Showing posts sorted by relevance for query evolutionary argument. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query evolutionary argument. Sort by date Show all posts

Sunday, May 19, 2013

My Evolutionary Argument Against God (EAAG)

Atheists generally tend to not rely on deductive arguments or syllogisms to make their case against god. However, while recently debating my challenge to theistic evolutionists against the incompatibility of a wholly good creator with evolution, I've come up with a counter argument to Alvin Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism called the Evolutionary Argument Against God or the EAAG.

This argument is predicated on the traditional concept of god who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good and the notion that god either started the evolutionary process as a means to enable human existence or that he guided the evolutionary process along some of its steps to ensure humans would evolve.

The argument goes as follows:

  1. If god chose to use evolution as the process by which he created human beings and all other forms of life, then god knowingly chose a process that requires suffering that is logically unnecessary.
  2. If humans are the product of gradual evolution guided by god, then at some point during the process the soul appeared.
  3.  Once human beings had souls, they could be rewarded in an afterlife for the suffering they endured while they were alive.
  4.  If higher level primates are capable of third level pain awareness (knowing they are experiencing pain) then our pre-human hominid ancestors did too and they did not have souls.
  5. This means god chose to create humans using a method that knowingly would involve conscious suffering that was not logically necessary.
  6. An all-good, perfectly moral god who is incapable of unwarranted cruelty would not create beings that could consciously suffer in a way that was not logically necessary.
  7. Therefore, the traditional notion of god who is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-good does not exist.

Since almost every premise here is a conditional, let’s examine each of the premises to see what objections we might find.

(1) If god chose to use evolution as the process by which he created human beings and all other forms of life, then god knowingly chose a process that requires suffering that is logically unnecessary.

Premise 1 asserts the fact that the evolutionary process logically requires suffering, which god would of course have known before using the evolutionary process to create humans. Some theists like William Lane Craig think of god like an artist who takes pleasure in the method for creating life using evolution. Another theory is that god chose to use evolution contingently as a punishment for original sin which god decided would be applied retroactively to the millions of species that existed before human beings. Alvin Plantinga has proposed the idea that “Satan and his minions” have tinkered with the evolutionary process and have caused the natural evils it produces. Regardless of what explanation a theist has in mind, god still willingly chose to create man using millions of other species merely as a means to an end, and many of those species contained sentient beings who suffered tremendous ordeals. It seems odd to me that a wholly good and benevolent god would intentionally choose a method of bringing about man that requires millions of years of suffering.

(2) If humans are the product of gradual evolution guided by god, then at some point during the process the soul appeared.

For premise 2, even if a theist believes that fully rational humans appeared at once in a single generation as some theistic evolutionists do, or that "humans" can only be body + soul composites, we still have enough evidence that our hominid ancestors and cousins like Neanderthals had language capability (via the FOXP2 gene that we share) and that means they certainly had higher functioning rational and cognitive faculties than modern day chimps and gorillas. So millions of years would have passed before we get modern humans during which our pre-human hominid ancestors and cousins lived who were capable of conscious, apperceptive suffering.

(3) Once human beings had souls, they could be rewarded in an afterlife for the suffering they endured while they were alive.

Most theists believe that the soul gives humans the possibility of being rewarded in an afterlife and that this compensates the suffering that humans endure in their physical form on Earth. Natural evils like disease all have a purpose, according to some theists, in that they bring people closer to god, or that they are the byproduct of original sin. But, if a human is defined as a body + soul composite, then our pre-human hominid ancestors lacked souls and were suffering from the same diseases and natural evils that we are. God must’ve chosen not to compensate their suffering, while at the same time he allowed them to evolve the ability to be consciously self-aware of their suffering. The original sin argument doesn't make sense either. There's no evidence that there were ever just two people, and, the theist would have to believe that the punishment for original sin was retroactively applied to animals before humans even evolved! Not only is this cruel, this doesn't make sense considering evolution requires suffering. It is impossible to have an evolutionary process unfold without it. So theists who bring up original sin are logically incoherent.

(4) If higher level primates are capable of third level pain awareness (knowing they are experiencing pain) then our pre-human hominid ancestors did too and they did not have souls.

If premise 4 is true it logically follows. Our pre-human hominid ancestors and cousins like Neanderthals would have had evolved advanced levels of cognition that may not have been quite as advanced as a modern human, but necessarily must have been more advanced than a modern day primate like a chimp or a gorilla.

(5) This means god chose to create humans using a method that knowingly would involve conscious suffering that was not logically necessary.

Premise 5 suggests that god is just a mere utilitarian who uses millions of other species as a means to his end goal of creating human beings, but what makes god different from other utilitarians is that since evolution requires massive amounts of suffering, god actually chooses the greater of two evils rather than the lesser of two evils! It’s kind of odd since he’s supposed to be morally perfect.

(6) An all-good, perfectly moral god who is incapable of unwarranted cruelty would not create beings that could consciously suffer in a way that was not logically necessary.

Premise 6 states the most important logical aspect of the argument – that a morally perfect being like god is incapable of unwarranted cruelty, which evolution requires. There seems to be no plausible way that a theist can justify the suffering that evolution requires. I have heard theists like William Lane Craig argue that animals are not consciously aware that they’re in pain, but he even admits this does not apply to the higher primates, and that logically means it wouldn’t apply to our hominid ancestors. That's really all I need to show in order for my argument to work. And so if our suffering is logically necessary for some unknown purpose because we have souls, then this fails to explain why soul-less conscious animals would have to suffer under the evolutionary process.

(7) Therefore, the traditional notion of god who is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-good does not exist.

If my premises are correct, then the conclusion in number 7 logically follows because an all-good god is incompatible with creating unwarranted cruelty, and because that requires the ability or at least the capacity of intentional cruelty or indifference.

If this argument is successful this means theists like William Lane Craig and Alvin Pantinga have to accept that god is intentionally cruel and capable of committing unwarranted suffering, which means of course he cannot exist!

In order for the theists who holds to the view of god this argument is predicated on the refute the EAAG, they would have to show how the argument is somehow logically invalid, or show how a wholly good, morally perfect god is compatible with the existence of gratuitous, logically unnecessary apperceptive animal and pre-human hominid suffering, in which case they’d have to attack the science backing up third level pain awareness. If the theist cannot do this, they must admit that their notion of god is either incompetent, indifferent, or intentionally cruel, in which case their concept of god would be logically incoherent with what they’d be conceding. That would mean that this concept of god cannot logically exist. And since this concept of god must exist in every possible world, as per the ontological argument, if there exists a single possible world that this god is incompatible with, then it destroys the possibility of this god existing in any possible world. That world is the actual world. 

