Hyperbole gone mad

universe.jpgI realize that part of the New Atheist approach is to crank up the volume on old arguments, so some of what we hear from Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, etc. is not a big surprise.  But some of their arguments and those of their followers, are so over the top that they lose credibility. 

At an atheist blog one of the commenters insisted that the evidence we offer for the existence of God was equivalent to that for pink unicorns (I have no idea why they are always pink), even though I pointed out cosmological (“first cause”), teleological, moral and other reasoning.  Then there is this jewel of a comment: 

God is about as unlikely as fairies, angels, hobgoblins, etc.

Richard Dawkins, from Expelled

Now I don’t adhere to materialist arguments, but I wouldn’t be smug and dismiss their questions by saying they had no more reasoning behind them than there is for pink unicorns or hobgoblins.

And keep in mind that Dawkins is the fellow who thinks it is possible that aliens came into being on another planet and evolved faster than we did, then seeded human beings here.  If Mr. Science Person has empirical evidence for this view then he is holding out on us.  The irony that he sees the need for an Intelligent Designer, albeit an alien one, speaks volumes.

The blogging on Expelled is a great example.  Virtually every commentary I’ve seen – usually from those who haven’t seen the movie – is just a series of personal attacks and poor reasoning.  Saying that ID is just “creationism in disguise” isn’t an argument.  Calling people liars because you disagree with their points while simultaneously encouraging people to pirate the DVDs and pay for a ticket to a different movie while sneaking into Expelled is incongruous at best. 

And watch how the New Atheists treat someone like Antony Flew, a famous scientist who “converted” from atheism to deism (almost there!) based on his extensive research.  He wrote There is a God – How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind.

We have lots of evidence for the existence of God: Cosmological (”first cause”), teleological (design), morality, logic, the physical resurrection of Jesus, archeological support and fulfilled prophecies of the Bible, etc.  If atheists don’t find that compelling, then so be it. I’m on the Great Commission, not the paid commission. But to insist that we have no evidence is uncharitable in the extreme and makes reasoned dialogue virtually impossible.  When they trot out the unicorn argument I just treat that as the Atheist Concession Speech.  I’m confident that true seekers will realize which side is more credible.

Here are a few arguments for the existence of God.   Also see the apologetics links in the blogroll in the right-hand column.

 

Existence of God

Cosmological Evidence

In Defense of the Kalam Cosmological Argument – William Craig

Adler’s Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God– John Cramer

A New Cosmological Argument – Richard Gale

A New Look at the Cosmological Argument– Robert Koons

Aquinas’ Third Way Modalized – Robert Maydole

The Kalam Cosmological Argument Neither Bloodied nor Bowed– David S. Oderberg

Some Recent Progress on the Cosmological Argument– Alexander Pruss

A Scotistic Cosmological Argument Remixed – Joshua Rasmussen

Mind, Cosmology, and Sufficient Reason as a Vindication of Rational Theism – James Sennett

The Cosmological Argument: A Defense – Richard Taylor

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Axiological Evidence

Two Kinds of Moral Arguments Concerning the Existence of God – Anthony Anderson

Robert Adams’ Demoralization Argument – Anthony Anderson

Why Be Moral? Social Contract Theory vs. Kantian-Christian Morality – Kelly James Clark

The Indispensibility of Theological Meta-Ethical Foundations for Morality – William Craig

Do We Need God To Be Moral? – John Frame

Can We Be Good Without God? – John Hare

The Argument from Conscience– Peter Kreeft

Does Ethics Require Theism? – Michael Murray

The Argument from Inalienable Rights– Victor Reppert

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Noölogical Evidence

Arguments from Reason for the Existence of God– John DePoe

An Argument From Consciousness and Free Will– Stewart Goetz and Charles Taliaferro

Sentiments of Reason and Aspirations of the Soul – John Haldane

Does the Argument from Mind Provide Evidence for God?– JP Moreland

The Argument from Persons – Joshua Rasmussen

The Argument from Reason– Victor Reppert

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Fine-Tuning Evidence

The Fine-Tuning Argument – Robin Collins

Does the Many-Universes Hypothesis Really Explain the Fine-Tuning? – Robin Collins

Universes Galore: Where Will it All End? – Paul Davies

Post-agnostic Science: How Physics is Reviving the Argument from Design– Robert Koons

