significant evidence to support our position, so we'll create a list of a bunch of dead religionists and assert they supported our position. Creationists draw up these lists to convince the public that evolution is somehow being rejected by scientists, that it is a "theory in crisis." Most members of the public lack sufficient contact with the scientific community to know that such a claim is totally unfounded.
Well, list making is a fun pastime; one that scientists are fond of pursuing. I recall that American journalist H L Menkin once said , a good horse laugh is worth 1000 syllogisms, so I'll present a competing list for Pastor Enyart's camp to consider. The scientists at the National Center for Science Education (according to Pastor Enyart, he has some passing familiarity with their Executive Director, Dr. Eugenie Scott) came up with their own list. To be qualified for entry onto this list, one must be a living scientist with an earned doctoral degree and voluntarily provide their signature in support the following statement:
As of July 7, 2003, there were 387 signatories to this list. Follow this link for the current count. Perhaps I forgot to mention that the only other qualification to be a member is that the signatory scientist must be named "Steve" (they will also accept, Stephens, Stevens, Stephanies, and Stefans). It's estimated that people named some variant of "Steve" make up about 1 percent of all scientists, so I'll leave the readers to make their own conclusions about the level of support for evolutionary theory among living scientists.Evolution is a vital, well-supported, unifying principle of the biological sciences, and the scientific evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the idea that all living things share a common ancestry. Although there are legitimate debates about the patterns and processes of evolution, there is no serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred or that natural selection is a major mechanism in its occurrence. It is scientifically inappropriate and pedagogically irresponsible for creationist pseudoscience, including but not limited to "intelligent design," to be introduced into the science curricula of our nation's public schools.
5. God's nature defines the absolute standard of right and wrong.
With his claim that "many Christians have unwittingly undermined the holiness of God by suggesting that he can be spiritually arbitrary, because he is God…", Pastor Enyart posts an answer to an argument that I have not yet posted. (His point actually sounds like even more support for my Argument from Confusion). To be fair, I'll now post the argument, Euthyphro's Dilemma, so you can have a bit of context to understand where he's coming from.
More than 2,000 years ago, the Greek philosopher Plato discussed the issue of how ethical standards come from deity and what the different theories mean to theists in his dialogue Euthyphro, a young man of that name meets Socrates. They have a discussion while Euthyphro is on his way to court to act as a sort of "state's attorney" to prosecute a murder case. Unfortunately for Euthyphro, the man he will be prosecuting is his own father. Since the Greeks (and their gods) valued loyalty to family highly, Socrates asks Euthyphro to explain why his prosecution of a family member is not immoral in the sight of the gods. During the ensuing discussion, Euthyphro attempts to defend a position called "divine command theory" of ethics. This theory, apparently held by Pastor Enyart and many other theists, states that we humans know what is good because a deity tells us what is good. If Pastor Enyart does not believe this, I hope he will explain just what he does believe…
Plato's story proceeds to one of Socrates' famous two-point questions (called a dilemma, in Greek):
- a) Is something morally good (pious) because the gods command it? or
b) Is something morally good (pious) because the gods recognize it as good?
In the ensuing twenty centuries, these two questions have become known as Euthyphro's Dilemma. A discussion of these two questions may shed some light on Pastor Enyart's views on the relationship of absolute morals and his deity. Let's begin with the first point; that something is good because God commands it. In essence we are saying that God's will defines what is good…
A. God's will defines good
In this position, the one Pastor Enyart appears to hold, we find that, quite literally, anything goes as long as it is the deity's will. What kinds of things are included in Pastor Enyart's deity's will? He has refused to discuss the Bible, but for most Christians it provides a touchstone for describing the will and nature of the Christian God. According to the Bible, genocide, murdering children, incest, killing the unborn, even stealing virgins for brides are all acceptable acts to God because he ordered them. Remember that the basis of the "divine command theory" is that if God commands it, it's good. So by definition, good and evil exist only at the whim of the deity.
As the philosopher Bertrand Russell pointed out:
"If the only basis for morality is God's decrees, it follows that they might just as well have been the opposite of what they are; no reason except caprice could have prevented the omission of all the "nots" from the Decalogue." (Russell, B. Human Society in Ethics and Politics. New York. Simon & Schuster, Inc. 1962, pg. 38)
Essentially, Russell is saying that the Ten Commandments (the Decalogue) could have been just the opposite of what they are and they would still be the will of God, since that is the definition of good, in this viewpoint.
Theists who accept this horn of Euthyphro's Dilemma must admit that they do not operate from or even have a standard of ethics. They have replaced their ethical standard with obedience – they do what their God commands. Unfortunately, they have confused the obedience of a slave with ethics.
Next, it makes little logical sense to say that "God is good" if god is the standard of goodness. After all, if God is good, in the sense that God is identical to the standard of goodness, then to say "God is good" is merely to say "God is god." Such a statement is fundamentally uninformative. In such a statement the subject and predicate nouns are the same object so the sentence loses its meaning.
Furthermore, this stand of Divine Command Theory makes it difficult, if not impossible to tell if a given being is a deity. There is no set of standards with which one could compare that being to identify it as "God." In human experience, if I want to determine whether a person is a clinical psychologist, I can develop a list of actions which I might expect a person knowledgeable in psychology to perform. This might include things like understanding how to conduct a patient interview, having a particular type of university training, knowing a variety of psychological theories, etc. In addition, I can also develop a list of actions that would indicate that the subject is not a clinical psychologist. Such a list might include failure to be properly licensed, not understanding a range of psychological theories, never having conducted a patient interview, etc. I can then measure my candidate against my concept of a clinical psychologist. If the individual measures up, I can declare him or her a clinical psychologist. In the case of God, when Pastor Enyart declares that "God is the standard", there is no list or set of criteria to identify whether such a being is the good God or something else entirely. Since God can perform or command any act because he is the standard, what kinds of acts could we put into our identification list? There is no action about which we could ever say, "An evil being might command these but a good being would not." All we would be doing is placing our preferences on an allegedly absolute standard, a process it's likely that Pastor Enyart would abhor. Thus no action could be required or ruled out with regard to God since the deity could always decide to perform or command the opposite of any given criterion. After all, GOD SETS THE STANDARDS, doesn't he? Without an independent standard of moral and immoral acts against which to measure him, god could never be identified by his moral standard. We risk falling into the trap of applying our subjective preferences to the behavior of God with which we agree (blessings, financial prosperity, healing, or otherwise meeting our needs) while selectively ignoring or rationalizing away those behaviors we may find disagreeable (genocide, child slaughter, murder, human sacrifice, human slavery).
