Fox Offers “Five Reasons Why God Exists”

We pondered whether to post about this one, which we found at the website of Fox news: A Christmas gift for atheists — five reasons why God exists.

The reason we hesitated is because this isn’t an atheist blog. We’re never bothered when someone is religious, not even if he has faith in a few miracles. What does bother us, however — aside from acts of raw aggression which some commit in the name of religion — is bad reasoning. It pollutes the environment.

Religion is based on faith — belief in something for which there is an absence of evidence or logical proof. That goes for miracles too. It’s irrational to maintain faith in some alleged miracle when verifiable evidence clearly contradicts it — as with young-Earth Creationism. But as for the existence of deities — despite the lack of evidence — that’s what faith is all about. Your Curmudgeon is easy to get along with. If you don’t bother us, we won’t bother you.

But the Fox article does bother us — because it’s so poorly reasoned. The author is William Lane Craig. According to Wikipedia, Craig is “an American Christian apologist and analytic philosopher. He works in the philosophy of religion, philosophy of time, and the defense of Christian theism.”

Craig claims he has evidence for his faith. He ought to know that’s a grotesque philosophical contradiction. If he had evidence, or at least solid reasoning, then his religion would be science. Because he’s talking about a deity, yet claiming to have evidence, we feel that his essay is a fair target. He begins by saying:

[M]ost atheists, in my experience, have no good reasons for their disbelief. Rather they’ve learned to simply repeat the slogan, “There’s no good evidence for God’s existence!” In the case of a Christian who has no good reasons for what he believes, this slogan serves as an effective conversation-stopper. But if we have good reasons for our beliefs, then this slogan serves rather as a conversation-starter.

[…]

So what reasons might be given in defense of Christian theism? In my publications and oral debates with some of the world’s most notable atheists, I’ve defended the following five reasons why God exists:

We’ll go through his five reasons, one by one, giving you excerpts from his arguments. We’ve added some bold font for emphasis. Here we go:

1. God provides the best explanation of the origin of the universe.

Given the scientific evidence we have about our universe and its origins, and bolstered by arguments presented by philosophers for centuries, it is highly probable that the universe had an absolute beginning. Since the universe, like everything else, could not have merely popped into being without a cause, there must exist a transcendent reality beyond time and space that brought the universe into existence. This entity must therefore be enormously powerful. Only a transcendent, unembodied mind suitably fits that description.

That’s the ancient “first cause,” or unmoved mover argument. The logical problem with it is that if one’s reasoning carries him back to such a thing (because everything has a cause), then that reasoning must — with equal force — raise the question of What caused this transcendent thing? One can’t arbitrarily stop with that thing and assert that it needs no cause. Why? It would be a contradiction. You arrived at that point because everything has a cause. One is then logically compelled to propose an infinite regress of such causes, which is absurd. Let’s move on to Craig’s next reason:

2. God provides the best explanation for the fine-tuning of the universe.

We’ve dealt with that one before — there’s a section on it, titled Anthropic Principle, in our Common Creationist Claims Confuted. Craig continues:

3. God provides the best explanation of objective moral values and duties.

Even atheists recognize that some things, for example, the Holocaust, are objectively evil. But if atheism is true, what basis is there for the objectivity of the moral values we affirm? Evolution? Social conditioning? These factors may at best produce in us the subjective feeling that there are objective moral values and duties, but they do nothing to provide a basis for them. If human evolution had taken a different path, a very different set of moral feelings might have evolved. By contrast, God Himself serves as the paradigm of goodness, and His commandments constitute our moral duties. Thus, theism provides a better explanation of objective moral values and duties.

Lordy, lordy. We run into that one all the time, and we’ve debunked it several times, starting here: Creationism and Morality. The Discoveroids make the same claim on behalf of their magical designer — see The Designer Gives Us Morality. Here’s Craig’s next reason:

4. God provides the best explanation of the historical facts concerning Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

You can click over there to read that one if you like. It’s classic circular reasoning. Because the bible is all about God, then God is the best explanation for the bible. Wow! It’s equally “true” that the actual existence of the Olympian gods is the best explanation for their activities in the Iliad. And now we come to Craig’s final reason:

5. God can be personally known and experienced.

The proof of the pudding is in the tasting. Down through history Christians have found through Jesus a personal acquaintance with God that has transformed their lives.

Well, okay, if one accepts inherently unverifiable accounts of subjective experiences. The same quality of evidence also “proves” the phenomenon of UFO abductions and unwitnessed anatomical probes by aliens. Believe what you will, but science doesn’t accept that kind of evidence.

So there you are, dear reader. If you feel the need to go beyond faith, that’s the sort of thing you’ll have to deal with. Our advice: Keep the faith, and leave the rest to science.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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85 responses to “Fox Offers “Five Reasons Why God Exists”

  1. William Lane Craig asserts, “3. God provides the best explanation of objective moral values and duties.”

    Sure. But if it weren’t for Christianity, there would have been no hatred of Jews, and thus no Hitler. If Sunday schools would just spend their time teaching the children about ethical values and behavior rather than filling their heads with absurd stories of floods and arks and talking snakes and rising from the dead, the children would grow up with ideas they really can believe in — ideas that would be a positive guide for the way they lead their lives. Tying moral and ethical behavior to the acceptance of absurd beliefs risks having the children abandon ethical behavior along with the absurd beliefs when they grow older.

    Moral of the story: don’t lie to your children. Teaching them to believe in something for which you have not a shred of evidence to support is a form of lying. The children will eventually learn the truth, and they will no longer trust what you say or have said.

  2. Lewis Thomasonn

    To steal my favorite quote of yours BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  3. WLC:

    So what reasons might be given in defense of Christian Islamic theism?

    Just to point out to Craig that his reasons for “Christian theism” apply equally as well to any religion. (Of course, with #s 4 and 5, you’d need to make the proper substitutions for “Jesus.”)

  4. 1. “The logical problem with it”
    The scientific problem with the “first-cause” argument is that it assumes causality. Modern physics, which is very interested in the origin of our University, is thoroughly probabilistic. WLC meticulously avoids this.
    2. Fine-tuning is not an independent argument. Without a first cause there is nothing that can fine tune. Fine-tuning is also teleological and as such anti-scientific. WLC neglects the fact that life is adapted to the natural constants of the Universe, not the other way round.
    3. WLC is lying. Many atheists, like me, reject the idea of objective morals. Moreover WLC systematically neglects the Euthyphro dilemma. If WLC’s god is subject to objective morals he is not omnipotent and didn’t ground them; if he did ground them these morals are subjective – namely dependent on the metaphysical subject called god.
    4. These facts, as far as they are supernatural, are not historical.

    Btw, SC, do you realize you are only leaving room for faith a la Kierkegaard? Not that there is anything wrong with it. My female counterpart, a muslima, is such a faithist. Gazillions of theists though, including almost all philosophers of religion, are not satisfied with it.
    I’m not entirely sure yet, but I strongly suspect that philosophers like WLC also use the creationist recipe:

    1. Select a conclusion which you already believe is true.
    2. Find one piece of evidence that possibly might fit.
    3. Ignore all other evidence.
    4. That’s it.

