Does God Exist? - Battle Royale VII - Bob Enyart vs. Zakath
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There is ONLY ONE place on the internet you can view a battle of such epic porportions and thats here at TheologyOnLine.com! Bob Enyart defends the Creator while Zakath the atheist argues that there is no God.
Will good win over evil? Will Zakath see the error of his ways?
I don't know! But I do know you can buy a REALLY cool Battle Royale Collector T-Shirt from the TheologyOnLine store!
My opponent has posted the answers to my previous requests for clarification in his prior missive so I now have the information to answer some of his previous questions. During this round, I would also like to begin to move the debate from arguing about hypothetical science to discussing the alleged "truths" about the existence or non-existence of Pastor Enyart's God.
Truth and God
Pastor Enyart had asked whether I believe that truth exists. Over the years my experience with a number of religionists, including the good pastor, is that they have presented me with variety of conflicting assertions all of which they proclaim as being truth. That being the case, I asked him to define what he means by "truth". He responded that "truth is a statement of reality". Given that somewhat tautological definition, I will concede that I believe that truth (as defined here) exists. Experientially, I have found that truth appears frequently in human endeavors as science, engineering, mathematics, and medicine. However, in other areas, including those debated frequently here on TOL like politics and theology, what is "true" seems to get a bit murky.
I watch religionists discuss, year after year, all these "statements of reality", to use Pastor Enyart's definition. And for almost every alleged truth, there is a conflict and argument. If religious truth is simply a statement of reality, then why is there so much misunderstanding and argument? It would be difficult to find anyone to seriously argue about actual objective truth, like the freezing or boiling points of pure water, or the temperature at which paper burns, or even something as difficult for the layman to measure as the number of protons in a regular oxygen atom, or the circumference of the earth. Yet people continue to argue about the very existence of Pastor Enyart's God for twenty centuries. I can even point to major denominations where fellow Christians, including theologians and pastors, would argue against the very existence of Pastor Enyart's God.
Why is it so difficult for people to accept that the existence of a deity if it merely a statement of reality? As I mentioned in my previous post, the major world religions all make conflicting claims about the nature of deity, yet all of them claim that their view of deity is "the truth" and that the others have it wrong. Even within the Christian religion, it appears that much of the evidence for the deity's existence is either subjective or indirect. Any student of history has seen the almost twenty centuries of arguments, debates, executions of heretics, crusades, and witch burnings; all claiming to support the will of God. I've read and listened as people claim the same God justifies both human chattel slavery and abolition; both pro-life and pro-abortion; and both pro- and anti-capital punishment stands. All these antithetical positions claimed in God's name by his followers make God himself appear either schizophrenic or ineffective at communicating his existence and truth even to those who really desire to believe in him. Thus "religious truth" does not appear to be objectively demonstrable at all, but merely based on subjective impressions of human believers.
Let Pastor Enyart demonstrate the "truth" that allegedly supports the existence of his deity clearly and directly without philosophical word games and then we'll have a position to discuss…
Absolute Right and Wrong
In his second topic, the attempt to describe moral absolutes as the basis for the existence of his deity, Pastor Enyart has, thus far, failed miserably.
When asked to define absolute right and absolute wrong he replied "absolute wrong is a harm that cannot be justified." When questioned about this apparent discrepancy of having to justify the unjustifiable, he assures us in his second post that "there are conditions attending to every event, every good and every crime…". Well, according to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition, the terms "absolute" and "conditional" appear to be mutually exclusive…
Absolute means: "Not limited by restrictions or exceptions; unconditional"
Conditional means: "Imposing, depending on, or containing a condition"
Pastor Enyart has not yet demonstrated a single absolute moral statement; since by his own definition an absolute statement "cannot be justified". By his definition, an "absolute good" or "absolute evil" is required to be unconditional. Applying conditions to the statement means that the act itself is not unconditional and is not either absolutely right or absolutely wrong. Since his initial post, Pastor Enyart has only used conditional (i.e. non-absolute) statements to attempt to illustrate his concept of "absolute wrong." The conditional moral values and ethics Pastor Enyart has demonstrated so far as illustrations are merely another form of relativistic (conditional) morality. If we follow his reasoning as presented, then he has merely strengthened the position that all human morality is relative and conditional.
There is another feature of this alleged absolute right and wrong which should be considered in this discussion. To avoid relativity, absolute morality requires a standard apart from or above the society in which the morality is being evaluated. For a relativist to say that an act is absolutely right or absolutely wrong for humankind means that in all human societies, at all times, a particular act is right or wrong regardless of circumstance or condition. An absolutist would say that such an act can only exist as "absolute" if it appeals to a standard that is beyond humankind. Since he claims that absolute right and absolute wrong both exist, it is incumbent on Pastor Enyart to demonstrate this super-human (dare I say "supernatural"?) standard to us for both right and wrong.
This difficulty in demonstrating absolute right and wrong raises questions about deity. If there is a deity, then why has he not demonstrated clearly, and unambiguously, his absolute standard on such important issues as abortion? The issue can be simply phrased this way: is killing the unborn "absolutely right" or "absolutely wrong"? In the area of abortion, experience shows us that religionists frequently make "absolute" moral pronouncements which are in direct disagreement with the "absolute" moral pronouncements of other followers of the same religion. Followers of Pastor Enyart's God base their stance on the "absolute" moral pronouncement that "God is pro-life" while other Christians point to his slaughter of the unborn during Noah's flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the deity-ordered genocide detailed in the books of Deuteronomy and Joshua as evidence that such an absolute position is not supportable. Why is there so much confusion? How can two well-intentioned groups of religious believers both claim that "God" supports two contradictory positions simultaneously? I propose that it is because there is no clear, unambiguous standard of absolute right and wrong presented by those who argue Pastor Enyart's position.
Until Pastor Enyart can actually demonstrate that both "absolute right" and "absolute wrong" exist and the superhuman standard behind such absolutes, I am not inclined to believe in the existence of what is essentially a baseless assertion.
Summing up the arguments against the two points presented so far, and based upon Pastor Enyart's failure to actually demonstrate a standard of "absolute right or wrong" or even an unconditional example, I submit the following argument…
The Moral Knowledge Argument for Atheism:
1. If Pastor Enyart's God exists, then he is a being who is powerful, loving, and just.
2. If Pastor Enyart's God exists, it would be in his interest (loving and just) and within his capacity (powerful) for all human beings to know his absolute standards perfectly.
3. All humans do not know God's ethics perfectly, as is demonstrated by his followers disagreeing about many moral values.
Therefore: Pastor Enyart's God does not exist.
Origin of the Natural Universe
Science differs from the form of narrow fundamentalist thinking Pastor Enyart is attempting to impose here. Science has few dogmas, but consists, in the main, of hypotheses and models that are proposed, evaluated in light of existing information and modified or even discarded as new information or data becomes available. There is no need for science to cling to any fundamental doctrines or dogmas of required belief, as do religionists. Pastor Enyart's disingenuous railing "against atheists rationalizing complexity by introducing more complexity" pales in light of his suggested solution, "God did it."
In his attempts to push for apparently infinite simplicity, he forces the discussion out of the realm of science and into metaphysics. Once out of the boundaries of science he introduces, as his solution to the Problem of Origins, an entity he calls "God". Pastor Enyart's God, by definition, is bound to be more complex than anything in the natural universe that the good pastor attributes to the entity's creative activities. In addition to introducing a vastly more complicated answer than any horde of atheists (probably even astrophysicists) could ever conceive, Pastor Enyart has not provided a single iota more evidence to explain the existence of this deity than has to been tendered to explain the existence of Santa Claus.
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 created matter and energy from nothing? Of course, perhaps he assumes "magic" as the means to answering that question…
Let's hear the explanation for the physics behind Pastor Enyart's God as creator and perhaps this atheist will reconsider his disbelieving position…
Origin of Life
Pastor Enyart's refusal to accept complex answers to complex questions is also evident in his acerbic comments on my response to his origin of life question. Since he seems unable or unwilling to actually read the supplemental material I went to some trouble to provide for him, I will have little further to say on this question.
If he wishes to continue to debate in a specific area, then he must accept the fact that I am not going to attempt to summarize, in the brevity of this forum, the activities of the work being done in abiotic to biotic evolutionary transitions. If he desires to read it he can do so here.. If he does not, then that is his choice. I have provided more than enough information to answer his question. If he does not understand the answer, that is another issue…
Again, I am waiting to see a single shred of evidence presented by Pastor Enyart to demonstrate that his deity was responsible for the Origin of Life.
Neither Pastor Enyart nor I are molecular biologists, physicists, or cosmologists. I would suggest that we move the debate from defending hypothetical scientific positions to discussing the existence or non-existence of Pastor Enyart's God. Perhaps his next post will provide something in that arena that we can discuss…
Trust in Jesus Christ's death and resurrection to become conformed to His image.
TOL BR VII DGE Post 3b -
June 26th, 2003, 04:16 AM
Let’s get right down to business summarizing the latest round of questions:
Bob’s Questions to Zakath
BQ1: Does truth exist?
ZA5: With caveats: “…I will concede that I believe that truth (as defined here) exists.”
Note: “as defined here” apparently refers to “Truth is a statement of reality” along with Zakath’s caveats…
BQ2: Does absolute moral right and wrong exist?
ZA6: “I am not inclined to believe in… ‘absolute right’ and ‘absolute wrong…’”
BQ5: There are only three theoretical alternatives to the origin of the universe. a) True b) False
ZA7: Zakath didn’t answer…
BQ6: Zakath either: a) admits he is unable to; or b) broadly explains pre-cell functional simplicity.
ZA8: Zakath didn’t answer…
Zakath’s Questions to Bob
ZQ1 – ZQ2 answered in post 1b.