Our Place in the Cosmos – John Leslie

Toward a Rational Reconstruction of Design Inferences– Timothy McGrew

The Cosmos as a Work of Art– Alexander Pruss

Shaken Atheism: A Look at the Fine-Tuned Universe– Holmes Rolston

The Universe, Design, and Fine-Tuning– Michael Sudduth

A Design Argument from Cognitive Reliability– William Vallicella

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Experiential Evidence

The Experiential Basis of Theism – William Alston

The Intuitive Conception and Knowledge of God – William Alston

Re-Identifying God in Experience– Jerome Gellman

Epistemic Virtue, Religious Experience, and Belief– James Montmarquet

A Religious Experience Argument for the Existence of a Transcendent Holy Being– Alexander Pruss

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A Priori Evidence

Conceivability, Defeasibility, and Possibility: A Defense of the Modal Ontological Argument– Trent Dougherty

The Ontological Argument– Alvin Plantinga

Samkara’s Principle and Two Ontomystical Arguments– Alexander Pruss

Reflections on Godel’s Ontological Argument – Christopher Small

The Conceptualist Argument for God’s Existence – Quentin Smith

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General

Evidence for the Existence of God– Shandon Guthrie

Twenty Arguments for the Existence of God– Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli

Hume, Kant, and Rational Theism– Hugo Meynell

Two Dozen (or so) Theistic Arguments– Alvin Plantinga

The Existence of God – Richard Swinburne

Response to Dawkins – Richard Swinburne

Language, Being, God, and the Three Stages of Theistic Evidence – Dallas Willard

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The Nature of God

Omnipotence

On Two Alleged Conflicts Between Divine Attributes– Torin Atler

Maximal Power – Thomas Flint

Omnipotence and God’s Existence – Gregory Rich

Omnipotence– Edward Wierenga

Omniscience

Middle Knowledge, Truth Makers, and the Grounding Objection – William Craig

Truth, Omniscience, and Cantorian Arguments – Alvin Plantinga and Patrick Grimm
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Omnibenevolence

Is it Coherent to Suppose that God is Both Morally Good and ‘Above Morality’?– Michael Sudduth

God and Time

Divine Timelessness and Personhood – William Craig

Is Timeless Divine Action Coherent?– Michael Sudduth

God Inside Time and Before Creation – Dean Zimmerman

General

Divine Responsibility Without Divine Freedom– Michael Bergmann

The Coherence of Theism – Part I – William Craig

The Coherence of Theism – Part II – William Craig

God’s General Concurrence with Secondary Causes: Pitfalls and Prospects– Alfred Freddoso

Divine Transcendence– Jonathan Kvanvig

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Philosophical Theology

Divine and Human Dialogue – William Alston

Abba, Father: Inclusive Language and Theological Salience– Harriet Baber

Feminism and Christian Ethics– Harriet Baber

God and Counterpossibles – Richard Davis

Haecceities, Individuation, and the Trinity – Richard Davis

Logic, Ontology, and Ockham’s Christology – Alfred Freddoso

Human Nature, Potency, and the Incarnation– Alfred Freddoso

What Difference Does Heaven Make?– Peter Kreeft

Hell– Jonathan Kvanvig

Heaven and Hell – Jonathan Kvanvig

Split Brains and the Godhead– Trenton Merricks

Does Prayer Change Things? – Michael Murray

Simplicity and Creation – Timothy O’Connor

Prophecy without Middle Knowledge– Alexander Pruss

Love and Obedience– Alexander Pruss

The Metaphysics of Original Sin – Michael Rea

Understanding the Trinity – Michael Rea

Is Divine Immutability Compatible with the Practice of Petitionary Prayer?– Michael Sudduth

Is Human Language Adequate to Talk about God?– Michael Sudduth

I Look for the Resurrection of the Dead and the Life of the World to Come– Peter van Inwagen

49 thoughts on “Hyperbole gone mad”

  1. Neil said: I have no idea why they are always pink

    They’re usually described as invisible and pink, to highlight the fact that people tend to claim their god or gods are unknowable (immaterial, mysterious etc), and then proceed to list some attributes with certainty.

    Neil said: I didn’t realize you all had organized and put so much thought into the color scheme. It is not a logical contradiction to claim that someone is knowable but not 100% knowable, especially if that someone created the universe. If you honestly reveal part of yourself to someone, then they could accurately say they know some true things about you but not all things.

    How do you know anything about your God when all you have are ancient written texts from thousands of years ago, and some kind of “feeling” inside your head?

    Neil said: Gee, since they were ancient and written thousands of years ago then they must be wrong. My guess is that if they were hot off the presses today you’d claim they couldn’t be true because they were new. After all, a real God would have revealed himself much earlier. Just more evidence of the uncharitable arguments offered by New Atheists (thanks for proving the point of my post).