    Replace “evidence” eventually by “remotely plausible sounding argument”.
    You certainly won’t be surprised that WLC doesn’t really like the Evolution Theory:

    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/why-is-evolution-so-widely-believed
    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/evolutionary-theory-and-theism

    Have fun exploring this alley.

  5. So not only is FoxNews the defacto mouthpiece for conservative, tea bag Republicans, it now serves as the platform for fundamentalist christianity.

    And they coninue to masquerade themselves as a news organization?

  6. MNb asks: “Btw, SC, do you realize you are only leaving room for faith a la Kierkegaard?”

    I’m not familiar with his views. I’m certainly leaving room for Deism, and probably a lot more.

  7. Craig wrote
    1. God provides the best explanation of the origin of the universe.
    and
    2. God provides the best explanation for the fine-tuning of the universe.
    and
    3. God provides the best explanation of objective moral values and duties.
    and
    4. God provides the best explanation of the historical facts concerning Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

    Methinks that “explanation” doesn’t mean what Craig thinks it means. It most definitely does not mean “Invoke an invisible entity whenever you feel like doing so.”

  8. Fox’s William Lane Craig claims

    God provides the best explanation of objective moral values and duties

    As, inter alia, in Exodus 22:18-20

    Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
    Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death.
    He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed.

    &c &c &c…

  9. 4. God provides the best explanation of the historical facts concerning Muhammad’s life, military success, and death.

  10. Alex Shuffell

    All of WLC’s points are better described by polytheism. Then we can avoid the awkwardness of being WLC and having to ignore that other religions exist besides Christianity.
    And he does that annoying thing that states god is a better explanation for the universe and never giving us any details of how. If this magical thinking is such a good explanation then it should be as easy to describe then the scientific explanations. It is confusing why they always withhold these details. It is almost as if the could not explain the universe using the god excuse.

  11. Craig is way overrated as any kind of thinker. He’s nothing more than an articulate speaker and hack apologist with only a very tenuous grip on reality. He has surrendered his humanity to an imaginary magic man in the sky who is, to be kind, a mass murderer of global proportions.

  12. In “The God Delusion”, Richard Dawkins said it best: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
    That’s WLC’s hero as described by Dawkins.

  13. It amazes me that Craig’s arguments are so simple, and easily defeated. How did he become so prominent in Christian circles?

  14. FIrst, Christians usually don’t know much about their own bible, because they seldom actually read it; and second, fundie Christians usually don’t know much, if anything, about science, the scientific method, or logic.
    Anyway, Ed, that’s my take on your question.

  15. @Ed: To use a probably no longer PC expression, “In the land of the blind, a one-eyed man is king”.

  16. “Craig claims he has evidence for his faith. He ought to know that’s a grotesque philosophical contradiction. If he had evidence, or at least solid reasoning, then his religion would be science.”

    The divorcing of faith and knowledge, that it is of the essence of religious belief to lack evidence, is a legacy of Kant, a strange quirk of early modern philosophy. Why would it be such a ‘grotesque’ contradiction for religion to be based on evidentially supported beliefs? I would think that would be a good thing. W.K. Clifford would certainly approve.

    “The logical problem with it is that if one’s reasoning carries him back to such a thing (because everything has a cause), then that reasoning must — with equal force — raise the question of What caused this transcendent thing? One can’t arbitrarily stop with that thing and assert that it needs no cause. Why? It would be a contradiction. You arrived at that point because everything has a cause.”

    This is a common misconception. William Lane Craig does not believe that EVERYTHING has a cause. The first premise of his argument is that “everything which BEGINS TO EXIST has a cause.” This class of beings includes all everyday objects like laptops, tables, trees, animals, ourselves, etc. as well as the universe as a whole if the arguments for the finitude of the past have any force. But it does not include every sort of thing, so there is no contradiction in his reasoning here.

    And this reasoning by necessity must terminate in a being that was not caused to begin to exist, for the very reason you give, which is that an infinite regress of causes makes no sense. If the first domino in a series is not toppled by a force coming from outside the series, like from a human hand, which does not itself require toppling, none of the subsequent dominos will fall. To take another analogy, a chandelier is held up by a cable, which is itself held up by the ceiling, which is itself held up by the walls, which are held up by the foundations. But the foundations are held up by the Earth, which does not need to be held up. And if there were nothing like the Earth at the end of the sequence, which does not itself require support, none of the other things could be suspended either.

    So if the universe is to come into existence it must be caused to do so by something that is not itself caused to exist by something outside itself. Such a being would by definition have to be transcendent to the physical universe (since it brought the universe into existence), immaterial (because all material things begin to exist), etc.

    Misconceptions about the cosmological arguments are unfortunately very common. See here to make sure you’re understanding what the arguments actually claim: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/07/so-you-think-you-understand.html

  17. To reiterate a question raised by MNb above, has anyone ever heard a believer in religion-based objective morals give a satisfactory response to the Euthyphro dilemma?

    The last time I argued this with a believer I gave this scenario: a man with a sword enters a tent occupied by a young mother and her child. He kills both as they beg for their lives. Perhaps the man with the sword was an Israelite; perhaps he was a Hun. Was this act moral? If morality is absolute, please explain if and why it matters to you which man I am talking about.

    I got no response that bore at all on the question, and am curious if anyone has heard anything remotely consistent or coherent on this subject.

  18. @henotheist13: You state ” …it must be caused to do so by something that is not itself caused to exist by something outside itself. Such a being… ”

    Could you explain the leap from “something” to “being”?

  19. Kierkegaard is the guy who promoted the necessity of a “leap of faith”. Great foe of Hegel and all “systematists” Would probably cut WLC to shreds. Seen by many to be a precursor of existentialist philosophy/theology.
    Must admit I have a soft spot in my heart for him.

  20. MNb

    “The scientific problem with the “first-cause” argument is that it assumes causality. Modern physics, which is very interested in the origin of our University, is thoroughly probabilistic. WLC meticulously avoids this.”

    That is a misconception. Probabilistic causation is still causation, and in any case there is wide disagreement among philosophers of science (as well as those physicists who have pondered the philosophical implications of their science, like Heisenberg, Bohm, Einstein, etc.) about whether quantum indeterminacy is merely epistemic (we can’t FIND the cause) or ontological (there IS no cause). In any case, Craig is well aware of the quantum mechanics objection and has responded to it here, along with other objections to the causal principle: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/objections-to-the-causal-principle

    “Fine-tuning is also teleological and as such anti-scientific. WLC neglects the fact that life is adapted to the natural constants of the Universe, not the other way round.”

    How is teleology unscientific? It’s at the very core of scientific reasoning, however much some antireligious scientists dislike its use. See for example the following paper: http://www.academia.edu/1786150/Teleology_and_Final_Causation_in_Aristotle_and_in_Contemporary_Science

    And you misunderstand the fine-tuning argument. The claim is not that the universe has to be fine-tuned to allow OUR kind of life, but must be fine-tuned for ANY life to emerge. The claim is that the universe is fine-tuned for the mere existence of life, not for our particular kind, much less the comfort of our particular kind. See the following paper, page 3: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1112.4647v2.pdf

  21. Ken, not sure what the confusion is. Something=some thing, another word for ‘thing’ is ‘being’.

  22. @henotheist13: You have *got* to be sh***ing me. You don’t see the connotations attached to the word “being” in the context of a discussion about the existence of God? Puhleeeeze, don’t piss on my back and tell me it’s raining.