This argument is admittedly in its first draft and will most certainly need to be refined with time. I've considered shortening it down to 5 or 6 premises. I want this argument to be part of the public domain, so if you think it works and you think you can improve it, by all means customize it to your liking.

For other versions of this argument click here.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Alvin Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN) Part 2

The Gist Of It

Mathematically, Plantinga's argument looks like this P(R/N&E) where P is the probability of (R) the reliability of our beliefs, divided by (N) naturalism & (E) evolution. Plantinga's calculation of the P puts the probability of unguided evolution to favor true beliefs to be most likely very low. But why think it should be low?

It doesn't take an evolutionary biologist to see how under evolutionary theory, species that evolved sentience and could assess their environments would be favored for their survival advantage. And the more accurate the level of sentience, the greater the evolutionary advantage. There are two aspects to our beliefs. The first aspect are the cognitive faculties that we use to understand the world around us, such as our neurophysiology, sense of sight, hearing, and sense of touch etc. And the other aspect are our beliefs themselves that are dependent on the senses and the brain. Since it seems obvious that evolution would select for accurate senses, like for example the eagle's keen sense of sight, or the bear's keen sense of smell, then we have no reason to believe that the five senses humans have shouldn't accurately interpret the world around us. Our very evolution and survival depended on them being accurate for finding food and avoiding predators and danger.

This brings us now to our beliefs. Even though we may have evolved senses that are capable of accurately interpreting the world around us, that doesn't necessarily mean that every one of our beliefs are true. The truth is, our cognitive faculties aren't fully reliable, and that's exactly why we need science to help us determine what's real from what's imaginary. Recall the scenario in part 1 where I described the increased chance of the hominid's survival if it believed that a rustle in the bushes might be the result of a predator. Even though false positives are favored by evolution, once the rustle in the bushes can be investigated and it turns out to have been just the wind or a harmless animal, there's no logical reason to continue believing that it was a wild predator or the product of some unseen nefarious agent. Parallel this with the way our superstitious beliefs once made us inaccurately believe that naturally explained events in the world were caused by angry gods, and contrast that to how our modern scientific understanding of the world has shown us how the world really behaves. An investigation into the cause of the rustle in the bushes is in a way, tantamount to a modern scientific investigation into the true causes behind the beliefs that our senses hastily trigger.

Now that's the layman's argument.

Stephen Law's assessment of the EAAN exploits the assumption by Plantinga that the content of beliefs being true have no relation to adaptive behavior. "It can do its job of causing adaptive behaviour just as well if it is false as if it is true." Plantinga writes, "It might be true, and it might be false; it doesn’t matter." Law responds to this assumption:

Consider the suggestion that there exist certain conceptual constraints on what content a given belief can, or is likely to, have given its causal relationships to, among other things, behaviour. My claim is that, given the existence of certain conceptual constraints, unguided evolution will then tend to favour true belief.

Law then jumps into an overly convoluted hypothetical involving probability of belief content and its correlation with adaptive behavior, but he concludes by saying:

Suppose that, solely in combination with a very strong desire for water, a certain belief/neural structure typically results in a subject walking five miles to the south. Surely, if there are such conceptual links between behaviour and content, then the property of causing that behaviour in that situation will be among those properties lending, as it were, a considerable number of points towards that belief/neural structure achieving the threshold for having the content that there’s water five miles south. Other things being equal, that belief/neural structure is much more likely to have the content that there’s water five miles south than it is, say, the content that there’s isn’t water five miles south, or that there’s water five miles north, or that there’s a mountain of dung five miles south, or that Paris is the capital of Bolivia. Perhaps the belief/neural structure in question might yet turn out to have one of these other contents. We can know a priori, solely on the basis of conceptual reflection, that, ceteris paribus, the fact that a belief/neural structure causes that behaviour in that situation significantly raises the probability that it has the content there’s water five miles south. Among the various candidates for being the semantic content of the belief/neural structure in question, the content that there’s water five miles south will rank fairly high on the list.

But now notice that, given such conceptual constraints exist, unguided evolution will indeed favour true belief. Consider our thirsty human. He has a strong desire for water. He’ll survive only if he walks five miles south to where the only reachable water is located. He does so and survives. Suppose this adaptive behaviour is caused by a certain belief/neural structure. If there are conceptual constraints on belief content of the sort I envisage, and if a belief/neural structure in that situation typically causes subjects to walk five miles south, then it is quite likely to have the content that there’s water five miles south – a true belief. Were our thirsty human to head off north, on the other hand, as a result of his having a belief/neural structure that, in that situation, typically causes subjects to walk five miles north, then it’s rather more likely that the belief in question is that there’s water five miles north. That’s a false belief. Because it is false, our human will die.

He further adds:

If beliefs are neural structures, then it is at least partly by virtue of its having certain sorts of behavioural consequence that a given neural structure will have the content it does. If such constraints exist, then one cannot, as it were, plug any old belief content into any old neural structure, irrespective of that structure’s behavioural output.

What Law is basically saying is that there are conceptual links between a belief's content and that content's relationship with survival. If your very survival is on the line, you simply cannot entertain false beliefs without the ability to perceive true beliefs because false beliefs can be very costly in an evolutionary sense. So even though nature's tendency to favor false positives exists, it also awarded species accurate senses that can properly discern reality, and this can be used to investigate and falsify those false positives in particularly evolved species like us, in the form of what we call today science. But...even if there weren't any good explanations for why evolution would allow for accurate beliefs, the paltriness of the alternative hypothesis (that I critiqued in part 1) is bad enough when one considers the fact that it can only be justified with tremendous faith on supernatural events like original sin that stand in defiance (and in contradiction) of any serious scientific evidence. The alternative to naturalistic evolution is therefore an entirely faith-based position.

The very idea that evolution merely rewards adaptive behavior and not truthful beliefs actually would show why us religious beliefs are not true. But skepticism is actually not something very well rewarded by evolution, since we know it favors false positives over false negatives. So if Plantinga's account of naturalism is taken superficially, he successfully shows why religious belief isn't true, since that's what evolution would favor in the form of false positives. I think theists and naturalists alike can acknowledge the fact that humans have believed many far-fetched ideas that had little grounding in reality. It's safe to say that most of our beliefs throughout human history were false. The reason why this is so is clear: without science to test and falsify dubious beliefs, we had no way of knowing the truth except with what can be known a priori. Science has done a brilliant job at eradicating the nonsensical, and the triumph of naturalism over the past few hundred years is a testament to the power of science. To date, there isn't a single sufficiently explained phenomenon that has a supernatural cause. And the thing is, science can, in principle, verify the supernatural. All we would need to do is observe and measure a clear violation of the known laws of physics under highly controlled circumstances, in such a way where it would be obvious that intelligence was behind it. But I won't be holding my breath for the day when that happens.