    Not sure where you get the “feeling inside your head” straw-man. I specifically reject Mormon attempts to claim their book is true because they got a “burning in the bosom.” I have plenty of feelings, but don’t use those as primary arguments to persuade others.

    Also, those ancient texts record how the early church spread: With appeals to evidence and reason, not some “feeling inside your head.”

    How can you trust your own inner feeling, when it is contradicted by other peoples (Hindu’s, Muslims and Buddhists etc)?
    If you can’t trust your own inner feeling, how can you trust other peoples (ie. The writers of the bible)?

    Neil said: Facts, logic and lots of evidence – archeological, manuscript, historical, fulfilled prophecies, etc.

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  2. ” the physical resurrection of Jesus, etc. ”

    Oh, you have a body and a coroner’s report? Well why didn’t you say so!?

    Here we were thinking that you just had a book that asserted Jesus came back from the dead. We didn’t know you had, you know, actual evidence.

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  3. “Oh, you have a body and a coroner’s report? Well why didn’t you say so!?”

    We have eyewitness testimony. According to Paul, over 500 people saw Him after He was crucified and buried. So the question is the reliability of the testimony, particularly Paul’s, and the evidence for that is overwhelming. However, Christ Himself could tap you on the shoulder and you’d still pretend His story is false, just like you do now.

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  4. Hi Morse – you make the common (deliberate?) error of defining “evidence” in terms that exclude the possibility of the opposing view being correct – e.g., demanding empirical evidence for things not testable empirically. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t evidence.

    And ironically, I readily concede that we don’t “have a body” – that’s the whole point! No one could find it. The tomb was empty – praise God for that! The Romans and Jews had every incentive to drag it out for display to shut down this movement and keep the peace, yet they couldn’t.

    As noted on a recent post, these historical facts are accepted by most scholars (Christian and non-Christian):

    1) Jesus’ death by crucifixion;
    2) Jesus’ disciples believed that he rose and appeared to them;
    3) Paul, a persecutor of the church, has suddenly changed to faith in Jesus;
    4) James, skeptical of Jesus during his ministry, was suddenly changed to faith in Jesus; and,
    5) The tomb of Jesus was empty.

    The question is why they thought he was physically resurrected. Mass hallucinations? Highly unlikely, and not a theory I’ve seen anyone seriously defend.

    Were they all liars who risked (and sometimes gave up) their lives for it? Again, not likely. People will die for what they think is the truth, but rarely die for a lie – and especially not so many of them in so many places and in so many ways.

    Or did it really happen? I think that is most likely. Mock it from afar all you like, but again the point of the post was that New Atheists insist that we don’t have evidence and that is a false claim.

    Here are a couple highly recommended books on the evidence for the resurrection (for those who are seriously interested).

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  5. Briefly, if Dawkins was more fair in his claim about the likelihood of a transcendent God, he wouldn’t sell nearly as many books. His schtick isn’t based on reasoned persuasion; it’s sneering with a veneer of academic credibility.

    I saw Expelled, and Dawkins’ idea that life on Earth was seeded by extraterrestrial life isn’t credible unless he has really good evidence for it, but the interesting thing isn’t just that it concedes an intelligent designer, it just punts the issue of the origins of life to another level. He speculates that life on Earth — about which we know quite a bit — was seeded by extraterrestrial life — about which we know nothing, even an answer to the question of whether it exists. That obviously begs the question, how did that life begin? Dawkins made clear that he’s quite sure that this extraterrestrial life (if it even exists) emerged through natural and unguided processes.

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  6. Look, Neil, if you don’t have any information on evidence for the existence of God, then why bother posting it? (Humor)

    I’ve tried to make the same argument(s) with atheists who insist “there is no evidence.” You’ve made it better. I will concede “there is no proof” because “proof” entails “evidence that demands agreement” but there are many reasons for people to believe in God and they don’t entail blind belief.

    Interestingly, while Darwinian Evolutionists turn up their noses at Intelligent Design (“It can’t be falsified, so it isn’t science.”), they still maintain a theological view of Evolution which demands “random events” and “unguided accidents”. I’m waiting for their tests to confirm or falsify those claims. Until they come up with something, I’m going to have to include that in the “not science” category.

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  7. Hi Stan – thanks for stopping by and commenting. Good distinction re. “proof.” It is always helpful to define terms – i.e., proof vs. evidence beyond a reasonable doubt vs. preponderance of evidence.

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  8. BRAVO Neil! Great resources – this is a keeper.

    Evolution or what is being passed off as “scientific truth” is really nothing more than a Faith based world view. The scriptures indeed have an agenda – knowledge.

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  9. I’ve written this before but this looks like a good time to bring it up again.

