We Are The Change We Seek
"i got this" - Kenny Wyland
This isn't where I thought I was going to be when I looked forward into my life, but here I am....
Yes We Can
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2011-10-29 3:36 PM
Todd Pitner's Horrible "Arguments" for God
I have been trading tweets with @toddpitner about the existence of God. He said he could "prove" the existence of God with his 29 point argument. He also asked that I publically acknowledge his attempts to prove God "rationally"... but his arguments are anything but rational.
So, below I present Todd's ridiculous attempt to prove God's existence and my responses to it. His words begin below, I'll separate out my words with different styling or structure.
What begins here is an awful set of logical fallacies. It's one of the worst sets of arguments I've heard in a long time.
Detailed below are twenty-nine arguments for God's existence...providing what I submit to be a compelling "cumulative case for God's existence." I believe that only some of these arguments, taken individually and separately, demonstrate the existence of a being that has some of the properties only God can have (no argument proves all the divine attributes); but all twenty-nine taken together, like twined rope, make a very strong case.
I understand the concept you are attempting to describe, but each of the strands of your rope falls apart horribly.
CRITERIA FOR TRUTH:
1. Correspondence - must respond to the evidence and be livable/applicable to real life.
2. Consistency - must not ask us to accept a contradiction.
3. Completeness - must account best for all the evidence (or, at least more than any other theory).
IMPORTANT DISTINCTIONS:1. If something is really true, it is true whether or not I believe it. Truth is bigger than me.
Agreed, but most Christians refuse to see that this very statement applies against them as well.
2. This is not an argument from nothing to something; rather it is an explanation of the evidence that we must admit we have before us.
I totally disagree. Looking below there is no use of existing evidence, it merely makes RADICAL claims at times without any substantiation at all.
3. Plausibility does not depend upon our comprehensive understanding of the details (e.g., one need not know and understand everything about electrical science in order to make use of electricity).
The difference between understanding/using electricity and understanding/accepting God is that even though most people don't understand (or have ever heard of) Ohm's Law, they can still flip a switch and SEE the effect of electricity. There is no equivalent with God. There is no testable response that people can experiment with and test the results.Note - if you want to CRITICIZE any of the following arguments, you either have to show at least one of the premisis is false or the validity:
I will, but you and I both know that you're just going to dismiss my response. Your requirement for criticism is more strict that your initial argument. At some point in each of the following arguments, you make a WILD assertion which is unsubstantiated, but you base your argument on it assuming it is absolute truth.
NOTE: After I emailed my response to him, he shockingly dismissed everything I had to say by just saying "Is that all you got?" ... so... you can't say I didn't call that ahead of time.
The RESURRECTION OF JESUS argument (please see Gary Habermas' attached dissertation as scholarly back-up)
Paul says that "if Christ is not risen your faith is in vain" . . . thus, this is a critical argument:
1. There is strong evidence for the general authenticity of the gospels, including the record that Jesus lived and died;
2. There is also strong evidence that something unusual happened following the killing of Jesus which meant that the movement did not die with His death;
Problem #1 with this argument: Spiritual, Religious, Political movements OFTEN do not die with the death of the leader. The Civil Rights movement didn't die with Malcolm X or Dr. King. Mormonism did not die with Joseph Smith. Islam did not die with Muhammad. It isn't a sign of any sort of divine quality.
3. One explanation of the fact that the Christian movement grew and spread is that Jesus rose from the dead;
But of course this is entirely conjecture. There is no proof of that.
4. Other explanations appear to be flawed and inadequate;
Problem #2: This is false conjecture. You're dismissing out of hand EVERYTHING except the one explanation you WANT to believe.
5. Therefore (in the absence of other credible explanations) it is probable that Jesus did rise from the dead;
Problem #3: This is a complete logical fallacy. You've looked at the field of possible explanations, arbitrarily dismissed all of the ones you don't like and then said, "Well OBVIOUSLY this is the only one left and it must be true." Complete logical failure.
6. His rising from the dead gives us good reason to trust Him - it gives him unique authority;
Problem #4 with this argument: You have absolutely no proof that he rose from the dead.
7. Jesus was a theist (a practicing Jew);
8. It follows that there is strong evidence that theism is a reasonable position to take supported by concrete evidence.
There is no concrete evidence. You're just using that phrase, but you have no concrete evidence.