ZQ3 – ZQ9 answered in post 2b.
ZQ2/ZQ3/ZQ10: Demonstrate the “truth” that allegedly supports the existence of your deity clearly and directly… and then we’ll have a position to discuss.
BA2/BA3/BA10: In this post I add new evidence marked by (BA10). In post 2b, as promised, I highlighted two sentences with (BA3), indicating my direct evidence for a supernatural creator, both of which Zakath failed to discuss directly.
ZQ11: Demonstrate that both "absolute right" and "absolute wrong" exist and the superhuman standard behind such absolutes.
BA11: Absolute morality can only exist if a moral authority above mankind exists; and I am happy to defend the crimes of rape and murder, for example, as unconditionally wrong, acts that would remain wrong even if every culture and person in the world approved of them, and it is absolutely right to refrain from committing such; and when you relativists apply ‘conditions’ trying to justify murder, you can unwittingly slip from talking about murder into discussing killing, confusing the two ideas; and theists sometimes add conditions (like child or racism) to basic crimes mercifully trying to embarrass atheists into acknowledging the absolute indefensibility of the most heinous of all acts; and our own conscience and the collective conscience of mankind, though damaged, still provides strong evidence of these absolutes…
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.
BA11: 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…
Now let’s dig deeper.
Begrudgingly with caveats, Zakath said that he will “concede” that truth exists. And then, only “as defined here,” but then he criticized my definition “Truth is a statement of reality,” calling it “somewhat tautological.” The American Heritage Dictionary Third Edition defines tautology as “needless repetition” and “an empty or vacuous statement.” Thus before our eyes, Zakath may have actually admitted to believing in nothing more than somewhat needlessly repetitive, empty statements. That is not the same as saying that truth exists, and leaves Zakath too much wiggle room. While atheists rightly insist on clear definitions from others, it would be nice for them to reciprocate.
Zakath, if you disliked my definition, you should have provided a better one, for regarding that definition, I had invited you to offer a “clarification” if necessary so that the readers and I could get a straight answer from you. Yet even after I suggested to the audience that “atheists react almost as though they fear truth,” you still equivocated. So, in an effort to get a direct, unequivocal, answer out of you to understand your position:
BQ7: Present your own definition of truth, and then if you can, affirm that truth exists without equivocating.
If you need confidence in your ability to know truth, I’ll try to help you. This will get good, and it will lead to my next evidence for God…
Start with the man, worse off than you, I think, who denies that he can even know that the universe exists. Perhaps he thinks he may be dreaming, and every acquaintance is only a character in his dream. But even then at least he admits this would be his dream. The phantoms we fabricate in our dreams do not have their own dreams and he does not relegate himself to being just a character in another person’s dream. So actually, we have a starting place even with this poor soul, because at least such a person admits that he knows that he exists. I think, therefore I’m real. After all, if he didn’t exist, he couldn’t deny anything, not even his own existence. Your own consciousness is irrefragable.
OK, so consciousness is undeniable, and is therefore at least a part of reality. But how can we intellectually prove any reality outside of our own individual consciousness, beyond our own personal subjective view of the universe? Let me draw a parallel from physics.
Think of only two bodies, a moon and a spaceship neither of which can determine, according to Einstein, which one is stationary or which is approaching. However, a third frame of reference incorporating additional observed objects in its field of view may be able to make that determination. And by adding more observed objects and from varied frames of reference, perspective is added so that increasingly accurate information becomes available (e.g., Cruithne). A spinning satellite may conclude that actually, the universe is spinning around it; however another frame of reference sees also a second spinning body, near the first but rotating counter to it, and confirms that the entire universe is not simultaneously spinning in opposite directions around these two supposed centers, but rather, it notes only that two French satellites are out of control.
Consider a similar intellectual dynamic. Either I am my only available frame of reference, or I can obtain others. Imagine that I am my only reference frame. Because everything available for my mind to consider could have originated within me, I reject the reality of the world. And then I find the following: I have filled my existence with more unfamiliar things than familiar, more uninteresting than interesting, and more mystifying than understood. Most of what I become aware of bears no interest to me, the stuff in life, like 300 cable channels I care nothing about, gift shops, Olympic curling, and junk mail. I can stack ten old books written in Chinese on my shelf being unable to read them, but then go out and get a degree in Mandarin, and then read them, perhaps even finding some information I was familiar with from English books. Thus since I am my only frame of reference, and I’ve concluded that nothing is real outside of myself, then I must have created this complex pictographic language and authored these books all without knowledge of having done so. Further, I have built or conceived all the machines I’ve ever used, written all the books I’ve ever read, composed all the music, and produced all the drama (even soap operas). In fact, the world revolves around me. I am the center of all human effort and achievement, having accomplished it all in my mind; and yet I experience these things as though they were new to me, as though I’ve never encountered them before. I didn’t even write Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago page-by-page while I was reading it, but I wrote it in its entirety before I began reading it, having drawn it to conclusion before I even know how it starts or even perhaps what it’s about; I discern this by the two copies I own, comparing them before and after I begin reading, and finding them to be identical; and I’ve created countless apparent humans familiar with the Gulag, and a thousand references to it in a hundred languages. I have done these things all without knowing it, and without being able to discern such. I am apparently omnipotent in my universe, except that I don’t even know how I made the bed I sleep on, nor can I change my own universe in most of the ways that I would like to. That is one theoretical possibility.
The other possibility is that I am not the only frame of reference available to me and that I am capable of interfacing with these other reference frames, which include people, whose perspectives I can add to my own to gain increasingly accurate information if I have eyes to see and ears to hear and a desire to know. Thus, when I purchase foreign language books (which I have done), and proceed to study that language (which I have done), and when I find that I can now read those books (which I have done albeit very slowly), then I know that I am interfacing with other frames of reference apart from my own. For, I read in Greek some things I have never heard of before, and other ideas which I have read before in English. And thus I discern two things: one, that other intellects, apart from me and with capabilities other than mine, exist; and two, that I am able to interface with these other frames of reference. As I combine observations from these sources, I find out that I can also interface with inanimate sources and reference frames, like cameras, scales, tape recorders, microscopes and telescopes. And so, I’ve learned that I can gain perspective from a multitude of counselors. Yesterday, millions of people, but not all, rose as the sun appeared, went about their business, and retired in the evening, and if I randomly interact with them, I find each capable of telling me about their lives in great detail, more detail than what I really need to conclude that they are independent reference frames. And so I learn that the world does not revolve around me.
If I had only my own frame of reference, then admittedly I would have a problem. As Jesus said, speaking as a man, “If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true. There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true” (John 5:31-32). And again, “if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me” (John 18:16). For, in making weighty determinations, as in trying to establish a murderer’s guilt, “one witness is not sufficient” (Num. 35:30) for “by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established” (Deut. 19:15; see also Deut. 17:6; 1 Tim. 5:19; Heb. 10:28). Yes, this idea of multiple frames of reference can arise while discussing the plurality of persons in the Trinity, but that belongs in a debate specifically on the Nature of the Christian God. Also, in this paragraph I am not here and now making any divine claims for Jesus Christ nor for biblical authorship, but rather, I am using these words as yet another way of explaining the importance of multiple frames of reference, both in physics and the consideration of knowledge itself.
No one needs to study philosophy to benefit from interfacing with these multiple frames of reference. We are wired from birth to take advantage of this. When a child is born, even if by then he still had access to only his own frame of reference, as he grows he becomes aware of others, and tests the veracity of these independent references, reinforcing their independence many times daily. Even though the toddler can’t read, he becomes persuaded of the existence of writing as his parents read VeggieTales books to him. He eventually becomes fully convinced of the independent perspectives of many frames of reference, and lives his life accordingly.
To this, Zakath will ask his question again: then how do you explain all the “conflicting claims” among theists? If increasing numbers of reference frames produce an increasingly accurate picture, why do so many argue about God? The Hubble telescope is blemished, but software corrects for the defect. Likewise, human frames of reference can be distorted; they may be ignored; and some objects in the field of view may be intentionally or unintentionally overlooked, or selectively exaggerated or diminished. Thus, if most of the Iraqi frames of reference want Saddam removed, but the French frames want him to stay, we can look for bias. And when we find that a non-trivial percent of the French economy is based upon contracts with Saddam, and when we find that Saddam’s regime systematically murdered and raped thousands of its own citizens, and was responsible for the deaths of over one million people, then we can get an increasingly accurate picture of reality even though we interface with apparently systematic, conflicting information from these millions of frames of reference. Conversely, if we intentionally reduce the number of reference frames we consider, and ignore objects in the field of view, we become willingly ignorant, and confound our own understanding of reality.
Zakath exaggerated the unanimity of opinion regarding objective truth (like basic science) saying, “It would be difficult to find anyone to seriously argue about actual objective truth, like the freezing or boiling points of pure water, [etc.]…” Huh? Ever talk to an atheist? How about a post-modernist, a nihilist, or Richard Rorty? Trying to nail down Bertrand Russell to consent to some specific, objective truth like even “2 and 2 are 4” must have been like trying to nail a fly to a gnat. ReligiousTolerance.org states that, “Many others say that absolute truth does not exist.” For centuries now the trend in academic and popular epistemology has been going toward a denial of any objective truth. While there is basic agreement among many scientists on things like atheism and evolution, there are huge disagreements too. And there is basic agreement even among the most diverse theists that some kind of divinity exists. But regarding truth, if everyone in the world rejected it, it would still be true: our solar system is heliocentric, and it was so in the Middle Ages even if everyone had believed Aristotle that the sun orbited the earth. But then if we are using all these frames of reference, why would we have more disagreement regarding God than regarding the earth’s approximate circumference? Why? Because more frames of reference have more at stake regarding the topic of God than they do about the 24,901-mile equator. If ever two competing national economies grew or shrunk by their ability to most accurately measure the earth’s circumference, watch the conflict flare.