    The folks that keep talking about “evidence” may want to read “Testimony of the Evangelists” by Prof. Simon Greenleaf. At one point he was the foremost authority on the law of evidence. Taught at Harvard Law School & actually wrote the textbook on evidence used for decades.

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  10. Wow Neil! Just “a few” arguments for God? All of those resources will keep me reading until election day!

    Loved the movie “Expelled.” I want to see it again! Dawkins sounded so utterly ridiculous in the film, no wonder he and his minions are on a tirade against it!

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  11. Hi Neil,
    Ditto on the great post comments!

    If aliens “planted” us here… uhm why haven’t they remained to “cultivate” the crop? Why haven’t they kept contact? Why isn’t there any evidence in any of Dawkins’ theory, much less of Darwin? (BTW- Darwin is quoted as saying that his theory would never be proven.) Dawkins and his minions are a joke. Their “science” seems more like a poorly written episode from Star Trek.

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  12. “Atheist” (in quotes because I think he’s one us and just doesn’t know it yet) Beaj over at the baconeatingatheistjew blog actually takes a different approach and made his own YouTube video where he mocks us by giving all sorts of strawman “proofs” for a Creator (he pretends to be a homeschooled creationist arguing against “evil-ution”).

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  13. Hi all – thanks for the nice comments, I apprecate it! (especially on ID related posts where the troll and off-topic comment level is typically high).

    To be fair to Dawkins I don’t think he pushes the alien theory strongly. I didn’t see the movie yet so I can’t be sure of the context. It is odd that he considers that more likely than the possibility of a creator God, since even if his unsubstantiated theory was right he still hasn’t explained where the aliens came from (as Bubba noted).

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  14. To give Dawkins what slight credit is due, I doubt he personally believes in cosmic seeding and would argue for it, but it’s still noteworthy that he seems to consider it a reasonable speculation even though A) it’s absent any evidence whatsover, B) it punts the question of the origin of life, and C) it concedes that at least life on earth was the result of design.

    Elisa wrote, “Their ‘science’ seems more like a poorly written episode from Star Trek.”

    How right she is.

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  15. I’ve never read Dawkins (frankly not interested). As an avid science FICTION fan, the idea that aliens seeded the earth has been around some. In my teen years, I read Chariots of the Gods, which is built on the same idea. It was good fiction (a counter-novel “Down go the Chariots” was just as good).

    Neil, you’re much more patient than I am on these matters. I really don’t care if they call me bull-headed. I know God exists because He speaks to me. Through His Word and His people. Sometimes He speaks directly to me. That’s when it’s most scary.

    Thanks for the good post.

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  16. Hi Randy – thanks, and good comments. I “know” what is really going on in these conversations because God is clear about motives and such in his word. But I try to be charitable in conversations with them (I said try, not that I always succeed).

    If they are trolls I am much quicker to end the conversations than I used to be (I can be taught!). I have found that I’m usually 90+% accurate in indentifying them within a comment or two.

    Some of the comments / questions are reasonable and deserve sincere treatment. I used to be a skeptic, so I can relate to that.

    I address a sample of some of the malicious / silly comments for the benefit of others and enjoy reading how others would answer them. But I do limit the time I spend on them and how many I let through. This job / family / life thing limits some of my blogging time.

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  17. Great work on this list. By the way, the last 2 links here are invalid:
    * The Existence of God

    * The Nature of God

    * Philosophical Theology

    Also, it would be great if you created a page with just these links. We can use it whenever people ask for evidence.

    By “we”, of course – I mean that I want to ride on your hard work 🙂

    You’ve been del.icio.used.

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  18. “I know God exists because He speaks to me.”

    Randy, there was a time when I would have written you off for that, even though I considered myself a Christian. I don’t know if that was before God spoke to me or just before I learned to listen. I do know that god has convinced me beyond any doubt of his existence. But I can’t prove that to anyone else.

    I guess everyone has to find God themselves, although there a certainly plenty of directions and volunteer guides out there to help.

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  19. Neil,
    I love to read your blog and am amazed at how well you content for the faith.
    I am so poor at apologetics and have never been used to lead someone to the Lord. How did you learn how to slice through all the mess and hit the heart of the matter and then say the right thing theologically, philosophically, and in a way to glorify the Lord?

    We’re going through EE in our church and it is really great. Even our VBS will be EE. When I read and see you winning these debates with atheists, I am so impressed and wish I could do as well as you.

    We all are called to contend for the faith. You do a great job.