Forms of the COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
1. The universe had a beginning
2. Anything that had a beginning must have been caused by something else
3. Therefore, the universe was caused by something else (a creator)
*sigh* Todd, this is such a TIRED argument. It fails so horribly, I'm surprised you even included it. If everything had to be created by something else, then who created God? I know, I know, your answer is that God didn't have a beginning and therefore the argument of cause and effect doesn't apply to Him. But don't you see the utter logical fallacy? Your argument to prove an infinite God doesn't have a basis unless you assume that God is infinite. It's circular and an utter failure of an argument.
1. Every part of the universe is dependent
Problem #1 with this argument: dependent on what? Dependent on another part of the universe? This vague assertion is unsubstantiated, but I'm pretty sure you intentionally left this detail out because you want the reader to mentally back-fill that gap with God. However, if every part of the universe is dependent on another part of the universe, then suddenly the dependence you are trying to describe is an entirely natural one and there isn't room left for God... so you choose to leave that part out.
2. If every part is dependent, then the whole universe must also be dependent
Problem #2: Again, dependent on what?
3. Therefore, the whole universe is dependent for existence right now on some Independent Being
Problem #3: This argument attempts to assert if A and B then J. You start with a very shaky point 1 and try to extend that to point 2, but then given that you jump wildly that "Welll, it must be God then" without providing any evidence or logical reasoning to that end.
The same types of problems exist with the following line of false reasoning, but I've already talked about those things, so I'll respond differently to the next argument.
1. Every event that had a beginning had a sufficient cause
2. The universe had a beginning
How do you know? This is entirely conjecture. If you're willing to believe in an infinitely existing God, why aren't you willing to believe in an infinitely existing universe? The Big Bang is merely the furthest point back in time about which science can make any hypothetical statements.
3. Therefore, the universe had a sufficient Cause
Even if you'd like to make this argument, which as I said before is a logical fallacy, then you would still need to show that your "Cause" was God, and there is no scientific or logical proof of that.
1. Every effect has a cause
2. The universe is an effect
Unsubstantiated assertion, just like above. This argument fails here.
3. Therefore, the universe has a Cause
1. An infinite number of moments cannot be traversed
2. If an infinite number of moments had to elapse
before today, then today would never have come
But according to you, God has existed forever, an infinite amount of time, which means that if God exists in the form you say He does then an infinite number of moments had to elapse to get to this point and your argument falls apart.
3. But today has come
4. Therefore, an infinite number of moments have not elapsed before today (i.e., the universe had a beginning)
5. But whatever has a beginning is caused by something else
6. Hence, there must be a Cause (Creator) of the universe
This next argument is awesome...
1. An actual infinite cannot exist
Then your infinite God does not exist. QED
2. An infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite
3. Therefore an infinite temporal regress of events
1. The temporal series of events is a collection formed by successive addition
2. A collection formed by successive addition cannot be an actual infinite
Logical failure. You have ignored the case in which the series is formed by infinite successive addition.
3. Therefore the temporal series of events cannot be an actual infinite
1. Some things undeniably exist (e.g., I cannot deny my own existence)
2. My nonexistence is possible
Problem #1: This step makes no sense. You just said, "I undeniably exist" and then followed it with "I might not exist." You contradicted yourself on step 2.
3. Whatever has the possibility not to exist is currently caused to exist by another
Problem #2: Unsubstantiated assertion. The argument continues to fail.
4. There cannot be an infinite regress of current causes of existence
5. Therefore, a first uncaused cause of my current existence exists
6. This uncaused cause must be infinite, unchanging, all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-perfect
Problem #3: You WILDLY jump from your uncaused cause to an assertion that the cause must be infinite, unchanging, all-knowing and all-perfect. That's a completely wild assertion with absolutely no basis.
7. This infinitely perfect Being is appropriately called "God"
8. Therefore, God exists
9. This God who exists is identical to the God described in the Christian Scriptures
Problem #4: Even if you overlook all of the logical fallacies of this argument, the God described in the Qu'ran also fits... but you aren't Muslim.
10. Therefore, the God described in the Bible exists
Argument from COSMOLOGICAL NATURAL THEOLOGY
1. Time, space and matter came into existence at a certain point in the finite past.
2. Since time, space and matter began to exist they had a cause.
3. Therefore, whatever caused them was time-less (or eternal), space-less (not subject to locality, or omnipresent) and matter-less (immaterial, non-physical, or spirit).
This is just a restatement of all of the above arguments, I'll let me comments above apply here as well.