Morally speaking, there is no objective way to distinguish between being a slave to an evil demon (a very real possibility, according to some religionists) as opposed to being a slave to a god (the belief of Christians). In both cases the one in command could order any action whatsoever and carrying out that command would be, by definition, a good, moral act. Anything from rape to murder to genocide can be considered good if commanded by the being who serves as the standard.
One objection commonly raised by theists to this argument is the proposal that God will not act against his own nature. Unfortunately, to define the nature of a being we cannot see, touch, hear, or smell, we must look at his actions in the physical universe. So, we must define God's nature based on what God does. You may see how this rapidly becomes a circular argument. In addition, we have already shown that no action can be forbidden for the being giving the commands because the being giving the commands would not have any independent standard of morality by which it could be limited to a certain set of acts. So no action performed by God can be out of his character
If such a situation exists, the only true immoral (evil) act is disobedience to God. His followers must be committed to a system of blind obedience to a being who cannot meaningfully be called "good".
For theists, this option is undesirable.
B. God recognizes another standard of good
The other horn of the dilemma is that God recognizes what is good from a source outside himself, and then wills in accord with that good.
Pastor Enyart has NOT chosen this horn of the dilemma, but for interested readers, I'll explain it briefly.
When a theist chooses this path, that God commands what he recognizes as good, the theist is admitting the standard of good and evil is independent of God and that God, in fact, is not the standard of morality. This is because this view tells us that God, in some way, observes or "sees" what is good and the n tells us what to do on the basis of that observation. Since the action observed by God is what he commands, he is not acting as a source of morality, but merely a channel. In this view God becomes an intermediary or a reporter about ethics and morality, but not the source.
This is undesirable for the theist since it admits that God is not the source of their ethics and morals. This horn of the dilemma is particularly unpopular because if God is not the source, there is no sound argument which demonstrates that atheists could not have an ethical system apart from God.
In the question of whether or not God can be the source for "absolute morals", the choice for the theist boils down to this choose between:
admitting that he has no real standard of morality, only a morality based up on the slavery of blindly following orders; or
Admitting that God is not the source of morality.
Neither position actually allows for the possibility that god is source of a system of ethics or morals. The Euthyphro Dilemma demonstrates that the Divine Command Theory of ethics and morality cannot work.
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Zakath, said that I gave a weak falsification test for Christianity, although he made little effort to explore all the ways that Christ’s resurrection could theoretically be falsified. However, falsification does not have to be easy, just theoretically possible. I am still waiting for him to show that the atheist positions against moral absolutes and natural origins (and let’s add evolution), are falsifiable.
Bob’s Questions to Zakath
BQ20 – BQ23, BQ25 – BQ26 all unanswered, including those about natural law jurisdiction, beliefs of atheists on origins from nothing versus from nothing by a Creator, on whether broad features of the Solar System indicate Creation or atheism, and on evidence that solar system design elements indicate actual gaps in knowledge to be filled rather than imaginary gaps already closed by hard science.
BQ24: Zakath, have you ever heard theists state or imply that the physical and spiritual laws are as they are [only] because God created them that way? [i.e., that they could have been different]
ZA24: Indicated yes (which answer I was expecting), but then utterly misstated my position saying that “Enyart appears to hold… that, quite literally, anything goes as long as it is the deity’s will.”
Zakath’s Questions to Bob
ZQ19: This theory, apparently held by Pastor Enyart and many other theists, states that we humans know what is good because a deity tells us what is good. If Pastor Enyart does not believe this, I hope he will explain just what he does believe…
BA19: Yes, we do know right from wrong because there is a God, and because He has revealed it to us. He revealed the moral standard to us by creating us in His likeness with a conscience, and through other means. Without an appeal to God, atheists ultimately have no valid reason to insist that a criminal refrain from hurting a victim, for without fear of error, the offender simply refuses to submit his desires to their different value system.
ZQ10: Continued request for evidence for God (implied by his claim that theists “don’t have any real significant evidence”).
BA10-6: Below I add my sixth line of evidence (ZQ10-6) for a supernatural Creator by disproving the possibility of atheistic origins by demonstrating insurmountable time constraints (even when granting evolutionary and big bang timeframes, and the existence of the universe).
If I set out to intentionally misrepresent the atheist’s positions, I don’t know if I could have done as thorough a job of it as Zakath has done to me. In his last post alone, Zakath misrepresented my position on 1) the absolute nature of laws, 2) the effect of conscience on criminals, 3) the listing of creationist scientists, and 4) God’s own accountability to an unchanging standard. Atheism of the Gaps depends upon the systematic gaps in origins which may also explain the origin of these systematic communication gaps. Further, of course I expected that the non-theists posting in the TheologyOnline.com Grandstands would disagree with my points, but I confess to being surprised at their misrepresentation of virtually every point they attack. Either my posts are the most unintelligible ever penned, or this Battle Royale VII is evidence that atheists share a common need to misrepresent theists. However, I did find Zakath’s use of Euthyphro’s Dilemma, as far as he took it, to be almost brilliant in its logical reasoning. Thus, I do not believe that he lacks the intellectual ability to follow simple arguments. Below at (4) I solve Zakath’s Dilemma by identifying the crucial factor which he omitted when he ignored the parentheses in my quote that, “God could not do evil (anything against the present description of His nature), and remain holy.”
1) Absolute Nature of Laws: Zakath wrote: “In this position, the one Pastor Enyart appears to hold, we find that, quite literally, anything goes as long as it is the deity’s will.” Zakath attributed to me the exact opposite of the position I described clearly in 6b, that: “the spiritual laws… could not be different than they are.” In one paragraph, I made the same argument for spiritual laws as for physical, writing that, “Theists assert wrongly when they say that God could have decreed the laws to be otherwise.” I condemned the notion that God “can be spiritually arbitrary, because He is God,” and stated, “That’s wrong.” The fourth misrepresentation below expands upon this.