  23. @henotheist13: “See the following paper, page 3: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1112.4647v2.pdf

    That is arguably the longest and windiest Texas Sharpshooter fallacy I have ever seen.

  24. @henotheist13: ” Something=some thing, another word for ‘thing’ is ‘being’.”

    You have *got* to be kidding me. That is simple, unrefined nonsense. You don’t see the connotations attached to the word “being” in the context of a discussion about the existence of God? That is THE essential fallacy in WLC type arguments. Even if the premises of that argument are accepted at face value, there is absolutely nothing that leads to the conclusion that the uncaused first thing is a consciousness or “being” in the sense that normal people use that word..

  25. Texas sharpshooter is when you think a random cluster of data is clustered as a result of some cause. Fine-tuning is the observation that, out of the total numbers of ways a universe can be specified (natural laws, initial conditions, constants), the number of ways allowing the evolution of intelligent life is very small. Where do you see the Texas Sharpshooter fallacy in that observation?

  26. Sorry, henotheist13, but there is no scientific basis in teleology. None. It’s a term used by IDiots and other creationists to make a magical sky daddy sound scientific to the rubes.

  27. “You have *got* to be kidding me. That is simple, unrefined nonsense. You don’t see the connotations attached to the word “being” in the context of a discussion about the existence of God?”

    Actually, I don’t. I agree with you that the first cause argument does not establish that the first cause is conscious. I used the word ‘being’ to mean ‘an existing thing’, which is the way some normal people use that word.

  28. The argument from teleology is like a mud puddle waking up one morning and marveling at how the hole it fills was oh so carefully designed just for it.

  29. Charles Deetz ;)

    #1 brings back memories of when I was six, maybe seven years old. I think my father had a children’s bible and we started with Genesis. That question of ‘okay, then who made God’ kept me up at night. I’m not afraid of it, but it seems so unanswerable. That our bold apologist here can give an answer that almost sounds like it would work, why isn’t this given in the bible? The really really big question is not answered other than “I Am” in the bible. To think that henothiest13 or WLC can come up with a plausible answer both transcends the bible and mocks it and those who consider faith enough.

  30. So, henotheist13, have you thought much about why you believe as you do? Examine your beliefs, and be honest with yourself as you do so.

    And while you’re thinking of your beliefs, ponder also why so many people expend so much effort trying to get others to follow the same religious beliefs as they do? Do you think it might be an attempt to control those other people?

  31. @Henotheist: the Kalam is a hoax. It is impossible for the universe to begin to exist in a fashion analogous to the way the entities within it begin to exist. This is true whether or not time is finite. When entities within the universe begin to exist, they are preceded by a time t1 characterized by the action of a material cause interacting by material mechanisms. WLC lies OUTRIGHT about modern cosmology proving time is finite– but even if his lies were true, even if time were finite, there would be no preceding time t1 before time itself began– so, if his lies about physics were true, then the universe never began to exist in a fashion analogous to the way that entities within it begin to exist. Or to put it more succinctly: fallacy of composition. No analogy, so no deduction.

    And if the universe DID begin to exist, it would require a material cause acting in space via a material mechanism, because that is required by the same induction from the same cherry-picked observation set that went into the Kalam’s inductive step. Craig knows this, he knows he lost, and his response is SCI (Self-Contradicting Induction, aka “But it doesn’t apply to MY god!”) The video blogger Theoretical Bull&@# recently crushed lying WLC into the ground on this point– go to YouTube NOW and watch Theoretical Bull&@#%’s video on “WL Craig’s Metaphysical Cherry-Picking.” A must see. Seriously, go watch it now. Craig has no comeback to TB.

    Next, there is no evidence God or the cause of the universe did NOT begin to exist. How could you prove that tripe? Is it an ordinary claim? No, we have no past experience with either deities or self-created entities, so we don’t know they’re self-created. So, since it is an extraordinary claim, is it backed by extraordinary evidence? Of course not– it makes no testable predictions about any observable evidence. Therefore it’s irrational frass.

    So it’s the classic Christian SCI (Self-Contradicting Induction)– “This inductive rule is absolutely universal and exceptions to it don’t exist, therefore an exception to it must exist. Call that exception the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” Aphid frass.

    And oh, did you think we’d forget to mention that, if the First Cause did exist, you have no evidence it must be an intelligent being?

    And if the First Cause were an intelligent being, it would be IMPOSSIBLE for the creator to be an omnipotent and benevolent being, because that extraordinary claim leads to testable predictions about the observable world that are contradicted by every plague or tsunami and by the Holocaust?

    And if it were an omnipotent and benevolent being, it could not possibly be a baby-murdering fag-hating genocidal Middle Eastern war deity who puts a black magic curse on a lady that he made from a man’s rib because she was tricked by a talking snake into eating from a magic tree, and the curse he put on her is inherited by all her descendants but remains invisible, and the only way he could lift the black magic curse he put on us (still invisible) is to give himself a body and then murder it, because only his blood has the magic strong enough to lift the curse he put on us (thus conceding “omnipotence”), but the vast majority of mankind including babies and embryos and spontaneously aborted blastocysts still go to an invisible place to be tortured forever (thus conceding “benevolence”), but if you telepathically inform a zombie rabbi that you accept him as your master you get to live forever, although the rest of us won’t see you live forever, we’ll just see you die and see your body rot, but trust us, you really do live forever, just in a place we can’t see.

    Go tell William Lane Craig that Diogenes wants to debate him.

  32. Henothinker says: “How is teleology unscientific? It’s at the very core of scientific reasoning”

    Aphid frass! Antiscientists try to replace the scientific method with God o the Gaps.

    Here’s how teleology works. “Your friend drowned in the Bay of Lisbon. Therefore, the Bay of Lisbon was created to drown your friend.”

    I’ve seen creationists argue that glaciers melt in the spring, therefore their purpose is to melt in the spring; and the moon reflects light, therefore its purpose is to reflect light.

    Bryan Fischer argued that a child’s bottom is good for spanking, therefore it was designed to be spanked. That’s teleology.

    When ID proponent Michael Egnor was shooting off his ignorant mouth about teleology at Sandwalk, I asked him: if an enzyme interacts with ATP, ADP, GTP, GDP and NADH, which of those is its purpose? He never answered.

    I ask creationists: what’s the purpose of the 90% of the human genome that doesn’t code nor regulate nor promote nor enhance coding, not telomeric nor an RNA gene, etc.? What’s the purpose of the 90% junk? They don’t know and teleology adds nothing.

    I ask Christians: priests and pastors molest kids. Is it their purpose to molest kids? That’s how teleology works for everything else…

  33. henotheist13 said:
    Actually, I don’t. I agree with you that the first cause argument does not establish that the first cause is conscious. I used the word ‘being’ to mean ‘an existing thing’, which is the way some normal people use that word.

    This statement is nonsense, but taken at face value, it would appear that henotheist13 is not a christian as they take for granted that any first cause is their deity, i.e., god. So the question is, again, what is meant by “an existing thing?” Some living, breathing, breeding, deity in the sky?