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  20. Professor Louis T. More, University of Cincinnati, said, “The more one studies the paleontological record, the more certain one becomes that evolution is based on faith alone.”
    (he was an evolutionist)

    D.M.S. Watson who held the position of the Chair of Evolution at the University of London for more than twenty years, made the observation that the theory of evolution itself is universally accepted, “not because it has been observed to occur or can be proved by logical coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative–special creation–is clearly incredible.”

    Sir Arthur Keith(1866-1955), a British anatomist and anthropologist who wrote 20 books in defense of evolution, said, evolution is “unproved and unprovable” He said, “We believe it because the only alternative is special creation, which is unthinkable.”

    Professor David Allbrook, Professor of Anatomy at the University of Western Australia, says that evolution is “a time-honored scientific tenet of faith.”

    Paul LeMoine, French evolutionist: “Evolution is a fairy tale for grownups.”

    Sir Julian Huxley, the grand nephew of Thomas Huxley, was in his day–probably the worlds most prestigious evolutionists was being interviewed on a National Public Television station. He was asked, “Why do you suppose that so many scientists accepted evolution so quickly?”

    This is what he replied: “I suppose the reason we leaped at The Origin Of the Species (Darwin’s book)was because the idea of a God interfered with our sexual mores.”

    I return now to why civil rights organizations are so opposed to ID. Perhaps we can get some insight as to why from Thomas Huxley himself. For those of you who don’t know, Thomas Huxley was Darwin’s spokesman. It was he that engaged in debates on Darwin’s behalf.

    “It is clear,” said Huxley, “that the doctrine of evolution is directly antagonistic to that of creation. Evolution, if consistently accepted, makes it impossible to believe in the Bible.”

    Neil, these quotes were published on my blog long ago in an entry entitled, “The intelligent Design debate”

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  21. Mark – thanks for the quotes!

    Elisa – you are very kind. I don’t think I’ve necessarily won any atheists over here, and I seriously doubt they would concede that I had won a debate.

    I offer these things for various reasons. I think it “puts a stone in their shoes,” as Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason says – i.e., giving them something to think about. They probably won’t admit it here, which is fine, but I hope it gives them something to think about. And some people do come to faith that way.

    I also like to be able to answer these questions for myself. We all wrestle with these tough questions about God sometimes.

    I also like to offer them up for believers to show that there are plenty of answers out there. Not everyone has to be able to articulate the answers from memory, but it helps to know they are available.

    I try to do the 1 Peter 3:15 thing, though I could probably be more gentle much of the time – But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

    I’m glad to hear you are doing EE (Evangelism Explosion). I’ve never done that myself, but an employee at work asked me to sponsor him for it once. It looks like a great program.

    I think the “leading people to the Lord” thing is rather hard to count. I imagine that you have led many people towards the Lord, which is what we are called to do. He is ultimately responsible for drawing the people to himself while we are to obedient in sharing what we know and what He has done for us – and I’ve seen you do that many times and very well at that!

    I’m not a “closer” in the sense of getting a long list of people to say the “sinner’s prayer” (which in my view isn’t necessarily the best way to evaluate the whole evangelism process). But I’ve tried to look for opportunities to share the truth wherever I go and have been blessed with being able to share the Gospel fairly often. I may do a series on some of those experiences, highlighting what worked and what mistakes I’ve learned from.

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  22. Sundayschoolteacher said “there was a time when I would have written you off.” My initial reaction is that I’m fine with that and the confirmed atheist wouldn’t listen to me anyway. I’ll just sit back and rest on my faith and let Neil do the heavy lifting.

    But then Elisa comes by and reminds me that we are all to contend for the faith and Neil reminds me that I’m to always be ready to share the hope.

    I guess what I meant (and I think Neil understood) is that I don’t do a real good job of apologetics and appreciate Neil doing this. I do feel I can help people who are sincerely seaching and hurting. People who need help with their belief.

    Neil, SST and Elisa, thanks for your comments.

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  23. I think you guys do a great job of contending for the faith. There are lots of ways to do that – some more technical than others.

    For example, I’ve seen Randy and Elisa give many accounts of the reasons for the hope that they have, and they have done so with gentleness and respect. They have explained clearly and unapologetically what God has done in their lives. Praise God for that!

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  24. WOZ: The folks that keep talking about “evidence” may want to read “Testimony of the Evangelists” by Prof. Simon Greenleaf. At one point he was the foremost authority on the law of evidence. Taught at Harvard Law School & actually wrote the textbook on evidence used for decades.

    Ok, lets say I accept that the Gospels are true and accurate in a courtroom sense.
    Do you have any evidence that Yahweh is able to interact within a causally closed universe, such as ours?