2) Effect of Conscience: Zakath wrote that Enyart claims “that sociopathic individuals really are sorry for their crimes.” Of course I never said that, but rather in 6b and 4b, that criminals “repent, defend, or deny their actions,” and “people even take pleasure in intentionally inflicting great pain.” “Theists do not claim that men are slaves to their conscience, or that they are compelled to honestly report its influence, but that their conscience raises the matter of justification, and then the culpable man honestly or dishonestly responds, admitting guilt or falsely justifying his actions.”
On this topic, Zakath also wrote that “Pastor Enyart asserts that the confusion… in religious circles comes from human’s guilt about ‘the aggregate hurt we have inflicted upon others’ and their inability to handle topics dealing with a just God. I will suggest that this is essentially a non-answer. This does not address any of the issues I raised.” [BE: It doesn’t? Zakath’s issues were all like this:] “The idea that the world is filled with a dizzying diversity of contradictory religious forms and deities…”
Zakath, how could my answer not address your issues? Guilt blinds men’s eyes to the truth about their own lives and the real God who will judge them, so that they fabricate deities and philosophies to defend themselves. You act as though you can’t imagine subjectivity influencing people’s thoughts. Of course I expect you to try to poke holes. But for you to deny that my answer addressed your issues recalls the question of intellectual honesty which I raised in my first post regarding those who do not believe in right and wrong.
Then, still hoping to change the debate topic to the Bible, Zakath again sites Bible stories of God killing people, but he does so while refuting his own misunderstanding of my position: “Pastor Enyart’s implied assertion [is] that, somehow, his deity doesn’t want to ‘shove truth in someone’s face’”
Way back in 2b I wrote that: “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 [for ex., by a miracle], the human tendency is to shove back.” I did not say that God has never shoved the truth into someone’s face, quite the contrary, but that “further” doing so “would be counterproductive” to Zakath’s expectation.
3) Listing of Creationist Scientists: I would never argue, and did not, that God must exist by appealing to the opinion of some scientists. Conversely, I stated that “most scientists now surveyed respond that they reject God as the explanation for origins, and a large percent are atheist or agnostic.” (Of course popularity does not determine scientific truth.) I list those scientists for the atheists who mock theism as scientifically ignorant (remember the sun chariot and the fuzzy growth), and in an effort to get you to take a single question seriously. Zakath simply blew off my direct evidence from the solar system, and in the next paragraph made how many misrepresentations of my position? Can we count them?
Zakath: “Pastor Enyart’s list of ‘fathers of physical sciences who rejected natural origins’ unfortunately is merely another laughable attempt at presenting an argument based on the fallacy of ‘appeal to authority’. Basically this argument states that, “we don’t have any real significant evidence to support our position, so we’ll create a list of a bunch of dead religionists and assert they supported our position. Creationists draw up these lists to convince the public that evolution is somehow being rejected by scientists…”
So this atheist says that he will simply ignore the theist’s direct evidence, and then condemns us for not offering any “real significant evidence.” We would call that a slight of hand… it if weren’t so obvious. And in condemning me for an “appeal to authority” that I did not make, Zakath immediately appeals to authority suggesting that I submit my solar system evidence for Creation “to a group of qualified astronomers.” Zakath must want the readers to believe that there is some existing difficult to obtain knowledge which refutes my evidence. But of course, I selected evidence that scientific knowledge has identified as unanswerable, and which the most sophisticated atheist scientists cannot refute. But perhaps I will be mesmerized by their authority which will blind me into believing in the omnipotent Nature of the Gaps.
4) God’s Accountability to an Unchanging Standard: This section goes beyond the point in the Absolute Nature of Laws section above, where Zakath said that I hold to an “anything goes” morality and that for this morality, “by definition, good and evil exist only at the whim of the deity.” (Interestingly, atheists often do this with humans, justifying homosexuality as an inborn nature, denying the personal responsibility of drug addicts, and some even defending rapists and murderers as simply living out their natures.) Zakath then carried this one step further claiming that therefore: “…no action performed by God can be out of his character;” that is, because if God does something, then by definition it is in His nature to do it, and we theists would also declare anything He does as righteous. So Zakath misrepresented my position by implying that I had not already responded to this. He ignored an important clarification in my post:
Bob: “God could not do evil (anything against the present description of His nature), and remain holy.”
Why did I insert the word present into the above sentence? Zakath, if you read carefully, I will resolve Euthyphro’s Dilemma for Plato and Socrates, and deny you the honest use of it in the future. But Zakath, if while reading this section you allow your mind to fly through a thousand counter arguments, without discipline, you will once again fail to even understand the point. So please put your auto-pilot Bible rebuttal mode in its upright and locked position, and first comprehend this new material.
God’s nature is not sufficiently pliable that it could embrace truth and perjury, private property and theft, loyalty and disloyalty, and punishing and rewarding of the same behavior. Thus, God could conceivably violate His own nature, because once His nature is described (in what becomes a definition of righteousness), then anything God does contrary to that description would correctly be deemed as unrighteous. For example, using the biblical paradigm, if Jesus Christ gave into temptation by submitting to evil and worshipping Satan, then He would not have remained righteous.
It is not that anything God conceivably could do would therefore be moral, just because He did it. It is that we expect God to remain steadfastly good, consistent with the existing description of His nature. God does not save those who trust Him because He has no choice, but because He wills to, but if He willed to embrace evil (as described currently by His nature) then He would no longer be the righteous God. Quoting the overlooked sentence again:
“God could not do evil (anything against the present description of His nature), and remain holy.” Thus, moral inconsistency is an absolute determinant for wrong. Plato and Socrates missed this important test partly because their dialogue was replete with mentions of Greek gods who, as Socrates noted, contradicted one another as to goodness. Thus the contradictions within the mythical pantheon of Greece falsified any claim of absolute morality made by Euthyphro on behalf of his gods and goddesses. But Plato recorded this dialogue without the knowledge that you possess Zakath, that of the claim of a Christian God who has no such internal inconsistency. God does not fight within Himself about what is right and wrong; but if He ever did, then He would no longer remain the holy God. And there is nothing remotely circular about this. We look for inconsistencies in courtroom testimony because inconsistencies reveal lies and deceptions. Thus consistency is a necessary property of righteousness (and thus of being right). “A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness will utter lies [and inconsistencies]” (Proverbs 14:5). Again, moral inconsistency is a litmus test for evil. Thus a religious book like the Bible generally claims in forty passages that the steadfast love of the Lord never changes in that He is faithful, that is, He is consistent.