    This is also the same delusion for the Dishonesty Institute that throws out their ID claims that some intelligent designer, they don’t know the identify of the designer, so they say, that implies they’ve started their own new religious cult that is not associated with christianity.

  34. @He no thinking says: “Fine-tuning is the observation that, out of the total numbers of ways a universe can be specified.., the number of ways allowing the evolution of intelligent life is very small.”

    That is NOT an observation. That is a hypothesis supported by no math. The Fine Tuning argument is a scurrilous hoax. Let’s do the math.

    1. Please compute the probability density p of a universe coming into existence with parameters h, c and alpha (Planck’s constant, sapped if light, fine structure constant.) Show all calculations.

    2. Next compute the probability density p’ for a universe with those values doubled. Show all calculations.

    3. Next compute the probability q of self-replicating entities existing anywhere in the three thousand billion billion billion cubic light years of the second universe by computing its most complex phenomenology, starting only from its most basic laws, without observations or simulations. No peeking. Show all calculations.

    4. Next, employ Fisherian inference: compute the probability MASS by totting up the probability densities p’ for all conceivable universes with the rejection region being all universes with q =0.

    5. Finally, prove that, if the probability MASS is small, then the only possible explanation is a fag-hating genocidal Middle Eastern god who’s one god but also three persons, namely a baby-murdering war deity, a zombie rabbi, and a pigeon who sometimes takes the form of a ghost to debauch young virgins.

  35. Oh my sole, what a ridiculously contrived load of insubstantial and inconsequent babble. “Elaborate verbal disguises for non-ideas,” indeed! Why is it that people like Craig think that decorating their “arguments” with verbosity and sophistry will rescue them from bankruptcy? As Diogenes has gone to considerable lengths to show (as if yet another demonstration of it were even necessary), the Kalamity Cosmological Argument is eye-wipe, a rhetorical trick, just like virtually all other apologist reasoning.

    Still, Craig sounds only marginally more refined than a coked-up revivalist preacher. This is the bloke who refuses to debate anyone who doesn’t have a PhD. Is he trying to become more accessible to the common man by publishing such infantile drivel?

  36. Alex Shuffell

    Heno, you are still making wildly huge assumptions. Why do you assume the universe came into existence? If you can make the excuse that your god did not come into existence but always existed you can make that same assumption about our universe.
    Why do you assume there is any fine-tuning at all? Why can it not happen randomly, all forces and such interacting during the start of time and our universe to make give us the constants and mathematical descriptions of reality we have discovered, as in the Principle of least action? We do not need a divine reason why a stone falls when it is dropped, if it did anything else then we would be lost. Then you get onto the scale of the universe, how temporary and small life is on these huge scales, how easy it is for all human life to be destroyed from something like a solar flare or an asteroid. It requires a huge ego to fantasise that all of that is there for us, that the 13 and a half billion years before humans existed was only a foundation for which we can survive. This teleology may have made more sense when we thought our Earth at the centre of everything, and that the universe is so small. But we now know those billions of little lights in the sky are other suns, some of them are galaxies with another 100 million suns. How can you be comfortable with saying this is all here for us? Or are you assuming intelligent life can be found on other planets and that the universe is quite populated?
    I can not see a difference between the fine-tuning argument and Bill O’Reilly’s argument of “tides go in tides go out, never a miscommunication.”

    But the biggest objection to any of WLC’s point is that the first three are not specific to Christianity, they can describe every religion with all their gods and prophets. It is another huge assumption to just ignore all the other religions of the world. This gap in your thinking can be plugged with the Bible, but it can also be plugged with any other religious text. Morality comes from the Mahabharata or The Quran as much as it does the Bible. The Epic of Gilgamesh or the Iliad is as much proof for the existence of Gilgamesh or Achilles. All the gods and prophets of all our religions can be felt or experienced just as much as yours can be.

  37. It is wonderful to behold how anyone claiming ‘proof’ for the existence of some Great Oogity Boogity Magician can only ever offer a veritable Waldorf of word-salad sophistry.

    Our knowledge of the natural world does not turn on scholastic disputes about semantics, but can only be derived meaningfully from empirical data from the natural world itself. IOW: until someone can meet Curmy’s challenge to build an ‘Angel Detector’, what is there to discuss about the ‘existence’ of oogity-boogity?

  38. @henotheist13: “Where do you see the Texas Sharpshooter fallacy in that observation?”

    In the idea that life is something special.

    We’re just chemistry doing what chemistry does. If the physics had started out different, something different would have happened. Or perhaps nothing would have happened. You have drawn a circle around a small part of the chemistry that is extant in the universe as we know it, and are declaiming on the incredible accuracy (*fine* tuning – get it?) of the nature of the universe in managing to hit that target.

    Also, it would be prudent to give up on the “being is just another word for thing” idea. It makes you look astonishingly…Oh… lets call it… naive about language.

  39. On further reflection, I am starting to see the sporting appeal of this sort of data-free theological onanism! Take ‘proof’ Number 2:

    2. God provides the best explanation for the fine-tuning of the universe.

    What is the ‘best explanation’ here? On present knowledge, life does not exist elsewhere in our solar system (and possibly does not exist anywhere else, either, but let’s leave that to one side for now), so it would appear that if anyone created our solar system, that someone went to some pains to carefully ‘fine-tune’ the planet Mercury to be inimical to life. And Venus likewise. And Jupiter, Neptune, &c. &c — all carefully crafted to be lifeless, and circling about in a vast, empty lifeless space.

    Surely it’s a more logical inference, if one really does insist there was a Master Oogity-Boogity Magician who intelligently designed the universe, that that entity is deeply hostile to the whole notion of life and that our planet, so far from being a privileged one, was a bit of a slip up? Like, in an abiotic solar system, somehow the disinfectant didn’t quite sterilise the young earth?

    Maybe we should worry that the Intelligent Designer, who appears to have made a vast, life-free cosmos, will notice life on earth as a dreadful sort of infection and zap us with cleansing brimstone? Or maybe He/She/It figures we’re so well on the way to extinguishing life on this planet ourselves that there is no need to intervene?

    All of this is surely as plausible as anything WLC has given us. Isn’t Monday Morning Creatorbacking fun!

    Except, I still can’t figure out how anyone could get from WLC’s arguments–if one found them even remotely convincing–to specific conclusions like, we shouldn’t eat pork, or we must burn witches, or my god can beat your god up, &c &c

  40. @Henotheist: “an infinite regress of causes makes no sense”
    I never understood why. A circular chain of cause and effect is totally conceivable; the model of the Pulsating Universe (when Big Bang and End Crunch coincide) reflects this. This model isn’t popular anymore though as it looks like the Universe will eternally expand.

    “the Earth, which does not need to be held up”
    One other excellent example of an apologist not understanding physics. The Earth is very much held up by the Sun, which is held up by the Milky Way etc. The forces in play here work exactly the same.

    “So if the universe is to come into existence it must be caused to do so by something that is not itself caused to exist by something outside itself.”
    And that’s a circular argument, also called defining something into existence, namely the Uncaused Cause. You confirm this yourself:

    “Such a being would by definition ”
    Referring to Edward Feser confirms my worst suspicions – his physics is Aristotelian, which has been proven wrong since at least Copernicus. As such he is even more antiscientific than Craig.