My own frame of reference, interfacing with many others, has convinced me that 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 frames of reference 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 God, the more hesitancy, resistance, dishonesty and even fear, you will expect to see when compiling the frames.
Zakath, you say “that truth appears frequently in human endeavors as science, engineering, mathematics, and medicine.” And then you discredit truth “in other areas, including those debated frequently here on TOL like politics and theology.” Yet your own TOL signature claims, “a truism that almost any… religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power.” For all the contradiction that people display, even regarding issues of great importance to them, one thing that remains certain is self-awareness.
Consciousness is an absolute. Here is my third proof for the existence of a supernatural creator: consciousness. Atheists cannot even conceive, theoretically, in the most basic of terms, how self-awareness could develop from atoms and molecules. I can sense another question coming on. So far, I’ve pointed out that atheists cannot even conceive of a fourth alternative for the origin of the universe (yet they are afraid to admit it). And they cannot even conceive of a way to reduce the functional requirements of biological life. And now:
BQ8: Zakath, don’t prove, don’t provide details, but please just explain conceptually, in the most broad terms, how consciousness could have arisen from atoms and molecules.
So, consciousness, self-awareness, arising from matter – that’s a tough one. Because the molecules have to become aware of themselves. Yikes. But wait, Zakath, before you ignore this question also, let me throw in a handicap for you. You can begin with biological life. Yup. Start not just with atoms and molecules, but with proteins, DNA, RNA, ribosomes… aw, go ahead and take the enzymes and the cell wall too, yea, I’ll grant you an entire organism of living cells, in fact, a world full of them. Now, from atoms and molecules, and biological life, can you give us some idea, any hint of an idea, just conceptually, even vaguely, of how consciousness arises by natural processes?
Not only do you believe in something you can’t prove, not only do you believe in something you can’t give details about, you believe in something you can’t even imagine. You can’t even conceive of how a molecule, or a protein for that matter, or a million of them together, begin to become self-aware. That’s a kicker for you, isn’t it? Not only because you can’t even dream of how it might happen, but because you know that I know that you can’t even make a wild guess.
Atheists are loathe to admit that there are only three viable alternatives for explaining the origin of the universe, but they can’t even imagine a fourth, except perhaps to say that it doesn’t exist. And they think of every possible environment for beginning the development of simple biological life, but they can’t even conceive of such simplicity. And they must have self-awareness arise by natural processes; but they can’t even dream of a conceivable way that could happen. They don’t even know how to think about it.
Your worldview has no foundation. Faith can get no stronger, nor blinder.
Theistic Worldview: I have a worldview, described in these TheologyOnline.com posts, consistent within itself regarding origins and with the observable facts and the laws of science. There is no fourth alternative to explain the origin of the universe, and the most well-established physical laws indicate the universe could not always have been here, and could not pop into existence on its own from nothing, and so that leaves a supernatural, powerful, pre-existing Creator as the only other option. The irreducible complexity of biological life indicates that it could not have originated from simpler pre-cell life forms, and so that leaves a knowledgeable Creator as the only option. And (BA10) the consciousness of human beings could not arise by natural processes from matter, and so that leaves us with a personal Creator.
BQ9: Zakath, I am asking you to indicate true or false: (and please don’t ignore this question… true or false) Bob’s “Theistic Worldview” paragraph above contains foundational issues which his position does explain directly, but for which my position struggles to even explain conceptually.
Read again the last sentence of my worldview paragraph: The consciousness of human beings could not arise by natural processes from matter, and so that leaves us with a personal Creator. We just crossed the threshold in the debate to a personal God. Until now, I’ve only presented two arguments for God, evidence for Him being creative, eternal, powerful, and knowledgeable. Now, I am going to move into His being a personal God also. The foundation is laid.
To Be Continued…
Because I really would like to know your direct answers to these basic questions, I am going to keep this post narrowed to the above topics. In my next post, I plan to expand my summary answers to your ZQ10 –ZQ12, and discuss your Moral Knowledge Argument for Atheism. Also, perhaps we'll take a short break from discussing whether or not God exists, to ponder, Does ZA7 and ZA8 exist?
BQ7: Zakath, please present your own definition of truth, and then if you can, affirm that truth exists without equivocating.
BQ8: Zakath, please a) explain conceptually, in the most broad terms, how consciousness could have arisen from atoms and molecules, and feel free to even start with biologic life, or b) admit that you cannot.
BQ9: Zakath, please indicate true or false: Bob’s “Theistic Worldview” paragraph above contains foundational issues which his position does explain consistently and directly, issues which my position struggles to explain even conceptually. a) True b) False c) Cannot be answered
If B or C, please explain: _________________________________________________
Does Truth Exist?
As I stated in my previous post, I concede that truth, as Pastor Enyart defined it, exists. As I agree with his definition, for the purposes of this discussion, I see little need to continue to belabor the point.
Absolute Right and Absolute Wrong
With his question about absolute right and absolute wrong, Pastor Enyart appeared to be working very hard at setting up the Argument from Values. Simply stated, this argument is an axiological argument claiming that certain human values have universal existence outside of the human mind. To successfully use this argument he must prove that what he defines as absolute values come outside the human race. As you might imagine, this is a very weak argument consisting primarily of yet another assertion that "God did it" without being able to provide mutually acceptable evidence for the extra-human presence of any moral value. To deal with this argument, I suggested that Pastor Enyart should provide examples of both absolute right and absolute wrong as well as describing the superhuman standard upon which these concepts are based.
Failing in his first purpose, Pastor Enyart now falls back to the more tested Moral Argument. This presents the universality of a human "moral conscience" as evidence of a moral deity. Unfortunately, Pastor Enyart only seems to know two examples of actions that he claims demonstrate absolute values: the "crimes of rape and murder". I would agree that, in the society in which we both live, both rape and murder are crimes; and are viewed that way by many societies. The weakness in his argument lies in issue that for moral statements to be absolute they must they appeal to a superhuman standard; something beyond the human race. What we are trying to get to here is why Pastor Enyart claims that any action is absolutely right or wrong.
When asked to provide the moral standard upon which he bases his absolute moral systems, he suggests the human conscience. Instead of providing a standard outside of humanity, a requirement for acts to be considered absolute, he appeals to human conscience as the source of his absolute moral standard. I would concur that human conscience, in some form or other, exists in the vast majority of the human race; the possible exception to that rule being sociopaths or psychotics. The problem with Pastor Enyart's argument is that human conscience is not absolute. Thus his alleged absolute moral standards are still based upon relativistic human standards. History has shown time and again that humans can and do justify murder, rape, and any number of horrible acts against their fellow creatures while following their conscience. Men and women followed their conscience when they enslaved black Africans in the United States for hundreds of years. Men and women follow their conscience when they make themselves into human bombs to kill their enemies today in the Middle East. Men and women following their conscience have throughout the centuries practiced genocide, and the rape and pillage of war.
I suggest that the subjective nature of human conscience, shaped and molded to a great extent by the society in which one is raised and educated, is not support for an allegedly absolute moral code.
Pastor Enyart and the God of the Gaps
Pastor Enyart's last two arguments, deal with origins. He picks current areas of gaps in scientific knowledge and then asks anyone to whom he presents this argument to provide an explanation. He tasks me with explaining precellular organic life, the origin of consciousness, and the ultimate origin of the physical universe. To all these questios, I provide an honest answer of, "Well, science really doesn't know yet and neither do I." He then trots out his tried and true religious reply, "Well then, God did it." Limiting God to the gaps in human knowledge produces an entity that is, rather tongue in cheek, referred to as the God of the Gaps.
His method follows an argument that has been posed by religious leaders from the dawn of human time. The argument might go something like this…
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."
Lay Person: "Why did my crops sicken and die?" Religious Leader:"Do you have any rational explanation?" Lay Person: "Well, 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 for many of the unexplained events in our lives. Perhaps you've angered God somehow. Maybe you should come down to the temple and offer a sacrifice to appease the deity…"
… And so it goes; century after century, human culture after culture. The same arguments were used by the priests of ancient Greece to explain their gods and goddesses. Because there was not yet a rational, scientific way to explain thunder and lightning, they became tools of Zeus. The volcano became the forge of Hephaestus. The frenzy and irrationality associated with war became the province of Ares; the fecundity and fertility of the land, the work of Demeter. For hundreds of years king, clergy, and commoner alike used these and other gods and goddesses to fill the gaps in human knowledge with an answer "God did it." Yet over the following centuries, every one of these gods and goddesses withered to irrelevancy as human knowledge removed the need for them to explain what turned out to be natural events.
Today some people, like my opponent, still seek to fill the gaps in human knowledge with their deities. To them, I have one reminder – human knowledge of the natural universe grows, seemingly inexorably. The gaps of yesteryear are shrinking. Those whose God is limited to the gaps will find him eventually shrinking to irrelevance as the need for a God to explain the gaps vanishes along with them.
Trust in Jesus Christ's death and resurrection to become conformed to His image.
TOL BR VII DGE Post 4b -
June 30th, 2003, 02:11 AM
Zakath, thanks for hanging in there.
Bob’s Questions to Zakath
BQ1/BQ7: Zakath, please present your own definition of truth, and then if you can, affirm that truth exists without equivocating.
ZA5/ZA7: I concede that truth, as Pastor Enyart defined it, exists. As I agree with his definition, for the purposes of this discussion, I see little need to continue to belabor the point.
BE: Apology accepted.
BQ8: Zakath, please a) explain conceptually, in the most broad terms, how consciousness could have arisen, or b) admit that you cannot.