Finally, Plantinga's own "sophisticated" theology itself has a built-in a defeater to his own argument that our beliefs are true because god guided evolution. When it comes to natural evils Plantinga says, "Satan and his minions, for example—may have been permitted to play a role in the evolution of life on earth, steering it in the direction of predation, waste and pain."* So if theistic evolution is true and if demons can tinker with the evolutionary process while god is powerless to stop them (in order to not violate their free will), then why should we believe our cognitive faculties and beliefs are accurate? Under Plantinga's sophisticated theological hypothesis, malicious demons could surreptitiously be playing tricks on our minds and they could've steered our evolution in such a way that made our beliefs untrue. And with this brilliant piece of theological insight, he destroys his own argument.

Plantinga is not offering a serious argument here if he actually expects the naturalist to entertain the idea that earthquakes, diseases and the evolutionary process itself can literally be caused or influenced by evil demons in order for his EAAN to be plausible. It's ideas like this that make me have to sigh in dismay at what happens when one rejects methodological naturalism in favor of supernatural conjecture. This is exactly why naturalism has been the preferred methodology of science since Darwin.

And lastly, if Plantinga represents one of the pinnacles of sophisticated contemporary theology, then his absurdities speak volumes about the intellectual bankruptcy of theology in general, and its failure to be congruous with actual science.

I am in the midst of developing a counter argument to Plantinga's EAAN. Mine is called the Evolutionary Argument Against God or EAAG, and it's designed to show how evolution is not compatible with the concept of an all-powerful, all-knowing and all-good god in the form of a syllogism. Stay tuned.

(Click here for the argument.)


* Plantinga, A, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism (2011, Oxford University Press). pp. 58-59

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Refuting William Lane Craig: William Lane Craig Fails Again On Gratuitous Evil

I wrote my Evolutionary Argument Against God partly in response to Alvin Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism, and William Lane Craig's fuck up on animal suffering.

On a recent Q&A on his website, ReasonableFaith, Craig addresses the problem of gratuitous suffering. A writer asks Craig about his debate with Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (which I reviewed here) where Armstrong made an argument that gratuitous evil is incompatible with god:

your response to the problem of gratuitous natural evil seems to create a problem for people who want to be moral. I perceive a baby dying of a painful disease as a moral evil and I judge God to be an immoral monster for allowing that to happen. But your response suggests that my judgment is in error: how do I know God does not have some greater reason for allowing that suffering?       

 Now onto Craig's response. He says,

There’s just no good reason to be a moral sceptic unless you’ve got some sort of really powerful argument for atheism, an argument whose premises are attested even more powerfully than the existence of objective moral values and duties. But what could that argument be? You yourself recognize that the argument from apparently gratuitous evil in the world will not do because of the infeasibility of proving that the evil we see is, indeed, gratuitous. So what justification is there for being an atheist and, hence, a moral sceptic?

In my review of Craig's debate with Armstrong, I pointed out that Craig's rebuttal didn't even begin to address the problem of conscious animal suffering. This is clearly a case of gratuitous suffering. Also, Craig justifies human suffering by saying it is the fault of man's sin and rebellion against god, but how does that account of millions of years of evolution that required suffering long before humans arrived on the scene? Craig's appeal to animals not having meta-cognition has been debunked numerous times, and even Craig admits primates have meta-cognition. 

Then Craig says,

Given our historical and cognitive limitations, I think that we are simply not in a position to say with any sort of confidence that the evil we observe in the world is pointless or unnecessary.

This is the old, "The Lord works in mysterious ways" adage in modern form. If the atheist cannot say gratuitous suffering exists, then what information does the theist have that the atheist cannot know that allows the theist to say that it doesn't? Scripture? Unproven dogma written by Iron-age people full of superstition? I have not heard a reasonable case that didn't deviate tremendously from standard Christian ethic to justify millions of years of animal and pre-human hominid suffering with god, none of which was necessary. Now the issue Craig is addressing here is a human baby suffering. Craig says it's perfectly consistent with god's character and has justified this belief elsewhere because he says that baby can get a chance to go to heaven. But here he's equating compensation with justification.

Then Craig offers a critique of consequentialism:

On consequentialism if your torturing and raping a little girl would somehow ultimately redound to the benefit of mankind, then not only is this action morally permissible for you, but you are morally obligated to do it!

On Craig's divine command theory, if god commands that you sacrifice your son or commit genocide against the neighboring tribe and take their land and underage girls, "then not only is this action morally permissible for you, but you are morally obligated to do it!" Craig willfully ignores how absurd his divine command system of ethics is.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Why I'm An Atheist - 13 Reasons & Arguments For Atheism

More than three years ago I wrote a post entitled Why I'm An Atheist, where I briefly explained some of the reasons why I don't believe in god. That post, which was long over due at the time, needs an update. With each passing year I get much better at understanding the arguments for and against the existence of god, and since that post came out I've created several new arguments of my own. Rather than write it in essay form, which I did in the original post, I'll instead outline the main reasons and arguments briefly, one by one. So here we go.

I'm an atheist because....

1) The traditional notion of god isn't coherent

In order to even consider the possibility that a god exists, we first need a coherent concept of god. The traditional notion of god in classical theism is that of a timeless, changeless, immaterial mind, who also must be infinitely good, infinitely wise, and can do anything logically possible. There are some variations on this concept, but almost all traditional or classical theistic gods have these basic characteristics. The problem is that a timeless, changeless being by definition cannot do anything; it's necessarily causally impotent and nonfunctional. Change requires time, and time requires change. This is logically certain. And to create something, one must do something. Doing requires a change, regardless of whether that change is mental or physical. A being that cannot do anything cannot be omnipotent. As a result, the traditional notion of god is self contradictory. The theist's only resort here is special pleading. That's why I like to get all theists to agree beforehand that god is not beyond logic. That is, god cannot do the logically impossible or be the logically impossible. Once a theist agrees with this, they've cut themselves off from special pleading as an option. Some theists think god is atemporal before creating the universe, and temporal after creating the universe. But it isn't logically possible to exist timelessly and then suddenly jolt yourself into time out of your own will, because your will was timeless and frozen. It couldn't change into the state to want to change.

Given the necessary rules of logic the traditional attributes of god are incoherent:

P1. It is logically impossible to do something without doing something.
P2. It is logically impossible to do something without change (even if everything is immaterial).
P3. It is logically impossible for change to exist without time.
C. As such, a timeless, changeless being cannot do anything.