  41. The likes of WLC, the posse of poseurs at the Disco ‘Tute, and apparently our new pal henotheist have so thoroughly fried their brains pouring over their Wholly Babble that they think deep mysteries are resolved by rhetoric and parsing of language. To them, hard evidence and data have no meaning in the face of Iron Age mythology cobbled together by men who had almost no knowledge of the world they were trying to understand.

  42. @Henotheist: “Probabilistic causation is still causation”
    Wrong and antiphysics plus antimath. Causation is a special case of probabilism, namely with a correlation of either 1 or 0. The First-Cause Argument totally depends on it.

    “as well as those physicists who have pondered the philosophical implications of their science, like Heisenberg, Bohm, Einstein”
    Those died quite a few decades ago. You’ll find only few 21st Century physicists who still defend this view. Anyhow you fail to address the main point: before you are entitled to accept the very first assumption of the first-cause argument (namely causality) you’ll have to develop a strictly causal (ie non-probabilistic) theory of physics that not only replaces Quantum Mechanics and its offspring, but actually improves on it. Bohm has tried, but failed for two reasons: he needed more assumptions and thus fell victim to Occam’s Razor plus when expanding to cover Quantum Electro Dynamics his interpretation also became probabilistic.
    I don’t hold my breath.

    “How is teleology unscientific? It’s at the very core of scientific reasoning”
    Please point me out where in Classical Mechanics, Quantum Mechanics, General Relativity, Evolution Theory or any other modern scientific theory any goal is specified. You’re pulling this out of Feser’s big fat thumb and simply neglecting Laplace to begin with.

    “The claim is that the universe is fine-tuned for the mere existence of life”
    Sorry that I formulated sloppy, but this does nothing to contradict my point about fine-tuning. Btw, even if we grant Craig, Feser and you first-cause plus fine-tuning you should realize that there about 30 natural constants to be fine-tuned. It seems more logical to assume one immaterial entity for every natural constant to fine-tune than assuming that one immaterial entity to fine-tune all of them. Still I don’t see you guys reconverting to hinduism; so far your intellectual honesty.
    Of course you guys do not address the problem of how an immaterial entity is supposed to interact with our material reality either. Still this is necessary to assume that causing the Universe into existence and fine-tuning its natural constants is even possible.
    All in all you perfectly match the four steps scheme formulated by our Sensuous Curmudgeon, the scheme I mentioned at 14-December-2013 at 4:49 pm above.

  43. @Ed: “How did he become so prominent in Christian circles?”
    As I don’t think Waldteufel’s explanation fully satisfactory I add: because there are only few apologists who do a better job. Plantinga is one of them and is more popular in The Netherlands than Craig.

    Also forgotten: the moral argument (point 3) is the same kind of circular logic as the uncaused cause a la Feser and Henotheist. Objective morals exist; hence god exists; said god gave us objective morals.

  44. MNb says:

    A circular chain of cause and effect is totally conceivable; the model of the Pulsating Universe (when Big Bang and End Crunch coincide) reflects this. This model isn’t popular anymore though as it looks like the Universe will eternally expand.

    I’ve always had a fondness for the eternal sequence of Bang-Crunch-Bang-Crunch, etc., and although, as you say, it’s no longer stylish, I still think about it. I don’t see any “circular chain of cause and effect,” however. I may be alone in this, but I think that each Bang starts a whole new sequence of events, and nothing that happened during the prior contraction phase could possibly have any effect on the new expanding phase. The same goes for the coming contraction phase which may follow the current expansion — nothing we do or that happens in this phase will have any consequences on what will happen then. Each phase is causally independent of all the others. I see no circularity at all.

    On the other hand, if Bangs and Crunches keep occurring, that does suggest that some deeper principle is at work which applies to all of it. But only the gods on Mt. Olympus would know that that is.

  45. It is truly surprising that this particular post has attracted only one apologist. Perhaps we can attract a few more for sport:

    “There is but one god, and its name is Reality.”
    — RSG

  46. Pope Retiredsciguy notes

    It is truly surprising that this particular post has attracted only one apologist.

    Not really surprising IMHO, given the propensity for empiricism amongst this blog’s readership. And as we all know, thinking scientifically means never having to say you’re sorry… 🙂

  47. Our Curmudgeon confesses

    I’ve always had a fondness for the eternal sequence of Bang-Crunch-Bang-Crunch

    with nary a ‘Thank you, M’am’ thrown in. Is it any wonder Olivia bailed out on you so quickly?

  48. . . theological onanism!

    Sorry, Megalonyx, but I’m shamelessly stealing that 🙂

  49. Baron Megalonyx advises—

    “Our knowledge of the natural world does not turn on scholastic disputes about semantics, but can only be derived meaningfully from empirical data from the natural world itself.”

    Bingo, mate. Even our most intense moments of abstruse transcendental contemplations derive from actual experiences of the real world. For how can it be otherwise? We cannot ad lib isolate ourselves from such experiences, and certainly not in totality from birth to death. This is the bit mysticists of whatsoever persuasion simply cannot afford to acknowledge — so much so, that they love construing flights of fancy as “knowing by other means.” It’s why navel-gazing still finds such wide favour. The humility to consider the strong possibility that numinous and profound feelings (and who hasn’t had them?) are probably an artefact of the (human) brain’s manner of functioning, is absent. Instead, too many people prefer to assign a separate category of reality to such events because the idea that their brains might be playing tricks on them is just too ghastly to contemplate. Nietzsche had something pertinent to say on the topic, involving a casual stroll through a lunatic asylum.

  50. Brother Ed:

    It amazes me that Craig’s arguments are so simple, and easily defeated. How did he become so prominent in Christian circles?

    My simple answer is that nobody except a small circle of Christians, pseudo-Christians and “Christians” give a rat’s ass, flying fig or monkey’s nut about this stuff.

    Take “theologian” John Hough (please) and his inane “proof of God” using a teakettle as an example. It’s such a mind-numbingly stupid proposition (I was going to write “childish” but why insult children so close to Christmas?) that one is left agape at countering it. Yet Hough is considered a “serious” theologian presenting a “sophisticated” theological argument. (Coyne kept getting berated that he was simplifying theology so he sought out Haught to engage in sophisticated theology and ended up with the teakettle argument.)

    Who watches the 700 Club and pays attention to Pat Roberton? Who really cares about Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen or any number of con men, scammers and charlatans? Enough to keep them in business, that’s for sure!

    I’m reminded of a great line from my favorite movie, Kill Bill 2, when Budd says of Bea to Ellie: Bill used to think she was so damn smart. I tried to tell him, “Bill, she’s just smart for a blonde.”

  51. Diogenes,

    “It is impossible for the universe to begin to exist in a fashion analogous to the way the entities within it begin to exist. This is true whether or not time is finite. When entities within the universe begin to exist, they are preceded by a time t1 characterized by the action of a material cause interacting by material mechanisms.”

    Things beginning to exist within the universe in the manner you describe form an importance piece of evidence for premiss 1, but I see no reason why we should think that is the only way something could begin to exist. For something e to begin to exist at time t means simply the following: 1) e exists at t, and 2) t is the first time at which e exists. It doesn’t matter if t is the first moment of all time, and there does not need to be a time prior to t. And who says that the only causes are material ones? Do you have an argument for that?