Humans are social beings, and our morality magnifies itself in our actions toward others. But because we are social beings, even actions committed against ourselves affect others, as for example when we hurt ourselves to manipulate others, like Gandhi did; or even the person seeking to escape his own pain by committing suicide, who hurts those around him. Thus because morality is social, a social God who interacts with multiple persons has an additional context in which to objectively demonstrate His morality. Let me illustrate the implications of this using the Christian conception of the Trinitarian God, Father, Son and Spirit, three persons in one God. If God is a Trinitarian God, then He has an eternal track record of interaction between the persons of the Godhead. And if during that eternal fellowship, if any moral inconsistency appeared, then God would be objectively evil. But an atheist may ask, “What if there was no inconsistency because this God is consistently evil?” A God with other persons to interact with has other frames of reference, that is, other perspectives from which to declare Himself. Thus if the Son willingly submits to the Father, because He implicitly trusts the Father from whom He has never experienced harm, and the Spirit brings glory to the Son, because He has never felt threatened by the Son, and the Father loves the Son and the Spirit, never having His wellbeing jeopardized by either, then “by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.” Thus even though it is the only standard He has ever known, God the Father can determine that His own standard is righteous because He has never violated it, and because the independent persons of the Son and the Spirit testify that the Father has never violated their own self-interests [Luke 16:12].
This process is greatly amplified when God creates other beings, and as He reveals Himself to them in various ways. For, He must behave toward them in their own best interest, or else He violates His own standard of love. And He must punish those who hurt others, or else He violates His own standard of justice. And if God’s intention was not for the welfare but for the harm of created eternal beings, then He would have violated His own declared standard.
Thus while moral inconsistency indicates wickedness, eternal consistency proves either continuous good or continuous evil; and multiple perspectives from independent persons provide information regarding whether God acts on behalf of, or against, their best interests. Of course, an atheist will accuse the Bible’s God, if He exists, of endless evils, but since atheists deny any system of absolute morality, for their logical argument to succeed, they would have to show that the concept of the Christian God is internally inconsistent, violating His own standard of righteousness.
In his talk, “Why I Am Not a Christian,” Bertrand Russell wrote that: “if you are quite sure there is a difference between right and wrong, then you are in this situation: Is that difference due to God’s fiat [arbitrary decree] or is it not? If it is due to God’s fiat, then for God himself there is no difference between right and wrong, and it is no longer a significant statement to say that God is good. If you are going to say, as theologians do, that God is good, you must then say that right and wrong have some meaning which is independent of God’s fiat, because God’s fiats are good and not bad independently of the mere fact that he made them. If you are going to say that, you will then have to say that it is not only through God that right and wrong came into being, but that they are in their essence logically anterior to God.”
Plato, Socrates, Bertrand Russell… morons. (Actually, I’m just quoting from Princess Bride, one of our favorite movies.) Well, not morons, but fools yes, because they denied the Creator. Because of their prejudice against God, their fertile minds did not conceive of the simple possibility that a description of God’s nature is independent of His nature itself, and thus, God could hold Himself to that description of His nature, which description I admit initially existed only within Himself, but after Creation it would exist in any of the manifest ways in which God has revealed Himself. And so, right and wrong are not due to God’s arbitrary decrees, but flow from the description of His nature, a description which He could theoretically violate. Thus, the system of morality based upon God is not logically unsound as claimed by atheists.
Because Zakath uncritically accepted the popular atheist use of the Euthyphro Dilemma, he summed up its challenge this way: “In the question of whether or not God can be the source for ‘absolute morals,’ the choice for the theist boils down to this, choose between: admitting that he has no real standard of morality, only a morality based upon the slavery of blindly following orders; or admitting that God is not the source of morality.”
Zakath, do you agree that I have solved Euthyphro’s Dilemma by observing that, if God exists, a description of God’s nature can be independent of His nature itself, and thus there is no logical contradiction in the possibility that God’s nature defines an objective moral standard?
If there were no God, then absolute right could not exist. Thus, atheists reason correctly from their atheistic premise when they declare that absolute right and wrong do not exist, for if God did not exist, neither would right and wrong. Thus, for the reader questioning the existence of God, weigh the evidence: ask yourself, is it really wrong to rape a woman, lynch a black, torment a child, or are these not absolutely wrong, but simple valid preferences of others. If such crimes are not really wrong, then there is no God. If crimes are truly wrong, then a personal, loving, and just God does exist and you should ask Him for forgiveness for the hurt that you have inflicted upon others.
Also, you attempted another slight of hand with this: If “‘God is good’ [and] if god is the standard of goodness… then to say “God is good” is merely to say “God is god.”“ Oops. You are confusing the property of an entity with the entity itself. If the boss is also the janitor, you do state a pointless tautology by substituting one for the other to get the boss is the boss. But to say that the boss is the janitor speaks volumes. And to say God is love [meaning that His nature defines commitment to others], or that Michael Jordan is the standard [meaning that he has defined basketball skill], does not require us to reduce either to God is God or Michael is Michael, as though nothing real is being communicated. Otherwise, you make the bizarre claim that no aspect of a thing could ever conceivably set a standard. For example, by your faulty logic, the speed of light cannot even theoretically be an absolute, because then all Einstein said was, “the speed of light is the speed of light.”
(I can already hear the atheists in the Grandstands whining: “Wha wha wha, none of that proves that God exists!” Quick, somebody call them a whambulance! I offer the above not as proof but to rebut this argument of atheism.)
Father Time: The Atheist God
Remember the honeymoon period of atheism? It’s going on today while atheists still agree that complex functioning systems cannot appear by chance in one single step. Well, atheists deny the existence of God who can create from nothing at will, and instead, they replace Him with billions of years in which accidents created all that exists. Of accidents, randomness, explosions, and mutations, none of these appear suited to produce interdependent complex systems. But then the atheist introduces time, evolutionary time, geologic ages of time, astronomical spans of time. And of course, during all this time, there are not just a few accidents, random events, explosions, or mutations, but millions upon millions of them. So all this time represents the atheists’ creator. For what just a few such mishaps could never do, inexorably, a lot of them, one after the other, mutation, after random event, after accident, after explosion, a million times over, will increase the interdependence of complex ecosystems.