The TELEOLOGICAL argument
1. All designs imply a designer
2. There is great design in the universe
Problem #1: You mistake something that works as something with great design. This is a common logical fallacy among Christians trying to make these arguments. Evolution explains many ways in which an elegant system comes into existence without a designing agent acting upon it.
3. Therefore, there must be a Great Designer of the universe
Forms of the ONTOLOGICAL argument
*sigh* The ontological argument is so flawed that even most Christians dismiss it, Todd.
1. God is defined as a being than which no greater can be conceived.
2. Such a being can be conceived.
3. If there were no such being in reality, then a greater being -- namely, a being than which no greater can be conceived, and which exists--can be conceived.
4. Yet nothing can be greater than a being than which no greater can be conceived.
5. Therefore a being than which no greater can be conceived--i.e., God--must exist.
So you are saying to me that you fully conceive of God? That you, with a finite, imperfect mind can truly and full conceive of an infinite, perfect, all-knowing, all-powerful God?
Additionally, one of the fundamental problems with this "argument" is that it bases truth and reality upon the limits of human imagination. Humans throughout history were unable to even conceive of the science, math, invention, etc. that we have now, so according to the ontological argument then those things couldn't have existed either... or the envelope of the limits of our ability to conceive ideas is a moving target.
There are plenty of people throughout history who have torn apart the Ontological argument, including many, many Christians. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontological_argument#Criticisms_and_objections
1. God is the entity of which nothing greater can be thought.
2. It is greater to be necessary than not.
3. God must therefore be necessary.
4. Hence, God exists necessarily.
This is just a sillier restatement of the ontological argument which is a fallacious argument to begin with.
The argument from JOY
This is probably the worst argument of the group...
1. Every natural innate desire has a real object that can fulfill it
Problem #1: This is an unsubstantiated claim upon which you predicate your entire argument, so you entire argument is predicated on conjecture.
2. Human beings have a natural, innate desire for immortality
3. Therefore, there must be an immortal life after death
Problem #2: Immortality precludes death. It's even right there in the word..... im- and -mort. Even if you were to accept point #1, which you shouldn't, because it's a ridiculous assertion... the innate desire for immortality that humans have is a fear of death, they don't want to die. Your argument is based on dying, therefore it's inherently contradictory.
The argument from RELIGIOUS NEED
There is no NEED for religion, so this argument starts on bad ground.
1. Human beings really need God
Problem #1: This is random conjecture, not evidence or proof of anything. It doesn't follow any logical origin. It's not based upon any philosophical given... anything. It's pure conjecture.
2. What humans really need, probably really exists
Problem #2: Based on _pure conjecture_ that humans need God, the best you can follow this up with is "probably."
3. Therefore, God really exists
*sigh* Utterly ridiculous.
The Argument from AESTHETIC EXPERIENCE
1. There is the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.
2. Therefore there must be a God.
Total conjecture. This is the problem you consistently suffer from, Todd. You don't ACTUALLY understand logical progression. 1) Chocolate is awesome. 2) Therefore God exists. It's a ridiculous "argument" that holds nothing more than you random claiming that God exists.
3. You either see this one or you don't.
Right, which makes it not a logical argument. If it were a logical argument, it wouldn't be left to subjective evaluation.
The argument from CONSCIENCE
1. From something less than me (nature)
2. From me (individual)
3. From others equal to me (society)
4. From something above me (God)
The above lacks any form of argument. It's a group of partial sentences that do not even form assertions.
The argument from TRUTH
1. Our limited minds can discover eternal truths about being.
2. Truth properly resides in the mind.
3. But the human mind is not eternal.
4. Therefore there must exist an eternal mind in which these truths reside.
Total logical fallacy. The external truth is eternal regardless of whether we perceive it or not. The concept 2+2=4 will remain true even if all life in the universe died out and all written records of such truth were destroyed.
Forms of the MORAL LAW argument
1. Objective moral values only exist if God exists
2. Objective moral values do exist
Problem: Wrong, you CLAIM that objective moral values exist, but upon which are you claiming that? Your subjective perspective? Then you can't claim objectivity.
3. Therefore, God exists
1. Moral laws imply a Moral Law Giver
2. There is an objective moral law
3. Therefore, there is a Moral Law Giver
Same problem at the "argument" above.
1. Real moral obligation is a fact. We are really, truly, objectively obligated to do good and avoid evil.
Problem #1: You clearly don't understand the word "fact." Building an argument on an unsubstantiated claim means the entire rest of your argument is built on nothing.