    “WLC lies OUTRIGHT about modern cosmology proving time is finite…”

    You might want to let cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin know: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1204.4658.pdf

    “And if the universe DID begin to exist, it would require a material cause acting in space via a material mechanism, because that is required by the same induction from the same cherry-picked observation set that went into the Kalam’s inductive step.”

    Nope. The valid generalization is that “things that begin to exist have a cause.” It is not “things that begin to exist have a material cause.” That would be like someone claiming that the only way for an object to be suspended in mid-air is by a cable attached to the ceiling, if that’s the only case of a suspended object they had ever encountered. The correct induction in this case would be that SOMETHING must exert a counter-force to keep an object suspended. There are no restrictions on what that something is.

    And Craig has responded to ‘TBS’ here: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/must-everything-that-begins-to-exist-have-a-material-cause

    “Next, there is no evidence God or the cause of the universe did NOT begin to exist. How could you prove that tripe? Is it an ordinary claim? No, we have no past experience with either deities or self-created entities, so we don’t know they’re self-created.”

    You really don’t understand deductive reasoning, do you? That the first cause did not itself begin to exist is logically required in order to avoid an infinite regress which, as the author of the original post noted, makes no sense. If the causal series is not infinite, then by definition there must be a first member. And if it is to be the actual first member, obviously it could not be caused to exist by something prior to it, because then that would be the first member. And ‘self-created’ is a misconception. The claim is not that the first cause creates itself. It was not created at all, by itself or anything else. It simply has always existed. And we do not need to have direct experience of this, any more than we need direct experience of any of the other entities in physics we do not have direct experience of (when was the last time you saw an electron without the aid of instruments?). Rather, we infer the existence of things which are not directly observable by inferences from things which are.

  52. “And oh, did you think we’d forget to mention that, if the First Cause did exist, you have no evidence it must be an intelligent being?”

    It is you who forgot that I already conceded that the cosmological argument does not establish that the first cause is an intelligent being.

  53. “That is NOT an observation. That is a hypothesis supported by no math. The Fine Tuning argument is a scurrilous hoax. Let’s do the math.”

    You’re confused about the difference between an observation and an hypothesis put forward to explain the observation. You can accuse me of making an incorrect observation, but I was not putting forward an hypothesis. The claim that I made is based on the calculations found in the following papers:

    Brandon Carter, “Large Number Coincidences and the Anthropic Principle in Cosmology” http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu//full/1974IAUS…63..291C/0000291.000.html

    B.J. Carr and M.J. Rees, “The anthropic principle and the structure of the physical world” http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v278/n5705/abs/278605a0.html

    See also the papers collected here:
    http://letterstonature.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/what-to-read-the-fine-tuning-of-the-universe-for-intelligent-life/

  54. Alex Shuffell,

    “Heno, you are still making wildly huge assumptions. Why do you assume the universe came into existence? If you can make the excuse that your god did not come into existence but always existed you can make that same assumption about our universe.”

    I do not assume the universe came into existence. That is the conclusion of an number of observations and arguments from theoretical cosmology and philosophy. See the paper I linked to in my response to Diogenes above:
    http://arxiv.org/pdf/1204.4658.pdf You can’t simply assume that the universe did not come into existence if the evidence shows otherwise. God and the universe are not inter-changeable, so that whatever properties you attribute to one you could also attribute to the other. God as conceived in the monotheistic religions can play the role of first cause. The universe, as we understand it today, cannot.

    “Why do you assume there is any fine-tuning at all? Why can it not happen randomly, all forces and such interacting during the start of time and our universe to make give us the constants and mathematical descriptions of reality we have discovered, as in the Principle of least action?”

    The observation of fine-tuning must be distinguished from an explanation we might give for that fine-tuning. Chance is indeed one of the proposed explanations for how the constants, initial conditions and laws came to be just right, but it is fantastically unlikely, on the order of 1 in 10^123, per Roger Penrose’s calculations.

    “Then you get onto the scale of the universe, how temporary and small life is on these huge scales, how easy it is for all human life to be destroyed from something like a solar flare or an asteroid. It requires a huge ego to fantasise that all of that is there for us, that the 13 and a half billion years before humans existed was only a foundation for which we can survive.”

    Again, the fine-tuning argument does not claim that the universe is COMFORTABLY fine-tuned for life, simply that it is fine-tuned for life to emerge at all. As hostile as our universe may be to life in general, it still allowed life to emerge at all. The vast majority of other possible universes do not even allow that.

    “But the biggest objection to any of WLC’s point is that the first three are not specific to Christianity, they can describe every religion with all their gods and prophets.”

    He’s well aware of that. Why is that a problem? As he proceeds from one argument to another the sketch of the Cause of the universe gets filled in with progressively more detail. But it is not true that the first three arguments are compatible with any and every religion. They are only compatible with religions that posit a single, transcendent, omnipotent, omniscient, immaterial, timeless cause of the universe. That rules out any religions which don’t posit such a being.

  55. Henotheist, please regale us with your wisdom with respect to how magical thinking like teleology is expressed in physics, chemistry, or any other real science. You claim that teleology is at the core of scientific reasoning. Now demonstrate it with specific examples and mechanisms, please.

  56. Megalonyx,

    “Our knowledge of the natural world does not turn on scholastic disputes about semantics, but can only be derived meaningfully from empirical data from the natural world itself.”

    I fully agree that knowledge of the world is derived from experience, but that experience must be organized in terms of concepts, so conceptual clarification is an important part of increasing our knowledge of the world.

  57. henotheist13 gibbers—

    “You really don’t understand deductive reasoning, do you? … [waffle, contrivance, deflection, horse apples, verbiage] … [The “First Cause”] was not created at all, by itself or anything else. It simply has always existed. … Rather, we infer the existence of things which are not directly observable by inferences from things which are.”

    Read all that again and try to relate your first sentence to the middle two in the above citation. The second+third sentence should suffice to reveal the laughable extent to which special pleading can be contorted in the service of unfounded belief and question-begging: “The first banana was not created at all, by itself or anything else. It simply has always existed [as Platonic potential].” As for the final sentence, inference can only be empirically successful when a valid and falsifiable working model is in play. A thing that can “explain” anything and everything is not a valid and falsifiable working model.

  58. MNB,

    “And that’s a circular argument, also called defining something into existence, namely the Uncaused Cause.”

    No, it’s called inferring what must exist to explain things that we observe, just like J.J. Thompson inferred that a particle with certain properties (the electron) must exist given the effects he was observing in cathode ray tubes.

    “Referring to Edward Feser confirms my worst suspicions – his physics is Aristotelian, which has been proven wrong since at least Copernicus.”

    Edward Feser holds to an Aristotelian METAphysics, which stands or falls independently of the correctness of Aristotelian physics.

  59. “Edward Feser holds to an Aristotelian METAphysics, which stands or falls independently of the correctness of Aristotelian physics.”

    Pure, unfettered puffery and inanity. I’m still laughing. Thanks, heno 🙂

  60. “Henotheist, please regale us with your wisdom with respect to how magical thinking like teleology is expressed in physics, chemistry, or any other real science. You claim that teleology is at the core of scientific reasoning. Now demonstrate it with specific examples and mechanisms, please.”