The failure of theists to come up with a coherent description of god is enough by itself to warrant atheism, but there's many more reasons to think no gods exist.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Randy Replies

Almost every theist I've encountered and almost every theist I've heard defending their faith recognizes the problem of suffering as a real problem for theism. That is to say, they recognize that an omnibenevolent deity is incompatible with the existence of gratuitous suffering. That's why so many theists spend so much time trying to argue that gratuitous suffering doesn't really exist, but only seems apparent. The theist will find themselves is an arduous position if they try and defend this in light of evolution. That is because the evolutionary process requires suffering and death in order to work, and any god who would contingently chose to use evolution as the means to create one particular species when it could have done so by other less tormenting means needs to have a very good reason why - especially since it is argued that god cannot perform immoral or evil acts and can only choose morally good actions.

One theist who doesn't think there is a good reason to think gratuitous suffering and omnibenevolence are incompatible is Randy Everist. Recently we got into a bout on this very issue and he has made his case why he thinks they are compatible. My last post was a critic of our debate over on his blog, and he wrote a post further articulating his views. So here I'm going to critique his defense that there is no good reason to think that an omnibenevolent deity and gratuitous suffering are incompatible.

The first thing I noticed in his response to me as well as in our debate, is that he never defends or even claims the position that gratuitous suffering doesn't exist. Maybe he does, but he hasn't made this known in our dialogue. From the start, he tries to break down the logic of my argument so I will critique his claims line by line.

First he states the two propositions that are part of my argument, but not exactly in the way I would phrase them. Nonetheless, I will use his interpretation of my argument verbatim.

1. There is an omnibenevolent God.
2. There is gratuitous suffering.

He states that it's not clear why they are contradictory, even though it seems that the vast majority of his fellow theists recognize a problem. He further claims that I made no argument defending their incompatibility. I made an argument, and I posted that argument in my last post, but Randy's predicted response is always, "But why think this?" followed by a bad explanation. He tries to restate my argument saying:

3. If (1) and (2) are compatible, then it is indistinguishable from evil.*

Then he makes a fuss claiming that I wasn't clear as to what "it" means, saying it "has never been very clear". But I beg to differ. It's very obvious from what I wrote that I meant omnibenevolence. I wrote, "If omnibenevolence is compatible with the intentional creation of suffering that serves no purpose, well then how can we distinguish it from evil?" It's very obvious what "it" meant, but apparently it confused Randy and so he tries guessing "it" meant gratuitous suffering. Really? Would it really make any sense if I asked, "If omnibenevolence is compatible with the intentional creation of suffering that serves no purpose, well then how can we distinguish gratuitous suffering from evil?" Gratuitous suffering and evil are fully compatible; it needs no explanation. In fact, many people define evil as the infliction of gratuitous suffering.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Sacerdotus Is Stupid

A gay theist (gaytheist?) on the internet attempted to refute my recent post explaining why I'm an atheist. He claims it was "easy" and that I show a lack of understanding of science and philosophy! Ha! Nothing can be further from the truth. It's he who lacks in-depth understanding of physics, philosophy, religion, and atheism, and a refutation of his "refutation" was really easy for me, albeit just time consuming.

But since I'm off work for the next few days and I'm bored at home (it's freezing outside!) let me for the record refute his pathetic attempt at a refutation.

Here's his attempt at a refutation of my argument number 1. My original arguments can be read here.

1) The traditional notion of god isn't coherent

He responds:

The author here runs on a strawman argument. He simply does not understand the concept of God. The author assumes that God is subject to his terms or the terms of the understandings of man; that is to say, how we perceive and understand everything. He claims that theists resort to special pleading to address what he claims to be contradictions. However, he is doing exactly that. He argues that change requires times and fails to back this up. We know from cosmology that there was no time prior to cosmic inflation. Time is a product that came into existence after the "big bang." Despite this, a change did take place. If change did not take place, there would have been no "big bang" event. Moreover, the author fails to understand that God is a being, not a mere concept. This being is beyond all, transcends all. No theist, no atheist, no theologian or pope can ever truly understand God or explain Him. St. Augustine tried and experienced a vision of his angel as a young boy who was at the shore trying to put the ocean in a small hole in the sand. The boy went to and fro collecting water in a shell until St. Augustine stopped him and inquired as to what the boy was trying to do. The boy said he was trying to put the entire ocean in the hole he dug. St. Augustine brushed it off as a something that came out of a babe's mouth and explained that it was not possible for the ocean to be poured into a small hole. The boy replied that neither can he put the entirety of God into his mind.

Every time I'm told that a person has "refuted" atheism I'm sadly disappointed. This is one of those times. Here I'm clearly saying god is subject to logic. As I clearly wrote in the post, "god cannot do the logically impossible or be the logically impossible." These aren't my terms and conditions, or the limitations of human intellect, this is our ability to be logical. Deny this, and you throw all of logic out the window. That includes your ability to logically "prove" atheism false - or anything else. That change requires time is obvious and certain. To change requires two states of being that cannot exist at the same time, otherwise you'd get a contradiction: A = ¬A. This is logically impossible. That this guy doesn't understand that means he fails logic 101, and that means his assessment of the rest of the argument fails. This is why I like to get all theists to agree beforehand that god is not beyond logic. I do this because - exactly as I predict - theists resort to special pleading to explain away god's inconsistence. When he says god "is beyond all, transcends all. No theist, no atheist, no theologian or pope can ever truly understand God or explain Him," he is resorting to special pleading. If you can't coherently explain god, you can't coherently say god exists. This guy fails to do that. His response to argument 1 completely fails and did exactly what I predicted.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Alvin Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN) Part 1

Imagine that you're a hominid walking on the plains of East Africa a million years ago. You suddenly hear a rustle in the bushes. Is it a lion or just the wind? It's safer to assume that it's a lion just in case because you'll be more likely to survive if you do. But if you assume it's just the wind and it is a lion - you're lunch! It's not a mystery to see why evolution has favored the former rather than the latter. The former is a type one error, a false positive. It's assuming that there's something there that isn't. The latter is a type two error, a false negative. It's assuming that there isn't something there when there is.

Our tendency to assume that there is some intentional agency behind what is often just an unintentional natural process, is the reason many psychologists, neuroscientists and biologists believe why we created many religions and gods. You could say, in a way, that evolution has favored false positives and beliefs that were baseless in reality. This explains why religious belief persists today in so many people along with superstition. Millions of years of evolutionary programming are not easily shaked off.

The Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga has tried to make the argument that evolution combined with naturalism would lead us to believe that evolution would favor false beliefs over accurate beliefs and that if naturalism were true, we wouldn't expect our cognitive faculties to have evolved to accurately comprehend reality. Thus, according to Plantinga, naturalism is a self-defeating position.