Blind faith and an aversion to the Creator could push men into such self-deception, but hard science offers no support for this trust in time and chance. To show the lie in the evolutionary hope of mutations, of over a billion moms on earth, how many would cheer the doctor’s news that their child had a mutation? (Oh, I see, one mutation is bad, but a million are good. Now I get it.) How does an explosion produce an orderly system? How can genetic information increase through random events and accidents? It is not that science has yet to fill these imaginary gaps; rather, hard science has already closed off these possibilities by demonstrating the real limitations of matter and the physical laws.
With the following observations, I will kill the atheist’s Father Time god. If Zakath follows form, he will ignore this direct evidence against his atheistic hope while complaining that I refuse to offer any evidence for a Creator. For, if no natural means can be found for a phenomenon, then that becomes evidence for the supernatural; if no natural cause exists, then that becomes proof for the supernatural. [By the way, it’ll be funny to read Zakath saying that he won’t answer this evidence because: “I don’t have the time;” and it will be even funnier to read the atheists in the Grandstands misrepresenting the previous sentence about natural causes.] So, I will show that there is:
• Not enough time in the universe to produce a single protein.
• Not enough time for DNA to evolve from apes to man.
• Too much supposed time has passed in the universe for the spiral galaxies to remain spirals.
Time For Protein: To demonstrate the irrationality of atheist beliefs, consider these facts. Atheists believe that the universe is less than 20 billion years old. Yet for chance (BA10-6) to develop one simple protein molecule (which is trillions of times less complex than the simplest living organism), if every atom in the known universe interacted a billion times per second with other atoms, the entire universe couldn’t produce that one protein molecule by chance in a trillion years. Mathematics indicates that this would not happen in a trillion years, with the entire universe, every atom in every star in every galaxy, working on that single task. And natural selection is a function of reproduction and so even though considered godlike by atheists it could not help life arise initially. And yet, atheists, who fail to appreciate the magnitude of really big numbers, think that proteins arose by chance, a hundred times over on Earth in less than a billion years, along with ten-thousand other mathematical impossibilities all needed to accomplish the requirements of the simplest biological life.
Zakath, please indicate if my estimate is incorrect that mathematics predicts that it will take more than a trillion years to form a single protein molecule by chance, if we use all the atoms of the known universe in the experiment to produce it.
Zakath, please indicate how hundreds of random events that would not occur in a trillion years each, even if we used the entire known universe as a laboratory, could all occur within an extremely short time just on planet Earth?
Time For Homo Sapiens: The National Academy of Sciences reports that the difference in the DNA sequence between chimps and humans is triple what it has been popularly reported to be, closer to 5% than the old 1.5% claimed. Millions of mutations must occur to evolve humans from apes in just a few million years. Think only of the human brain:
We often measure computers in MIPS and BIPS, that is, millions or billions of instructions per second. Scientists measuring the processing power of people estimate that the human brain can perform around 2,000,000,000,000,000 instructions per second, that’s quadrillions, or 2 QIPS. That’s a trip! No wait, that’s more than 2,000 TRIPS. If evolution were true, then sufficient accidental mutations must have occurred in just the last couple million years for natural selection to choose from to develop the human mind from monkey brains. (Are you guys really serious about all this?)
Trust in time is a mathematical hope. Take an improbable randomly-generated event, and give it enough time, and it becomes not only probable, but even likely. So (BA10-6), if objective mathematical calculations show that even a single protein will take a trillion years to form by chance, then how long before the required millions of changes between apes and humans will occur by chance? Trillions times trillions times trillions of years. And if one of these proteins does appear in a single organism (say it’s inserted by aliens), then how long before that single new DNA segment will propagate throughout the entire population? Decades ago atheistic evolutionists worked out the mathematical impossibility of propagating genetic changes through a primate species to produce man in just a few million years. A few hundred generations is an aggressive estimate as to how quickly a mutation can reproduce throughout an entire primate species. Thus, in a few million years, a thousand genetic changes can reach the entire population; and if five beneficial mutations occurred at each step simultaneously (an inane, bizarre, unscientific, irrational hope), then evolution can effect perhaps 5,000 changes under only absurdly optimistic assumptions. Are those 5,000 impossible changes sufficient to change an ape to a human with our 2 QIPS? It’s mathematically impossible, and only those with a serious misunderstanding of really big numbers, or who irrationally ignore or reject mathematics, will blindly hope otherwise. Perhaps such simple calculations, along with math being the most pure science, explains why a higher percentage of mathematicians believe in God, 14.3%, as compared to other scientists (Nature, 1998, vol. 394, p. 313).
Zakath, please explain in the most broad terms how random mutations that mathematically would take trillions of years to occur, would then be propagated to an entire species, all millions of times over in just a few million years?
Our Zachary is a home-schooled five-year-old, and last semester he had trouble remembering how to read the word, “the.” My wife Cheryl said, “Zachary, if you can correctly make an en passant move on the chessboard, then you should be able to remember the word ‘the.’” Now Zakath, it’s time for you to apply yourself. Please think a little harder than usual on this next point:
Natural Selection describes small mutations selected by nature and retained in a species because they improve its chances of survival. Since the mutations come about randomly, there is no mechanism to speed up, or to incline the mutations toward the ones that will introduce new functionality. And thus, just to develop one single step of thousands required to eventually make a butterfly out of a caterpillar, quintillions of possibilities exist, for which there are not enough organisms on the entire planet to act as natural genetic laboratories, nor if we took every atom in the universe and converted them into caterpillars, could random chance produce the needed step in a trillion years. And that’s just one needed development out of thousands. And that, just for caterpillars. Oh, by the way, these caterpillars spin their cocoons, and their organs melt into a goo, and then begin to reassemble themselves into a completely different creature. So, in the 10,000 generations while this transformation was gradually developing, how did the caterpillars survive this rather unnecessary midlife crisis of turning themselves into sludge? And then, for the first time, all the right random occurrences (which were driving toward no goal), happened together so that the whole system, the proteins, enzymes, DNA and all, came together so that the first caterpillar made the transformation! Wow! It’s like, it’s like, like, Jonathan Livingston Seagull. It’s inane, unscientific, and embarrassing. The emperor has no wings. Remember that I said that you believe in things you can’t even conceive of? You can’t conceive of a fourth alternative for the universe, or a way for matter to become self-aware, or a simplification of a biological cell. Well, regarding a caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly, you can’t even conceive of a way, or of a reason for, or a path to, or a foggy general direction of, or a need for, or a pludgergrumelling for that matter (anything you could make up), that would even begin to bring about such a transformation. Yet, you believe with all your heart, “Nature Did It.” And then consider that Natural Selection could not even conceivably work in any species in which the female lays hundreds or thousands of eggs, because if the positive mutation improved chances of survival by let’s say, 0.01%, but 99.9% of the fish offspring are eaten by predators while still embryonic, there is no mathematical possibility (ask a casino operator) that the occasional tiny improvement (which could take a trillion years to appear), could possibly offset the annual randomness of being eaten in infancy by a toad.