ZA8: Total direct reply: “the origin of consciousness… To all these questions, I provide an honest answer of, ‘Well, science really doesn’t know yet and neither do I.’”
Note: Zakath admitted he didn’t know, but avoided the thrust of my question by not even discussing the inability to even give a conceptual solution in the most broad terms, by which omission I take it that the atheistic community cannot even offer a wild guess in some vague direction for how intellectual consciousness can originate from matter.
BQ9: True or false: Bob’s “Theistic Worldview” paragraph (on origins of the universe, biological life, and consciousness) contains foundational issues which his position does explain consistently and directly, issues which atheism struggles to explain even conceptually.
ZA9: Zakath didn’t answer.
Note: Zakath explained that he “doesn’t know” how these originated and said that I asked him “to provide an explanation.” No I didn’t. That’s not what I asked. I want to find out if this defender of atheism could honestly assess the leaning of evidence. I want to know, regardless of ultimate truth, if this atheist can objectively indicate the general direction in which specific evidence points. He could have quoted the paragraph and answered: "false – the evidence in that paragraph points to atheism, and theism struggles to consistently account for it." There. See how easy! But that may have been awfully difficult to write with a straight face. Or, he could have answered: "true – but let me tell you about the quirk of science which causes fundamental discoveries to strengthen the theist position." Or, he could have shown that the question was unfair, because the facts, scientific laws, principles, and challenges listed really have nothing significant to do with origins.
Zakath’s Questions to Bob
ZQ1 – ZQ2 answered in post 1b.
ZQ3 – ZQ9 answered in post 2b.
ZQ10 – ZQ12 summary answers in post 3b and ZQ11 on right and wrong elaborated upon below, and I plan to further address ZQ10 and ZQ12 in future posts.
ZQ11: Demonstrate that both “absolute right” and “absolute wrong” exist and the superhuman standard behind such absolutes.
BA11: Below I expand upon my summary answer from Round Three, and correct Zakath’s misstatement of my position…
Right and Wrong
Zakath, you misstated my position. If I ever do that to you, please immediately inform me, because I couldn’t refute your position if I fundamentally misunderstood it. I do not base moral absolutes on the human conscience, as though our conscience was the ultimate standard. Rather, I’ve stated that our conscience is damaged. Here’s the correction: I pointed out in post 1 the common theistic belief that “a conscience… reflects [God’s] own righteous standard.” In post 2, I wrote that “absolute right and wrong would require a standard that transcends every man and every society.” In post 3: “Absolute morality can only exist if a moral authority above mankind exists. …and the collective conscience of mankind, though damaged, still provides strong evidence of these absolutes.”
Somehow, out of all that you managed that Bob “bases his absolute moral systems… [on] the human conscience.” Oops. And again, “his alleged absolute moral standards are still based upon relativistic human standards.” And then you easily ripped apart this argument that you wrongly attributed to me stating: “The problem with Pastor Enyart’s argument is that human conscience is not absolute. Thus his alleged absolute moral standards are still based upon relativistic human standards. History has shown time and again that humans can and do justify murder, rape, and any number of horrible acts…”
Horrible acts? Horrible? Aren’t they really just: different? After all, one man’s horror is another man’s comedy. Atheism undermines morality.
Your severe misstatement of my position confused conscience with God’s righteous standard. I am now reluctantly going to comment directly on you misstating my position, for in this Battle Royale I want to avoid criticizing idiosyncratic errors you might make, and stick to the substantive issues applicable to any debate on theism. But perhaps this notice will help improve the future rounds. In my experience dealing with atheists, it is extremely difficult to have a constructive dialogue because of constant obfuscations, common misstatements, and a general unresponsiveness, all of which are being documented in this public debate. For example, you have been unresponsive to my scientific arguments also, and have misstated my positions there, and have ignored the main points of my questions. (And I’m not in the least complaining that you haven’t caved in to my arguments.) You had agreed theism “is a very important question,” so please treat it according to your own valuation.
Proceeding, you listed the horrible acts of mankind against the theistic offer of evidence from conscience. If theists argue that men have a conscience which compels them to do rightly, then your list of evils would be evidence against us. But we don’t. (Remember, we’re the ones who talk about sin.) We argue that human beings are wired with the inescapable urge to weigh moral actions on the scale of justice.
Let’s back up for a moment to your Round Three argument against examples of absolute morality by identifying embedded conditions. I promised I would respond. You gave these definitions:
Absolute means: “Not limited by restrictions or exceptions; unconditional” Conditional means: “Imposing, depending on, or containing a condition”
With these you were responding to my Post 2 wherein I wrote: “There are conditions attending to every event, every good and every crime, and every chemical process for that matter.” You argue that if theists describe a wrong with any attendant conditions, then obviously, we’re not describing an absolute wrong. I have a hard time understanding why you continue to press that objection, and why you have tendered it seriously since long before this debate began. Please consider the following clarification, and in your next post, in Round Five, I would like you to retract the “conditions” argument against the possibility that absolute morality exists. Here we go:
An absolute standard exists by which acts can be correctly judged as morally right or wrong. The absolute standard has a set of rules, including do not murder, and do not rape. Rape is a certain kind of behavior, distinguished from other behavior by conditions. The conditions that identify rape do not mean that the standard which condemns rape is conditional. Rape is wrong. Murder is a certain kind of killing, distinguished from other killing by conditions (for example, if you pull a weed, you don’t murder it). The conditions which define murder do not mean that the standard which condemns murder is conditional. Murder is wrong.
This absolute moral standard declares that no one should ever do wrong hoping that good might come of it. Thus, if the human race would die out unless you raped a woman, you should humbly allow the human race to die out. (Besides, left-wingers don’t like humans all that much anyway.)
Is your objection to “conditions” even falsifiable? Your approach would be incapable of handling the following scenario: Let’s say that God really does exist, and He transported all of us to heaven, to show us His absolute standard, and then shuttled off to hell anyone who denied this absolute standard. Then He expected each of us to make judgments based on this standard. Behaving intellectually as you have been, would you be able to judge some evil act as absolutely wrong? I think you will see that unless you abandoned your ‘conditions’ argument, your ‘logic’ would prevent you from implementing even a now agreed-upon absolute standard. For, you would point to that definition of ‘absolute,’ meaning ‘unconditional’ (which would still apply), and you would point to a condition in the crime (the murderer was angry), and so you rule the act as not absolutely wrong! Therefore… Therefore what? Therefore Zakath is on the next busload…
We can play games, or we can honestly debate different positions. Life is too short to waste such time. So in the future, when a theist describes a crime which he gives as an example of an absolute wrong, you might intellectually argue that it is not absolutely wrong, but to argue it is conditional is hiding from the issue.
So, my question to you is, Zakath, will you retract the “conditions” argument against the possibility that absolute morality exists?
Human conscience is not all the evidence we have for an absolute moral standard, but it provides strong evidence. Yet, theists commonly admit that the conscience is “damaged” by sin. But if it is damaged, then, how could it provide evidence? Proof must obliterate any doubt; evidence is used to establish proof. You only need one proof, but it may consist of two or three pieces of evidence. Like the needle in a damaged compass which still tries to point north although sometimes blocked by its crushed case, the collective damaged conscience of mankind still indicates the existence of absolutes. An unemployed meteorologist refuses to acknowledge that weather patterns cross North America from west to east, because after all, at times he has personally felt an easterly wind blowing. And we have about six billion frames of reference on conscience from which to derive trillions of data points. The atheistic bias of science hinders the use of all that raw data.
Zakath wrote, “I would concur that human conscience, in some form or other, exists in the vast majority of the human race; the possible exception to that rule being sociopaths or psychotics.” Consider the offered exception of sociopaths. Conscience speaks to justice, whether something is justifiable or not, and regards issues like murder, kidnapping, rape, stealing, cheating, injuring, lying, negligence, and hurting. Sometimes people follow their conscience and avoid hurting others, yet at other times, people even take pleasure in intentionally inflicting great pain. 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, and Charles Manson are not satisfied just to inflict pain, they endeavor to justify their actions or deny guilt, trying to appease their conscience. Klebold murdered thirteen victims at Columbine High School. Time Magazine and a victim’s father, Brian Rohrbough, have both reported on his videos made with Eric Harris, that the pair justified their actions as a function of Darwinian natural selection, wherein the stronger organisms can destroy the weaker. (After an autopsy revealed that one of the murderers wore a shirt that said “Natural Selection,” the Denver Post declared that they had no idea what that phrase referred to.) Zakath has argued previously that it might be right to murder or rape one woman to save a city, whereas the Darwinian evolutionist Hitler’s regime argued that it was right to eliminate one race to save the world in the survival of the fittest. Of course, Zakath has admitted believing that, for example, the NAZI slaughter of millions of innocents was not absolutely wrong. I despise you for that, Zakath. But of course, your atheism leads your there. Sociopath Charles Manson tries to divert guilt by blaming Susan Atkins and his followers for taking his supposedly figurative words literally. Manson’s conscience is working all right, as was Klebold’s, and Hitler’s; each tried to appease his conscience by attempting to justify his actions. 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. Even a vengeful gang member who disclaims any morality exhibits a strong functioning conscience.
Zakath, we don’t really need to talk about absolute right and absolute wrong. We can simply talk about right and wrong, because if there are no moral absolutes, than nothing is even right or wrong. For you, there is no true right or wrong, only preferences. When you describe an act as horrible, you only mean you have a strong preference against it, but someone else may have an equally strong preference for it, and there is no standard by which your dislike for rape is objectively correct, and the other’s preference for it objectively incorrect. In your second post you said that child rape and racist murder “are both terrible evils and are wrong,” but that’s just your morality-envy playing with words, trying to appease your own conscience, and trying to make yourself look good by sounding like a theist. You should be a bold atheist and say, “Rape and murder are just preferences; we might not understand the preferences of others, but they are their valid preferences none the less; I have a preference against these, and others have a preference for them. I prefer mine, and they prefer theirs. I prefer wine, and they prefer blood. They have no need to justify their support of murder and rape because there is no standard by which I can truly condemn such. Of course, I have a social and personal preference, but if they have a different preference, mine cannot be shown to be truly correct, only different.” Hey, your conscience won’t like it, but then you’ll be consistent. But after saying things like that a hundred times, your conscience will be further seared, and it will begin to feel less troublesome. Be real.