    A good overview can be found here:
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7SKlRTfkUieVTFjS21PNHc3TjA/edit

  61. ““The first banana was not created at all, by itself or anything else. It simply has always existed [as Platonic potential].””

    A banana by its very nature is not the sort of thing that could have always existed. And Plato did not speak of ‘potentials’, that’s Aristotle. You guys really take pride in your ignorance and loose reasoning, don’t you?

  62. “Pure, unfettered puffery and inanity. I’m still laughing. Thanks, heno :)”

    Not even an attempt to understand the distinction. I thought you were all rigorous thinkers who insist on understanding a position before criticizing it.

  63. Y’all getting bored with henotheist13 yet? Or should I let it continue?

  64. henotheist13 kneejerks—

    “You guys really take pride in your ignorance and loose reasoning, don’t you?”

    Hey, careful! My ironymeter is a robust instrument but it isn’t infinitely flexible, unlike certain hypotheses. Its readout suggests that you quote-mined to evade the central point about special pleading.

  65. It’s OK, I’m done here. It’s obvious that most commenters here are not familiar enough with the cosmological argument and the fine-tuning literature to make this discussion worthwhile. But I would ask that you edit your original post to correct the glaring misconception that William Lane Craig believes that the EVERYTHING has a cause. As I explained in my first comment, he actually claims that everything THAT BEGINS TO EXIST has a cause.

  66. heno, I read the paper you kindly provided a link for. It’s as vapid as your other comments. Meh.
    Curmy, this guy is boring, since he has not a single original idea.

  67. Curmy, my two cents’ worth is to let it go on for a while at least. I think henotheist13 is a great deal more intellectual than your average bible-thumper. It’s interesting to watch how these types hoist themselves by their own petard (as it were) without realising it.

  68. @He no thinking: “You really don’t understand deductive reasoning, do you?”

    He then proceeds to demonstrate the pig-ignorance of WLC’s acolytes by following that statement with NO deductions! He actually then engages in special pleading, a major weakness in his argument, which he tries to pass off as… deduction! And therefore a strength! Ha ha.

    (Con-tester pointed this out already, thanks.)

    If you think you’re doing “deduction”, what rule on Earth are you using from which to deduce!? If you say you’re deducing here, you’re applying a rule to God— and what rule would that be? And if God is bound by a rule, then he’s not omnipotent– the Euthyphro dilemma all over again. But what rule applies to deities or to first causes of universes requiring them to be self-created or uncreated?

    “That the first cause did not itself begin to exist is logically required in order to avoid an infinite regress”

    Bingo. You walked right into Self-Contradicting Induction. “This inductive rule is universal because no exceptions exist, therefore an exception must exist.” Or in short: “I need universal rules but they don’t apply to MY god!”

    Yes Heno, we know very well that it is logically necessary for your argument for your deity or First Cause of Universe to be self-created or uncreated; but THAT IS NOT DEDUCTION, IT IS SPECIAL PLEADING. Do you think you can fool us into seeing an illusion of deduction you conjure?

    Again: we know it is logically necessary for your argument for your deity or First Cause of Universe to be self-created or uncreated, but that is a weakness of your argument, and you try to pass it off as a strength.

    What evidence do you present that deities or First Causes of Universes are self-created or uncreated? “I need it… I REALLY NEED IT!

    We didn’t ask whether you needed it– we asked what is your evidence! Evidence means it’s either an ordinary claim (which it can’t be here, because we have no past experience with deities or first causes of universes) or if it’s an extraordinary claim, it must be supported by extraordinary evidence. “Supported by extraordinary evidence” means that this property (uncreatedness, or never began to exist) is necessary to make predictions about observable properties. “I need it… I REALLY NEED IT! is not evidence.

    Yes, you are permitted to hypothesize that the first cause of the universe is uncreated but that increases the complexity of the invisible, undemonstrable properties of your hypothesis. It’s a weakness of your hypothesis, which you attempt to pass off as a strength.

    I can hypothesize that Sensh Curm shot JFK. Oh, he was miles away at the time? Then I hypothesize that he must be the world’s most skilled sniper to strike his target from a great distance. If I were a follower of WLC, I’d cry: “It’s necessary for my hypothesis, although supported by no evidence… therefore it’s DEDUCTION that Curm is the world’s greatest sniper!” Ha ha ha.

  69. Our Curmudgeon asks that cruel, parental question about our latest pet,

    Y’all getting bored with henotheist13 yet?

    Wait, wait! I’ve spent two hours trying to figure out if there is any content in the following verbal Waldorf:

    If the causal is not infinite, then by definition there must be a first member. And if it is to be the actual first member, obviously it could not be caused to exist by something prior to it, because then that would be the first member. And ‘self-created’ is a misconception. The claim is not that the first cause creates itself. It was not created at all, by itself or anything else. It simply has always existed. And we do not need to have direct experience of this, any more than we need direct experience of any of the other entities in physics we do not have direct experience of (when was the last time you saw an electron without the aid of instruments?).

    Man, I wish I could spin meaning-free verbiage like that! Here’s the closest I can come to pinning the above to something–anything!–in the real world:

    If the causal World series is not infinite interminably dull, then by definition there must be a first member baseman. And if it is to be the actual first member amendment, obviously it could not be caused presumed to exist micturate by something prior glued to it, because then that would be the first male member. And ‘self-created’ self-orgasming is a misnonconception. The claim clam is not that the first thirst cause creates bloviates itself. It was not created expurgated at all, by itself Amelia Earhart or anything else. It simply has always existed flatulated. And we do not need to have direct experience frottage of this, any more than we need direct erect experience of any of the other entities celebrities in physics phys ed class we do not have direct experience of (when was the last time you saw an electron Uranus without the aid of instruments McConaghie loo cams?).

    I maintain my amended version says as much about the natural world as the original…

  70. Con-Tester says: “let it go on for a while at least.”

    Okay. But this a good example why I avoid the topic of religion — except for aberrations like creationism where there’s so much contrary evidence that it’s pure fun. This theology stuff is always the same, and it never resolves anything. But if y’all are having fun, then please carry on.

  71. @He no thinking: “And we do not need to have direct experience of this, any more than we need direct experience of any of the other entities in physics we do not have direct experience of (when was the last time you saw an electron without the aid of instruments?).”

    You score one in your own goal, thanks! At no point did I claim that we need “direct experience” of a property in order to infer its experience. I specifically said it must be an ordinary claim, or an extraordinary claim supported by extraordinary evidence, meaning testable predictions that match observations. Otherwise, sod off.

    As far as the “entities of physics” go, you forget that it was the creationists and IDers who violently and angrily denied the Higgs boson’s existence and were furious when physicists had the temerity to discover it! After physicists discovered the Higgs, the IDers at Uncommon Descent and ENV and other creationists wanted to chew off the face of the nearest physicist for their “hubris” and making testable predictions confirmed by experiment! Some creationists deny the existence of anti-matter, dark matter, gluons, the strong nuclear force, black holes, nuclear fusion in the sun… and even nuclear fission and the transmutation of elements! Kent Hovind denied that the isotope Carbon 14 exists.

    Physicists are encouraged to hypothesize entities that are invisible or with which we have no direct experience, like the Higgs boson or the top quark or neutrinos, as long as they are mathematically described, and their hypothetical properties are necessary to make testable predictions that match observable properties. Now THAT’s extraordinary evidence for an extraordinary claim!