Time to Unwind: For decades astronomers have measured the speed of the inner stars of spiral galaxies finding that they travel much faster than the outside stars, such that these spirals should have unwound and lost their spiral forms billions of years ago. Thus, this broad feature of the galaxies invalidates the most fundamental atheistic assumptions about the age of the galaxies. Alternatively, if the galaxies are relatively young, then there is no problem with their current form, but then of course, they couldn’t have formed naturally (well, not while atheists are on their honeymoon anyway).
Back in 1995, NASA widely predicted that a soon-to-be-developed Hubble photograph of the tiniest point of night sky would show galaxies in their early stages of formation. At the same time, a Christian TV talk-show host, Bob Enyart, predicted on air in 80 cities that the atheistic NASA astrophysicists were wrong, and that the galaxies photographed would look just like any other group of galaxies. Zakath, who do you think was vindicated, the atheistic NASA engineers in 1995 predicting that a developing Hubble photo would show galaxies forming, or the Christian talk-show host predicting the photo would show typical, not early, galaxies? Hint, see photo below.
BQ27: Zakath, do you agree that I have solved Euthyphro’s Dilemma by observing that, if God exists, a description of God’s nature can be independent of His nature itself, and thus there is no logical contradiction in the possibility that God’s nature defines an objective moral standard? a) Yes b) No
If No, please explain: __________________________________________________
BQ28: Zakath, please indicate if my estimate is incorrect that mathematics predicts that it will take more than a trillion years to form a single protein molecule by chance, if we use all the atoms of the known universe in the experiment to produce it. a) Correct b) Incorrect
If B, please explain: __________________________________________________
BQ29: Zakath, please indicate how hundreds of random events that would not occur in a trillion years each, even if we used the entire known universe as a laboratory, could all occur within an extremely short time just on planet Earth?
BQ30: Zakath, please explain in the most broad terms how random mutations that mathematically would take trillions of years to occur, would then be propagated to an entire species, all millions of times over in just a few million years?
BQ31: Zakath, which do you think was vindicated, the 1995 prediction of atheistic NASA engineers that a developing Hubble photo would show galaxies forming, or the prediction of a Christian talk-show host that Hubble’s photo would show typical, not early, galaxies? Hint, see photo above.
Sincerely, Bob Enyart
Abusing this will result in banishment from TheologyOnLine.
Due to unforeseen career obligations Zakath has requested additional time to prepare his 8th round post. We (the TOL staff and Bob Enyart) have granted Zakath an additional 24 hours to prepare Zakaths next post.
In his last post, my opponent continues his Creationist "march to the sea" steamrolling along with his God of the Gaps argument. In this view, since science cannot yet answer every question in the universe, many of the unanswered questions must be relegated to the "evidence for the supernatural" category as Pastor Enyart cannot conceive of any other reasonable explanation than "God did it." The problem with this view of the universe is that it is too simple as well as misrepresenting what science is all about. Science is about inquiry, testing, and adapting theories to the reality of new evidence. Science frequently involves accepting change. Pastor Enyart is a believer in a religion which believes that certain things are immutable, among them, the creator for the universe. Change is anathema to such believers and when they look at science, they view any change with suspicion. Unfortunately for people who fear change, real science need not be so dogmatic. It is subject to change as new and better evidence turns up and better experiments are developed to gather more data. Theists view the subject of their inquiries, "God", as an unchangeable constant in a world (and universe) full of change. I'll address Pastor Enyart's most recent science questions toward the end of this post. I'll begin by addressing his other single area of evidence for the existence of God, absolute moral values.
Absolute Moral Values
Pastor Enyart tells us that, "We know right from wrong because there is a god and because he has revealed it to us." This is an interesting assertion. One might ask, is this revelation for a special few or is it for all humans in every age? If it is only for a special few, then Pastor Enyart's God is a partisan player of favorites, damning people pretty much indiscriminately and hardly fits the standard definition of the Christian deity. If the revelation is for all humankind, then we should be able to investigate the mechanism of that revelation. How does this deity allegedly communicate this knowledge of "right and wrong" to human beings? According to Pastor Enyart, he does so by, "… creating us in His likeness with a conscience, and through other means." This sentence is a bit difficult to decipher.
I would ask Pastor Enyart to clarify which of the following he intended to indicate:
- a) God created us in his likeness and then gave us a conscience after creating us in his likeness, or
b) God created us in his likeness which included giving us a conscience since God has one
Regarding the rest of the statement, one might ask, "What other means, Pastor Enyart?" We know that my opponent is a professional communicator and I find it unlikely that he did not name a single one of the "other means" out of forgetfulness. Perhaps it is because those "other means" are even weaker support than his conscience argument… The problem for his argument is that we have already refuted the value of conscience as a reflection of the absolute standard since moral standards in the human conscience is: a) demonstrably not universal (some humans do not even appear to have a conscience) and b) demonstrably not uniform among all humans (differing codes of ethics and morals around the world). This would appear to leave his "other means" as the possible universal, uniform evidence of absolute morality.
Perhaps Pastor Enyart will explain to the eagerly awaiting throngs of readers just what "other means" his deity uses to demonstrate his absolute standards to the human race.
Pastor Enyart then has the temerity to insist that "atheists ultimately have no valid reason to insist that a criminal refrain from hurting a victim…" This petty attack on atheists is revealing as much for what it says as for what it does not say. First of all to discuss the actions of a "criminal", one must first be proposing that the individual in question lives in human society. That society must have laws, for to be a criminal means one must transgress one or more laws. Thus the very definition of the word "criminal" provides all the justification anyone (atheist or theist) might need to insist that a criminal refrain from injuring another. Whether the criminal agrees with the laws of the society in which he lives is immaterial. The laws exist and he can either obey them or accept the natural and societal consequences of disobedience.