Atheism undermines morality. Saying that there are no absolutes logically becomes there is no right and wrong. I’ve had many debates with high school and college students, some taped, like on our Get Out of the Matrix video. Is there such a thing as absolute right and wrong? “No.” Is it absolutely wrong to rape a woman? “No.” To kill an unborn child? “No.” Is it wrong to steal? “No.” To kidnap? “No.” To have an affair? “No.” To drill for oil in Alaska? “Absolutely!” Huh? That’s wrong? Okay…
Atheism steals from the moral capital of theism, and for a time, may exhibit a copycat morality. But without the foundation, the bankruptcy of atheism undermines morality.
Let’s talk about your Moral Knowledge Argument for Atheism. You asked in your Post 3: “If there is a deity, then why has he not demonstrated clearly, and unambiguously, his absolute standard?” For you to find out if He already has, you will have to consider the evidence from the other side of the debate. Consider this for a moment, that your conscience did not arise by chance to weigh moral actions, but that God instilled it within you, and you can hear its voice. And it tells you that the NAZI holocaust is absolutely evil, yet, you refuse to accept that, and the most you can admit is that you did not prefer the holocaust, but that it was preferred by others. (Atheism undermines morality.)
So then imagine on Judgment Day you complain to God that you had no evidence of an absolute righteous standard, and He asks you, “Didn’t you know that the holocaust was wrong?”
What do you say? “No?” “I didn’t know.” And then He says, “Your conscience told you it was wrong.” And you say: “I thought it just wasn’t preferred.” Boy, that’s gonna go over well. Then you are reminded that your conscience is just one function among many in your consciousness. And you’re reminded that you knew that you could conceive of no possible way for self-awareness to arise from matter. And you’re reminded that you had been clearly told that self-aware creatures require a self-aware Creator, because chemical reactions can generate heat and compounds, but not emotion, not intellect, not will, and not conscience. And you are then reminded that your consciousness was associated with your biological life, which is so irreducibly complex, that you couldn’t even imagine a way of simplifying the basic functions required for life so that it could even possibly arise by chance. And then you are reminded that you live on a planet in a universe for which you never could imagine an alternative method for how it got here, being stuck with either that it was always here, or it popped into existence from nothing, both of which violate the most basic laws of science, the very discipline by which you claimed to live your life.
Now I add the conscience (BA10-4) as a fourth evidence for God, and specifically for the God of Justice. For your conscience generates an inescapable urge to weigh moral actions on the scale of justice. And it gnaws at you because it says, “You must justify your faith in a natural process doing that which science implies it cannot. You must justify yourself believing that complex life can arise. You must justify yourself believing that a cause and effect chain in matter gave rise to consciousness, self-awareness, intellect, conscience, morality, emotion, and personhood.”
To Be Continued…
As promised, I have addressed ZQ11 and the Moral Argument for Atheism. In future posts, I will also expand my summary answers to your ZQ10 and ZQ12. You know what would have been great? In this round, imagine if you would have directly addressed my previous rebuttals to your the God of the Gaps argument. Since you didn’t, I’ll add that to my to-do list for a future post.
BQ13: Zakath, will you retract the “conditions” argument against the possibility that absolute morality exists?
If No, please explain: _________________________________________________
We at TheologyOnLine (namely me) have decided to take a small break in the Battle Royale VII due to the 4th of July Holiday.
With all the travel plans and typical Holiday madness we thought it would be best to take a short break to allow both combatants and staff to focus on the debate when there isn't so much chaos going on.
Both combatants have generously agreed to take this short break in the battle.
Zakath will have until Monday July 7th at 12:00 MDT.
We're almost half-way through the debate and thus far the theistic side of the argument has presented:
The God of the Gaps – here Pastor Enyart pointed to gaps in human scientific knowledge of the natural universe and claims that his "God" is the answer to fill these gaps. I reminded him that history bears out that such arguments have been steadily losing propositions for the theist as the gaps in human knowledge of the natural universe shrink. As the ancient Greeks and Romans found out, closing the gaps of human knowledge makes the gods of the gaps irrelevant.
Argument from Morality – here Pastor Enyart asserts that the existence of absolute right and absolute wrong are evidence for the existence of his deity. As of yet, Pastor Enyart has failed to clearly provide the absolute standard of right and wrong he claims to follow.
The atheistic side of the argument has presented:
Moral Knowledge Argument for Atheism – in Posts #3 and #5 I have presented the argument that it is logically inconsistent for a just and loving God, as defined by Pastor Enyart, to deny universal access to the absolute moral standard claimed by the good pastor.
Argument From Nonbelief – in Post #5 I present the argument that non belief in Pastor Enyart's God is strong evidence for his non-existence.
Pastor Enyart spent the bulk of his previous post attempting to accomplish two ends:
1. Continuing to press his argument for the existence of absolute good and absolute evil.
2. Attempting to address and refute the Moral Knowledge Argument for Atheism (MKAA).
My fifth post will address both of these two points and continue to provide support for a godless view of the universe by introducing another argument favoring atheism as a world view.
Pastor Enyart asks me to retract my argument against his attempt to define absolute morals as conditional definitions. In debate if one has a refutation for an opponent's points, one refutes them, he doesn't request that the opponent withdraw his points. If Pastor Enyart has a refutation for my argument, let him present it. If not, my point stands as an indication of the weakness of his argument. He has yet to demonstrate an example of absolute right or absolute wrong.
After asking me to drop my argument, Pastor Enyart then asserts that "an absolute standard exists by which acts can be correctly judged as morally right or wrong. This absolute standard has a set of rules…" I find it interesting that even after being asked more than once, Pastor Enyart has not shown us the standard to which he refers. He shows us only the example of the human conscience. He alludes to an absolute moral standard it in his third post with references to human conscience which I demonstrate is subjective and not absolute. His fourth posts claims again that an absolute standard exists, yet he shies away from plainly and clearly stating what the standard is and where it may be found.
In fact during his previous post, Pastor Enyart has made several claims about this alleged absolute moral standard including:
it actually exists
"An absolute standard exists by which acts can be correctly judged as morally right or wrong." – Enyart Post #4
it has structure
" The absolute standard has a set of rules…" – Enyart Post #4
he has read it or heard it
" This absolute moral standard declares that no one should ever do wrong hoping that good might come of it." – Enyart Post #4
One might ask, why the hedging and equivocation? Why, Pastor Enyart will you not show us your standard?
We have come so close to the core of the argument yet cannot, after four posts, seem to break through. So I will ask Pastor Enyart to perform essentially the same task I asked of his disciple Knight, here on TOL last summer…
Pastor Enyart, show us this unconditional, super-human standard so we may openly examine its validity and test your claims of its absolute nature.
In his previous post, my opponent asked me to "immediately inform him" if he ever misstated my position. He then promptly proceeds to misstate my position in his moribund arguments about absolute right and absolute wrong when he states, "… for you, there is no right and wrong, only preferences." This is a gross misrepresentation of my position. I never wrote, or implied, such a statement. It appears that Pastor Enyart is unfamiliar with the terms he so glibly tosses into the argument, so I will provide definitions from the Online American Heritage Dictionary, 4th Edition
1. Conforming with or conformable to justice, law, or morality: do the right thing and confess.
2. In accordance with fact, reason, or truth
1. Not in conformity with fact or truth; incorrect or erroneous.
2. Contrary to conscience, morality, or law; immoral or wicked.
1. The selecting of someone or something over another or others.
2. The right or chance to so choose.
3. Someone or something so chosen
There is nothing in the definitions that would state or imply that merely because an individual does not believe in the existence of absolute moral values that the individual does not believe in right or wrong. I, myself, am an example of the falsehood of Pastor Enyart's statement. I hold certain acts to be wrong (contrary to my conscience, morality, or law) and certain acts to be right (conforming to justice, law, or morality). I merely disbelieve the absolute nature of any moral pronouncement.
Let me reiterate yet again, that I do believe certain actions are right and others are wrong. My basis for such belief is not some mythical code of morality written on what Pastor Enyart refers to as the "damaged" conscience of human beings. The basis for how I define right and wrong is predicated on a number of factors including my early training by my parents, my formal education, my life experience, and the social mores of the community in which I live. This combination of factors is what provides the basis for judgment of "right" and "wrong" in a given circumstance. Drawing on a similar combination provides the basis for determining right and wrong for many mature adults. Because the degree of influence from these factors varies from individual to individual we must form a consensus to live successfully in society. Let's not mistake standards formed by societal consensus (secular or religious) for absolute standards. Societal views may change on numerous subjects over time. Shifting moral positions on such issues as slavery, abortion, and capital punishment serve as historically verifiable markers of the truly subjective nature of some societal morality.
If my opponent disagrees with this position, I challenge him, once again, to produce the standard of morality that he claims is the basis for his beliefs.
Moral Knowledge Argument for Atheism (MKAA)
The second topic Pastor Enyart addressed in his fourth post was the Moral Knowledge Argument for Atheism (MKAA). For ease of reading, I will restate it here:
1. If Pastor Enyart's God exists, then he is a being who is powerful, loving, and just.
2. If Pastor Enyart's God exists, it would be in his interest (loving and just) and within his capacity (powerful) for all human beings to know his absolute standards perfectly.