This argument has been picked up by the likes of William Lane Craig as well as many other amateur Christian bloggers and it is becoming one of those things atheists like me are beginning to hear over and over again. I've been debating with a Christian blogger over this very issue recently and it's encouraged  me to learn a few things about evolution and the theistic mindset.

When I first heard Plantinga's argument, my immediate reaction was to question an aspect of the theistic evolution which he and many other Christians hold to. Namely, if we are the product of divinely guided evolution whereby god selected for our cognition being accurate, then how do you explain things like mental illness and irrational/superstitious beliefs like voodoo, Mormonism, talking snakes, and flying horses carrying "prophets" to heaven, as well as thousands of other false gods and religions (Christianity included)?

The only answer theists have is the doctrine of original sin. Other than that, they must admit their designer is either incompetent and/or intentionally cruel. This poses a serious problem for the theist because there is no evidence that an episode of original sin ever took place. In fact, all the evidence is against it. There never was a bottleneck of just two individual people, and there never were two first "people" either. Humans gradually evolved over millions of years, and there never was an ape that literally gave birth to a fully evolved human being. If you have to believe there was in order to be a Christian, then you might as well join the ranks of creationists like Ray Comfort and Kent Hovind.

Furthermore, the evolutionary process involves necessary cruelty to those animals involved in it, so the theist must believe original sin was retroactively applied before humans had souls or had even evolved. That speaks of a rather cruel designer who'd punish animals for hundreds of millions of years for what two evolved humans were going to do at some point in the future (not to mention how cruel it was towards all the humans who lived before the alleged sin took place). The only other explanation I heard other than the fictional Adam & Eve scenario, is that somehow an angel fell and it pissed god off, and so god therefore chose to create the world using evolution with its necessary suffering and mutations as a punishment. There is absolutely no evidence backing the fallen angel scenario, and it must be believed on even more faith than the Adam & Eve myth.

So, if theistic explanations for why there are defective brains don't pan out we are left with evolution by natural selection it seems to me. So addressing Plantinga's argument, can we explain why or how evolution would favor belief content being true?

I will address his argument head on in part 2 because I don't want this post to run on forever. I find extremely long posts annoying even though I admit I'm as guilty as charged of it.

To be continued...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

And The Winner Is.....?

Fresh off from debating my Evolutionary Argument Against God on, a site that I stumbled upon recently where you can debate virtually any issues with a network of other debate enthusiasts, it is still in the voting period and I am currently down 3 points. I wanted to see what kind of responses I'd get that could challenge this argument to see if others could point out any weaknesses in it, and one thing about debating that I hate became apparent. Sometimes a debater will try to latch onto one specific technical aspect of the argument and use that to try to win the debate.

For example, the title that I used to debate the EAAG was "Evolution And The Traditional Notion Of An All-Loving God Are Incompatible". My opponent tried to use this as saying that evolution as a process, might not require suffering and that I was under the burden of proof to show that it does. I wasn't expecting that as an objection to the argument since it is pretty self-evident to anyone who knows about evolution that it is necessarily pernicious.

My opponent accused me of not offering enough proof of this although in the last round I did offer an explanation of the evolutionary process and how it requires suffering. He totally skipped over my explanation and simply asserted that I had not proved that evolution requires suffering. His whole case was also made on the position that it's possible that evolution can occur without suffering, and that all animals have souls, and that god can't foresee the future and so he can't be held responsible for the suffering evolution produced - a preposterous claim, and one he made no arguments backing up.

Friday, March 18, 2016

A Reply To Steven Jake On The Last Superstition - Part 2: Final Causality

Steven Jake over on the Christian Agnostic blog wrote a review of my review of Feser's book The Last Superstition. So let me now review his review of my review. This is part 2 on final causality.

Final Causality

When it comes to final causality, if this goes, A-T metaphysics goes. On final causality SJ says:

Now, the final cause of a substance, as Aristotle articulates it, is the end or goal that it will reliably generate. For example, an acorn will reliably generate an oak tree, given certain favorable conditions. It will not generate a bicycle or a rock. Thus, the oak is the final cause of the acorn—note that a substance can have multiple final causes.

I maintained in the review that if final causality merely means causal regularity, then this is perfectly compatible with dysteleological physicalism. So even if it is true that I completely miss the mark that final causality must apply solely to substances and not events or process (which I don't) it doesn't mean all my arguments are therefore false. It is possible to not fully comprehend something in your criticism of it while your criticism is still valid.

Final causality, as Aristotle articulated it, is not predicated of events. That is, he didn’t say that events in life, like car accidents, have an end-goal, or purpose, in mind. Rather, Aristotle’s ontology of final causes was meant to apply to substances. So The Thinker’s comprehension here is simply confused, and since his argument is predicated on such confusion, it can likewise be dismissed.

When it comes to events, Feser did say that the "evolutionary process itself" would exhibit final causality if it were shown that everything in the biological realm could be explained in terms of natural selection, as a kind of fail safe that all the "followers of Aquinas" would take (p. 114). So if SJ is right here that final causality never applies to events or processes, then Feser is wrong on page 114 where he makes the point that final causality could apply to events or processes. Regardless of whether we're strictly talking about substances or substances + events, there is no teleological final causality Feser (or SJ) has demonstrated. They are simply asserting that the reliable effects of causes are the cause's "goal." This is a very weak argument to rest theism on. There is dysteleological "final causality" — if you even want to call it that, which I don't think we should. I think the term final causality is itself completely antiquated and full of misleading connotations, and the fact that Thomists have to keep explaining what it really means is evidence for that. We need to drop this kind of language altogether when talking about the world we live in.

Moreover, when this inadequate understanding was brought to The Thinker’s attention, yet again, in the comments section of his Chapter 2 post, he did not admit fault nor did he subsequently adjust his review so as to not argue against a caricature of Feser’s position. Rather, he simply stated that he had also addressed final causality of substances. But The Thinker seems oblivious to the fact that when you straw-man an individual’s position, this fallacy is not swept under the rug simply because you didn’t straw-man it in another instance.

We did debate that point about final causality applying to events and processes beforehand and I included it specifically in my review to prevent Feser's own attempt to claim processes would exhibit final causality, as he says in his book on p. 114. I wanted to include a rebuttal of final causality to processes and substances to cover both ends. So I'm not straw-maning Feser's position, although I admit I could have made it more clear what I was trying to do. He really did suggest evolution would exhibit final causality, and by that he meant teleological final causality—as distinct from dysteleological final causality, which is the crucial distinction SJ fails to fully acknowledge in his review of me. I find the notion of any kind of teleology in evolution absurd given the history of it. Nothing could be more dysteleological and more incompatible with omnibenevolence.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Refuting William Lane Craig: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

What we call today the Kalam Cosmological Argument, was first made by Aristotle and then by Islamic scholars in the 9th century. In recent times, Dr. William Lane Craig has refined it to make it the cornerstone of his argument for the existence of the god of Christianity. He argues that if the first two premises are true, then premise three seems to logically conclude a creator, and that creator, Craig argues, is Yahweh.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument generally states like this:

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.