    Neil said: Yes: All the miracles in the Bible. Oh, you don’t accept that? No kidding. Read the evidence for the Bible. Oh, you did and you find it wanting? OK, that’s fine.

    Breaking conservation of energy is right out, and acting within quantum uncertainty would tend to rule out your God.

    Neil said: You are begging the question. You might want to read the beginning and the end of Job for more.

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  25. Quite amusing to see that Mark starts his grand tour of “disproving” evolution by stating something that an “evolutionist” (in reality Louis T. More was a physicist) may or may not have said in 1925!

    If I go back just a few more years I can show that world famous physicists declared the atomic theory as being completely wrong. Even great men can err!

    What follows from that? Well, science keeps progressing and things that were believed in the past may have been shown to be wrong by now or phenomena that once were ridiculed as silly beliefs are now widely accepted as solid knowledge.

    So if you want to discuss the validity of the theory of evolution it is of little value to quote something someone said (or did not say) almost a hundred years ago. Modern biologists have a far better understanding of the theory and there is not a single shred of evidence that points awayx from evolution, even if not all questions have been answered yet.

    To claim that scientists “believe” in evolution for the sole reason so that they don’t have to believe in a god is downright silly. It is easily disproved by the fact that quite a number of scientists do not see any problem in accepting evolution as a fact – which it is – and their Christian belief.

    Neil said: I think you may have mischaracterized Mark’s point, but I’ll let him respond to that.

    Given your last paragraph, I assume you are on record for saying it is equally silly to claim that ID is just religiously motivated, because some Christians believe in Darwinian evolution.

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  26. Neil,

    Come on! Only “some” Christians believe in Darwinian evolution?! That is hard to believe. Evolutionary biology is, after all, the position of the Vatican, the National Council of Churches, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the United Methodist Church. Every Christian scientist from Francis Collins to Kenneth Miller find no problem reconciling their religion with modern biology.

    Neil said: The exact quantity is irrelevant to my point, so for the sake of argument I would concede it. Many thanks for proving my point! So are you on record for agreeing that it is silly to dismiss ID just because some people claim it is religion in disguise?

    But for the record, the NCC is a joke. They are further left than the DNC and any resemblance to historic Christianity ends with their name.

    And the Vatican gets some things right (pro-life, pro-family, pro-Bible) but some things horribly wrong (justification, Papal infallibility, purgatory, Marianism, etc.).

    And if you want to be picky, I wouldn’t say “every” Christian scientist if I were you.

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  27. What am I on “record” for? I’m not the same person as Thoughtful. 🙂

    To answer your question, no I wouldn’t use public opinion to evaluate either evolutionary biology or “intelligent design”. I would use the scientific method. If a hypothesis can neither be verified, or falsified, it fails to meets the criteria for science.

    Neil said: Ha! Uh . . . but you look so much alike, I get you confused.

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  28. “And if you want to be picky, I wouldn’t say “every” Christian scientist if I were you.”

    That’s true. I’m sure there are Christian scientists who work in non-biology fields that believe in “intelligent design”. I would think, however, that any biology position would require a rudimentary knowledge of the scientific method thereby precluding “intelligent design”.

    Neil said: You are begging the question re. macro/micro, which is foundational to the discussion. Let’s move on. Believe it or not, you can develop antibiotics without believing that micro-evolutionary processes produced both elephants and caterpillars / butterflies.

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  29. No, it certainly is not “foundational” to this discussion as it is a distinction that doesn’t exist in science. At one point does “micro-evolution” become “macro-evolution”?

    Somewhere between the cell that supposedly came into being from nothing and when it branches out to the elephant or the caterpillar / butterfly. Maybe “science” will help define what many of us find to be fairly obvious once they take their heads of of the sand. “The distinction doesn’t exist la la la la la la.”

    This discussion is becoming rather moot given the research in DNA over the last twenty years. We know now the genetic relationships between reptiles and birds, dolphins and dogs, and the rest of our planet’s genetic history.

    Neil said: Last comment on this because it gets repetitive. Yes, we see genetic relationships. Some might call them common design elements. Lots of alleged “Darwinian” evidence makes sense in an ID view.

    Plus, you guys have lots of things you can’t explain (e.g., Why is some information in the DNA so long before it was allegedly used in evoluton?). If the Darwinists weren’t so dogmatic in ignoring these things they might make greater scientific advances.

    Ultimately, I think the intelligent design movement is doing a horrible disservice to Christianity. This is particularly true as most of Christianity decided this issue many years ago.