"Evidence" for God?
I have requested throughout this debate that Pastor Enyart provide evidence for the existence of his deity. As stated before, the only evidence he has provided is the human conscience, which we have refuted, and a series of gaps in scientific knowledge which he claims, without any tangible support, must provide evidence for the existence of a supernatural being. The logical flaw in his argument is that any supernatural being of sufficient power will fill the bill. Some atheists are fond of using the Invisible Pink Unicorn (IPU) as an alternative to Pastor Enyart's God, claiming that she (yes, we do know the IPU is a "she", those who claim otherwise are heretics…) is just as viable an explanation as his own. There is absolutely no evidence he has presented, thus far, that could not be equally well ascribed to the auspices of the IPU. The IPU, we could argue, gave men consciences, modeled on her own. The IPU, we could assert, created the universe, with a swish of her tail and one golden hoof tied behind her back. Thus we do not need Pastor Enyart's God to be the creator of the universe or the author of moral absolutes - we can use the IPU to fill any gaps that Pastor Enyart cares to identify.
(For those wishing to find out more about the IPU (PBUH), click here. If you are a "serious" IPU scholar, try this site - complete with scriptures, forums, and other unicornia – the Institute for Unicorn Research. )
Now, some of you might wonder why I bother to post such silliness. I use this humorous aside to demonstrate a point, using just as much evidence as Pastor Enyart has presented, to date. Every gap he claims must be filled with his deity can just as readily be filled with the IPU. Where's the evidence, you ask, for the IPU's existence? Well, just like Pastor Enyart, I need merely assert it to be truth and leave it for my opponent to refute it.
To date, I have presented the following formal arguments:
- The Moral Knowledge Argument for Atheism (MKAA) – No god's morality is universally known or accepted by the entire human race (or even the greater majority)
The Argument from Confusion (AC) – All the followers of any god cannot agree on major theological "truth" about their deity and his/her will and design for humans
The Argument from Non-Belief (ANB) – No god has managed, after 6,000 years of recorded human history, to capture the belief of even a simple majority of the human race
Pastor Enyart has not effectively refuted any of the first three, instead relying on philological legerdemain to present the appearance of an argument while providing no real substantive answers.
In my previous post, I presented Euthyphro's Dilemma which essentially argues that moral absolutes must exist either because the god(s) decree them to be so or because the god(s) acknowledge another external standard.[/quote]
Pastor Enyart, in a fit of apparent hubris, claims that, after 24 centuries he has "solved Euthyphro's Dilemma by observing that, if God exists, a description of God's nature can be independent of his nature itself, and thus there is no logical contradiction in the possibility that God's nature defines an objective moral standard." I will demonstrate that he has not yet done so and that philosophy students everywhere may continue, as they have for some 24 centuries, to argue Euthyphro's Dilemma in their classrooms.
In his failed effort to refute Euthyphro's Dilemma, Pastor Enyart makes use of what is referred to as "Essential Moral Attribute Response" (EMAR) to attempt to answer the first horn of the dilemma by claiming that right and wrong are part of the nature of his deity and that, to again use his own words, "God could not do evil (anything against the present description of his nature), and remain holy."
A bit of examination demonstrates the weakness of this argument. Appealing to God's character does not solve Euthyphro's dilemma, it only postpones the problem of since it merely restates the dilemma in terms of God's character. Is God's character the way it is because it is good or is God's character good simply because it is God's character?
Is there an independent standard of good or does God's character set the standard? If God's character is the way it is because it is good, then there is an independent standard of goodness by which to evaluate God's character. For example, suppose God condemns rape because of his just and merciful character. His character is just and merciful because mercy and justice are good. Since God is necessarily good, God is just and merciful. According to this independent standard of goodness, being merciful and just is precisely what a good character involves. In this case, even if God did not exist, one could say that a merciful and just character is good. Human beings could use this standard to evaluate peoples' character and actions based on this character. They could do this whether or not God exists. So, in this case, God is not necessary for the existence of a moral system.
Suppose God's character is good simply because it is God's character. Then if God's character were cruel and unjust, these attributes would be good. In such a case God might well condone rape since this would be in keeping with his character. But one might reply that God could not be cruel and unjust since by necessity God must be good? It is true that by necessity God must be good. But unless we have some independent standard of goodness (outside of God) then whatever attributes God has would by definition be good: God's character would define what good is. It would seem that if God could not be cruel and unjust, then God's character must necessarily exemplify some independent standard of goodness. Using this standard one could say that cruelty and injustice are not good whether God exists or not.
Pastor Enyart's argument also raises some other interesting problems to consider in future posts, if we have time:
- Is God only capable of doing good acts? If so, then perhaps Pastor Enyart could explain how he has concocted a God that is not a free moral agent while the most menial human being possesses the power to choose good or evil. In addition to making the deity internally incoherent, such a belief also appears to be contradicted in the bible.
If all "good" is essentially dependent upon the nature of the deity; then it would follow that, if Pastor Enyart's God did not exist, then basic moral beliefs, for example that the gratuitous torture of babies is morally wrong, would be mistaken. This is absurd.
Perhaps Pastor Enyart will share with us some of the source material from which he derives his ideas of the character of his God… is his God the same deity that other Christians worship? If so then, according to a variety of Christian sources, God's character includes:
- God is not immutable, he changes his mind
- God murders
- God kills the unborn and orders his followers to do so
- God withholds help in time of disaster
- God has built an imperfect world in which tragic genetic mutation causes monstrosities to be born to human parents
- God punishes children for the wrongdoing of their parents
- God orders fathers to kill their children
- God encourages human slavery
- God causes prophets to lie
- God orders the ritual mutilation of children
- God orders human sacrifice
- God allows rape
- God orders genocide
All these are part of the outward manifestation of God's character. If Pastor Enyart's contention is correct, then all these things are absolutely good and must be acceptable in human society. The observable fact that most of these actions would not be perceived of as good by many of the readers here is a further demonstration of the implausability of Pastor Enyart's argument and further support for the Argument from Confusion.
Time and Astronomy
"Time", as they say, "is on my side.Yes it is." (with a nod to Mick Jagger and the lads). Pastor Enyart brings up time as a supporting evidence for the existence of his diety. His argument is not related to time specifically but merely appears to be a warmed over reserving of the Argument from Design he presented earlier in the series. I'll address some of his specific points here.