3. All humans do not know God's ethics perfectly, as is demonstrated by his followers disagreeing about many moral values.
Therefore: Pastor Enyart's God does not exist.
In my third post, I presented a clarity question which asked for Pastor Enyart to present a "clear, unambiguous, standard of absolute right and wrong." Unfortunately, Pastor Enyart chose, yet again, to provide only the human conscience has his sole answer. We've already demonstrated the subjectivity of the human conscience in cases where different individuals view the same moral question as either right or wrong depending on societal, psychological, or other factors. Pastor Enyart even admits that theists consider the human conscience "damaged", yet these damaged goods are the sole evidence he can muster, to date, as proof of his absolute moral standard. To this weak evidence I ask, yet again, Pastor Enyart show us the absolute moral standard that you allege exists.
Since Pastor Enyart failed to provide a significant answer to the MKAA in his last post, perhaps a further bit of explanation will help him to do so in future posts.
The first premise of MKAA is based on the definition of "God" supplied by Pastor Enyart. Unless he wishes to recant some or all of his definition of "God", the first statement is true.
Let's explore the second premise… Can we convincingly argue that it would be in God's best interest for all human beings to know his moral standards perfectly? To answer this, let's approach the question as if it was not true. If God could make his moral standard perfectly known to all human beings, what reason could there be for him not to do so? I can propose two possibilities. First, perhaps God shows favoritism, revealing his moral standard only to some individuals or he reveals it in a higher sense to some individuals but not to others. Unfortunately, this is inconsistent with Pastor Enyart's claim that his deity is just and loving since playing favorites implies that his God cares more about some humans than others. (Of course we are assuming that knowledge of Pastor Enyart's God's moral standard is a good thing, at least from God's point of view.) For Christians, like Pastor Enyart, favoritism is a non-argument since it is explicitly stated in Acts 10:24 (NIV) " Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism…" So, using the available evidence, we can safely assume that Pastor Enyart's God does not demonstrate favoritism.
On the other hand, we could imagine God spreading a limited knowledge of his absolute moral standard equally among all of humankind. This raises three issues:
1. What could possibly be gained by a self-imposed limitation of spreading something which, from God's point of view, must be considered good?
2. Humankind does not agree universally on any issue of morality or ethics.
3. If Pastor Enyart does believe that humankind agrees universally on any issue of morality or ethics, it is up to him to prove his claim.
Even if Pastor Enyart can demonstrate a universal agreement on a moral or ethical issue, he then must demonstrate that this universal agreement is derived from a supernatural source; something outside of humankind.
Argument from Nonbelief
It's now time to introduce another argument in favor of atheism, the Argument from Nonbelief (ANB)
This simple argument can be used in a variety of forms to demonstrate the illogic of belief in any deity. In this debate, since Pastor Enyart describes himself as a Christian minister, I will limit this argument to Pastor Enyart's God, the Christian deity.
Before we can get to the argument, a few definitions are helpful. First, we can define "the gospel message" very simply as the following:
a) There exists a being who rules the entire universe.
b) That being has a son whom he sent to be the savior of humanity.
This high level description attempts to avoid all denominational entanglements by stating clearly only two main defining points. Another definition, the "salvation situation" is also essential to understanding this argument. In this argument, we'll call this "situation S" – this salvation situation is one in which all, or almost all, humans since the time of Jesus of Nazareth coming to believe both propositions before their physical death. Using these definitions, the ANB can be formulated as follows:
1. If the God of Christianity were to exist, then he would have caused situation S to exist.
2. But situation S does not exist.
Therefore, the God of Christianity does not exist.
The power of this simple argument lies in it's reliance on the nature of the Christian deity. There are a variety of ways we could conceive in which God could have brought about the existence of situation S. He might have spoken to humans worldwide in thunderous tones or written his message clearly across the skies. He appears to have done neither. He might even have used more covert activities including sending angels disguised as humans (something that Christians assure us is possible, based on their scriptures) to preach to people so persuasively that they would believe the gospel. Additionally, he could have protected the Bible from defects possibly by guiding the writing, copying, and translating so that it would contain no unclear or ambiguous writings, or errors of any sort. It might contain very clear and precise prophecies that are amazingly fulfilled, then documented by neutral observers and widely disseminated. If that occurred, people reading the scriptures would be much more likely to infer that everything it contains is true, including the gospel message, making it more believable. Since none of these situations has occurred, this leads us to another question.
That is the question of whether Pastor Enyart's God actually wants everyone to believe in the gospel. According to I Timothy 2:4 (NIV) God, "wants all men to be saved and come to knowledge of the truth." In context, we can presume that "truth" here includes the gospel message. If this is true, then God must want situation S. Other scriptures supporting the idea that the Christian God wants situation S to exist include those commanding people to disseminate (Mt. 28:19-20, Mk 16:15-16) and believe (I Jn 3:23) the gospel. The gospels and epistle are replete with passage upon passage lending credence to the idea that God desires situation S to exist. Thus, premise 1 is true.
This brings us to premise #2. Our discussion started with Pastor Enyart asking me whether I believe in truth. Well, premise #2 is empirical truth; after almost 23 centuries passing since the introduction of the gospel the vast majority of the human race does not believe in both propositions of the Christian gospel by the time of their deaths. While Christianity may claim to be the single most widespread religion (about 32%, according to the World Almanac and U.S. Census Bureau - 2 billion Christians out of 6.3 billion humans), premise #2 is still true.
Since both premises are demonstrably true and the conclusion logically derives from the two premises; the logical conclusion is that Pastor Enyart's God does not exist.
Trust in Jesus Christ's death and resurrection to become conformed to His image.
TOL BR VII DGE Post 5b -
July 8th, 2003, 10:11 PM
At the end of our debate I plan to summarize all the questions and answers. This post will address the God of the Gaps attack on theism and Zakath’s latest challenge to absolute morality. My most difficult challenge lies not in answering questions and providing evidence, but in dealing concisely with my atheist opponent’s repeated misstatements, ignoring of responses, and attempts to defocus the debate.
Regarding Zakath’s argument from Non-Belief (ANB): Atheists I debate typically claim that science is the most reliable authority on reality. Yet, in debates on a Creator’s existence, anti-Creationists often want to move the discussion away from science over to philosophy or the Bible. In this Zakath has followed Dr. Eugenie Scott, a well-known anti-Creationist and participant on a nationally-broadcast PBS debate on evolution. I debated Scott on my own talk show (we have the tape), and she repeatedly tried to divert the discussion away from science. Zakath has likewise been trying to get away from science and bait me into a discussion on the Bible. For Battle Royale VII, I will avoid specifically Scriptural arguments and for the benefit of the readers, stick to the debate topic of Does God Exist? Theists do not believe that God came into existence with the writing of the Bible. So I prefer to use arguments that would apply even to an early human being who lived before the author of Genesis. Accordingly, 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, rather than sticking to the question of God’s existence, which has an answer that precedes the writing of any religious book. Thus, not to aid Zakath in using his ANB as a diversionary tactic, I will postpone answering it until my last post. (I will meet similar future attempts likewise.) If Zakath wants me to address it earlier, then since he said the ANB “can be used in a variety of forms to demonstrate the illogic of belief in any deity,” I invite him to give a form of his ANB that is not thinly veiled as an attempt to change the topic.
Bob’s Questions to Zakath
BQ13: Zakath, will you retract the “conditions” argument against the possibility that absolute morality exists?
ZA13: Zakath did not retract and after misstating this request also, stated, “My point stands…”
Zakath’s Questions to Bob
ZQ13: Respond to the God of the Gaps argument against theism.
BA13: I responded to Zakath’s earlier use of this argument in 2b, and Zakath ignored my reply as he continues to make the same Gaps contention, and below I more directly address the two ways that science deals with gaps.
ZQ14: Pastor Enyart, show us that the absolute moral standard that you allege exists, this unconditional, super-human standard so that we may openly examine its validity and test your claims of its absolute nature.
BA14: I have previously answered that the absolute moral standard is God’s righteous nature, which is “God’s own righteous standard,” and that therefore atheism undermines morality, and that conscience provides some evidence for that standard. To illustrate Zakath’s obfuscation and non-responsiveness, below at (BA14) I will give a list of his comments on this topic, along with my previous responses which he ignores or misrepresents.
God of the Gaps
Zakath wrote that theists prove God by their ignorant misinterpretation of “gaps in human knowledge” creating “the God of the Gaps.” Historically, science has addressed gaps in human knowledge in two ways. Science has filled gaps, and it has closed gaps. Here we go again:
Filled gaps represent previously unconnected observations which new knowledge has linked together. For example, men observed that rain fell from the sky, and that the sky never seemed to run out of rain, but people could not fill in the gap to explain the apparently eternal supply of rain. An understanding of evaporation and the water cycle filled the gap between these observations, and explained their association.
Closed gaps represent previously linked observations that science has permanently disassociated. For example, men observed that dead animals would putrefy, and that life spontaneously generated from the carcasses, but they could not fill in the gap to explain how new life (albeit maggots) could arise so regularly out of death. Louis Pasteur founded the field of microbiology with extraordinary scientific accomplishments in bacteriology, pasteurization, the development of vaccines for anthrax, rabies, diphtheria, and cholera, and by disproving spontaneous generation. His observations proved that rotting carcasses only nourished deposited eggs of Musca domestica, common houseflies, which then grew into larvae. That scientific discovery forced evolutionists to admit that the maggots did not spontaneously generate on decaying flesh. Pasteur’s work combined with discoveries in genetics from his contemporary, Gregor Mendel, finally explained the phenomenon. An understanding of microbiology and genetics closed the gap between these observations, refuting the validity of the second observation, and permanently disassociated them.