    Neil said: Give me a break. The liberal theologians (like the NCC) along with a few extreme folks on the other end have done the disservice to Christianity. The evolution debate is a nit compared to the heresies they spew: claiming Jesus isn’t God, that He isn’t the only way, that we can’t trust the Bible, etc.

    I find your “most of Christianity” quote to be in error for two reasons: One, it is unproven, and two, if they felt the opposite you would ignore it completely.

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  30. Havok:

    Ok, lets say I accept that the Gospels are true and accurate in a courtroom sense. Do you have any evidence that Yahweh is able to interact within a causally closed universe, such as ours?

    You need to prove that the universe is causally closed. To presume that it is, in order to show that miracles are impossible, is an obvious instance of circular reasoning.

    For what it’s worth, I believe human freedom and human rationality are possible only because we are partially independent of the physical universe: we have souls that are distinct from our bodies, and we have minds that are more than just the sum of our brain cells.

    Focusing on the latter, I believe that rational thought is only possible if our thoughts are not wholly accounted for in the physical and chemical reactions of the universe. This partial independence is what allows us to perceive (and do so accurately) transcendent truth, such as the law of non-contradiction or the law of transitivity:

    A man’s mind, which is partially independent from the physical universe, accurately perceives that contradiction is impossible. This realization is captured in his memory, in a tiny fraction of his brain’s cells. He communicates this realization by altering the universe around him, by creating sound waves to verbally explain his realization to a neighbor, or by marking a paper to record it in written form: a transcendent truth is perceived by a mind that is partially independent from the physical universe, and the person whose mind perceives this truth alters the universe in order to communicate his realization.

    It’s a rather elegant demonstration, I think, that the universe cannot be causally closed.

    Someone could try to explain how pure materialism can account for rationality, but that effort is futile. If our thoughts are the result only of unguided chemical reactions, our brain’s thoughts are as rational and meaningful as our liver’s bile.

    And, one could then argue that human rationality is an illusion, but he’s then arguing against his own rationality. Taking his argument seriously would mean that one couldn’t take his argument seriously.

    No, the only sensible arguments one can make are those that presume that sensible arguments are possible.

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  31. Mike said “Evolutionary biology is, after all, the position of … the Southern Baptist Convention.”

    Excuse me? I can’t speak to the others, but I’m pretty sure this is flat out wrong. Can you point me to some evidence?

    If you’re right, I’ll have a long talk with my pastor and a few other pastors I know.

    I’ve heard us Baptists accused of a lot of things, but never this.

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  32. And keep in mind that Dawkins is the fellow who thinks it is possible that aliens came into being on another planet and evolved faster than we did, then seeded human beings here. If Mr. Science Person has empirical evidence for this view then he is holding out on us.

    I think you’re misstating the point.

    There is a fundamental difference for saying that there is no evidence contradicting something and that there is evidence supporting it. There is probably no evidence out in the internet world that I have a gold Citizens watch, but there’s no evidence against it, either. Ditto alien seeding.

    The point goes even further, though: it disrupts the Christian idea that “not Darwin/evolution” equates immediately to “the Christian view of Creation.” Dawkins is pointing out that the Darwinian theory of evolution does not need to be correct in order for Creationsists to be wrong.

    Neil said: Hi – yes, I understand those distinctions. My point was that while he mocks Intelligent Design he simultaneously concedes that we could have been intelligently designed (albeit by aliens).

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  33. Bubba: For what it’s worth, I believe human freedom and human rationality are possible only because we are partially independent of the physical universe: we have souls that are distinct from our bodies, and we have minds that are more than just the sum of our brain cells.

    Way off topic, but again, that’s simply your belief. Some evidence to support it would be nice.
    The apparent freewill of the brain could simply be the result of chaotic interaction of matter. You might want to look into some research into the nature freewill and consciousness – “Freedom Evolves” by dennett is apparently quite good.

    Neil said: Of course, that would just be your belief, and if it is correct there are no logical reasons we should consider it or anything else you say. You use your “evolved” reason to think your reason is reliable, but you really wouldn’t know if it was.

    You don’t live consistently with your worldview at all. In fact, every comment you write is evidence against it. But to be charitable, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. I’m going to take you at your word and used my evolved reason to ignore you.

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  34. Imagine millions of little pieces of metal, plastic, rubber, etc, falling to earth in such perfect order that upon landing it falls together to create a working jumbo-jet. Then imagine it doing so again, and with the necessary acoutrements for the two jumbo-jets to reproduce themselves.That is how evolutionists believe human life began. If humans began that way, why not jumbo-jets? It is just as logical.

    To believe in evolution requires more faith than to believe in God.