    But your god has no mathematical description; the properties which you NEED to assign to it are not ordinary claims (we have no past experience with magic men with un-man-like properties who make universes and galactic superclusters and then tell us to kill all the Canaanites and snip off the end of our penises) and are not extraordinary claims supported by extraordinary evidence.

    This includes properties like: omnipotence, the ability to create universes, moral perfection, and self-creation or uncreation. Not ordinary claims, and not extraordinary claims supported by extraordinary evidence.

    You prove my point for me, by pointing to the vast gulf for theology and science. Thanks.

  72. Bugger! Almost got all the html tagging correct in the above post–apart from the first blockquote! Grrrrrrrrr….

  73. Ah, most of the commenters are ignorant about cosmology and the creationist “fine tuning” argument. Well, I’ll stack up my graduate hours in astrophysics against H-boy any time. Oh, but he’s got to go get sand out of his knickers or something.

    Fine tuning, bah!

    What is “fine,” H-boy? Is 99% fine or 99.9% or 99.999%, eh H-chie?

    These “fine tuning” idiots crack me up. They can explain the Universe but they can’t explain a puddle. Douglas Adams was spot on with that!

    Hey, H-boy, go drop names around people who care. Thanks for playing.

  74. docbill1351 says: ” Thanks for playing.”

    Theology: all talk, no data.

  75. Well, I have a question to you, Curmy. Do you see the similarities between Heno’s approach and the approach of the Discoveroids etc.?
    Note especially that he stubbornly continues to assume causality (your step 2) while neglecting the evidence (your step 3). The above mentioned higgs-boson for instance was found by probabilistic means. Pardon me if I give a 9 too much or too little, but the probability that the higgs-boson is found is at least 0,99995 or 99,995 %.
    Causality assumes requires 1 or 100 %.

  76. Ceteris Paribus

    Arrrgh. I take one lousy day off to catch up on reading my Jack Chick bible tracts, and come into this post today after henotheist13 has already left the auditorium. OK, so somebody here maybe can help me out.

    Waaayyy up at the beginning of SC’s post here there is a link to the “unmoved mover” as the first cause.

    My meager understanding of Aristotle’s cosmology is that the unmoved mover, lets call him “God” for convenience, can do something really spectacular, like start our universe for example.

    But in order to keep the status of “unmoved” mover, God itself can never be affected in any way by anything that later happens in that created universe. In control logic terms, there is no feedback loop between the created universe and God.

    If that be true, it can be asserted that there is absolutely no rational reason for a religious person to pray to that unmovable God for relief of some affliction. Hemorrhoids, for a biblical example. The prayer will never be noticed by God.

    So the act of praying to an unmoved mover is irrational. And the idea that the unmoved mover told Noah to build an ark in preparation for a flood to punish sin is a either fabrication or was done by some lesser god. Logically, only a corps of lower rank gods, [demi-gods?] could be involved in those kinds of Earthly projects.

    It follows that the only kind of monotheist God that can play the role of unmoved mover is undoubtedly a deistic God.

    Any pagans reading this willing to take up the cudgel?

  77. @henotheist13: I just clicked over to your blog (by simply clicking on your blue “henotheist13” name), and I see that you are JD Walters, a science and math teacher, and a philosophy nerd. The “philosophy nerd” is certainly no surprise, but the “science teacher” part sure is.

    Curmy’s right about religion and philosophy discussions going nowhere. All words; arguments about what old dead guys meant in their writings; no connection to reality.

    As a retired science teacher, I’m disappointed that you didn’t touch on any science in your comments. This is, after all, a science blog, not a religion or philosophy blog. Of course, this particular blog post is an anomaly for the Curmudgeon in that it touches only on religion and not on reality. (No, don’t try to convince me that “philosophy & religion” is actually a part of “reality”. Well, I’ll grant that it is “reality”, but only in the sense that it exists solely in the head.)

    Perhaps you may add cogent thoughts on future blog posts here that are based on science (empirical science, that is). But you are futilely wearing out your keyboard posting about philosophy, unless you find it useful to show off your vast knowledge of what others have written in past ages, and insulting those of us who have focused our lives on cultivating our knowledge of reality.

  78. MNb asks: “Do you see the similarities between Heno’s approach and the approach of the Discoveroids etc.?”

    He came here to defend Craig’s five reasons. The first two of those, origin of the universe and the fine-tuning of the universe, are right out of the Discoveroid playbook. As for most of his comments, there wasn’t any substance there, so that’s like the Discoveroids’ “reasoning” for their theory. I donno, it’s all rather insubstantial.

  79. I’m skeptical about Mr. Walters’ claim to be a math and science teacher. His postings here showed not a hint of real knowledge of either. If he really does teach math and science, I pity his students. For the sake of those students, I hope my skepticism here is misplaced.

  80. Ceteris Paribus

    retiredsciguy addresses henotheist: “As a retired science teacher, I’m disappointed that you didn’t touch on any science in your comments. This is, after all, a science blog, not a religion or philosophy blog.”

    True, but Professor of philosophy Dr Barbara Forrest of Louisiana is a great ally of science in the fight to keep creationist religion from injecting itself into science by way of government.

  81. @CP: True, but Dr. Forrest has proven that she is a champion of science, rather than a user of philosophical arguments to obfuscate our understanding of reality.

  82. Forget my last comment. I was totally distracted watching football.

  83. Doctor Stochastic

    Many dynamical systems can be phrased in teleological terms. The Principle of Least Action (or better, the principal of Extreme Action) is an example. Of course, these can also be reformulated as PDEs. Many PDEs look teleological as opposed to ODEs which usually look causal. I’d argue that both are neither inherently.

    Events driven by a “truly random” mechanism (however we manage to define that) are no less causal than “truly deterministic” driven events. The type of predictions that can be made may be somewhat different for each type but “random” is not the same as “non-causal.” If a particle of type A changes (decays?) with 50% probability into either a type B or type C particle, one can still have a “causal” system (with a random component.) Some questions may not have an answer (“Why did a particular type A particle become a B rather than a C?” may not be answerable though.)

  84. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik

    Lately I’ve been checking out the Google+ page (no account required) belonging to Matt McCormick. henotheist13 may find his work relevant to his interests. He’s a Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Sacramento State and has several videos posted that address the arguments given by WLC in the OP. I picked up on him after Loftus mentioned him.

    One of my favorites is the one he has on WLC and faith (Craig on Faith and Doubt.) It concerns the “witness of the holy spirit” which is his version of what he’s alluding to at #5 on the list.

    I am here to witness to you all, I now know that he is correct at #5. It’s my honor to let you all know that I am now a Mormon. That’s right folks. I have, like hundreds of thousands of others, have felt the burning in the bosom as I read the Book of Mormon and know in my heart that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, magical translating rocks and all.

    Thank you WLC, without you I would never have have known the Truth.

    Or maybe not.

  85. Hallelujah, Brother Rikki_Tikki_Taalik!

    I never could manage to get past the first few pages of The Book of Mormon, but no matter–I have found salvation by eating an especially zesty Chicken Vindaloo and experienced thereby an intense burning in my bowels….