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?
We theists often say that denying God’s existence is like denying basic science. Forget for the moment the atheist questioning whether God exists. Atheists often pretend that the function of science which I call “closing the gap” does not exist. Atheists act as though science cannot close a gap. We easily find the motive for such a denial by observing that this function of science has the potential to doom atheism. If science ever openly admitted that natural processes could not produce the universe, biological life, or consciousness, then atheism is ruined. (But of course, godlessness would then get a boost, since men rebel even more fiercely against blatant truth). Thus for their own survival, atheists must deny science its voice, wherever its voice may prohibit natural origins. So we find this peculiar dichotomy among atheists regarding scientific discoveries: an approval of the possibilities of nature, and a rejection of the limitations of nature. It’s like the husband who will only look at his payroll deposits, but not the monthly bills.
In the last four rounds, Zakath has continued to make his God Did It and God of the Gaps arguments without even acknowledging my previous responses noted below. I understand why atheists have such a hard time even acknowledging the challenge to their gaps. For while they criticize theists for using gaps as evidence for God (which we should never do), they desperately need these gaps as evidence for atheism. When atheists admit that they don’t know how the universe, life, or consciousness could have arisen naturally, they fill in those gaps of ignorance with their faith in natural process. If they don’t know how it happened, then clearly, that ignorance cannot prove their assertion. On the other hand, we theists do not argue from “what we do not know, but from what we do know,” as my previous post 2b claimed, though falling on deaf ears. And when science closes a gap and permanently disassociates previously linked observations, we theists can then admit to the scientific findings. Atheists instinctively resist this type of hard science.
However, atheists typically do more than simply reject the scientific closing of gaps. A defense mechanism kicks in by which they do not even recognize what they are doing. It’s just like the superstitious religionist who ignores the evidence that threatens his favorite myth. Thus, in the fourth round, Zakath presented his God of the Gaps argument as though it were a new introduction into our debate. But he had made the same case in the last four rounds. That is fine. What is not fine, and what speaks to the common denial among atheists generally, is that he utterly ignored my response. And his atheist supporters in the grandstands greeted his round four Gaps post with cheerleading, seeming also not to have noticed that my rebuttal still stood unopposed. For atheism, the God of the Gaps contention is a leading argument. And if I present my leading argument, and it is fundamentally challenged, I am then compelled to address the challenge. Either I rebut it, admit that I cannot, or ask for more time to think it through. I don’t ignore it, especially not in a moderated, publicly held forum.
Here is what I had previously posted, way back in 2b, in response to the God Did It and God of the Gaps arguments:
In post 2b I asked rhetorically: “Applying knowledge to see the functional limitations in systems and laws [is] a scientific proposition, no?” I also stated: “The theist applies the most well-tested and fundamental laws of science to eliminate the possibility [of natural origins].” And I almost pleaded: “Zakath, I think you have misunderstood some of my arguments, so I am going to clarify them for you. If you find error in the clarification, I will be grateful if you can identify it. But please don’t just ignore the clarification and continue to repeat the mischaracterizations of my evidence. You have accused me of using ignorance as evidence. I agree with you that ignorance is no evidence. I can’t explain how gravity works, or why interior designers use odd-numbered groupings, or why vanilla ice cream outsells chocolate, but none of this ignorance, no ignorance, can reasonably be used as evidence for God. And if you ever find me doing such a thing, I will appreciate getting flagged. My evidence to you was not based upon what we don’t know, but upon what we do know, with the claim that your naturalistic time and chance proposals cannot work because they contradict what we do know. That’s not ignorance for evidence, that’s applying knowledge. If you can identify how I am misapplying knowledge, please do so. But don’t say that I’m arguing from ignorance. Instead, show me how I’ve incorrectly applied knowledge.”
That is why I asked you if a fourth alternative can account for the origin of the universe, or if there is any conceivable way to simplify the basic requirements for biological life. These questions get to whether the gaps are waiting to be filled, or have already been closed. And even if you have never consciously pondered the dual dynamic of gaps, filled or closed, still you instinctively ignore these questions. Fear is instructive.
I gave this illustration which Zakath has ignored since 2b: “A scientist can study the properties of a cure-all, and disprove a salesman’s claim that it will heal cancer: ‘It is only sugar water, don’t believe the claims.’” So why then does Zakath post a new God of the Gaps argument without addressing my previous response? I know why, Zakath. Do you?
It is not because you are intellectually incapable of following the argument. Also, it’s not because you think the argument is unworthy of refutation. It’s because you really don’t want to think about the issues I raise in my questions, the very issues that you have been ignoring, the issues that speak directly to the possible functional limitations of matter and energy. Yes, you have answered a couple questions. Most of your few answers, though, correspond seemingly to questions other than the ones which I have asked. Meanwhile, I directly answer your questions. I designed some of my questions to get you to focus on the scientific discovery of limitations. 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?
I will give you a few more examples of the difference between science filling the gaps and closing the gaps. When science fills a knowledge gap, the two edges of the crack remain where they had been, and the space between them is no longer empty. When science closes a gap, it applies inward pressure to one or both edges, which pushes the two edges together so that the gap disappears without ever having been filled. Closing the gap means to eliminate it, not fill it. Science closes gaps especially well.
Filled gaps: Nucleic acid coding for proteins; Asexual reproduction; The cause of the tides
Closed gaps. How the sun orbits the earth; How ships avoided the edge of the earth
For proteins, reproduction and the tides, science filled gaps by connecting observations with new knowledge. For geo-centricity and the flat earth, science closed gaps by permanently disassociating observations. Men had observed proteins, and Crick helped discover DNA and its nucleic acid base, and then science filled in the gap of how DNA codes proteins. Men had observed new plants growing, and buds falling off of existing plants, and then science began filling in the gap of how asexual reproduction works. Men observed the oceans, and the rise and fall of its surface, and then Isaac Newton’s discovery of universal gravity helped fill in the gap of why the tides ebb and flow by the attraction of the moon. Aristotle observed the sun rising and setting, and claimed that the earth could not be moving because it was too heavy and because rocks fell straight downward, but then Johann Kepler discovered elliptical orbits and science closed the gap of how the sun circled the earth. Men observed that ships sailed great distances, and that they never fell off the edge of the earth, but then science discovered that the earth is a sphere with gravity, and so science closed the gap of how ships avoided falling off the earth.
Gaps yet to be filled: What segments of DNA code for left-handedness; How does gravity propagate?
Gaps to be closed: How did the caterpillar/butterfly metamorphosis evolve? How did the sun nearly stop rotating?
A multitude of questions could illustrate both these filling and closing functions of science. Now, Zakath I wish you would directly and brilliantly address my argument, because even brilliance fails in the service of the impossible. And then, more atheists may see that their strongest argument is not invincible.
As for us theists, increasingly, scientific discoveries bolster our claims. We have greater depth and breadth of scientific evidence for creation than we did in Darwin’s day, when the cell might have been just a blob. For scientific progress has simultaneously limited the possible functions of natural processes (note Pasteur and spontaneous generation) and reveals increasingly complex interdependencies (note Mendel and genetics) in nature. The atheist fills the gaps with skepticism. But these forces of scientific progress squeeze the skepticism in the middle as they apply opposing pressures to close the Atheism of the Gaps.
Regardless of how unavoidable the proof becomes, realize that not even in the next life will you ever be forced to love God, just to acknowledge Him.
Zakath wrote in 4a: “Today some people, like my opponent, still seek to fill the gaps in human knowledge with their deities. To them, I have one reminder – human knowledge of the natural universe grows, seemingly inexorably. The gaps of yesteryear are shrinking. Those whose God is limited to the gaps will find him eventually shrinking to irrelevance as the need for a God to explain the gaps vanishes along with them.” How poetic.
Zakath, I have recognized the form of your argument all along. Now, if you have finally recognized my argument, then please answer my questions, and we will see who is being squeezed. For thirty years my theist friends and I have eagerly met scientific progress with celebration! I have a hard time believing that you evolutionists rejoiced over learning about the wildly complicated requirements of biological life or the ruthlessness of thermodynamics. For the two models for origins, the theist and atheist, both make significant predictions, and so far, science has confirmed many creationist predictions while confounding the atheistic ones. (Would you like to challenge me to a duel on examples of this?) God created and then rested. So science fills textbooks with natural processes which work during His rest; but science is only silent or self-contradictory when trying to naturally explain origins. Theism predicts that science can discover much about post-creation natural processes, but nothing of the possibility of the universe, life, and consciousness arising naturally. If we theists said that natural processes do not exist but that God does everything supernaturally, then every scientific discovery could refute that claim, and the area of science would increase as God’s “area” decreased. But we theists say that God created and then ceased from creation, allowing the creation to function normally. Thus truckloads of scientific discoveries show how orderly animate and inanimate systems function, yet science cannot find a natural process to explain these origins, but rather has shown these questions to be increasingly unanswerable as our knowledge grows. Of course, atheists may never admit this, regardless of how increasingly obvious it becomes. For already, the committed atheist believes that science is on his side only if he is in denial of the trend in the evidence.
Filled gaps: previously unconnected observations which new knowledge has linked together.
Closed gaps: previously linked observations that science has permanently disassociated.
So 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? Hint: science denounces theories for which there is no potential falsification.
Now what? Now the expectations have been raised. Now a balanced treatment for apparent gaps in knowledge has superceded the one-sided atheistic presentation. And this treatment identifies that some gaps are no gaps at all, thus the science that explained the spontaneous generation of maggots was no gap of science, but a fanciful wish of the evolutionists. So, where an atheist claims a gap, educated men must consider whether the gap ever existed at all, whether it is only a myth which science perhaps has already closed. Zakath, why don’t you make a commitment to yourself that thirty years from now, on your deathbed (if you have that luxury), you will look back to see if scientific progress has filled any of the origins gaps, or if they’ve been squeezed shut even more tightly. But for now Zakath, from here on out, any time you reference gaps, readers on both sides will expect you not to dodge, but to defend against, the assertion that science has closed the gap. And that’s just what you fear attempting.