If it can be shown that a universe can be created without the prerequisite of a deity, then the last sanctuary of an ever disappearing god, could be upturned. For millennia, god’s intent was attributed to everything we were without explanation for. When we didn't know what lightning was, we attributed it to a god; when the Earth shook right under our feet and the wind became fierce enough to topple trees and buildings, we attributed it to a god; when children got sick and died, we attributed it to some god’s mysterious ways. God or gods (and their evil counterparts the devil and demons) were how we rationalized away that which could not be explained throughout much of human history. But since the modern scientific era, when we have found natural explanations for all this phenomena, god and the supernatural have found an ever decreasing role to play within nature. And now, after the impact of evolution having hammered the final nail into the coffin of creationism, the role of god has been pushed back, so far, to what is one of the last great mysteries of all time: the origin of the universe itself.

Now I don’t claim to know, with certainty, how the cosmos came to be, and I don’t think there is anyone alive today who does. We may never know the full truth about how and why there is something rather than nothing. But, there are teams of scientists around the world, rolling up their sleeves, and getting to work on what could be, answering the most arduous of conundrums. The atheist does not have to prove empirically that god doesn’t exist no more than he has to prove unicorns and fairies do not exist. All the atheist needs to show, is that a universe can begin to exist without god, just as how Darwin showed us that god wasn't needed to explain the origin and diversity of species.

The Cosmological Argument is therefore, nothing more than a clever god of the gaps argument. It is a surrender to the supernatural, and a forfeiture of the labor that science is forced to endure. It claims that the existence of the universe can best be explained by an intentional designer, namely god, since natural explanations have not been able to posit such existence. And it further claims that since something always comes from something else; god is the necessary predecessor to all. But to me, inserting god today as the party responsible for the creation of the universe, is tantamount to our superstitious ancestors inserting god as the reason for why the earth shook, or why the sky thundered.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I came across a website recently where you can debate in a formal written setting on a wide variety of issues. Being a lover of debating, I couldn't wait to enter the arena so to speak. It's called and it allows you to set up your own debate on almost any topic and respond to the challenges of others. My favorite topics are religion and philosophy or course so I plan to give many theists hell in the coming months and years.

I'm currently debating my Evolutionary Argument Against God with a theist. I've been really eager to hear challenges to this argument as I am very confident it is logically valid and rock-solid. But, I could be wrong. I could be overlooking a fatal flaw in it that only someone else can point out. That's why I'm so eager to debate it. And you wouldn't believe the things my opponent is using to try to circumvent its premises.

If your interested in watching the show unfold, the link to my debate over my Evolutionary Argument Against God is here. And if you join and have three debates, you will be able to vote on the winner.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Why I'm An Atheist

I've been feeling a bit compelled recently to write about why exactly it is that I'm an atheist and what reasons I have for being one. While I feel that this post was long overdue, an adequate justification for my atheism has been the product of a learning curve several years in the making. I know many others have written posts explaining why they aren't a Christian or why they aren't a Mormon, or a Muslim, etc., but technically I can't write a post like that because I was never myself a member of any religion. What I can do, is justify why I'm an atheist and why I think the naturalistic worldview best describes reality, and so here I want to put into a single post the main reasons why I personally am an atheist, and why I think you should be one too if you aren't already. I apologize for the length.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Sacerdotus Is (Even More) Stupid (Than Previously Thought) Pt. 3

Author's note: I know I just wrote that I'd be spending more time writing about social issues and lay off atheism for a bit, but a recent attempt to rebut my blog post on why I'm an atheist got my attention and prompted me to make a response. I'll get back to social issues when this is done.

A supposed "philosopher" who challenged me on my post Why I'm An Atheist, wrote a follow up to my follow up, and in it he claims again, that's he's refuted me and that I'm ignorant of science and philosophy. The exact opposite is true and I can easily show why. His arguments are so bad, they are laughable. And I don't mean this to be facetious, I mean this with all seriousness. He makes so many common argumentative mistakes and factual errors that I cannot take him seriously that he has a degree in philosophy and science. If he does have a degree, he should get a refund, because he apparently learned no serious critical thinking skills because of it. His arguments are on the caliber of the same old tired internet apologist, like the many wannabe William Lane Craig clones out there. Only he's at the low end of the spectrum.

Here I continue with part 3 covering arguments 7, 8, and 9. Starting with his response to argument 7, his words are in block quotes:

7) Brute facts are unavoidable

Next he continues falsely accuses me of plagiarism, saying,

Yes, that is what the word plagarize means.  The author wrote word-for-word an article from Wikipedia. Note, Wikipedia is not a valid source.  Anyone can edit it. Universities frown upon it and automatically fail students who use it as a source. The fact that this author derives his/her content from Wikipedia shows academic sloth. 

No I didn't. I merely copied the trilemma itself from the article in order to list it, that is different from plagiarizing an article. To plagiarize is to "take (the work or an idea of someone else) and pass it off as one's own." I didn't do that, and he even admits I never stated that I tried to pass it off as my own. That means his plagiarize claim fails. Wikipedia simply lists the trilemma so that he and everyone else can understand it, since it's obvious he's ignorant of it (despite his supposed degree!). It isn't to prove the trilemma is true. Wikipedia is actually a great resource for learning philosophy. Sacerdotus would learn a lot more if he spent more time on it. It's clear he has no thirst for truth. All he does is try and defend his preexisting views, albeit, really badly.

The Munchausen’s trilemma (also known as Agrippa's trilemma which goes all the way back to Diogenes) is a well known trilemma that everyone with a philosophy degree should known about. Apparently that's not Sacerdotus. Even his former professor Dr. Pigliucci affirms it, so it's hard for me to believe he has an actual degree. He's just so ignorant of basic philosophy it can't be real. Dr. Pigliucci for example writes,

Munchausen’s trilemma is a reasonable conclusion arrived at by logical reasoning. 

In other words, the trilemma is logically unavoidable and most, if not all people who are actually familiar with philosophy are aware of this thorny problem.

Moreover, I never stated that the author discovered the trilemma. He/she is clearly lying here. Nor did I claim that he/she claims God has an immutable nature etc.  This author clearly has reading comprehension problems. I stated that the author does not understand theology and the immutable nature of God. This is why his/her argument fails. The author claims that "God's will to create this universe is not necessary.." this premise is baseless. 