Contrary to Pastor Enyart's assertion, random events can produce an ordered result. Anyone who has ever won at a game of poker can verify that randomly shuffled cards can produce, on occasion, ordered groupings when dealt to the players. If' you've ever held a pair, three of a kind, four of a kind, or a straight, or flush you've experienced this phenomenon.
Note also that his "not enough time" argument has obviously been refuted since his own body is composed of proteins. He exists due to a purely natural event – unless there is something he has been holding back ( ), he was not created by a deity but by the recombination of living material from his parents and their genomes. His argument is based on a simplistic misstatement of reality. Proteins are not formed by random interactions of atoms. They arise form other less complex molecules through clearly understood mechanisms. His assertions of mathematical estimates are presented with no basis on observed experiments. There are such experiments, interested readers can learn about some of them here at "Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, and Probability of Abiogenesis Calculations." In essence, Pastor Enyart's argument demonstrates a basic misunderstanding of both the process of protein synthesis and statistics.
Ian Musgrave, (Ph.D. in neurophysiology), one of the authors at www.talkorigins.org explains the probability issue very clearly using the example of a coin toss:Thus the time and complexity issues are essentially non-issues when viewed from a planetary scale.Here is a experiment you can do yourself: take a coin, flip it four times, write down the results, and then do it again. How many times would you think you had to repeat this procedure (trial) before you get 4 heads in a row?
Now the probability of 4 heads in a row is is (1/2)4 or 1 chance in 16: do we have to do 16 trials to get 4 heads (HHHH)? No, in successive experiments I got 11, 10, 6, 16, 1, 5, and 3 trials before HHHH turned up. The figure 1 in 16 (or 1 in a million or 1 in 1040) gives the likelihood of an event in a given trial, but doesn't say where it will occur in a series. You can flip HHHH on your very first trial (I did). Even at 1 chance in 4.29 x 1040, a self-replicator could have turned up surprisingly early. But there is more.
1 chance in 4.29 x 1040 is still orgulously, gobsmackingly unlikely; it's hard to cope with this number. Even with the argument above (you could get it on your very first trial) most people would say "surely it would still take more time than the Earth existed to make this replicator by random methods". Not really; in the above examples we were examining sequential trials, as if there was only one protein/DNA/proto-replicator being assembled per trial. In fact there would be billions of simultaneous trials as the billions of building block molecules interacted in the oceans, or on the thousands of kilometers of shorelines that could provide catalytic surfaces or templates [2,15].
Let's go back to our example with the coins. Say it takes a minute to toss the coins 4 times; to generate HHHH would take on average 8 minutes. Now get 16 friends, each with a coin, to all flip the coin simultaneously 4 times; the average time to generate HHHH is now 1 minute. Now try to flip 6 heads in a row; this has a probability of (1/2)6 or 1 in 64. This would take half an hour on average, but go out and recruit 64 people, and you can flip it in a minute. If you want to flip a sequence with a chance of 1 in a billion, just recruit the population of China to flip coins for you, you will have that sequence in no time flat.
Additionally, in his last post, Pastor Enyart appears to have shifted is argument from declaring gaps in scientific knowledge as evidence for God to declaring them as evidence for the vague term "supernatural"."…if no natural means can be found for a phenomenon, then that ecomes evidence for the supernatural; if no natural cause exists, then tha tbecomes proof for the supernatural." I will remind our readers that this tactic is merely "God of the Gaps" trotted out once again. Merely because Pastor Enyart cannot perceive that a natural mechanism existss for a give observable phenomenon does not preclude the existence of that natural mechanism. (Unless, perhaps Pastor Enyart is trying to tell us that he is omniscient… ) Remember that for centuries, humans ascribed epilepsy to supernatural causes until its mechanisms were researched and understood. Now it is merely another treatable medical disorder. We've gone around again to "God of the Gaps" and I will once again remind the readers that, despite Pastor Enyart's attempts to assert otherwise, ignorance is not evidence for the existence of God. Ignorance is merely there result of a gap in knowledge. Something that history has shown can be rectified with time and diligent research.
It would also be helpful if Pastor Enyart could explain exactly to what specific genes he is referring to in his human/ape comparison. According to the people who study such things, the human genome contains roughly 3 billion base-pairs. It is only reasonable that Pastor Enyart explain to which base pairs (or even which chromosomes) he is referring since mutation rates and probability will partially depend on where a give base pair is on a particular chromosome. Once he is specific, then we have a better likelihood of evaluating his, currently unsupported, assertions about mutation rates and probability. All he has presented thus far is vague generalities, unsupported by any actual facts. Providing the source for his mathematical manipulations would also be useful in evaluating his position.
In answer to his astronomical question, I'll refer him and our readers to the helpful post supplied by TOL's favorite cetacean, Flipper. (I'll never understand how he types so well with flippers instead of fingers ) Flipper points out some information that indicates that Pastor Enyart's information may be a bit out of date and incorrect… Flipper's post. Since I am not allowed to post images on my posts, the references and images in the links so kindly provided by Flipper will have to do.
So to sum up this eighth post, we've addressed much of last round's material and posed the following questions for Pastor Enyart to discuss in his future posts…
- 1. Explain what "other means" Pastor Enyart's God uses to demonstrate his absolute standards to the human race.
2. Did God create us in his likeness and then give us a conscience after creating us in his likeness, or did God create us in his likeness which included giving us a conscience since God has one?
3. Demonstrate several source materials he uses to derive the character of his god.
4. Explain how he determines which manifestations of his god's character are useful for moral absolutes and which ones are to be ignored.
5. Is God only capable of doing good? If so, then do you consider all the I listed above as good?
- 1. Explain why his Essential Moral Attributes Responses to the dilemma should not be considered a mere restating of the dilemma, but actually providing an answer.
Gaps in Scientific Knowledge
- 1. Provide a source for the mathematical models that underlie his assertions about the impossibility of genetic mutation occurring on earth within the span of planetary history.
2. Provide specifics about the genes or base-pairs to which he refers in his argument about human/ape genetic discrepancy.
Abusing this will result in banishment from TheologyOnLine.
Due to the fact we extended Zakath's 8th round post deadline it has caused a minor scheduling conflict for Bob's 8th round post. Therefore.... with the consent of Zakath we have extended Bob's deadline an extra 24 hours.
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