Right and Wrong
In my last post I accused Zakath of misstating my positions, and tit-for-tat in 5a he accused me of the same. However, when I caught Zakath’s indefensible, sly misstatements on my science and morality positions, he wisely offered no defense. But I can defend my words since I openly indicated that I was restating his position to show it more nakedly for the amoral position that it is. At most, I could be wrong, but I can’t be guilty of misstating, for I was giving my opinion of his position. I pointed out to you Zakath, that as an atheist, you should admit that for you, right and wrong are only personal and societal preferences with which others have disagreed. You protested this too much. For you to resist this valid clarification tells me that I hit a sore spot, and that I am debating a typical uncomfortable atheist, living in denial, who fears his own fundamentally amoral atheistic worldview, who pretends toward some semblance of absolutes by masquerading as a virtual theist in order to make himself more palatable.
To illustrate Zakath’s obfuscation and non-responsiveness, I am going to give a list (BA14) of his comments, and my previous responses which he ignored or misrepresented. NINE TIMES in post 5a alone, interspersed with other distractions, Zakath brooded:
1. Pastor Enyart has not shown us the standard to which he refers.
2. …he shies away from plainly and clearly stating what the standard is and where it may be found.
3. One might ask, why the hedging and equivocation? Why, Pastor Enyart will you not show us your standard?
4. Pastor Enyart, show us this unconditional, super-human standard so we may openly examine its validity…
5. I challenge him, once again, to produce the standard of morality that he claims is the basis for his beliefs.
6. I… asked for Pastor Enyart to present a clear, unambiguous, standard of absolute right and wrong.
7. Pastor Enyart, show us the absolute moral standard that you allege exists.
8. …he shies away from plainly and clearly stating… where [the standard] may be found.
9. Pastor Enyart has failed to clearly provide the absolute standard of right and wrong he claims to follow.
I follow God, and He is the standard you ask for. Of course I had indicated this in my first post, and repeated it later, that the absolute standard is “God’s nature,” which is “His own righteous standard,” and I stated in 4b that our “conscience… reflects God’s ‘own righteous standard.’” So, if Zakath wastes another forty paragraphs asking twenty more times, “show us the absolute moral standard,” I will answer, the absolute moral standard is God’s righteous nature. Of course, Zakath could reject this by saying that God does not exist, and therefore my standard does not exist. But his pretending ad nauseam that I haven’t identified the standard is getting old. Perhaps Zakath is chanting this refrain in hopes that the audience will forget what they have already read.
Zakath in 5a: “Pastor Enyart asks me to retract my argument against his attempt to define absolute morals as conditional definitions.”
I did not. In 4b I wrote: “An absolute standard exists by which acts can be correctly judged as morally right or wrong. The absolute standard has a set of rules, including do not murder, and do not rape. Rape is a certain kind of behavior, distinguished from other behavior by conditions. The conditions that identify rape do not mean that the standard which condemns rape is conditional. Rape is wrong.”
I did not “attempt to define absolute morals as conditional definitions” which is just another transparent obfuscation. I asked Zakath to “retract the ‘conditions’ argument against the possibility that absolute morality exists?” Evidence that Zakath knows his argument is just a trick is that he did not take up my challenge to show that his position is falsifiable. I will now promote that test to an official question by repeating the challenge:
4b: “Is your objection to ‘conditions’ even falsifiable? Your approach would be incapable of handling the following scenario: Let’s say that God really does exist, and He transported all of us to heaven, to show us His absolute standard, and then shuttled off to hell anyone who denied this absolute standard. Then He expected each of us to make judgments based on this standard. Behaving intellectually as you have been, would you be able to judge some evil act as absolutely wrong? I think you will see that unless you abandoned your ‘conditions’ argument, your ‘logic’ would prevent you from implementing even a now agreed-upon absolute standard. For, you would point to that definition of ‘absolute,’ meaning ‘unconditional’ (which would still apply), and you would point to a condition in the crime (the murderer was angry), and so you rule the act as not absolutely wrong!” Zakath, if you can’t falsify your own ‘conditions’ ploy, you will have admitted that you know it is bogus. So, Zakath, please show that your ‘conditions’ argument against the possibility of absolutes is potentially valid by falsifying it. (Readers: if he cannot even theoretically show evidence by which his proposition would be false, then that demonstrates that it is a nonsense proposition, such as the person who says aliens live in his head but that they are undetectable by any means, whereas we can formulate tests for real propositions such as “gravity is universal” which can potentially falsify the theory, for example, if we put masses in proximity to one another and could find no evidence of attraction.)
In Round Four Zakath challenged “that Pastor Enyart should provide examples of both absolute right and absolute wrong,” and followed that in 5a with, “He has yet to demonstrate an example of absolute right or absolute wrong.” Once again, Zakath could have explained why my offered examples fail to meet the challenge. Instead he ignores that I had given him specifics and some general rules for identifying absolute right and wrong, and I will limit my examples here to:
1. violating the demands of justice for equitable punishment, like execution for petty theft (2b)
2. unconditional rape (3b)
3. unconditional murder (3b)
4. “an absolute wrong is a harm that cannot be justified” (3b)
Number one above does not even fall into that “condition, repeat” ruse. Neither does two. Neither does three. Neither does four.
Oh yeah, and while we’re at it, when I wrote in 2b that “an absolute wrong is a harm that cannot be justified,” my atheist managed this beauty in 3a: “by his own definition an absolute statement ‘cannot be justified.’” Sure. (Dear readers, do your atheists behave this way also?) And can I throw in this from atheist Post 3a: “Pastor Enyart has 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.” And then in 4a Zakath seriously asks me “to provide mutually acceptable evidence,” but of course, that requires a mutual commitment to honesty.
While I have presented some arguments as proof for God, for now, I have presented conscience as just evidence, not as full-fledged proof. Then, humans weigh the evidence. Onlookers questioning whether or not God exists can look at your interpretation and my interpretation of the stated evidence, for example, that overly severe punishment absolutely violates the equity demands of justice. Thus I claim a violation of the demands of justice when the NAZIs executed minorities who married Germans, and when a judge severely beats a woman for stealing a slice of bread. You have already admitted, repeatedly, that any absolute standard of justice could only come from a source that transcends humanity, such as a God if one existed. That is why you reject such absolutes. Thus to defend atheism, you have to argue that a government that executes petty criminals is not violating an absolute human right or an absolute principle of justice. Most people don’t think through the implications of absolute morality, as you have; and thus you have aided me in teaching folks that the existence of objective morality is powerful evidence for God, who would qualify as a standard above mankind. And as human beings weigh the two interpretations above, for many, even their broken conscience tells them that justice is more than just a preference, and that it absolutely requires equity. Then the evidence builds. Take man’s “inescapable urge to weigh moral actions,” and add the scientific need for a supernatural Creator who originated the universe, life, and personal consciousness, and the evidence points to the source of this real justice. Thus we determine with certainty that such judicial cruelty, for example, goes beyond just social preference and convenient laws, to become absolute injustice, because they violate the law our Creator wrote on our hearts.
Finally, Zakath agreed “that human conscience, in some form or other, exists in the vast majority of the human race” but then gave a “possible exception to that rule being sociopaths,” an exception that I rebutted with examples like the Columbine murderers and the NAZIs. Zakath rightly left this unanswered, since the evidence indicates that all the billions of functioning human beings, even the wicked, have a conscience.
By this fifth round, I wanted to conclude other old business continuing to answer directly and forthrightly, and add to my existing argument for God a fifth line of evidence from astronomy. But unfortunately, I had to commit too much space trying to keep Zakath honest. Even this, however, instructs us by illustrating the common atheist tactic of duplicity to cover up their losing position.
Zakath, at any time please feel free to indicate if you refuse to, or cannot, answer any particular questions, but then please explain why.
BQ14: Zakath, can science possibly discover real limitations of matter, energy, and natural processes? a) Yes b) No
If No, please explain: _________________________________________________
BQ15: Zakath, can you admit a bias in which you would be slower to recognize a scientific limitation of nature than would a theist? a) Yes b) No
BQ16: 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? a) Yes b) No
If Yes, please explain how: _________________________________________________
If No, please explain why not: _________________________________________________
BQ17: Zakath, please show that your ‘conditions’ argument against the possibility of absolutes is potentially valid by falsifying it (feel free to use my scenario or your own).
BQ5: (resubmitted) Zakath, please indicate true or false: There are only three theoretical alternatives to the origin of the universe, it was either: always here, popped into existence from nothing, or was supernaturally created. a) True b) False
If False, please list others: _________________________________________________
BQ18: Zakath, please indicate which of these laws of thermodynamics do you believe do not apply to the universe as a whole:
a) The First Law: that nature can bring neither matter nor energy into existence from nothing.
b) The Second Law: that the universe cannot work and burn forever, since it would eventually expend all available energy.
c) Neither the First nor Second laws apply to the universe as a whole.
d) Both the First and Second laws apply to the universe as a whole.
Please do your best to explain your answer, or explain why you cannot or will not answer: _________________________________________________
BQ19: Zakath, if you really want us to pursue further your Moral Knowledge Argument for Atheism, then please address my prior BA9 answer, way back in 2b, on the negative consequences of shoving truth into someone’s face.
DING DING DING.... That's it for round #5. Battle Royale VII is now officially halfway over! If the last five rounds are as good as the first five rounds this will most certainly be a battle of epic proportions!