I didn't say he accused me directly of discovering the trilemma. If you accuse someone of plagiarizing, which again means to take (the work or an idea of someone else) and pass it off as one's own, then this implies that I tried to pass the trilemma off on my own. Because if I didn't try to pass it off as my own, then I didn't plagiarize. That's Sacerdotus's dilemma. Either I tried to pass it off as my own and I plagiarized, or I didn't try to pass it off as my own and I didn't plagiarize. He can't accuse me of plagiarizing material while acknowledging I didn't try to pass it off as my own.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Remembering Hitch Part 2: One Of His Strongest Arguments Against Theism

As I sit home on this blustery frigid night remembering Christopher Hitchens on this, the five year anniversary of his death, I'm reminded of how important his point of view was on the issues. Although many younger people learned of Hitchens from his involvement in the New Atheism movement, he had spent over 30 years as a journalist covering international affairs, economics, and social policies. He always had an interesting angle on the current events of the day that you might not have considered even if you typically agreed with him and he always knew how to explain it in brilliant prose. And it was from this that he was best known.

What would Hitchens have to say about the current state of affairs in US politics? Of Trump's election? Of ISIS and the war in Syria? Of trigger warnings, microaggressions, and safe spaces all over college campuses? Of PC culture and the rise of the Alt-Right? If Hitch was still writing for Vanity Fair would he and Trump get into a Twitter war? (Assuming Hitch would eventually make a Twitter account.) These are questions I've been asking myself over and over again these past few years. I know where Hitch would fall on most of them but I'd have no idea exactly what he'd write and I'm sure there'd be plenty of surprises if he were here speaking and writing about them.

We'll never know.

We do however, know Hitchens's views on religion pretty well. And on numerous occasions he made the following argument about the futility of reconciling the prolonged nastiness of the evolutionary process with the basic claims required of Abrahamic theism in light of it:

The argument takes the conservative estimate of how long our species has existed for. It may be over 300,000 years by some estimates, which would strengthen Hitchens's point considerably, but he opts for the low end to show it's enough to make his point. Is Hitchens correct in his assessment? And is this a good argument?

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Ontological Argument: Putting The Absurd Where It Belongs

Continuing with my refutations of the most popular arguments made for the existence of god, I thought I'd conclude with the ontological argument. The reason why I've never addressed it before is because I never even thought that the ontological argument was even really an argument. It’s really just an attempt at brain trickery through wordplay. What it surreptitiously tries to achieve is to trick the skeptic into agreeing that it’s possible that god may exist, and once having made this deal with you it moves on to try to “prove” god exists through the logical conclusion of its premises. Many agnostics and weak atheists who haven’t considered the paradoxical nature of god may actually fall for it, but when I first heard it, my bullshit alarm immediately went off. It is generally stated a bit more complex than many of the other arguments for god and there are many versions of it. The version here that I’m going to use is a derivation of philosopher Alvin Plantinga’s Modal Ontological Argument.

1. It is possible that a maximally great being exists (i.e. God).

2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.

3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.

4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.

5. If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists.

6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.

When I first heard another version of the ontological argument I thought to myself, “Wait a second! You can’t define god into existence!” But that’s exactly what theists were trying to do. Another objection I have is what is meant by “possible world”. From a theistic perspective, a “possible world” might mean any other world god chose to create besides this one which we live in. But that definition presupposes god’s existence in the first place. In logic, a possible world really means possible scenario in our world, but not the existence of another physical or dimensional world. For example, I could say, “There’s a possible world in which I’m rich.” It need not necessarily be another physical world where I’m living the good life, but instead could be an alternative history to this world. I personally like the idea of a possible world being an alternative universe, perhaps in a level 3 multiverse, but for the sake of argument, I will define a possible world as another possible scenario of this world, one in which a hypothetical situation or thought experiment can be conducted.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

My Rebuttal Of The Fine Tuning Argument From My Debate With A Theist

A few months ago I was challenged by a theist to a formal written debate on the existence of god over on a theological website called theologyweb. I accepted. We agreed that he would make the opening arguments and make a positive case first and that we'd be debating the existence of a theistic god and not merely a deistic one (because theists have this tendency to retreat into deism when the going gets tough and I hate that). After my response back in June he never got back to me, eventually saying that he was busy with work and other things. So the debate is just sitting there, now closed, with only our initial opening arguments. I took the time in my opener to rebut my opponent's arguments. This is how I like to debate since atheists are often accused of not addressing their opponent's arguments, and in the hundreds of god debates I've watched, there is some truth to this.

My opponent, who on the website goes by the name of "LaplacesDemon" (LD for short), used the fine tuning argument as part of his case for god. And I just noticed that I have not written about the fine tuning argument as much as I should have. So below I have my response to LD rebutting the fine tuning argument. You can see the whole debate here, but you might need to log onto the site for access.

The FTA (fine tuning argument) is in my opinion the only halfway decent argument for god. But even if granted, it doesn’t lead one to conclude the existence that theism is true any more than deism, or that the universe is a computer simulation. In fact, if the universe is fine tuned, those two options are overwhelmingly more probable than theism. And I will argue why. 
I’m not going to dispute the parameters LD mentioned even though a few of them are a bit off because almost all scientists agree that the life permitting range for those values is very narrow. What I will instead argue is that the apparent fine tuning is better supportive of atheism, not theism.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

An Atheist Reviews The Last Superstition: A Refutation Of The New Atheism (Chapter 3 Getting Medieval)

Feser starts chapter 3 lauding Aquinas' lifelong chastity and devotion to god, as if that's supposed to impress us. Religious obsessions with chastity always reminds me of how masochistic it is. There's also something about serious Catholics that I really don't like. I've always hated Catholicism, but it's hard to hate most Catholics today because most of them are so non-religious that they act almost indistinguishable from your average secular atheist. But the ones who take their religion seriously, like Feser, get me agitated. Feser is convinced his religion is true and wants the world to conform to it, and that's dangerous. I suppose then that it's a good thing he doesn't get much traction.

It's in chapter 3, called Getting Medieval, that Feser lays out his argument for god. He starts by making several insults about the New Atheists and their apparent failure to address the "greatest philosopher of the Middle Ages," especially Richard Dawkins, who is arguably the most famous atheist in the world. As a reminder once again, I haven't fully read The God Delusion, and so I unfortunately cannot speak on Dawkins' behalf. But, from what I did read, Dawkins does make a lot of common sense arguments against the belief in a theistic intervening god - the kind who ensures you have parking space at Walmart while he ignores the prayers of millions of kids starving to death. Hitchens' God is Not Great is really a critique of religion, specifically the Abrahamic ones. He doesn't really try and refute the existence of god per se. Perhaps this is a weakness, but I think his criticisms against Abrahamic theism are strong enough that no argument anyone can make could establish the probabilistic existence of Yahweh. The biblical god and the religions that derive from him are just too absurd to be taken seriously, even when Aquinas' arguments are met head on, as we're about to see.