2. Either the atheistic view of reality is correct or the "religious" one.
3. But the atheistic one is incompatible with there being moral obligation.
Problem #2: As I said, when you base your argument on falsehood, your argument is false. You are trying to build from a bit of conjecture.
4. Therefore the "religious" view of reality is correct.
1. There are objective moral laws
Problem #1: No, there aren't. You keep asserting this as true, but you have no basis for it.
2. Moral laws come from a moral lawgiver
3. Therefore, a moral lawgiver exists
If atheism is true, everything is permissible.
The argument below is essentially the same and I'll reply there.
DOSTOEVSKY'S argument from the CONSEQUENCES OF POSITIVE ATHEISM
1. If atheism is true then man is "the chief of the earth"
2. If man is "the chief of the earth" then he can abandon
absolute standards (i.e., morality)
3. If man can abandon the absolute standards then
"everything is permissible"
4. Therefore, if atheism is true, everything is permissible
This isn't an argument for or against the existence of God. It is attempting to build a reaction that you don't WANT atheism to be true, but remember according to your own rules, WANTing something to be true doesn't make it true.
The deepest problem with this attempt at vilifying atheism is that humans have created their own laws throughout time. Secular laws and governments have been able to create stable societies, because while in a purely anarchistic situation everything is permissible... humans throughout history, in a secular fashion, have banded together to increase their chances for survival. In doing so, they mutually agreed to live by certain rules or suffer certain punishments for breaking those rules. So we trade our absolute freedom (everything is permissible) for stable and safe society. That's the basis of the Social Contract that our nation is founded upon.
The argument from CONSCIOUSNESS
1. We experience the universe as intelligible. This intelligibility means that the universe is graspable by intelligence.
Problem #1: We only experience our tiny local area of the universe as intelligible. We can grasp the physical mechanics of gravitation and how large bodies in the universe move around each other, but being able to grasp the true scale and complexity of the entire universe is really something that we can't truly do. People can't even TRULY grasp the concept of one trillion dollars, even though our government deals with those numbers all the time. The only way to get people to come close to understanding the scope of something so large is to use smaller analogs where in one item represents many items.
2. Either this intelligible universe and the finite minds so well suited to grasp it are the products of intelligence, or both intelligibility and intelligence are the products of blind chance.
Problem #2: Again, this is a common fallacy of argument I run into when discussing these things with Christians. It's always either black or white to people who think this way. You completely ignore the myriad of options in between which contain elements of natural selection.
3. Not blind chance.
Problem #3: Utter conjecture. You're trying to set up some "logical" argument, but all you are saying is "1) Either God exists or God doesn't exist. 2) God exists. 3) Therefore, God exists. QED" It's a stupid attempt at argument.
4. Therefore this intelligible universe and the finite minds so well suited to grasp it are the products of intelligence.
The argument from DESIRE
Ok, I've been waiting for this one... it's awesome!
1. Every natural, innate desire in us corresponds to some real object that can satisfy that desire.
2. But there exists in us a desire which nothing in time, nothing on earth, no creature can satisfy.
Here is the GENIUS portion of your argument.... YOU CONTRADICT YOUR OWN ARGUMENT!
From your "argument" from JOY:
3. Therefore there must exist something more than time, earth and creatures, which can satisfy this desire.
4. This something is what people call "God" and "life with God forever."
The argument from the ORIGIN OF THE IDEA of God
1. We have ideas of many things.
2. These ideas must arise either from ourselves or from things outside us.
3. One of the ideas we have is the idea of God--an infinite, all-perfect being.
4. This idea could not have been caused by ourselves, because we know ourselves to be limited and imperfect, and no effect can be greater than its cause.
Problem #1: You have no basis for the conjecture that humans can't imagine something greater than themselves.
5. Therefore, the idea must have been caused by something outside us which has nothing less than the qualities contained in the idea of God.
6. But only God himself has those qualities.
Problem #2: Lots of other Gods have those qualities as well. Are you saying they exist? I don't think you are. So YOU are choosing to apply it only in the way YOU want. It's not a universal truth, Todd, it's just something you WANT to believe.
7. Therefore God himself must be the cause of the idea we have of him.
8. Therefore God exists.
The argument from RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE
1. Many people of different eras and of widely different cultures claim to have had an experience of the "divine."
Problem #1: Many people of different eras and widely different cultures have attributed disease to demonic possession, but medical research has shown us that disease has physical and mechanical origins. You're trying to make an argument here based on ignorance of the people experiencing events. People who didn't understand global plate tectonics would often attribute earthquakes to the Gods being angry. Their ignorance doesn't make it true, it only makes them ignorant of the truth.