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  35. Havok:

    The apparent freewill of the brain could simply be the result of chaotic interaction of matter. You might want to look into some research into the nature freewill and consciousness – “Freedom Evolves” by dennett is apparently quite good.

    In writing about “apparent” free will, are you implying that free will is an illusion? If you are, you’re proving my point, that a materialistic view of existence cannot explain free will: it can only explain it away.

    If Wikipedia’s summary of Dennett’s book is accurate, he too denies the reality of true free will by introducing a definition of freedom that really isn’t free:

    Dennett’s stance on free will is compatibilism with an evolutionary twist – the view that, although in the strict physical sense our actions are pre-determined, we can still be free in all the ways that matter, because of the abilities we evolved. Free will, seen this way, is about freedom to make decisions without duress, as opposed to an impossible and unnecessary freedom from causality itself. To clarify this distinction, he coins the term ‘evitability’ as the opposite of ‘inevitability’, defining it as the ability of an agent to anticipate likely consequences and act to avoid undesirable ones. Evitability is entirely compatible with, and actually requires, human action being deterministic. [emphasis mine]

    It appears that Dennet believes that human actions are physically deterministic and predetermined, and that humans are not themselves independent casual agents. This is not an explanation of free will. This is a denial of free will.

    The worst thing about this denial is the Orwellian approach that’s used to make it palatable to the masses. An honest atheist would clearly deny the possibility of free will; he wouldn’t try to hide that denial by saying that materialism allows for free will if you define free will to mean something entirely different. It’s like saying Stalinism is democratic because the Politburo represent the will of the People and have the People’s best interest in mind: unless individual citizens are truly free either to vote on their legislators or to vote directly on proposed legislation, it ain’t democratic.

    The claim that genuine free will can be the result of the “chaotic interaction of matter” is preposterous, but it appears that the leading advocates of materialism aren’t truly arguing that. They’re not explaining free will, human rationality, or the moral law; they’re explaining these things away.

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  36. For what it’s worth, I think this Orwellian redefinition of terms is something of a tribute to the very concepts materialistic atheists ultimately deny. At the very least, they see these concepts as so fundamental to popular thought that they think it is imprudent to attack them directly. But I’m inclined to think more of them than that, to think that many of these people really do see as self-evident that humans are free and rational beings living under an objective moral law: their redefinitions of these terms is an attempt to cope with the unavoidable fact that their worldview cannot account for freedom, rationality, and morality.

    They may be redefining the terms, not to deceive others, but to deceive themselves.

    Nevertheless:

    Free will does not mean that humans can predict outcomes and modify their behavior, but that the acts of prediction and behavior modification are totally and deterministically caused by the sum total of physical and chemical reactions in the universe. It means true freedom to choose, which necessarily entails a partial independence from the universe and its many physical and chemical events.

    Human rationality does not mean that human cognition is merely useful in improving our quality of life by drawing conclusions about our contingent surroundings: conclusions that may be right or wrong, but remain nonetheless useful . It means that human cognition is actually rational, and rationality necessarily entails independence from causality enough to make perceive — and do so reliably — those transcendent truths that would be true in any possible universe and true in the absence of a universe, logical maxims such as non-contradiction and transitivity.

    And human morality does not mean that human behavior is merely useful toward some personal or social end, such as the continuation of the gene pool. It means that humans really are obligated to obey an objective moral law. Because this law describes what should be, and not what necessarily is, it cannot be accounted for in a materialist universe and must therefore transcend the universe. And for humans to be truly moral agents, they must morally accountable, which again requires at least partial independence from the physical universe.

    When it is clear what each of these terms means, I believe it becomes immediately clear what each of these terms entails or requires. They necessarily require transcendent truths: if the moral law and logical maxims are real, they exist independently from the physical universe. They necessarily also require our partial independence from the physical universe: in order to be truly moral and truly rational — i.e., aware of those transcendent moral laws and logical maxims — we must be partially free from the universe around us, and human free will definitionally entails such freedom.

    If you know what the term means, you know what the term entails. And what these terms entail are explicitly and emphatically denied by materialistic atheists. In the end, they have only two options: deny the term altogether, since they deny what the term entails, or redefine the term so that it longer entails what it once did because it no longer means what it once did.

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  37. If Neil could fix my bad HTML tag when he gets a chance, I’d appreciate it.

    [sigh…]

    Neil said: Done and done. This is a full service blog. Hopefully WordPress will add buttons to the comments section soon to make that easier.

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  38. At an atheist blog one of the commenters insisted that the evidence we offer for the existence of God was equivalent to that for pink unicorns (I have no idea why they are always pink),

    They’re pink becuase they’re also gay.

    Merry Christmas Neil.

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