Feser makes a big deal about the New Atheist's criticisms of William Paley's popular design argument. The reason why so many atheists mention Paley's argument is because it's a very popular argument that a lot of theists make. It's also a very simple argument; one doesn't need to learn complex, esoteric metaphysics like one has to do in order to understand Aquinas. That's why Paley's argument keeps coming up again and again, and the New Atheists (and atheists in general) have to make it a point to address it. Aquinas' arguments are generally too complex and require too much philosophical knowledge for your average wannabe apologist to successfully make. It's much easier for them to memorize the simple premises of the cosmological argument, or remember the scene involved in Paley's watchmaker analogy. It's fair to say that it isn't a straw man to attack design arguments of the Paley variety as Feser thinks on page 81. It's a legitimate argument for god, albeit a really bad one. No, a more proper straw man is like what Feser did in his opening chapter when he says your average secularist thinks strangling infants or fucking corpses or goats is perfectly normal in order to show how secularism is "irrational, immoral, and indeed insane," without even defining what he means by "secularism."

Feser's attitude seems to be that none of the New Atheist's arguments mean anything, until they refute Aquinas. And to be fair, the New Atheists have, by and large, not taken up Aquinas. Feser accuses secularists of swallowing "anything their gurus shovel at them." (80) But he must realize how absurd it is for him to make such a claim, when everyone knows it's organized religion that brainwashes its masses and requires its adherents make statements of faith, usually starting at childhood. And the Catholic Church is about as organized as organized religion can get.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Fine Tuning Argument

On my blog here I've written several times responding to the Cosmological Argument for god's existence and the various moral arguments, but I've only once written about the Fine Tuning Argument head on. I want to take some time expounding on some of its implications and the problems I think it has in a bit more detail than I previously did.

The Fine Tuning Argument, another staple of my favorite punching bag Dr. Craig, generally states like this:

1. The fine tuning of the universe is either due to physical necessity, chance or design.
2. Fine tuning is not due to either physical necessity or chance.
3. Therefore, it is due to design.

The Fine Tuning Argument poses what seems to be another tough obstacle for the atheist. The probability that all the elements in the universe would be as meticulously fine tuned to unfathomable levels that would allow life as we know it, are incomprehensibly small. But as scientists tell us, events that are extremely improbable happen all the time.

1. First I always like to use the probability of me being born as an example of chance. What is the probability that I would've been born? Well first my father and mother had to meet, that took some chance. I then had to have been conceived from one particular sperm cell and egg. The chances of that are extremely rare when considering that every time a man ejaculates, as much as 100 million sperm cells are thrust outward and only one will fertilize the woman's egg - and that's if fertilization even happens at all. The chances of me being conceived just considering that one specific time when my parents tried to conceive a child, and not even considering all their other attempts, is about 1 in 100 million. When you factor in all the other attempts at conceiving a child, combined with the probability of the circumstances that lead up to their decision and attempt to conceive a child, already the mathematical odds are stupendous. 

Then you have to multiply this to the chances of each of my parents being conceived and the circumstances that lead up to that event, and then do the same to their parents, and their parents, all the way back literally to the very first form of life some 4 billion years ago. The odds of this happening are unfathomable. Everyone alive today is the product of an unbroken chain of births, billions of generations in the making. The chances that any one of my distant relatives would have had a different offspring that wouldn't have been one of my ancestors, would have always been much more probable. And yet of course if this had happened, I wouldn't have ever been born, and yet I exist and I'm real. What are the chances of that?

So events that are extremely odd can happen all the time even when the odds against them are much more probable. But even this answer doesn't satisfy all the critics, so let me give a few others.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Evolutionary Argument Against God - Abbreviated/Alternative Versions

The original EAAG that I wrote contains 6 premises and a conclusion and could be considered redundant in some areas. I have below a few alternative versions of it that shorten it out for a more easily digestible format.

In this version below I cut out premises 2-5 and leave in only the bare minimum of what's needed for the argument to drive the nail through:

  1. If God chose to use evolution as the process by which he created human beings and all other forms of life, then God knowingly chose a process that requires suffering that is logically unnecessary.
  2. An all-good, perfectly moral God who is incapable of unwarranted cruelty would not create beings that could consciously suffer in a way that was not logically necessary.
  3. Therefore, a God who is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-good does not exist.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

J.P. Moreland's Attack On "Scientific Atheism" Part 4

With Moreland's case for dualism already crumbling under the weight of compelling scientific evidence to the contrary, the powerhouse of his last three "recalcitrant facts" losses traction. The next "fact" against naturalism he unleashes is rationality. Apparently to him, rationality can only exist if a rational god made us in his image.

3. Rationality

Moreland describes the Christian god as being fundamental and rational who "created his image-bearers with the mental equipment to exhibit rationality and be apt for truth gathering in their various environments." (p. 41) He quotes Christian philosopher Victor Reppert saying, "The necessary conditions for rationality cannot exist in a naturalistic universe." [1] Moreland offers two reasons why naturalism precludes rationality: (1) the necessity of the enduring, rational self and (2) the need for room for teleological (goal-directed) factors to play a role in the thought processes. (p. 41) He backs up (1) with a quote from British philosopher A.C. Ewing about how enduring states of "I" are required to process things like propositions and their different constituents:

to compare two things the same being must, at least in memory, be aware of them simultaneously; and since all these processes take some time the continuous existence of the same entity is required. In these cases an event which consisted in the contemplating of A followed by another event which consisted in the contemplating of B is not sufficient. They must be events of contemplating that occur in the same being. [2]

This notion of there being no enduring self under naturalism underpins this argument. Subatomically, the atoms that make up our bodies are jumping from position to position following the laws of quantum mechanics, but those atoms that make up your body existed for billions of years, and were forged in the hearts of stars that have long since died. Who says the information carried by your atoms of your mental states and identity cannot endure? Moreland is assuming that with each nanosecond, we should be a completely different person unless we have a soul to ground our sense of memory and identity. But if memory is physical, at least in part, then brain states would preserve that memory from moment to moment, and physical damage to the brain would erase it. That's basically what we see with people who've experienced brain trauma.

Moreland defends (2) with another logical argument (p. 42):

(1) If naturalism is true, there is no irreducible teleology.
(2) Rational deliberation exhibits irreducible teleology.
(3) Therefore, naturalism is false.


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