2. It is inconceivable that so many people could have been so utterly wrong about the nature and content of their own experience.
Problem #2: It's _easily_ conceivable that so many people could be wrong. All of the people before a certain point in history thought the Earth moved around the Sun. When the idea was put forward, you could easily have said, "But that would mean EVERYone is wrong that the Earth is the center... how could they ALL be wrong? That's inconceivable." But they ALL WERE WRONG.
It's just another in a LONG line of common fallacious arguments, Todd. I could provide you with a list of things people all believed at a certain point in history, but turned out to be wrong.
3. Therefore, there exists a "divine" reality which many people of different eras and of widely different cultures have experienced.
The COMMON CONSENT Argument
1. Belief in God--that Being to whom reverence and worship are properly due--is common to almost all people of every era.
2. Either the vast majority of people have been wrong about this most profound element of their lives or they have not.
3. It is most plausible to believe that they have not.
4. Therefore it is most plausible to believe that God exists.
This restatement of the above argument falls flat for the same reason. The vast majority of people at different points throughout history HAVE been wrong and have been proven wrong.
Todd, this argument is SO often used and abused, it has a NAME: Argumentum ad populum.
The argument from TIME and CONTINGENCY
1. We notice around us things that come into being and go out of being. A tree, for example, grows from a tiny shoot, flowers brilliantly, then withers and dies.
2. Whatever comes into being or goes out of being does not have to be; nonbeing is a real possibility.
Problem #1: You offered something like this earlier in this long list of awful failures of argument. It's still random conjecture which doesn't make sense.
3. Suppose that nothing has to be; that is, that nonbeing is a real possibility for everything.
4. Then right now nothing would exist. For
Problem #2: Another fallacy of argument. You offer the supposition (not proof) that nothing HAS to be, then you claim this means nothing would exist. This is a common logical fallacy, where you convert a conditional into a requirement. You said nothing NEEDS to exist, therefore nothing WOULD exist, but your first statement has room for existence while your second statement squeezes it out of the argument... because that part of the argument doesn't suit you. It's like saying, "I don't NEED to eat ice cream. Therefore, I'm not eating ice cream." But just because I don't need to be, don't mean I'm not. I could be eating it even though I don't NEED to.
5. If the universe began to exist, then all being must trace its origin to some past moment before which there existed--literally--nothing at all. But
6. From nothing nothing comes. So
7. The universe could not have begun.
8. But suppose the universe never began. Then, for the infinitely long duration of cosmic history, all being had the built--in possibility not to be. But
9. If in an infinite time that possibility was never realized, then it could not have been a real possibility at all. So
10. There must exist something which has to exist, which cannot not exist. This sort of being is called necessary.
11. Either this necessity belongs to the thing in itself or it is derived from another. If derived from another there must ultimately exist a being whose necessity is not derived, that is, an absolutely necessary being.
12. This absolutely necessary being is God.
So there you go, Kenny - at least you can't accuse me of not attempting to make the case. Now, out of respect back:
Can you please provide me with 'evidence in kind' that belief in God is
unjustified, is a delusion, or that "there are no good reasons to believe in
God cannot be experienced in any tangible, testable, verifiable way. I have not touched, tasted, heard, seen or smelled God. You haven't either. No one either of us known has directly touched, tasted, heard, seen or smelled God. No one ever known by a person either of us have ever known has... or anyone they've ever known... or anyone they've ever known. There are no devices that we can use to measure, in any way, God or the existence of God. I can't use my eyes to see human cells, but with a device such as a microscope I can amplify my ability to see small things and so I can now peer into the depths of the human cell.
Not you, nor I, nor anyone we've ever met or anyone they've ever met or anyone they've ever met, etc. has any direct, measurable, verifiable experience with God. Religious people will claim all day long that they experienced an event which they ATTRIBUTE to an act of God, or that they INTERPRET as an act of God, but no one, not a single one of them can provide direct, measurable, verifiable evidence of it.
If a person showed up today, let's say in the middle of the Occupy Wall Street protests, and claimed to be God... would you believe that person? Let's say they were preaching the Word exactly as you believe it to be true, so everything they were saying felt exactly right to you... and this person claimed that they had once again been reborn as a man in order to gather together His flock... would you believe him? Why not?
Of course, Todd refuses to answer that last question and instead resorted to name calling (which I explained to him is ALSO another named fallacy of argument call argumentum ad hominem).
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